Some councillors support increases to fix infrastructure
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A plan is in the works by a number of councillors to increase property taxes next year in order to save crumbling infrastructure.
A proposal outlined in Ottawa’s newly created strategic directions recommends that taxes be increased by two per cent over 10 years and spent on the renewal of capital projects such as roads, sewers and bridges — in contrast to Mayor Larry O’Brien's “zero means zero” pledge to freeze taxes.
The architect of the idea believes the investment has to be made before it’s too late. “It’s about $50 dollars per household, but our infrastructure is falling apart,” councillor Peter Hume said.
Hume thinks the dilemma is escalating in each year that the city doesn’t add money to the capital side of the budget and cites affordable housing as one area that has slipped dramatically.
“We’re a slum landlord,” Hume said, a reference to the condition of the municipality's housing units.
O’Brien is sticking to his campaign promise of not increasing taxes and believes the city has not exhausted all the possible options of finding efficiencies.
But councillor Clive Doucet, for one, is convinced that his colleagues are ready to reject the mayor’s tax-freeze pledge and said he’s onboard with adding money to the capital budget.
He would like to see the money split into two distinct areas — community (e.g., pools, trees) and physical (e.g., roads, pipes) infrastructure.
“We’re in a rich time period right now,” he said. “But we’ve created a false poverty with trying to achieve a zero-per-cent tax increase.”
Coun. Rick Chiarelli agrees money needs to be increased for capital renewal but is not convinced raising taxes is the answer, saying council still has the opportunity to find savings.