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Toronto city councillors voted 21-4 on Thursday to approve a 2.55 per cent residential property tax hike in the 2019 budget.

The property tax hike is actually 3.58 per cent when other adjustments are factored in, such as the city building fund, which is intended to support infrastructure projects such as transit and housing.

Mayor John Tory had promised during the municipal election campaign last fall to keep the tax hike at or below the rate of inflation. Canada’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January, compared with a 2.0 per cent increase in December, according to Statistics Canada.

City staff say residents who have a home assessed on average at $665,605 will pay $104 more than 2018 in property taxes.

The budget, which is still under debate, also includes an extra $162 million for the TTC to accelerate work on the downtown relief subway line and $30 million to Toronto police, part of which will be used to hire 300 new officers.

The $13.5-billion operating budget includes a water rate increase of three per cent, a garbage rate hike of 2.2 per cent and a TTC fare increase of 10 cents.

Tory’s opponents argue there are critical holes in the budget, such as $45 million the federal government promised to help cover the cost of housing refugees in the city. Toronto has yet to receive the funds from Ottawa.

City staff said another $34 million is expected to be cut from the budget but it’s unclear where those cuts would be made.

Provincial legislation requires city operating budgets to be balanced.

March 8, 2019

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