No major service reductions, modest new investments, and a four per cent property tax increase for homeowners: Just some of what was included in the City of Toronto's proposed $8.7-billion operating budget announced Tuesday.
“The proposed budget maintains services and invests in the right areas,” chair of the budget committee, Coun. Shelley Carroll said in a news release. “Now is not the right time to cut programs and services. Instead, now is the time to direct our limited resources to the areas that can have the greatest impact during difficult times.”
Under the proposal, overall property taxes will rise by 2.5 per cent, but residential property taxes will increase by more, due to a city policy of easing business taxes over the long term. The property tax increase will result in an additional $89 on a home with an assessed value of $387,000.
Investments to the tune of $23.5 million are included for transit, community health, public spaces, customer service, civic engagement and combating climate change.
Mayor David Miller said in a release that the city must “protect the services and programs our residents and businesses have come to rely upon," especially during a period of “worldwide economic instability.”
Speaking with a reporter outside city hall, Coun. Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) called the budget “alarming.”
“There's got to be an end to this somewhere,” he said. “The taxpayers can't keep paying forever.”
The budget includes an enhancement of existing programs that allow low-income seniors and persons with disabilities the ability to cancel or defer their tax increases.
Toronto city council will consider the final 2009 operating budget at its meeting on March 31 and April 1. The public is invited to make submissions on the city’s proposed operating budget by making a presentation to the budget committee on Feb. 18, submitting a written presentation to the Budget Committee, or sending a letter or e-mail to their local city councillor. Details can be found on the city's website.