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The proposed budget for 2019 has been approved at the committee level despite its reliance on millions of dollars in federal funding that hasn’t actually been conveyed yet.
The six-member budget committee signed off on the $13.46 billion operating budget during a meeting at city hall today.
The budget includes a 2.55 per cent property tax hike on residential homes, which would equate to an additional $77 a year on an average home with an assessed value of $665,605.
The budget also includes a three per cent water rate increase as well as a 2.2 per cent increase on garbage collection rates. The water rate hike will cost the average household an additional $27 per year while the garbage collection rate hike will cost homeowners an additional $5 to $10 per year, depending on the size of their bins.
The budget is balanced only on the expectation that Ottawa will provide the city with $45 million in funding to offset the costs of resettling refugees in the city.
While the federal government has promised $114.7-million in additional funding to help cover costs related to housing asylum seekers nationwide, it’s unclear how much of that money will be given to Toronto.
Since the city is not allowed to carry a deficit, the money would have to be conveyed sometime in the coming fiscal year or other cuts would have to be made.
«Despite a very tough budget year, we have approved a budget that ensures no services have been cut and makes key investments in many services including the TTC, policing, libraries, and housing,» Budget Chief Gary Crawford said in a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m extremely proud that for the fifth year in a row, the budget delivers on Mayor Tory’s promise to limit the property tax increase to at or below the rate of inflation – a pledge that was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters across the city in the last election.»
The budget includes an additional $162 million in funding to the TTC to speed up work on the relief subway line as well as a $30 million increase in funding to the Toronto Police Service that will be used, in part, to hire 300 new uniformed officers, 122 special constables and 186 part-time retirees.
Crawford pointed out that the budget also includes $56.1 million in “new investments for key priorities and enhanced services” but in a message posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Coun. Mike Layton slammed committee members for voting down several motions “that would have improved services and made a difference.
He said the resulting budget is “uninspired, unfair and unbalanced.”
«We need bolder solutions and a break from the status quo. When Council debates the 2019 budget, I’ll be moving a motion to challenge my colleagues to make the investments needed in winter road maintenance, vision zero, and transit,» he wrote.
The budget will be considered by executive committee on March 4 and will then go to city council as a whole for final approval on March 7.

February 22, 2019

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