The City of Toronto says the ongoing pandemic is continuing to have “significant financial impacts” as it begins the 2021 budget process.
As part of its detailed release, the city says it anticipates a $1.6 billion deficit and is banking on money from the provincial and federal level to help balance its books this year.
By law, the City of Toronto is required to present a balance budget and cannot operate in a deficit.
The city says it expects an additional $856 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments on top of the $740 million it has already received.
The budget proposes a 0.7 property tax increase for home owners, which gets bumped up to 2.2 per cent when the City’s 1.5 per cent Building Levy is factored into the equation. That means the average Toronto household can expect to pay an additional $69 in property taxes in 2021, with average home prices valued at just under $700,000.
The 2021 staff-recommended tax-supported operating budget of $12.09 billion focuses on “managing COVID-19 impacts and recovery, while still preserving existing services within health guidelines, keeping property taxes affordable, and building a prosperous Toronto with a focus on equity.”
The city says combined with the $1.86 billion rate-supported operating budget, the total will top out at just under $14 billion for the year.
The budget is expected to finalized and approved by city council on Feb. 18.
“The proposed 2021 City of Toronto operating and capital budget launched today protects all City services and invests more in key frontline services responding to the COVID-19 pandemic including Toronto Public Health, shelters and supportive housing, and seniors and long-term care,” said Mayor John Tory.
“This is a responsible budget which includes $573 million in savings, offsets, and efficiencies – that’s on top of the $500 million in savings and efficiencies the City worked to find last year in the wake of COVID-19,” Tory added.
Tory says he is against cutting additional services, adding that Torontonians cannot afford significant tax increases to cover the shortfall caused as a result of the virus.
The Mayor says the budget does recognize that the impact of the pandemic, particularly on TTC ridership, remains a factor.
“While the budget will ensure we keep our transit system running, freeze fares, and increase service on the busiest bus routes, the TTC is facing an almost $800 million impact mostly from lost fare box revenue,” Tory continued.
Other key elements of the 2021 budget:
- $56 million in new investments to support building a prosperous Toronto and delivering on key commitments, such as road safety, mobility, modernization, culture, and equity and reconciliation.
- $573 million in savings and offsets through City-led mitigation strategies.
- The budget proposes an overall average budgetary increase of 0.51 percent. This equates to a 0.70 percent property tax increase for residential properties – an additional $22 for the average Toronto household, a 0.35 percent increase for commercial properties, and a 0.23 percent increase for industrial properties.
- A 1.5 percent City Building levy consistent with the City’s planned and approved capital funding strategy, costing the average Toronto household an additional $47.
Toronto residents can provide their feedback to the Budget Committee during public presentations scheduled to take place on Jan. 25 and 26.
“Throughout this budget process, I am committed to working with Budget Chief Gary Crawford and all my colleagues on City Council to ensure the final budget makes new investments in other areas and in parts of the city hardest hit by the virus,” added Tory.
You can read the full budget below: