City Finances & “Revenue Tools” – Consultation December 7.

The City of Toronto needs to take a hard look at how it collects revenue, both to maintain and improve services and to finance major projects including public transit, affordable housing and other infrastructure needs.  While finding spending efficiencies is an important part of this equation, capital priorities cannot continue to be funded almost exclusively from the property tax base.  John strongly supports the City’s active exploration of additional revenue tools that would more fairly spread the tax burden.  He also opposes the idea of selling off City assets (such as Toronto Hydro) that provide the City with long-term income.

By provincial legislation, most of the City’s taxes are currently based on property value assessments conducted by MPAC.  City Council sets a tax rate for each property class, but what residents pay is based on the assessed value of their property.  With local land values skyrocketing, many Willowdale residents have seen tax increases of 50% or more on their last assessment.  For many, this is completely out of sync with their income, and for all, it means we pay many times more for the same municipal services as residents on similarly sized properties in other parts of the city.

A local consultation session on the Long Term Financial Strategy for Toronto is being hosted by the City at Mitchell Field Community Centre (89 Church Avenue) on Wednesday, December 7 with an open house starting at 6 PM and presentation at 7 PM.  A webcast will also available.  Find more information at the City’s investing in Toronto website.  We hope you will participate and learn more.

The talk over the past week has focused on road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, one of several new “revenue tools” currently under consideration at City Hall.

On road tolls specifically, John is still looking at the available information, and looks forward to the coming debate at Council.  While tolls could be an important new source of revenue to the City, with several additional policy benefits, he also has great concerns about the potential of diverting cars off of expressways and onto arterial roads adding to neighbourhood traffic penetration.  The exact details of a tolling plan haven’t been nailed down and there remain questions on details from the precise fees to collection methodology.  John will continue to update residents on this process as details become available.

For residents wishing to express their own views, John has prepared a short feedback survey that touches on road tolls and several other revenue options that will be considered by Council.  You can share your thoughts with John here for the survey, or send an email separately.