Okay. I would like to help you understand how your City develops its budget.
We always hear about them, and often this can feel like another language all together.
Before we get started, there is important information you should know. Ontario cities like Ottawa receive only 9% of all taxes collected, but are responsible for over 50% of the infrastructure.
Let’s start by looking at what the word budget means…Simply put, it is a planned itemized summary of money that is coming into to the City and how that money is spent for a specific period of time.
It is very important to note that provincial government legislation in Ontario states money coming in equals money going out also known as Revenue equals Expenditures...or a balanced budget.
The City of Ottawa provides more than 100 services to the citizens of Ottawa, so City Council and Administration always have to make difficult decisions to ensure this balancing takes place.
There are two main components of the budget when looking at the “money going out” side of
the scale. Operating pays for all the day-to-day activities of the Corporation: this includes items such as: salaries and wages, utilities, supplies, fuel, and insurance - just to name a few.
The Capital budget pays for all the new big investments or the rehabilitation of current assets under the City’s control.
So let’s focus on how the city collects to pay for all these services.
For every dollar that comes into the city... 53 cents comes from property taxes, 18 cents from provincial grants, and 29 cents from user fees and other sources.
So, now we have learned what a budget is, how cities collect money and how they spend it.
Now let’s take a look at how these pieces work together: Money comes in through property taxes, grants & subsidies, and user fees. The money collected is required for both the operating and capital budget.
We've already talked about the operating budget, including day to day expenses, but it also includes money for funding capital budgets.
The Capital budget pays for all the new big investments or the renewal or rehabilitation of city assets and infrastructure.
This connection is made through 2 methods: the Reserve Fund method which sets aside funds to pay for capital projects on a cash basis. These are usually projects that are paid for in the short term such as a road widening or replacement of a sewer line. Or the debt payment
Ok. So let’s recap.
One - A budget is a plan for money coming in and money going out. There are two building blocks
to the City Budget: Operating and Capital.
Two - The operating budget is like your paying your house bills to keep the lights on. Just like
in a normal household, our bills go up with inflation.
Three - The capital budget is like your major outlays: vehicles, house, renovations etc.
Four - Money comes in from three sources: Property Tax Levy, User Fees, and Grants and Subsidies.
Five - Money coming in is used to deliver over 100 services to City residents.
Six - City Council and Administration, with the input of the public, decide how best to balance the City budget guided by Provincial legislation.
And that, is how your City develops its budget.