Regional Councillor Wendy Stewart's
Report to all River Ward Community Associations
1. Shortliffe Report Recommends One City of Ottawa
A copy of the Shortliffe Report on Local Government Reform in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton has been mailed to leaders of all community associations in River Ward. If you would like to receive the complete Report or the 44 Abridged Recommendations (5 pages) please let me know.
Legislation is expected to be tabled at Queen’s Park in the near future, for possible enactment before the new year.
2. Revised Regional Budget Schedule
Special Advisor Glen Shortliffe’s Report on Local Governance Reform recommends that Ottawa-Carleton municipalities approve their 2000 Budgets by year end or have the newly appointed Transition Team do it for them. As a result, Regional Council has agreed to accelerate consideration of next year’s Capital and Operating Budgets for final approval on December 22nd.
Unfortunately, because of this expedited approval schedule, there will be reduced budget documentation available, and insufficient time to hold a budget meeting in the community this year. Formal public consultation will be limited to delegations at policy committee meetings as follows:
2000 Draft Estimates Tabled with Council Wed., 8 Dec 99, 1:30 p.m.
Transit Services Committee Fri., 10 Dec 99, 9:00 a.m.
Corporate Services & Ec. Dev. Committee Mon., 13 Dec 99, 9:00 a.m.
Planning & Environment Committee Tues., 14 Dec 99, 9:00 a.m.
Community Services Committee Thurs., 16 Dec 99, 9:00 a.m.
Ottawa-Carleton Police Services Board Mon., 20 Dec 99, 5:00 p.m.
Regional Council - Final Approval Wed., 22 Dec 99, 9:00 a.m.
If you would like to take a closer look at key issues that will ultimately impact targeted tax rates, such as: loss of one-time PIL revenues; increased compensation costs resulting from collective bargaining; levy stabilization reserve issues; higher police debt service costs; assessment growth; etc., please call my office to request an information package.
Not that there’s a great deal to worry about. In the first place, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has already given Council guidance with regard to spending decisions, in light of municipal reform. Specifically, we must avoid starting new programs or activities that would strain current and future budgets. Spending reserve funds for any purpose other than that originally intended, or sooner than intended is also discouraged.
Secondly, even after two quite challenging years, the Region’s financial position is very good. Our broad fiscal flexibility is based on sizable accumulated reserves and significant use of pay-as-you-go capital funding. Debt ratios are low, reflecting strong internal funding policies and rapid debt retirement. These credit strengths are an advantage as we pick up a larger share of social services and infrastructure costs transferred by the province. Residents will recall that Regional Council managed to absorb Local Services Realignment impact on property taxes in 1998 and 1999 while at the same time freezing and, in 1999, reducing taxes.
The Corporate Services & Economic Development Committee has given direction that all departments develop draft estimates assuming no increase in tax requirement over 1999. Property tax mitigation proposed for the Ottawa Senators Corel Centre will be accommodated through a reduction in the upper tier tax requirement. This means that, if you own a home in Ottawa valued at $150,000, the impact on your property taxes will amount to a decrease of approximately $46.00 as you enter the new millennium.
3. More on Friendship Windmill
Thanks to the many residents who took time to attend the public meeting to discuss the Friendship Windmill proposal at the Hog’s Back Marina, and to those who have called and written my office to comment on their concerns. My position on this matter was published in the Ottawa Citizen (City Editorial page) on Friday, November 19th. If you missed it, call and we’ll send out a copy.
To date, no formal application has been made to the City of Ottawa, so there is still very little information regarding details of the proposal. If the Friendship Windmill Corporation decides to proceed at the marina site, you may be assured that there will be many opportunities for input from local residents as the proposal makes its way through City and Regional planning processes.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all recipients of my Regional Report for their interest and support throughout 1999. Special thanks to those who have participated in local government by taking time to call in comments, and direction. Your involvement is appreciated.
My Assistants Bonnie Conlon and Stephanie Machel join me in extending our very best wishes for a Happy & Healthy Christmas season and a way-cool millennium celebration.