City proposes 3% tax increase; hiking transit fares in 2019
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 5:48PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2018 6:35PM EST
It's likely going to cost you more to live, work and get around Ottawa in 2019.
The city laid out its budget plans today at council; pledging money for police and transit to the tune of another 26 million dollars. For the average Ottawa taxpayer that's just a little over $100 more per year. Part of the property tax increase next year is a 3.5 percent transit levy added to your tax bill; city staff estimate the increase will cost taxpayers an extra $4 a year.
Councillor and new transit chair Allan Hubley said he agrees with the proposed transit tax hike. “It's easy to say let's cut something or let's freeze it but where's that money going to come from, but people want more service not less.”
Additionally, city staff recommended a transit fare increase of 2.5 percent; scheduled to take effect July 1, 2019.
Many transit users were unaware of the proposed increase to fares and did not agree with a hike.
“It's insane, it's crazy… I have no choice I guess.” said student and rider Tiffany Zibi.
Ahmed Aboushaban said he doesn’t believe riders are getting a good deal right now. “It's already pricy so it's not really justifiable given the service level.”
Mayor Watson campaigned on increasing taxes to 3 percent. Elected to another term in office, today Watson urged councilors to support the proposed increases to pay for what the city calls a year of transition; which will see the launch of the long-awaited LRT.
“I don’t support us going down and misleading people to say you know what, we're going to freeze your fares… unless we get free gas from Alberta or the bus drivers volunteer, we have expenses. There's no such thing as free transit.” said Watson.
Budget for Transit increases 3.5% + fare increase of 2.5% recommended for July 2019 = $4 / taxpayer as city plans to expand in “transition year” launching Confederation line @ctvottawa pic.twitter.com/qgVFXCIPgU— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) December 12, 2018
Councillor Riley Brockington said he spoke with many residents while campaigning for re-election and sees today’s budget proposal as another tough situation for transit users.
“People raised concerns about transit services and the punctuality of buses and to then talk about fare increases, it's a bitter pill to swallow.” said Brockington.
“I'd rather it be paid for by the riders and not on my tax bill.” said transit rider Craig Gray.