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Biggest city spending items are for TTC, police & fire services

The biggest expenditures in the proposed $9.6-billion operating budget are for the TTC, the police force, debt charges and fire services, Toronto city staff say.

Thirty-nine per cent of the budget is funded from the residential property tax bill, compared to the 50 per cent that most municipalities charge, CFO Roberto Rossini said during Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The rest of the budget is largely funded by provincial grants and subsidies, user fees and the municipal land transfer tax, which is about 4 per cent or $350 million.

This year’s budget had a spending pressure or deficit of about $210 million due to inflation costs, higher costs associated with compensation and for utilities, he said.

The situation was made worse when the city was told this summer it’d lose funding worth $129 million over three years from the province that pays for Toronto’s social housing programs.

“That obviously exacerbated our problems,” city manager Joe Pennachetti said.

To spread the pain, the CFO said staff had to find $60 million in savings and asked the TTC to kick in $30 million in fare increases to pay for its growth.

Pennachetti said the budget will deliver new enhanced services worth $14.5 million to cover TTC growth needs of $6 million, new hires of paramedics worth $3 million, fire prevention spending worth $2 million. Plus there will be new hires for the police force, more money for arts and culture as well as new libraries and recreational facilities.

During the budget review process, the budget committee added $1.9 million in spending to cover student nutrition at 29 sites, and the executive committee added $4.7 million for items, such as four youth lounges and a youth equity strategy.

On the capital side, council is considering an $18.6-billion budget to ensure state of good repairs is maintained over 10 years and the big key capital investments include the Scarborough subway extension and $550 million for Gardiner Expressway repairs and maintenance.