The City of Toronto’s 2021 budget will rely heavily on federal and provincial support to combat the significant financial cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the City’s Budget Committee began the process of reviewing the staff-recommended tax-supported operating and capital budgets for the upcoming year.
Around $1.6 billion will be needed in supports this year from other levels of government – $740 million is currently secured.
Currently, the City has saved $573 million in cost mitigation strategies.
“The proposed 2021 budget is focused on preserving services and keeping much-needed capital projects on track in the face of the unprecedented challenges created by COVID-19. I firmly believe now is not the time to be cutting services and that individuals cannot afford significant tax increases to cover our shortfall. This budget will ensure the City is making substantial and necessary investments to manage the continued impacts of the pandemic to protect residents and the services that must remain strong,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
“I am working to secure further support from the federal and provincial governments again this year. A renewed Safe Restart agreement will provide the support necessary to keep much-needed capital projects on track. This year’s capital budget means more jobs for people, helps the economy keep rolling, and makes sure we keep making the long overdue investments in infrastructure that we all know are necessary.”
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The current operating $12.09 billion budget focuses on managing COVID-19 impacts and recovery, preserving existing services within health guidelines, keeping property taxes affordable, and building “a prosperous Toronto.”
When combined with the $1.86 billion rate-supported operating budget approved by City Council on December 16, 2020, the total 2021 operating budget is $13.95 billion.
The budget includes $56 million in new investments to support road safety, mobility, modernization, culture, and equity and reconciliation.
The recommended tax-supported 10-year capital plan is $29.05 billion. And with the additional $15.65 billion rate-supported capital budget approved by City Council on December 16, the total 10-year capital plan is $44.70 billion.
This capital budget continues work on Council-approved investments, including contributions to address state-of-good-repair needs within the TTC and Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).
There is also an overall budgetary increase of 0.51%, which comes mainly from property tax with an increase of 0.7% – an additional $22 for the average Toronto household, and a 0.35% increase for commercial properties, as well as a 0.23% increase for industrial properties. There will be no increase for multi-residential or apartment buildings, as per provincial legislation.
The budget includes a 1.5% City Building levy consistent with the City’s planned and approved capital funding strategy, costing the average Toronto household an additional $47. The City notes this increase will be dedicated to major transit and housing capital initiatives.
The budgets will be reviewed and debated by Budget and Executive Committees before being finalized and approved by City Council on February 18.