Over the past weeks I have been discussing budget priorities with constituents and council colleagues. The 2014 budget will be set by Council at a meeting which starts January 29. The Budget Committee is currently proposing a 2% property tax increase; the first phase (0.5%) of a dedicated transit levy, to pay for the Scarborough subway, will also be added to the tax bill. As you may recall, I did not support the extra $1.7 billion cost to replace the LRT with a subway in this location, causing a 1.6% increase on property taxes for the next 30 years, in addition to the annual tax increases.
Fortunately, the city’s finances are in better shape than they were at the beginning of the current term of office. In all areas, we continue to find efficiencies and look for ways to do the same job for less. In other areas, however, it costs more than the rate of inflation simply to maintain service levels. And there are some programs which we would like to improve, even if it costs a bit more. These might include a slight increase in hours of operation at some of our busiest libraries or adding new schools to the Student Nutrition Program which helps make sure that all children can start the day with a healthy meal, regardless of family income or circumstances.
Before Council gets to its debate, I invite you to weigh in. What’s the correct balance between providing valuable services and keeping taxes down? Complete this month’s survey here.
For more information on the budget and budget process, visit the City’s website.