City council is confident that a tax increase of less than five per cent will be decided upon when the 2011 budget is finalized, despite defeating a motion to cut $27 million from the proposed $1.8 billion operating budget yesterday.

The motion, made by Coun. Kerry Diotte last week, was defeated 12-1.

“We’re about halfway through,” said Diotte. “We’re still hoping to bring it down.”

An adjustment to the tax increase, three per cent of which is for general operating expense and two per cent for the neighbourhood renewal program, could come from a 0.5 per cent reduction in the annual neighbourhood renewal program.

“I have not heard one citizen complain about two per cent,” said Coun. Linda Sloan. “They see it as one of the best values. They understand they have to wait their turn.”

But with only 1.5 per cent as opposed to two, city officials said the program could be 100 per cent funded by 2018 without an increase in other funding.

“What they’re saying is they can accomplish everything they’re supposed to accomplish with less of a tax increase,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel.

The goal is to finish reconstruction on four neighbourhoods and start two others in 2011, as well as continue with preventative maintenance and overlay.

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