• Councillor Mark Grimes

Council approves balanced budget that invests in social infrastructure and housing

Toronto City Council has approved a 2017 tax-supported operating budget of $10.5 billion and a 10-year capital budget and plan of $26.5 billion. The 2017 budgets maintain current service levels and make important investments in key strategic priorities.

The 2017 operating budget maintains current programs and services and provides funding for $43 million in new and enhanced services, including investments in poverty reduction, childcare and community wellness, safe transportation, environmental sustainability and city building. In addition, $37 million more is being provided to Toronto Community Housing to address operational needs and to finance the completion of Regent Park Phase 3 Revitalization.

A number of new revenue options were approved by Council to help fund the operating budget, including harmonization of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) with the province's rates, a proposed hotel tax, changes to the commercial tax ratio and a phased elimination of the vacancy rebate. The City also increased the MLTT First-Time Home Buyers rebate from $3,725 to $4,475.

City Council approved a 2017-2026 tax supported capital budget and plan of $26.5 billion of which the majority of funding is allocated to transit and transportation infrastructure ($20 billion or 74%). The 10-year capital plan includes $5.8 billion in new investments to fund critical unmet needs including:

·         Federal Public Transit Infrastructure Funding projects ($709 million)

·         F.G. Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation Plan B ($863 million debt)

·         Smart Track ($3.8 billion)

·         Flood protection for the Portlands ($1.2 billion), and

·         Reducing the state-of-good-repair backlog at Toronto Public Library ($21 million).

Overall, the 2017 budget tax increase after assessment growth is 1.39%, with a 2% increase for residential properties, 1% increase for commercial properties and a 0.67% for industrial properties in support of Council's tax policy to enhance the City's business climate. There will be no increase for multi-residential or rental apartment buildings as per new provincial legislation.

Residents will pay an additional 0.5% for the City Building Fund which supports important infrastructure projects such as transit and housing. With the City's overall strategy to enhance Toronto's business climate and reassessment impact, there will be an additional increase of 0.7% for residential properties, bringing the total municipal tax increase to 3.29%. The average house assessed at $587,471 will incur an additional $90 in municipal property taxes for a total of $2,835 for 2017.

Council approved changes to the solid waste single family bin rates and rebates that will continue to transition the program to a sustainable utility and help to further incent to residents to maximize waste diversion efforts for recycling and organics composting. As a result of a 2% rate increase approved by Council on December 15, 2016 and a rebate reduction for medium, large and extra-large bins approved by Council at its meeting today, in 2017 small bin customers will pay $22.66 per year (increase of $4.90), medium bin customers will pay $139.32 per year (increase of $23.94), large bin customers will pay $339.21 per year (increase of $44.07) and extra-large bin customers will pay $477.44 per year (increase of $66.21).

More information about the City's budget and the budget process is available at http://www.toronto.ca/budget2017.