2021 City Budget Vote
After many months of meetings with community groups and individual taxpayers, City Council met on Wednesday, December 9th, to approve the 2021 budget. As expected, the pandemic added more challenge to the already hard choices that come with budget deliberations every year. City council passed a budget of $3.94 billion and capital budget of $781 million for 2021.
In addition to essential municipal services, some of the highlights of the 2021 budget are new investments of $15 million for affordable housing with an additional $32 million in federal funding, the City will invest $47 million in capital for affordable housing. This is in addition to $112 million in support of housing needs, which includes $33 million for community-based housing and homelessness programs and supports. As we know this spending will be helpful but there is much more needed as housing costs continue to skyrocket and less families can afford to buy or rent.
New funding for Stage 2 of the LRT system, the retrofit of City facilities to reduce energy consumption, preservation of natural lands and the regeneration of Ottawa’s tree canopy will keep the City on track to achieve its ambitious climate goals. Once Stage 2 is complete, 77 per cent of residents will live within five kilometres of LRT. The cost of the EquiPass and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will remain frozen at 2018 rates for another year. Given the need to encourage residents to return to using transit as the pandemic subsides, I supported a motion on a freeze for all transit fares, but it was not successful.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Budget 2021 invests $3 million to retrofit City facilities to reduce energy use and costs, with a net payback of $365,000 a year expected in eight years. An additional $18.7 million will help protect air and land at the Trail Waste Facility, $2 million to conserve natural lands in rural areas and $1.5 million to plant trees and regenerate Ottawa’s tree canopy. These investments complement the $2.6 million that Council committed in October to Energy Evolution projects. These actions are a step in the right direction, but further action will be needed to reach our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by 2050.
There will also be an addition of 14 new paramedics, and new infrastructure like sidewalks, roads and facilities
The Ottawa Police Services (OPS) budget will increase $13.2 million under the proposal, based on a 3.0 per cent hike in the service’s annual levy and an estimated 1.5 per cent increase in growth assessment on new properties in the city. The proposed increase is in keeping with the 3.0 per cent property tax increase proposed across the city. For my take on this see my write up on the Ottawa Police Services budget.
Included in the city’s priorities is $98.1 million for Ottawa Public Health, representing $74.1 million in base funding and $24 million in one-time funds as they continue to be on the front lines in providing information related to the Covid19 pandemic.
Overall, the tax increase to the average urban homeowner will be $115, plus an added $37 per year on their water bill which mostly pays for the infrastructure to get the water to our homes. Municipalities are not allowed to run a deficit so sources of revenue must be stated. Currently 47% of city revenue is from property taxes. All municipal spending needs to be justified and I hope you will join me in appreciating the benefits of these investments in the health and well being of all citizens of our community.
For full outline of city of Ottawa budget please go to: Ottawa.ca