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Introduction

 

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of our election in 2010.

 

Today, as we table our third budget, I want to start by thanking you for the incredible effort that each of you contributes to making Ottawa a great place to live, work and raise a family.

 

Your input – each and every day – is an integral part of the annual budget creation effort.

 

Your feedback to staff across the entire range of issues that you deal with is part and parcel of the daily operation of the City of Ottawa.

 

Even if the answer cannot always be yes to your specific requests – your efforts and those of your own personal staff are valued and appreciated.

 

I also want to thank City staff – from all departments – who have worked diligently to deliver the proposed budget for 2013.

 

It meets the guidelines Council has set and, hopefully, addresses the everyday needs of our citizens.

 

The Top Line

 

We promised to rein in City revenue demands.

 

As one of our first acts together, we set a realistic maximum annual tax revenue increase of 2.5%.

 

We beat that target in each of our first two budgets and we will do even better for 2013.

 

The budget being distributed to you now recommends a 2.09% urban and 1.98% rural tax rate.

 

This is the lowest increase in six years.

 

We will maintain our freeze on Parks and Recreation fees – a move that benefits the broadest possible number of our residents and their families and neighbourhoods.

 

We will maintain our freeze on Councillor and Mayor’s office expenses.

 

I also am pleased to note that the Ottawa Police Services, Transit Services, the Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Public Health have once again constrained themselves within Council’s 2.5% maximum increase cap.

 

In the 2013 budget, for the second year in a row, there will be an elimination of Full Time Equivalent positions – FTEs – within the operation of the City of Ottawa for a net savings of approximately $3.5 million.

 

This budget sheds 139 FTEs as a result of operational reviews and attrition…last year it was 47.

 

This type of change was mentioned by a number of people who wrote to me with their own ideas via e-mail tobudget2013@ottawa.ca that we opened up in August.

 

One of our residents, a gentleman named Richard, probably summed it up best when he wrote: “I would advocate that when some of these people retire (or possibly leave to work elsewhere) their numbers would not always need to be fully replaced.”

 

To Richard and other residents who wrote on the same issue…that is exactly what we are doing and we are heading in the right direction by thoroughly evaluating the “need” associated with every role at the City of Ottawa.

 

This is a task that is necessary…though it is not easy and, as I have said in the past, we do add employees for brand new facilities that come into operation

 

What Taxes Provide

 

It is not easy because of the very nature of municipal government.

 

I just want to take a moment here to make what I consider to be a very important point.

 

Unlike the private sector, municipal government revenue does not come from selling software or cars or designer clothes.

 

Our revenue comes from the dollars that we collect from our citizens and businesses.

 

In return for those public funds it is our job to provide what our residents need and demand every single day.

 

It is important to remember what we provide:

– Roads to drive on and sidewalks to walk across the city.

– Police services, fire services and paramedic services in minutes whenever needed, wherever needed.

– Transit and Para-Transpo services that move, more than 200,000 people every day around our city.

– More than 30 library facilities.

– Support for Public Health, social services for those less fortunate and community housing for more than 32,000 people.

– Snow removal in the winter, and garbage and recycling pick up every single day, year in and year out.

– More than 1,000 parks and hundreds of recreation and community facilities.

– Next to the air we breathe, water is the single most important need of human beings and the City of Ottawa has among the best supplies in the world.

I could go on…but you get the idea…we provide a lot of service to our residents.

 

And everything I have just mentioned is also something that benefits the private sector.

 

Also, municipal taxes really are a good deal when compared to the much higher income tax dollars that flow to the provincial and federal levels of government.

 

Think about that comparison for a moment.

 

On an average assessment of $314,500 for an urban home in Ottawa the tax will be $3,283.

 

That is a lot of money that is paid in return for all those services I have mentioned.

 

But that amount of money pales by comparison to what a household pays in income tax to the federal and provincial governments.

 

A household with $75,000 taxable income paid the other levels of government somewhere around $17,000 in 2012.

 

At $50,000 the figure is approximately $9,000 and at $100,000 taxable income it is about $27,000.

 

Municipal taxes provide what our residents need every day…and they are a good deal even when you take into account the transfers that we do get from other levels of government.

 

Good Financial Shape

 

And, unlike private business or other levels of government, we are not allowed to run a deficit at the municipal level.

 

We provide all those services just mentioned… on a break even basis.

 

Not only do we not have a deficit…but we are also in very good shape with our debt.

 

According to the recent Long Range Financial Plan, at the end of 2011, the City owned capital assets that cost approximately $15 billion to purchase.

