Toronto Mayor John Tory tabled an operating budget Tuesday morning he says balances "prudence" and "caring investments" and includes a 2.25 per cent property tax increase. The increase for 2015 amounts to 2.75 per cent when the levy for the $3.4 billion Scarborough subway expansion is taken into account.
The tax increases mean the owner of a house assessed at $525,000 will pay $83 more a year.
"This budget is focused on getting Toronto moving, putting people first and keeping taxes low," said Tory.
The mayor touted the property tax increase as falling "well below" the city's rate of inflation, which for the purposes of the budget was rated at 2.6 per cent.
Tory said he's very optimistic the budget will pass in mid March.
The tabled $11.5 billion operating budget also includes:
- 181 new homeless shelter beds.
- A request from Tory that all city departments find internal savings of two per cent for next year's budget, which amounts to about $80 million.
- $5 million more for emergency services response. This includes 56 new paramedics and two superintendents to improve response time.
Residents won't only pay more in property taxes. The budget also includes a solid waste management increase of three per cent as of April 1, which amounts to a 2.25 per cent annual increase.
The budget also proposes a water rate increase of eight per cent effective April 1. That amounts to a 6.5 per cent annual increase.
Budget chair Coun. Gary Crawford said the higher water rates are needed to help the need fix aging infrastructure and better deal with floods and storms.
The capital budget includes:
- An extra $433 million to fix the Gardiner Expressway, a moved that will speed up the project by eight years.
$162 million for 60 new subway cars.
$600 million for 810 buses.
$90 million to expand the city's cycling infrastructure network.
$626 million in parks, forestry and recreation.
$205 million to build 13 new community and expanded centres.
Tuesday's tabling of the budget follows Monday's announcement that most TTC fares will increase 10 per cent while riders under 12 can ride for free.
For the next few weeks the proposed budget will be debated by councillors and presented to the public in consultations. It's slated for final approval by council in mid-March.