New Tools for Understanding the City Budget

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The Corporate Services Department has developed new and innovative tools now available on Ottawa.ca in order to enhance the public’s understanding of the budget process and how decisions impact their individual property taxes.

Enhancements include a cleaner navigation through the Budget pages on Ottawa.ca, brief explanatory notes on each tool available, and simplified more descriptive language used to characterize each resource.

The new resources are available in the Understanding Your City Budget section of Ottawa.ca and include:

  1. How your City Budget Works. A four-minute doodle video that uses plain language and easy-to-understand cartoon-style graphics to describe the development of the City budget.
  1. Get Involved in the Budget Process: The City of Ottawa’s Budget Process Made Simple. A printable info-graphic that describes the budget and consultation process and highlights when and how citizens can have their say; and
  1. Budget Planning Tool: Citizen Budget Consultation.  This interactive software tool provides residents with the opportunity to play the role of a politician or administrator by determining how they would prioritize budget funding for each category.  To show the impact of their decision, it will also show how it would affect the budget rate and their individual property taxes.

The online tool allows the user to determine what areas of City services and programs require increases, decreases or status quo funding. The Citizen Budget Consultation tool then calculates the selections and determines the budget rate that would be required to support those choices. On a personal impact level, the user inserts his or her recent property assessment to get how that budget rate impacts their annual property tax payments. If the user does not insert his or her recent property assessment, an average of the City’s property assessment is used as the default.

The budget simulator tool will remain live until the budget is tabled on November 9.  After which time, the data will be collected and a report will be made available to Council with the consolidated results.

I would like to thank Councillor Tierney for bringing this great initiative forward and I would encourage everyone to visit the new website as it is my hope that these tools will provide residents with a better understanding about the budget process and the difficulty in balancing available revenues with service and program delivery budgets.