Toronto Council is gearing up to set its budget for the coming year. Last Monday we got a draft proposed budget from City Staff you can find the overview presentation and the background documents here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewPublishedReport.do?function=getAgendaReport&meetingId=15450
I have begun to work through the hundreds of pages of details to see what the impacts on all of us will be. So far a few things concern me.
As has happened in previous years revenues from property taxes will fall compared to inflation. On top of that revenues from the Land Transfer Tax fell last year and, I believe, will fall again next year. This means we are forced to tighten and reduce the services we provide. Anyone taking public transit (for example) knows why this is a problem.
The budget also contains $79 million in “holes” – assumptions of finding new savings and revenues which cannot be counted. This puts the services we depend on at risk.
Finally, to keep taxes low, the budget predicts falling further behind on our “state of good repair”. That means things like roads, bridges, and public buildings will not get the investments they should to keep them in good repair, creating risks and future costs.
Particularly alarming is a proposal that Toronto Community Housing will see its state of good repair backlog grow by 80% over the next ten years. This is unacceptable.
I will report more as I learn more. Find out how you can get involved here: https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/budget-finances/city-budget/how-to-get-involved-in-the-budget/
Finally, I will host a budget town hall on February 28. I urge you to find time for this. It will help me learn what is important to you, and helps you better understand the choices we are considering at Council.