Toronto City Council approves $13.5 billion for 2019 operating budget

Mar 8 2019, 1:42 pm

Toronto City Council has approved its 2019 operating budget and 2019-2028 capital budget and plan, which not only includes funding to speed up work on the relief line but also keeps the property tax increase at the rate of inflation, according to the City.

With taxes and rates combined, council approved an operating budget of $13.47 billion and a 10-year capital budget plan of $40.67 billion.

The approved budget will allegedly enable the city to provide more than 150 distinct services that are supported by capital assets and infrastructure worth more than $94 billion. The budget passed with an overwhelming vote of 22-4.

Overall, the 2019 budget tax increase is 1.8%.

There is a 2.55% increase for residential properties, 1.28% increase for commercial properties and 0.85% for industrial properties, which is “consistent with Council’s longstanding tax policy to enhance the City’s business climate.”

There is no increase for multi-residential/apartment buildings as per provincial legislation.

Additionally, a number of balancing strategies were used, including “limiting City operations costs and assumed federal funding to address an increase in refugees and asylum seekers in the City’s shelter system.”

Council also approved a TTC Board-recommended $0.10 TTC fare increase, a 2.2% increase for garbage collection and a 3% water rate increase.

Mayor John Tory called the budget “responsible”, adding it will preserve and invest in city services, including the TTC, Toronto Police and Toronto Public Library while keeping the property tax increase at the rate of inflation.

“I’m proud this budget includes funding to speed up work on the relief line by at least two years and to begin the Housing Now plan to build 10,000 more housing units on 11 surplus City-owned sites,” said Tory, adding, “this budget ensures we will have more recreation spaces for families, more youth hubs, more police officers, and more improvements to TTC service.”

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While the budget was approved with a majority vote, councillor Josh Matlow was one of the four who voted against it, saying funding that could have been invested in youths and their families is now going towards “replenishing various divisions’ vehicle fleets.”

Additionally, former Chief Planner and runner in the 2018 mayoral election, Jennifer Keesmaat, called out Tory for not using the budget to fund projects he already announced and voted for.