OTTAWA, Ont. — City Council has unanimously given final approval to the city’s 2013 budget.
The $2.5-billion spending plan includes a tax increase of just above two per cent, marking the lowest rate in six years. The increase is below Mayor Jim Watson’s campaign promise to keep tax increases below 2.5 per cent.
The passing of the budget means the average homeowner will pay an extra $67 on their property taxes in 2013, while rural homeowners on average will pay $50 more.
Despite its unanimous approval, a couple motions brought forward by Councillor David Churneshenko would have seen $100,000 from the city’s corporate communications budget to help out cycling and parkland infrastructure.
Mayor Jim Watson told reporters this is not the right thing to do because it would see a lay off of four or five staff.
“I don’t agree with taking motions out of one silo and into another,” Watson said.”We have to understand that we’ve got a fairly large public service in Ottawa, we don’t want to go about laying people off.”
Both motions were taken off the table when staff agreed to look for other ways to bring the money to parkland, within the next two weeks, and cycling, by February. The city has however put in a record amount of funding towards cycling.
This is the third budget this council has tabled and Watson says it was the most difficult because of provincial and federal cuts.
“It is no secret that our task this year was made more difficult by provincial changes to social service funding,” Watson said in a released statement. “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.”
This budget stuck to his campaign promise to keep tax hikes under 2.5%. The mayor added during this term council has increased taxes by about 8% easily better than cities like Calgary who have seen municipal taxes go up 22% in that time period.