 

With outstanding net debt of $1.4 billion that means roughly only 10% of the total cost was funded from debt.

 

As our Treasurer noted in the Long Range Financial Plan, City issued debt is therefore equivalent to having a $30,000 mortgage on a $300,000 home.

 

Of the $425 million issued in 2012, $200 million represents debt authorized by this Council, and this was all to advance the Ottawa on the Move program.

 

Council has previously established an upper limit on debt repayments at 7.5% of City raised revenue and debt repayments in 2013 will be approximately 4.6% of City raised revenues.

 

The City continues to have excellent credit ratings from our credit rating agencies – Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s.

 

The Treasurer tells us that for the most recent year available Ottawa has the second lowest total debt per capita ($1,537) and the second lowest tax supported debt per capita ($999) when compared to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

The City of Ottawa is in good financial shape.

First Two Budgets: Setting the Course

 

Our first two budgets set a course that we are following.

 

Predictability and working together…piece by piece, step by step.

 

In year one we added fire fighters and paramedics and we moved to stabilise transit funding, while moving ahead with LRT and Lansdowne.

 

We invested $14 Million annually to help battle homelessness and poverty and we invested in our environment and cycling.

 

In year two we focused on infrastructure renewal with Ottawa on the Move and added even more for cycling and accessibility improvements.

 

We committed to new parks and investments in transit and transit equipment, like those new Double-Decker buses that have begun to roll across the city.

 

However, the environment in which we find ourselves today is quite different from that which existed for our first two budgets as a team.

 

The two other levels of government are working to get out of deficit positions and this invariably puts pressure on our municipal level.

 

We will feel it in reduced program funding provincially and in job cuts federally that impact our local economy.

 

Our two previous budgets have laid the groundwork for us to confront these challenges.

 

Transit services are on a more sustainable financial footing.

 

We wisely commenced our “made-in-Ottawa” infrastructure renewal program – Ottawa on the Move – last year.

 

And, we have in place a four year labour agreement with ATU 279 that will see lower wage increases than the previous five year average.

 

Similarly, new agreements with CUPE 503 mean lower wage increases than the prior three contract years.

 

Getting the Job Done: Progress

 

The 2013 budget is all about progress in getting the job done.

 

We will invest $500,000 in our Older Adult Plan, which is the product of very broad public consultation and includes many suggestions from our very successful Seniors Summit.

 

This Older Adult Plan represents an important step forward as we prepare for the coming demographic shifts that will see a doubling of the number of citizens over the age of 65 in the next two decades.

 

Service Ottawa will continue to provide a return on its efforts – with projected savings of $8.8 Million in 2013.

 

But, Service Ottawa is about more than just dollar savings.

 

It is also about what citizens will see and experience.

 

There will be:

– New online service requests such as parking permits, building permits, pet licensing, fire permits, demolition permits, sign permits.

– Up to 10 business licenses, permits and renewals online such as food premises, driving schools, snowplow operators, amusement businesses, public garages.

– A new “My Ottawa Account” for residents to easily monitor their service requests, sign up for notifications, view water accounts, etc. in one place 24/7.

– A new “My Business Account” allowing business owners to view their interactions with City services in one place 24/7.

– A One-Payment System providing residents and businesses the convenience and option of a single transaction for multiple service purchases on-line.

– An Older Adult Portal providing customized services for older adults.

– More mobile devices to field workers, increasing productivity and improving service response times.

We will fight Emerald Ash Borer and increase the forest cover with$975,000 of new funding to bring our annual commitment to more than $1.8 Million.

 

We will continue the effort of environmental remediation with our Brownfield program and there will be an added $500,000 for the greening of our fleet.

 

There will be $500,000 additional funding for Economic Development as we strive to maintain the prosperity that we all depend upon.

 

We are proposing a $300,000 allocation to allow for the development of Community Design Plans associated with Light Rail Transit.

 

We are proposing an investment of $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.

 

We will move forward with $1.0 Million in funding for the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan that was passed by Council in February of this year.

 

This promised investment will provide increased operating funding to our many partners across the city and allow for some capital spending to proceed.

 

Budget 2013 will provide 2% increases for social service and health agencies, cultural organisations and community and recreation funding.

 

This budget also begins the effort to increase our contribution to Capital Funding as was recommended in the recently approved Long Range Financial Plan.

 

In 2013 there will be an initial commitment of $4.5 Million for this purpose.

 

Getting the Job Done: Managing Social Services

 

We do have to deal with a dark cloud on the horizon of social service funding.

 

We will provide additional city funding to offset cuts that result from a change in priorities at the Provincial level.

 

This has not been an easy task to accomplish.

 

Through realignment and reallocations we will provide $4.4 Million in expenditures to preserve the majority of benefits for our most vulnerable and lowest income residents.

 

We will maintain the supports that were previously available as a Community Start Up Benefit – those supports that help people secure and retain housing..

 

The City will continue to provide essential discretionary services to low income residents, however, the range of services will be reduced.

 

We will also establish an emergency transition fund to deal with the most severe impacts that will assist with the transition to the changes in discretionary benefits.

 

In spite of the changes, the City continues to demonstrate a significant commitment to supporting vulnerable and low income households with a commitment of $7.4 Million beyond provincial requirements.

 

We are also maintaining Council’s commitment to the $14 Million investment in Housing and Homelessness Prevention initiatives

 

And we are maintaining our Renewable Funding investment to social services agencies.

 

Over the coming year, the City will work with our government and community partners to coordinate and integrate services to minimize the impact of these changes.

 

We will also continue to press the Provincial government to reconsider some of the changes that they have implemented.

 

 

Getting the Job Done: Progress Part 2

 

Looking elsewhere, we are getting the job done with the opening of the Kanata North Recreation Facility next year.

 

We will also open the François Dupuis pool in the east of Ottawa.

 

We will be installing a much sought-after Crosswalk to provide greater safety and more convenience for residents and visitors to Villa Marconi and to the entire neighbourhood.

 

We will be investing in the Cardinal Creek Park.

 

And there will be more than $5 Million in additional growth investment in parks across the city – places like Vista Park, Shadow Ridge, Blackstone, Emerald Links, Kizell Pond Pathway, Longfields, West Point Village and Greely Village Centre – to name a few.

 

We will help to reinvigorate the Lowertown neighbourhood with investment in Jules Morin Park.

 

After years of wait we will see paving of the Hornet’s Nest parking lot in the east of Ottawa.

 

We are opening the Chapman Mills community building.

 

Wilfred Murray Park will see improvements in equipment and accessibility.

 

We will be relocating the Karsh Masson Gallery into a refurbished and expanded facility and bringing it home to our very own City Hall.

 

Getting the job done following the Planning Summit from last year we will continue to push improvements to our planning processes.

 

We just recently provided updates on the Guaranteed Timelines Initiative, Zoning Team Consistency program, the Green Express Lane and the Better Neighbourhoods program.

 

We will be getting on with the job on all these fronts in 2013.

 

At the same time, as you know, there will be the review of the Official Plan and the Transportation Master Plan and we are providing $1 million in 2013 for these important updates.

 

In 2013, we will add 16 new crossing guard locations with 8 coming on stream in January and the remaining 8 in place by next September.

 

And, in the coming year, there will be an expansion of City’s Trim Road Yard facilities.

Next year, construction is set begin on our Light Rail project.

 

And, of equal and more immediate importance to residents in the east of Ottawa, work will commence on the vital and long overdue widening of the Queensway from Nicholas to the Split.

 

The second year of Ottawa on the Move will see work done from one end of the city to the other and to note a few I mention…

 

We will proceed with the rehabilitation of McIlraith Bridge as well as additional phases of Rideau Street, Bronson Ave, and Churchill Ave. reconstruction projects.

 

The rehabilitation of Gladstone will commence and the sewer separation work in Rockliffe Park will continue.

 

In the East, we will be resurfacing Watters Road.

 

Ogilvie Road west of Aviation Parkway will see work.

 

The same will happen on Southpark Drive and a portion of Bearbrook Road.

 

Construction crews will also be at work on Des Epinettes Avenue, and Colonial Road.

 

In the South of our city road work will occur on Tapiola, Crerar and Fallowfield from Cedarview to Greenbank.

 

And there will be work on Walkley Road from Tawney to the CNR Overpass.

 

Also there will be sidewalk renewal on the pathway between Antler and Dolan and on Fisher Avenue from Meadowlands to Appleby Private.

 

Residents in the West will see resurfacing on Bayshore Drive from Richmond Road to Woodbridge Drive and on Woodroffe Avenue from Richmond Road to the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

 

Sidewalks will be rehabilitated on McKitrick Drive between Rickey Place and Castlefrank, and there will be repairs in three sections of along the Ottawa Carleton Trail.

 

In our expansive rural areas, there will be resurfacing work on the Galetta Side Road, Routhbourne Road and Flewellyn between Ashton Station and Munster.

 

And there will be more of the same on Ottawa Street, King Street and Kilmaurs Side Road from Woodkilton to Dunrobin.

