Ottawa – City Council has approved a budget for 2013 that delivers the lowest tax change in six years – 2.09 per cent – while at the same time continuing to invest in the municipal services and infrastructure that matter most to residents.

“This budget addresses the needs of residents and businesses by investing in areas that will enhance existing City services, while maintaining the City’s prudent approach to our long range finances,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “It is no secret that our task this year was made more difficult by provincial changes to social service funding. I want express my gratitude to all those residents who participated in the budget process, as well as commending my Council colleagues on fulfilling our commitment to delivering a predictable tax change.”

Budget 2013 continues to find efficiencies through the ongoing freeze of Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets and a reduction in the City’s staffing costs of approximately $3.5 million. ServiceOttawa will also deliver an additional $8.8 million in savings in the coming year by providing citizens with more efficient ways to access many City services, such as permits and licenses, online 24/7.

City recreation fees will remain frozen again next year and 2013 will see the continuation of Ottawa on the Move. This important program of strategic infrastructure investments in road, sidewalk, water, cycling and sewer projects will help build a better city, create needed jobs, and help prepare the city for the coming Light Rail Transit project. The program assists in the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure in all areas of the city.

“With this budget, resources are allocated appropriately to advance Council’s priorities so that we can deliver responsive and efficient services to the residents of Ottawa,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “The City is focused on delivering Council’s measured plan to fund today’s priorities, while establishing a solid foundation for the years to come.”

For the owner of an average home assessed at $314,500, the 2013 budget will mean an annual property tax increase of $67 for urban homeowners and $50 for rural homeowners.

Highlights of the Budget 2013 are:

 – $14 million of continued funding for Council’s poverty and homelessness initiative;

 – $4.6 million of realigned and reallocated funding to offset changes in provincial priorities which will preserve the majority of benefits for the most vulnerable and low income residents, including the creation of a one-time emergency transition fund;

 – $5.5 million to increase the annual contribution to Capital Funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal as recommended in the recently approved Long Range Financial Plan;

 – $4.9 million to improve safety and mobility with new traffic control signals, intersection control measures, pedestrian countdown signals and the Pedestrian Facilities Program and Audible Signal Program;

 – An additional $500,000 for initiatives identified in the Older Adult Plan resulting from last year’s Seniors Summit;

 – $2 million for accessibility retrofit work to existing buildings and parks;

 – $975,000 combined operating and capital funding to increase the forest cover and combat the Emerald Ash Borer, bringing total investment to $1.8 million;

 – New and expanded parks and recreation facilities across the city;

 – $1 million for the review of the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan;

 – $1 million, combined capital and operating funding for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan;

 – 2 per cent increase for social service and health agencies, cultural, community and recreation funding;

 – $2.5 million for ongoing environmental remediation and greening of the City fleet; and

 – $2 million for design work for a pedestrian footbridge crossing the Rideau Canal at Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street.

 – also approved increasing a transition fund from $250,000 to $500,000 to address extreme hardship experienced by individuals in need resulting from the provincial changes in discretionary benefit coverage. The money is being drawn from another area of the Community and Protective Services Committee budget.

The draft rate-supported budget for water and sewer services for 2013 and 2014 will be tabled at a special Environment Committee meeting in January 2013.