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Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: budget cuts

Property tax hike shrinks to 2.9%

Robyn Doolittle – Yourhome.ca

For months, city hall had been singing the same tune: We are broke. Homeowners would be asked to carry a considerable chunk of the burden. A 4 per cent property tax hike was necessary to balance the books.

What this would mean to the average homeowner: a $93 increase.

But despite the tax hike, Toronto residents could expect fewer services. City officials called for 5 per cent budget cuts across the board. Though most departments failed to hit the target, considerable cuts were made to virtually every area.

But at a news conference Wednesday morning, Mayor David Miller made the surprise announcement that the city’s financial picture was not as bleak as projected.

An extra $100 million in surplus had been found, mostly through property tax figures that arrived late and city investments that performed more strongly than expected.

Now some have quietly questioned just exactly how much in the dark some city personnel really were.

Was the sob story just a tool to get difficult budget cuts made?

The library board decided some branches might need to close Sundays. The Toronto Transit Commission found about $10 million through job reorganization and energy savings. The police board struggled to cut $10 million by deferring some spending and delayed hiring.

Alok Mukherjee, chair of the police board, said it wasn’t for him to speculate about the timing.

“I think the budget process is very much an evolving process and numbers are crunched on a routine basis, and it isn’t until all the numbers are in and there’s an ability to make some final estimates that one has a clear picture,” he said.

At the end of the day, Mukherjee says, he promised to help get control of a rapidly ballooning police budget, which will probably hit $1 billion by 2011.

Michael Church, chair of the library board, had a similar view.

“We had a meeting last week with the budget committee and we came in with a very tight budget. And we were asked to come in even tighter, which likely entailed Sunday closures,” he said. “And I’m just hoping that’s off the table now.”

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