 

Work on the West End Flood Investigation Action Plan remains ongoing with approximately $20 million in infrastructure improvements to be implemented in 2013 flowing from last year’s budget.

 

2013 will also see us move ahead with cycling infrastructure improvements throughout the City as we continue with the implementation of the East-West bikeway.

 

Bike routes are being implemented as part of the reconstruction of Churchill and we will move forward with two critical multi-use pathway links.

 

One of these is along the O-Train Corridor west of Preston.

 

The other, will fill a crucial gap along the Sawmill Creek pathway between Walkley Road and Brookfield to provide better connectivity to Hogs Back and the Canal Pathway system.

 

The funding for this work is part of this Council’s $24 million commitment to cycling.

 

As events have shown us, this important effort means much more than the actual dollars that this Council has committed to the task.

 

It is about building a system that is accessible and safe for all.

 

So that we can eliminate – to the very best of our ability – the potential of serious injury and the terrible tragedy of lives lost while cycling in our community.

 

I hope that everyone will join in this effort.

 

Of course, the Lansdowne revitalization will continue during 2013.

 

You will recall comments at the time of our final approval of the project, just a couple of weeks ago, about the need to focus on transportation issues related to the project.

 

Both the City Manager and I promised that we would not allow this concern to “fall off the table” just because final approval had been attained.

 

There is no better way to show good faith in this regard than to take a concrete step in Budget 2013.

 

To that end, this budget contains $2 Million for design work on the Clegg/5th Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.

 

Hopefully, this design effort will provide all the information necessary to go to tender, with the most functional and most affordable plans possible.

 

In any event, this vital new mobility link is moving forward.

 

At the same time, in a similar vein, the final design work for the Donald/Somerset Bridge will be completed in 2013.

 

As we implement these new mobility options we are making our City more liveable and giving people practical and convenient transportation options other than having to always rely on their car.

 

And, at the same time, we are providing greater linkages to the coming rapid transit system

 

It is not that far from new Lees LRT Station to the Clegg St. Bridge.

 

And it is not that far from Donald/Somerset to the new Campus LRT Station.

 

And, of course, the Donald/Somerset Bridge will be part of a multi-use system that includes the Coventry Bridge over the Queensway near the Ottawa Stadium links to the new LRT stop at the Train Station.

 

The coming year will see the start of the biggest project in the history of our City – Light Rail.

 

LRT bids are undergoing evaluation.

 

Council will deal with this issue in the coming months so that shovels will be in the ground in 2013.

 

It is a project that will remake our city for the future.

 

It will help us to get buses off downtown streets and make movement easier for people and commerce.

 

Clogged streets are something we all hear about on a regular basis. I heard it in budget e-mails.

 

As our resident Brad wrote, “Traffic congestion continues to be one of the top concerns of Ottawa residents.”

 

He is right.

 

It is why LRT is so vital.

 

It is also why this budget provides enhanced support to our traffic management systems to provide real time traveller information on traffic impacts resulting from construction, special events, collisions or unplanned incidents.

 

And it is one of the reasons why this Council and the Transit Commission has already invested in an O-Train expansion of service that will see construction of new tracking next year and the arrival of new trains.

 

This will allow us to effectively double O-Train service years ahead of schedule.

 

On this, as in many areas, our Council has made a solid start on the items which we have identified as priorities.

 

There are many items contained in Budget 2013 that will assist citizens in each and every Ward and each and every neighbourhood right across this wonderful city.

 

Wrap Up

 

As I conclude my remarks, I want to share with you what I heard from a resident named Diane from Vanier.

 

She sent me a budget e-mail and wrote:

 

I love where I live and I love Ottawa.  My priorities for Ottawa’s 2013 budget are:

1- Library Services

2- Public Transport

3- Minimizing property tax increases

 

Thank you for the input, Diane, and just so you can be sure…

– We are providing an additional $1.4 Million in operating funding to our libraries and $360,000 of that will be for upgrades and expansion.

– As a result of input from the Seniors Summit, there will be $500,000 for added transit hours of service in support of the Equity Lens Enhancements Initiative and $200,000 for added Para Transpo service.

– And, to reiterate, this budget provides the lowest rate change in 6 years.

Colleagues, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in our first two years.

 

Like Diane, I have an abiding affection for Ottawa.

 

It is an honour to serve.

 

And, more than that, it is rewarding.

 

I say thank you, again, for all of your efforts.

 

I also say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with the City Manager in the creation of the Budget for 2013.

 

This budget, I believe, is a document that keeps us moving forward with real progress for the people of Ottawa.

 

We are, together, getting the job done and making progress we can all see and be proud of.