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Here’s What Will Cost You More in Ottawa’s Draft Budget

City of Ottawa staff have tabled a draft budget that will add another $105 onto the average property tax bill next year, but that’s not the only cost for residents if the budget passes at council.

The draft budget will also raise transit fares and a long list of fees. Permits and licences will get more expensive. It will hike the average water bill by 4.3 per cent next year, to about $40.91.

The cost of many recreational and cultural programs will go up by about 2.5 per cent, as will rental costs for a range of facilities, like arenas. Fees for marriage licences and death certificates will rise two per cent. 

But there are some costs that will shoot up more if the budget passes — sometimes much more. The city says fee increases are in line with the cost of providing services. 

Here are some examples:

  • The base OC Transpo fare will go up 2.5 per cent, but some transit costs will rise more. The price of a one-day pass will shoot up 4.4 per cent, reaching $11.75. A single ride will now cost $3.80 by card. Paying with cash will cost a nickel more.
  • Garbage user fees will increase 11.5 per cent for a single family household, rising from $130 to $145. Tipping fees for the landfill will go up 9.2 per cent for loads under 250 kg.
  • Maximum on-street parking rates will go up 12.5 per cent from $4 to $4.50. Staff can vary the specific rates, but council sets the upper limit.
  • For city parking garages, hourly maximums will rise 8.3 per cent from $6 to $6.50, while the daily limit will be set at $25, an increase of 4.2 per cent.
  • The cost of putting an outdoor patio on the city roadway or sidewalk will more than double, from $7.54 per square meter to $15.27 per square meter.
  • The cost of spaying or neutering cats and dogs will rise by about five per cent at the city-run clinic. The price for a small female dog, for example, will rise from $356 to $374. 
  • Fees to dump snow at city facilities will go up 15 per cent, reaching $272.80 for semi-sized vehicles.
  • The city’s hotel tax will rise from four per cent to five per cent. 
  • Planning applications will cost 17 per cent more in most cases, reaching as high as $114,645 for the largest subdivisions. Legal fees for planning will go up by even higher rates.
  • The cost of a permit to cut down a distinctive tree will rise 7.4 per cent where no development is taking place, reaching $174. With development, the price rises by 27 per cent.
  • The road cut permit fee will rise 7.6 per cent to $296 per street segment.

There are a few key fees that will remain unchanged: the late declaration fee for the vacant unit tax and the OC Transpo EquiPass for low-income people. 

What does it pay for?

All told, the city budget looks to spend $4.6 billion on operations, and will have to raise more revenue to pay for it.

Taxes will add $85 million. Most of that comes from the 2.5 per cent property tax hike, though roughly $34 million of that figure comes from the addition of new properties whose owners will pay taxes for the first time. 

Operating funding covers ongoing costs to pay staff and provide services, and some departments will see more money than others.

Here are some of the biggest year-to-year boosts in dollars:

  • Transit: $19.2 million.
  • Ottawa Police Service: $13.3 million.
  • Road services: $8.2 million.
  • Fire services: $6.8 million.
  • Paramedics: $4.8 million.

The plan is to hire 28 more paramedics and 12 more fire staff.

All told, the city expects to expand its workforce by more than 200 full-time equivalent positions next year, though that’s a small share of the current 16,500. Compensation for those employees is by far the largest item in city spending.

The draft budget also devotes $1.24 billion to capital, mostly funded by reserves, debt and development charges.

Here’s how much is being spent on some key projects next year:

  • Zero-emission bus program: $179.7 million.
  • Riverside South Recreation Complex: $66.4 million.
  • Greenbank Road realignment from Chapman Mills to Barnsdale: $20.2 million.
  • Road renewal projects: $98 million.
  • New pathways, sidewalks and bike infrastructure: $14 million.
  • Electrical upgrades for wastewater treatment centre: $21.7 million.
  • New investment in affordable housing: $21.8 million.

Source : CBC