City councillor holds online consult ahead of draft budget
Ahead of the tabling of the draft version of the 2024 City of Ottawa budget, Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawling King held an online budget consultation to both explain the process and gauge the priorities of residents.
The consultation including a presentation explaining how the city’s budget is organized and the process to deliberate and approve it.
Councillor King stressed that participating in the city’s budget process was about “empowerment” in that it allows residents, especially those of vulnerable populations, to advocate for funding of services that are important to them. He said resident participation can also help shape long-term priorities for the city.
“We need involvement from everyone,” he said.
Attendance was low (one participant reported turn-out as 17), but Coun. King had also posted an online informal survey among residents through his newsletter to try and assess local priorities for the budget.
The top priority cited was winter maintenance, although that was followed very closely by “road safety and renewal, sidewalks and pathways,” “reliability and affordability of transit” and “addressing climate change”.
Affordable housing, affordable recreation, affordable child care and property taxes rounded out the other priorities.
The survey also asked participants what city service they valued most. Transit was far and away the number one response.
Deputy Treasurer Isabelle Jasmin presented the draft version of the budget. She explained the city is legally obligated to deliver a balanced budget each year and also provided on overview on the differences between an operating and capital budget and the city’s various sources of funding. (Property taxes, at 46 percent, remains the main one.)
The city’s water, waste water and storm water services are covered by a separate user fee. She also spoke briefly about the police and transit budgets, which are each supported by separate levies.
Although transit fares are meant to cover only 55 percent of operating costs, currently they only cover 39.
The police budget is managed by the Police Services Board. The city has no authority to make or request specific changes to the police budget.
The consultation, held Monday October 30, is still available online on Coun. King’s YouTube channel. On Nov 1, he held a consultation for Indigenous, black and racialized communities at Hub 235 on Montreal Rd. That consultation is also available online.
Earlier this year, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe officially directed city staff to draft a budget with an anticipated 2.5 percent increase in spending.
This draft budget will be presented to full city council Wednesday November 8 before being deliberated by committees throughout November.
The final budget is expected to be approved and adopted by council Wednesday December 6.