Toronto city councillors voted on Thursday to approve the 2019 budget which includes a 2.55 per cent residential property tax hike.
The property tax hike is actually 3.58 per cent when other adjustments are factored in, such as the city building fund, which is intended to support infrastructure projects such as transit and housing.
Mayor John Tory had promised during the municipal election campaign last fall to keep the tax hike at or below the rate of inflation. Canada’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January, compared with a 2.0 per cent increase in December, according to Statistics Canada.
City staff say residents who have a home assessed on average at $665,605 will pay $104 more than 2018 in property taxes.
The budget also includes an extra $162 million for the TTC to accelerate work on the downtown relief subway line and $30 million to Toronto police, part of which will be used to hire 300 new officers.
“Today, Council approved a responsible budget that preserves and invests in City services, including the TTC, Toronto Police and Toronto Public Library, while keeping the property tax increase at the rate of inflation,” Tory said in a media release.
The $13.5-billion operating budget includes a water rate increase of three per cent, a garbage rate hike of 2.2 per cent and a TTC fare increase of 10 cents.
Tory’s opponents argued there were critical holes in the budget, such as $45 million the federal government promised to help cover the cost of housing refugees in the city. Toronto has yet to receive the funds from Ottawa.
“This budget ensures we continue to deliver City services efficiently, and keeps property tax increases at the rate of inflation,” budget chief Gary Crawford said.
“We know how important these services are to Torontonians, and I’d like to thank everyone who made their voices heard through this budget process.”
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