Toronto homeowners will face biggest property tax hike since amalgamation
Published Tuesday, January 10, 2023 8:07AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 10, 2023 3:17PM EST
Toronto’s 2023 spending plan will see property taxes increased by their highest rate since amalgamation, costing the average homeowner an additional $233.
The $16.16 billion operating budget, tabled for the first time on Tuesday, is based on a 5.5 per cent increase to the residential property tax rate. However, homeowners will actually see their bills increase by seven per cent in 2023 due to a previously approved 1.5 per cent hike to the city building levy.
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Staff say that the owner of an average priced home assessed at $695,268 will pay an additional $233 as a result. The property tax bill for an average priced home would total $3,569.
Tory’s proposed 2023 residential tax hike dwarfs the 2.9 per cent introduced in 2022 -- the highest of his tenure at the time. In 2021, the residential tax increase was 0.7 per cent, the lowest of Tory’s time in office.
The city will also see a three per cent tax increase to water, wastewater; and solid waste rates. The water bill for an average home will go up about $29 a year as a result while garbage fees will rise between $8 and $16 per household, depending on the size of your bin.
Staff say that the increases are needed to offset some of the “unprecedented inflationary pressures” the city will face in 2023.
They say that increases to the cost of fuel alone will cost the city $46 million in 2023 while higher interest rates will translate into an additional $65 million in capital financing costs.
The city is also expected to face ongoing fiscal challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a whopping $933-million shortfall for 2023 as a result.
Coupled with the $484-million deficit leftover from 2022, the city said it requires support from other levels of government to offset the $1.4 billion COVID-19 has cost the city.
Staff say that without that funding it will be impossible to “avoid service impacts or reductions to capital spending.”
In fact, Toronto has already paused about $300 million worth of planned capital work due to the shortfall.
MONEY FOR NEW POLICE OFFICERS, FIREFIGHTERS
The budget includes money to hire an additional 200 police officers, as well as add 66 new paramedic positions and 52 new firefighter positions.
The budget will also see the subsidy to the TTC increased by $53 million, helping to pay for the hiring of 50 more special constables.
There is also an investment of $2.86 million to help ensure seasonal washrooms and drinking fountains in city parks are open earlier in the spring and later in the fall.
Speaking with reporters earlier in the day, Tory noted that the significance of the proposed property tax hike is not lost on him but said the measure is in line with his campaign promise to keep any increases below the rate of inflation.
“I wish it could be lower, because I know that any cost right now is hard for people to bear,” Tory said. “But the bottom line is that this is something that does increase costs for people, this budget. But we have worked to keep those increases as low as we possibly can."
The 2023 proposal is the first to be introduced under Tory’s new so-called “strong mayor” powers, which allow Tory to craft his own budget and veto amendments to the budget presented by council.
It is also the first fiscal plan since the Ontario government unveiled a new housing bill which could cost municipalities billions as a result of reduced development charges.
Toronto’s 10-year capital plan, also released on Tuesday, assumes that the city will be made whole for that revenue loss. Staff, however, warn that if the city is not reimbursed numerous capital projects will be put on hold, including work associated with the HousingTO plan to build 40,000 new units by 2030.
Speaking with reporters at city hall, Parkdale-High Park Coun. Gord Perks said that the budget “assumes the federal and provincial governments are just going to rain money on us from the sky” and commits the city to cancelling or delaying needed capital work should that not materialize.
He said that without additional revenue tools in place "things will get worse."
“We don’t know which stuff won’t get repaired. Do we stop buying buses, does the community centre close because the plumbing is broken. We haven’t been given that list but it will be severe,” he said.
Tory will present the budget by Feb. 1 for consideration by council on Feb. 14.