City of Toronto launches 2015 tax and rate supported budgets

The City of Toronto's Budget Committee today began the budget process to review the 2015 staff recommended tax supported and rate supported budgets. The budgets deliver significant service improvements in key priority areas including transit, poverty reduction and public safety.

"Toronto's 2015 budget is focused on getting Toronto moving, putting families first and keeping taxes low," said Mayor John Tory. "This budget is about investing in better transit, better housing, more jobs and an end to the gridlock that is choking our streets – all while maintaining property taxes below the rate of inflation."

The 2015 Staff Recommended Operating Budget is $11.5 billion, with a proposed budget tax increase of 2.25%. The proposed budget is dependent on $86 million in provincial assistance related to the loss of provincial housing grants. The City continues to have discussions with the Province to secure the necessary funding in the coming weeks.

The 2015 Staff Recommended Capital Budget and Plan is $31.7 billion and includes $1.6 billion in new capital investments to maintain the City's transportation network, public transit, and shelter, support and housing. The capital budget and plan continues to fund the City's two largest transit investments, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the Scarborough Subway Extension.

"The staff recommended operating and capital budgets balance the need to invest in services and infrastructure to support today's residents and future generations, while keeping Toronto affordable," said Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest), Chair of the City's Budget Committee.

"The 2015 operating and capital budgets demonstrate our commitment to providing enhanced services and programs, improving our infrastructure and continuing to invest in Toronto's future," said Toronto City Manager Joe Pennachetti. "The major investments that are outlined in this year's budgets align with the City's strategic actions by providing additional funding for transit, housing, parks and recreation, and emergency services, while maintaining the City's fiscal health."

"This year's recommended budgets continue to make important investments for our city without relying on last year's surplus," said Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Rob Rossini. "Even with the proposed increase, the City of Toronto's residential tax is the lowest among large urban centres in Ontario."

For the average house assessed at $524,833, the 2.25% budget tax increase will result in an additional $58.66 per household. As part of the City's overall strategy to enhance Toronto's business climate, the City continues to reduce its tax rates for commercial, industrial and multi-residential properties. This will result in an additional 0.45% increase. When combined with the 0.5% increase for the Scarborough Subway and the 0.95% Education Tax increase, the total property tax increase will be $2.57% or $92.79.

Staff also today presented the 2015 rate supported budgets for Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Water and the Toronto Parking Authority.

The Solid Waste Management Service's recommended budget proposes a rate increase of 3% as of April 1, which equates to a 2.25% increase for 2015. A reduction in the Solid Waste Rebate in the amount of $18 million is being proposed as part of the tax supported budget. This would result in a net increase for single family residential customers based on garbage bin size as a first step to a full user pay program that improves waste diversion.

Toronto Water's rate supported budget ensures that the City can continue to provide high quality drinking water and wastewater services while dealing with the impact of extreme storms and aging infrastructure. The proposed operating budget is recommending an 8% water rate increase as of April 1, which equates to a 6.5% increase for 2015. The proposed capital budget and plan includes $2 billion over 10 years in additional investments in state of good repair, basement flooding remediation, Wet Weather Flow Master Plan and improving the City's resiliency to extreme weather.

"The launch of the 2015 budget is the first step in the City's budget review process," said Councillor Crawford. "I encourage all residents to follow and get involved in the process as we discuss and debate this year's budget."

Residents can follow the development of the budget as it is reviewed, debated and approved by the Budget Committee and the Executive Committee, and finally by City Council on March 10 and 11. Residents and businesses can make a presentation to the Budget Committee at the public consultations on February 2 and 3. More information about how to make a deputation is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis.

Highlights of the 2015 budget can be found in the Budget at a Glance available at http://bit.ly/1BbrGnt.

More information about the City's budget and the budget process is available at http://www.toronto.ca/budget2015.

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