PRESS RELEASE: PRESS RELEASE: Sutcliffe Raiding City Reserves to Pay for Costly and Unsustainable Low Property Tax Promise


OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa has discovered that Mayor Mark Sutcliffe has been dipping heavily into city reserves to be able to afford to keep property taxes low despite his claims that it is simply a result of “finding efficiencies” and “lower than average costs.”

Community activists and researchers have reported that the new Mayor has used a whopping one-third of Ottawa’s total reserves just in his first two years of office. Budget documents show that reserves stood at $663.1 million during his first year in office and went down by about $130 million and are projected to decrease again to $436 million in 2024 as he struggles to keep property taxes at an unsustainable level.

Reserve funds are typically only to be used in cases of emergency for things like the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent municipalities from falling into debt.

“This is a pretty shocking revelation that was not underscored during the tabling of the budget earlier this month despite it being vital information for both councillors as well as residents across the City of Ottawa” said Sam Hersh, Coordinator of Horizon Ottawa. “The money in the reserves are there for a reason and using them to fulfill an arbitrary campaign promise could put the city at dire financial risk.”

During the 2022 municipal election, Sutcliffe notably attacked fellow mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney for a plan to take $90 million out of reserves over a two-year period to cushion inflationary pressures saying “those are emergency funds that should be there in the future. We're breaking the piggy bank.”

If this trend keeps up and Sutcliffe intends on maintaining tax increases at 2.5% by his last year in office, we could be seeing a complete depletion of reserve funds leaving the city in a precarious financial position with both above average tax increases as well as even more significant cuts.

“The Mayor likes to brand himself as a sound financial manager but is actively choosing to put the city at financial risk just to fulfill a promise that he knows he can’t keep - that seems pretty reckless to me.” Said Hersh. “We need a leader that is willing to fix what is broken, not patch a hole on the issue and hope nothing goes wrong down the road.” 


For Media Inquiries:

Sam Hersh
[email protected]

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