The City of Toronto’s budget has been officially approved and as usual it’s controversial. The City has claimed that the budget will offer “significant investments in key strategic priorities for the City’s future including transit, poverty reduction and public safety”. The budget will be funded mainly through increases in property taxes, utility fees and TTC fares. Specifically, this article will highlight how the budget will affect “ordinary” Torontonians.
So let’s start with the “fun” part…the costs to you. As mentioned, the budget will be balanced by increased taxes. This will be mainly through property taxes. The increase will be by 3.2% or $83.19 for the average City appraisal of $524,833. The property tax increase includes a 2.25% base, 0.50% for the Scarborough Subway construction and a .45% increase for the “business climate” of Toronto.
Increased Waste Management Fees
Housing fees will also be raised through increased costs associated with waste management and water usage. Solid waste management costs will increase by 3% and a rebate offered on garbage bins will be cut (refer to image for changes in bin fees). Water rates will be increased by 8% and the City estimates that the average household (using 280 cubic metres of water) will be charged an extra $54 annually.
The TTC has already increased their fares by 10 cents for tokens and by varying amounts for metropasses. The good news is that now children under 12 years of age will be able to travel on the TTC for free.
The changes will obviously have the largest impact on homeowners and individuals that use the public transit system. The impact on existing renters will be minimal as the maximum amount that rent can be increased in 2015 is only 1.6% and landlords must give 90 days notice before the increase can take effect.
Where Your Property Taxes Are Spent
Now for the best part! These are all the budgetary promises that the City has made;
– Increased TTC services! 50 new buses will be used to implement express service on busy routes, improved subway services, expanded bus/streetcar night service, and as mentioned, youths 12 and under travel for free
– Increased spending on poverty reduction by increasing the amount of shelter beds by 181, increased spending to better student nutrition, increased childcare subsidies, enhanced shelter warming centres and an expansion of priority centres.
– 56 new paramedics and 25 fire prevention employees
– $91 million to fund the Pan Am Games ($13.5 million from the City and rest from other levels of government)
Where The Operating Budget Is Spent
The city also has a ten-year infrastructure budget (officially known as the Capital budget) that details long-term projects. The highlights are;
– $970 million for the rehabilitation of the Gardiner Expressway
– Continued investments in traffic control and congestion management
– 60 new subway cars, 810 buses and 195 light rail vehicles
– $627 million to City parks, forestry and recreation
The big question about this budget is if the citizens of Toronto will feel that the new benefits validate the increased costs. Time will help determine this, but as always, costs and benefits are subjective and some people will benefit more than others.
As always, thank you for reading and you can find us on Facebook at “The Friendly Financial Coach”. If you have any questions or opinions, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.