Spotlight on the 2019 Toronto City Budget
On February 22, I had the opportunity to welcome Grade 5 students from St. Brendan’s Catholic School to my new workplace. It was so much fun to host these smart and energetic young constituents at Toronto City Hall. They asked many great questions about my new role and about how meetings work in the council chamber.
One hundred days in office has now passed. Every day I have spent since being sworn in on December 4 has been filled with gratitude. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore interesting ideas and initiatives, grateful to work alongside my wonderful office staff and grateful to learn from inspiring council colleagues and dedicated civil servants. Most of all, I’m grateful that voters of the Centennial community put their trust in me.
Following a long and winding process, Budget 2019 was passed on March 7. As a new appointee to our City’s Budget Committee, I found the overall budget process stimulating, challenging and rewarding. The best part was attending deputations at the Scarborough and Etobicoke Civic Centres, and hearing ideas from residents. I’d like to take this opportunity to summarize some of the key outcomes of the budget.
Property taxes will be going up by 2.55%, with an additional 1.03% increase for the purpose of funding infrastructure improvements. This overall boost of 3.58% will see the average homeowner in the Centennial community pay another $104 in property taxes a year. There will also be a shift towards full costing of garbage collection and elimination of the rebate based on garbage bin size.
These increases are necessary to offset the shortfall of the land transfer tax. Last year it did not generate the kind of revenue seen in past years, with a projected shortfall of approximately $100 million. The tax increases ensure adequate funding for key city strategies, including poverty reduction, youth equity, TransformTO and Housing Now. We are also boosting the police budget by $30 million to hire more police officers. This increase is necessary to address concerns about rising gun violence in the city.
As a member of the TTC Board I’m delighted to report that we are finally taking the TTC’s long-term capital backlog seriously. There is a consistent and newfound emphasis on attaining a long-term state of good repair. After a thorough review, the TTC has identified that we have $33.5 billion in capital funding needs over 15 years to keep our transit system in a state of good repair. This is just to maintain existing service. I look forward to advocating to our provincial and federal representatives for funding of this important initiative. It’s important we don’t leave this backlog of repairs to the next generation.
On April 9, the Mayor’s executive committee will receive updated designs and cost estimates for the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton East LRT extension to Malvern. These projects are critical steps toward developing an integrated Scarborough transit network. If you would like to submit comments or give a deputation on April 7, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.