Property tax to go up 3.75%
Toronto city councillors have been presented with a proposed operating budget this year of $8.2 billion — to be precise, $8,186,920,000 — a figure that will require homeowners to fork over an extra 3.75 per cent on their property tax bill.
The trade-off is a modest package of new services, led by improvements to public transit.
On the average home assessed at $365,468, the hike will add about $81 to the tax bill. Most of that will cover inflation in the cost of wages and supplies, but about 1 percentage point of the increase will fund $12 million in new "strategic investments," chief financial officer Joe Pennachetti said yesterday.
That includes expanding the hours of city bus routes; upgrading, cleaning and painting subway stations; and measures to reduce TTC job injuries and absenteeism.
The package, described by budget chair Shelley Carroll as "ridiculously modest," also includes $1.3 million for grants to community organizations in low-income neighbourhoods, $800,000 to open new waterfront parks and $705,000 to remove tree hazards in the parks.
But the bulk of the property tax will help pay the rising costs of existing services in the budget, which is up from $7.8 billion last year.
Commercial property owners can expect a 1.25 per cent property tax hike. When combined, the increases will generate $75 million.
The city has earmarked $120 million to cover known wage hikes in 2008, but it doesn’t include the cost of new contracts being negotiated this year by police and transit workers. Contracts covering other city workers don’t expire until Dec. 31.
Pennachetti said, without revealing the amounts, the city has pencilled in money to cover police and transit settlements.
Mayor David Miller insisted the proposed budget meets his campaign commitment that taxes would increase only in line with the rate of inflation.