WATCH: Global’s Dave Trafford breaks Mayor Tory’s first budget.
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor John Tory is proposing a 2.25 per cent property tax increase in the 2015 budget.
The increase however, does not include a 0.5 per cent levy for the Scarborough subway extension, which was previously agreed upon by council.
“My commitment was on the property tax increase I can control in terms of putting together the 2015 budget,” Tory told reporters prior to presenting the city’s spending plan to the budget committee Tuesday morning.
“The point-five per cent was always there, long before we got here for this term.”
The mayor maintains the property tax increase is “well below” the city’s rate of inflation of 2.6 per cent despite the total, including the levy, being higher.
“The rate of inflation will be what it is and it presently stands at 2.6 per cent,” he said.
Avg Toronto house assessed at $524,833 will pay $92.79/yr in new tax. That includes new property tax, Scarb subway levy and Education tax.
— Dave Trafford (@DaveTrafford) January 20, 2015
Tory said he is also proposing to invest an additional $75 million into the operation budget to improve city services — with nearly half of it going towards public transit.
“Whether by foot, bike, or public transit, we’re investing in public transit to get this city moving,” Tory explained.
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Transit and infrastructure were expected to be front and centre in Tory’s first draft budget, which also includes $14.4 million to support Toronto’s most vulnerable by adding more shelter beds. Tory is also setting a target of $80 million for city efficiencies.
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The city’s budget relies on $86 million from the province to achieve balance – a number which the city is still negotiating.
“Historically the province chips in way more money, this is really a year when we’re asking for a first installment,” Councillor Joe Mihevc told reporters Tuesday. “This actually marks a change from the Ford years by saying ‘province, we need you as partners, in funding good public services at the city level. $86 million is a start, I suspect in 2016 and beyond we’ll be asking for that partnership to deepen and be broader.”
But much of the proposed budget is subject to drastic change through several rounds of meetings including public deputations, and executive committee meetings before returning to council for final approval in March.
The TTC, Toronto Water and the Toronto Police Service have the largest budgets, together contributing to nearly 35 per cent of the total budget.
The #CityofTO staff recommended operating budget is $11.5 billion. Learn where the money goes. pic.twitter苏州夜网/wStosiRHps
— City of Toronto (@TorontoComms) January 20, 2015
The Toronto Police budget is targeting a zero per cent increase. Councillor Gary Crawford told reporters that number could change through the ongoing round of collective bargaining but the city has already put aside some money in case they have to pay higher salaries.
“It is a zero per cent increase but they’re not including collective bargaining mandated increases,” Crawford said.
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Traditionally, new mayors don’t have much input into the first operating budget, which is said to be close to $10 billion.
While campaigning, Tory promised to freeze TTC fares and keep residential taxes at or below the rate of inflation.
On Monday, Tory announced a 10 cent TTC fare hike and that children under 12 years will be allowed to ride for free.