letter to the editor by David Brown
If you live in rural Ottawa and are on private well and septic services, this year you saw an increase on your property tax bill for stormwater services. Moving forward, you will continue to pay for this new line item each year on your tax bill, the only question you’ll be asking is “how much will the tax increase be?” City Council just approved a staff report that recommended a 13% increase for stormwater services… déjà vu you might think. That’s because after rural councillors did the bidding of Ottawa’s mayor and traveled around their rural wards to sell residents on the idea of paying for stormwater services and promising to limit rate increases to reasonable levels, staff recommended the same 13% increase that is being sought after for the 2019 budget.
2018 being an election year, Councillors were presented with a golden opportunity to save the day by passing a motion to limit the 2018 increase to 5%, and funding the balance from debt, placing the burden to repay today’s costs, onto the next generation.
Now that Councillors have secure and stable jobs for the next four years, I hope their commitment to keeping taxes at reasonable levels remains. For eight years, residents were told that Councillors were able to govern our Nations Capital with a reasonable, consistent, annual compounded 2% tax increase, now we are being told they need up to 3% to maintain our public assets and government services. From 2010-2018 the City’s net debt ballooned from $835 million in 2010 to over $2.2 billion in 2018 with debt servicing costs more than doubling to $211 million in 2018 alone.
With the 2019 budget consultation process just beginning, taxpayers can only hope that Councillors will challenge what Mayor Watson and City staff present to them and do more than nod their heads and vote the way they are told.