Budget, LRT Phase 2 on Council Agenda
Ottawa Councillors are being asked to approve more than $8 billion in spending initiatives today.
The first item on the agenda is the 2019 draft Operating and Capital Budgets. It includes a 3% property tax hike, which would add $113 to the average property tax bill.
The budget also includes an average 2.5% hike in OC Transpo fares, and a 4.8% hike in water and sewer rates in 2019.
Council also votes today on the awarding the contract for Stage 2 of Light Rail Transit. The $4.6 billion plan would extend Light Rail to Trim Road, Moodie Drive, Riverside South and Algonquin College, along with a spur to the Ottawa Airport.
Six Councillors want Council to delay the vote on the contract until March 27.
Diane Deans, Rick Chiarelli, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney, Shawn Menard and Carol-Anne Meehan say deferring the discussion “allows for a more fulsome discussion.*
In a blog post, Deans says “this contract is critical to Ottawa’s sustainability and it is important that we get it right.”
Deans says residents and Councillors need more time to understand what Council is being asked to approve, including:
- Will the full Ontario Government funding be forthcoming?
- Why has the Phase 1 deadline slipped so significantly? What are the specific complications that have led to this point?
- More transparency is needed in the project agreement. Some components of that are competitively sensitive, but not all.
- The scope of the project has increased. More scrutiny is required with respect to the asserted value of risk transfers, the implications of the long-range financial plan particularly with respect to assumptions about future fare hikes and ridership.
Mayor Jim Watson has said any plan to delay with phase two would be a mistake.