City council approves $13.53 million budget and property tax hike

Feb 20 2020, 9:15 am

Toronto city council unanimously approved the 2020 tax-supported budget on Wednesday.

On the table was the operating budget of $13.53 billion and a 10-year-tax-supported capital budget of $27.9 billion.

The $13.53 billion operating budget includes $11.59 billion that is largely supported by the city’s property tax. The rest is funded through fees for water, garbage collection, and parking.

The budget reportedly ensures that the existing 150 services will be maintained and makes new investments in city infrastructure with substantial funding for housing and transit.

“Today, city council approved a good, responsible, realistic, and forward-looking budget for our fast growing city. The 2020 budget includes the most significant investment in upgrading our transit system in the city’s history,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“We have almost doubled the TTC 10-year capital plan so we can invest $13.2 billion in upgrading our existing transit system. This budget makes it clear that the city is making investments in transit and housing and will be working with the province and the federal government so that we are all funding the work that must be done to protect Toronto’s success.”

The operating budget also allows for the hires of 62 new paramedics, more than 300 police officers, 21 librarians for youth hubs, and 121 TTC operators.

The 2% property tax increase was approved for residential properties, meaning the average Toronto household will pay an additional $61 on their municipal property tax bill, and is part of an overall 4.24% increase which includes a 1.5% increase to the city building levy that was approved by council last month.

According to the City of Toronto, the budget focuses on keeping the property tax increase for city operations at the level of inflation.

The budget includes $79.4 million in new investments to address key commitments including community safety, road safety, climate change, the ravine strategy, and poverty reduction.

“We listened to residents through the budget process and amended the budget based on the feedback we received, including $12 million in additional investments for violence reduction, youth hubs, the ravine strategy and other vital services,” Councillor and Budget Committee Chair, Gary Crawford said. “I’m proud to say we have delivered a budget that funds key priorities, while investing in critical infrastructure and state of good repair.”

The budget passed while still banking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau filling in a $77 million gap — the funding has yet to be guaranteed in the upcoming federal budget.

The city is hoping the $77 million assistance will help with sheltering initiatives for refugees in the city.