Mayor John Tory praises councils efforts for passing 2015 budget
TORONTO – Mayor John Tory thanked councillors for their “prudent and respectful” work a day after council passed the 2015 operating and capital budget.
Tory, standing beside Budget Chief Gary Crawford and TTC Chair Josh Colle during a scheduled post-budget press conference at the Eglinton Bus Garage, reiterated the city’s focus on transit and “keeping the city moving.”
“Investments from the budget will keep the city strong, prosperous and fair,” Tory said.
City council passed Toronto’s 2015 operating budget of $11.4 billion dollars Wednesday night as well as approving a 10-year capital budget plan of $31.7 billion.
The operating budget includes a hike in the property tax rate, 0.5 per cent of which will help fund the Scarborough subway.
Only councillors Rob Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti voted against the budget which passed 42-2.
Tory said the budget puts a heavy emphasis on improving transit service, which includes adding new bus routes, expanded overnight bus service, more streetcar routes and subway trains during rush hour and off-peak trips.
“We are running the city better. We are getting better value for your money,” said Tory.
Meanwhile, Tory admits there is more work to be done in the coming months to reign in mismanagement at city hall, especially when it comes to TTC and infrastructure projects.
“We cannot go on as has been with huge cost overruns,” Tory said. “We have much more work to do. We’re not even close to being satisified with the status quo.”
The Spadina subway line expansion is believed to have gone another $400 million beyond the original budget.
The price tag in 2006 was pegged at $1.5 billion, but was later raised to $2.6 billion.
2015 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:
- total municipal tax increase is 3.2 per cent or $83.19
(the average house assessed at $524,833 will pay $2,679 in 2015)
- tax increase for non-residential properties, which includes rental apartments, is 0.48 per cent
- $39 million in transit service improvements funded by a 10-cent fare increase
(50 new buses to implement new express routes and reduce overcrowding, improved subway services and expanded overnight bus and streetcar service)
- $25 million for poverty reduction including new shelter beds, increases to the student nutrition program, additional funding for childcare subsidies, enhanced shelter warming centres during weather events and expansion of priority centres
- 56 new paramedic services positions and 25 fire prevention officers
- additional positions for City Planning to carry out heritage and area studies, increased funding for tree planting
10-Year Capital Plan
- $970 million for the rehabilitation of the F.G. Gardiner Expressway, including an increase of $443.2 million to accelerate projects to reduce traffic and user impacts by an estimated eight years
- the purchase of 60 new subway cars, 810 new 40-foot diesel buses and 195 low-car accessible light rail vehicles for the TTC fleet for replacement and ridership growth
- new McNicoll bus garage and completion of the Toronto Rocket Storage Yard
- $627 million for Parks, Forestry and Recreation to address the state-of-good-repair backlog over the next 10 years
Solid Waste Management Services
- rate increase of 3 per cent as of April 1
- Solid Waste rebate reduced by $18 million
- small bin customers will now pay $10.63 per year (increase of $3.91), medium bin customers to pay $88.73 per year (increase of $32.64), large bin customers will pay $247.39 per year (increase of $91)
- 8 per cent water rate increase as of March 13
(a $54 increase compared with 2014 for the average Toronto household using 280 cubic metres)
Source: City of Toronto