Transit funds, shelter beds, property tax hike included in approved 2018 budget
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Monday, February 12, 2018 11:28PM EST
City council has approved the 2018 operating and capital budget which includes a moderate property tax hike for Toronto residents but freezes TTC fares for a year.
The 2018 tax-supported balanced budget of $11.12 billion was approved by council around 10 p.m. on Monday.
“Today, city council approved a responsible budget that makes important investments in our city, while keeping it affordable for our residents,” Mayor John Tory said in a news release issued Monday evening. “This budget provides new funding for transit, including hop-on, hop-off transfers on the TTC and funding for the Transit Fare Equity program so that low-income residents will be able to use public transit.”
“This year’s budget is based on the belief that we can invest wisely and compassionately, improving life in the city while also operating within our means.”
The budget also includes funding for an additional 1,000 shelter beds and social housing repairs in an effort to prevent the shutdown of Toronto Community Housing units.
Residents of the city will pay an additional 0.5 per cent towards the city building fund, which supports infrastructure projects such as transit and housing throughout Toronto.
Attention was also brought to the approval of a residential property tax hike as city council voted 31-11 in favour of a 2.1 per cent increase.
Chair of the city’s budget committee Coun. Gary Crawford said with this increase, the average Toronto homeowner would pay about $81 more per year.
“The Mayor and I have pledged over the last four years to keep property taxes at or below that rate of inflation and again this year we have done that at 2.1 per cent – we have achieved that,” he said.
“Through the budget process we listened to residents and I’m proud to say we have delivered a budget that funds these priorities, while continuing to invest in everyday services and maintaining our infrastructure in a state of good repair.”
Opposition to passing this motion included Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam.
“I don’t agree with it,” she said. “I think that if you happen to be a homeowner, if you happen to be very comfortable, if you happen to be employed then perhaps this budget is just right but I think that Toronto can do better.”
The budget also included a fare freeze for the TTC for the year, $3 million towards the transit agency to help address crowding and the implementation of time-based transfers.
The city will also see the hiring of more police officers “as soon as possible,” the budget outlined.