Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Kent Kirkpatrick, City Manager, today presented a draft budget that proposes a tax increase of 2.45%, slightly below the 2.5% maximum total tax increase directed by the newly elected Council on December 15, 2010.

Draft Budget 2011 recommends a tax increase of 2.45% for urban home owners and commercial properties and 2.4% in rural areas. The average urban home will see an increase of only $75 this year for City services – this is considerably less than the average urban tax increase for the last few years: $135 in 2008; $166 in 2009; $125 in 2010; and, $75 in 2011.

The Ottawa Public Library Board and the Ottawa Police Services Board have also tabled budgets in line with 2.5%.

The total tax-supported 2011 budget is $2.4 billion in operating spending and $622 million in new capital spending.

The proposed budget offers enough flexibility to adjust spending plans when emergencies or unusual spending requirements occurs and a small surplus for 2010 has allowed the City to restore a previously depleted reserve fund – the winter maintenance reserve fund. Both responsive and responsible, it delivers a budget that will enable the City to manage and live within its means, provide better and more affordable services, attend to our more vulnerable residents and care for the environment.

“The draft budget tabled today sets the foundation for the fiscal framework for the next four years,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The residents of Ottawa and this new Council have clearly demanded that we manage in a more prudent and predictable way – while preserving and improving important public services. While there are tough decisions to be made, I am confident that the review of the budget details over the next few weeks will result in a balanced package that will serve us well in the future,” he added.

Highlights of Budget 2011 include:

– Freezing of recreation fees for activities for the first time since amalgamation;

– Provisions to expand the free transit period for seniors from Wednesdays only to include Mondays and Fridays after 12 noon;

– $2.8 million per year for new cycling initiatives across the City;

– 22 front line paramedics with two new, fully equipped ambulances and two new technicians to keep the ambulances on the streets;

– 45 new firefighters to staff two new fire stations;

– $161 million towards projects and programs to improve and streamline the bus system;

– A $10 million investment in Housing and Poverty Reduction initiatives that is in addition to a $4 million capital investment for housing initiatives;

– $2 million allocated for economic development initiatives;

– 74 new bus drivers to improve service and reduce overtime;

– $500,000 funding envelope for priority environmental initiatives;

– $28 million to address the flooding and sewage back-up problems in the west end;

– Capital spending plan that focuses on transit investments, the renewal of roads and sewers and new parks and recreation facilities;

– Advances key initiatives including: the Ottawa River Action Plan, Light Rail and Lansdowne redevelopment;

– $4.8 million in 2011 towards the first phase of funding for a new $48 million recreation complex in Barrhaven South; and,

– Capital works over the next few years to improve Ottawa’s road network, including: $30 million expansion of Trim Road in Orleans; $17 million on the east-end extension from Navan Road to 10th Line Road; $9.5 million on St. Joseph Boulevard; our share of the Highway 417 interchange; and, $55 million for the Alta Vista connection to Smyth Road.

“This year’s budget process has been and will continue to be a dynamic one that has retained the rigour of past budget reviews and has brought with it a different and productive approach to identifying budget challenges and solutions,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “This is the first time that Council has given the mandate to the Mayor and the City Manager to work together to table a draft budget. This productive dialogue generated challenging discussions across the corporation that demanded the commitment of many staff. The product represents a balanced, reasonable and forward thinking proposal for Council’s consideration.”

Standing Committees and Boards will meet to listen to public delegations, review and recommend draft budgets to Council for consideration and adoption March 8 to 10.

In addition, the Mayor will host a Spending Control Town Hall Meeting on Taxes on March 1 at Ottawa City Hall starting at 7 p.m.

To comment on Budget 2011, residents can call 311, e-mail 311@ottawa.ca or fax 613-560-2126. All information related to Budget 2011 is available at ottawa.ca/budget2011.

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For a comment from the Mayor:

Bruce Graham
613-580-2424 x. 14299