Toronto City Council will debate the 2018 Capital and Operating budgets on Monday, February 12. The proposed budget, as approved by the Mayor’s executive committee this week, calls for a 2.1% increase on residential property taxes, keeping with the recent trend of keeping property tax increases at, or below, the rate of inflation.
The budget calls for a near 0% increase of program expenses across all departments. It expands funding in the 10-year Capital Plan by $1.1B overall and includes:
$4.5B to continue the state of good repair projects for roads and transportation related infrastructure.
$7.1B to fund the City’s two largest current transit investments, SmartTrack and the Scarborough Subway Extension
$5.1B for TTC infrastructure, vehicle replacement and Automatic Train Control (increasing capacity on Line 1)
$659M for state of good repair project in the City’s parks and recreation facilities.
$279M to address the TCHC repair backlog and keep more subsidized housing available.
The budget also adds $50M in new and enhanced services. Some of these examples include:
$21.8M in new funding for Shelter Support and Housing as the first step in a three year plan to open 1,000 new shelter spaces.
$9M in new funding for initiatives aimed at speeding up traffic including hiring civilian traffic wardens and quick clear teams. When these initiatives were piloted in 2016, they resulted in a 90% reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles.
Funding for 20,000 new recreation program spaces
Implementing a two hour transfer program on the TTC
Almost $11M in funding for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, including the introduction of a low income transit fare.
$2M funding for the TransformTO climate change plan
New funding to accelerate the Vision Zero road safety plan
Although the proposed budget is able to achieve new investment with a low tax increase, this is largely done by drawing down on the city’s reserve funds and continuing to increase the heavy reliance on the land transfer tax. John remains concerned that this is not sustainable over the long term.
If the city is to increase revenue, John believes that user fees, rather than high tax increases, provide a fairer method for residents of Willowdale. That’s because property taxes are based on the value of your property, and Willowdale has higher land values than most other neighbourhoods. User fees, on the other hand, are based on what you use. For example, your water bill is based on how much water you use, no matter what part of the city you live in. But if your water bill was part of the general property tax, residents in Willowdale would pay more for the same amount of water, because of the high value of their property.
As always, we’d like to know what YOU think and what your priorities are. Please take a few minutes to fill out our 2018 online survey here. We’ll send out the results to those who participate, along with an analysis of trends – e.g. a comparison of priorities among those who live in condos compared to those in detached homes.