Toronto sets property tax increase, but critics fear it’s a fairy tale

The average Toronto homeowner will pay just over $2,900 this year in property taxes, city council confirmed Monday.

While some councillors, led by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, called for a 0% tax hike this year — and others following Councillor Gord Perks — wanted a 4% hike, the actual increase was 2.1%.

Toronto adds a City Building Fund for transit and housing, and other tax shifting measures, to the tab which brings the increase to 2.9%, not counting garbage and water which are billed separately by the municipality.

There was no property tax increase for apartment and condo dwellers.

Mayor John Tory compared the budget to the Goldilocks and Three Bears bedtime story, saying that there were those who wanted the city to spend more and others who demanded more belt tightening, but he thinks it’s “just right.”

Councillor Mike Layton (Toronto Sun files)

Keeping to the fairy tale theme, Councillor Mike Layton called for a slightly larger larger tax increase which he said would add $1.80 to the average homeowners monthly tax bill, but ensure there would be millions more for transit and child care.

Layton said the current budget reminded him not of Goldilocks, but the Three Little Pigs.

“We’ve decided to build the straw house,” Layton insisted.

Toronto councillor John Campbell suggested the whole budget could prove a fable, if the Municipal Land Transfer Tax doesn’t produce the hoped-for revenue, the stock market tanks further or the job numbers keep dropping.

The budget adds $53 million in new and enhanced spending and hundreds of new staff to the city, even as debt repayment gobbles up an ever-larger share of revenue, he said.

My concern is the rising debt level,” Campbell said.

Mammoliti called the city’s financial roadmap an “$11 billion lipstick-on-a-pig” budget that gouges taxpayers and hides costs like garbage.

Residents already complain about taxes and what they see as poor service delivery, he said.

Perks, arguing for a $55-$60 a year increase in property taxes on the average residential property, said raising more money from those who can afford it would allow the city to provide better services to those who are struggling, helping them save money.

Tory said the budget does include a TTC fare break for low-income residents, as well as other improvements to transit to ease some of the overcrowding that riders experience.

City council went on to debate the budget further, but several councillors grumbled that their hands were tied because the property tax rate increase was set first.

The budget debate continues Tuesday.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies