City council has unanimously approved the police and library board budgets. The rest of the city budget is expected to be decided today.
If nothing changes, property tax would increase by 3.94 per cent, but to achieve that, the city would cut funding to Crime Prevention Ottawa, and reduce service to over 40 bus routes.
Those two items proved very unpopular among public delegations. Councillors were also pressed to approve the universal bus pass program for students.
River Ward Coun. Maria McRae said councillors and staff have been working on a way to avoid those cuts and allowing for the UPass pilot project, even if it’s not funded.
“There are a lot of services and programs that people wanted added back to the budget and we’re looking for ways to offset bringing back those services,” said McRae. “I don’t anticipate (the tax increase) will go up and some of us are hoping to bring it down further.”
Cutting transit service based to fit the budget is not the right way to go about it, said Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson. She said bus routes would likely be restored to the budget.
Innes Ward Coun. Rainer Bloess predicted the tax increase could end up between 3.7 and 4.5 per cent depending on what “sacred cows” they were willing to touch.
Although he said the budget is still in a state of flux and nothing is approved yet, Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen said he would be very pleased that transit services appeared to be saved and the Upass program would likely get city approval.
“It’s very clear the majority of council wants to make it happen,” said Cullen.