Toronto property taxes set to increase 10.5 per cent in 2024: Budget Chief

Toronto homeowners could see a major property tax increase this year, as councillors look for ways to fill a $1.8 billion budget shortfall. Faiza Amin speaks with city officials on the changes.

Property taxes are set to increase by 10.5 per cent this year in Toronto, according to budget chief Shelley Carroll.

In a press conference, Carroll said the nine per cent increase to property taxes and 1.5 per cent increase to the City Building Fund, which is a levy that supports capital projects, is a result of a $1.8 billion shortfall due to chronic underspending in city services.

“I feel strongly that we cannot keep kicking that can down the road. We need to get our city back on track,” said Carroll.

Toronto’s budget for 2024 is set to be presented to the budget committee on Wednesday.

The average household will pay $30 more per month, according to Carroll. It will be the highest tax increase since amalgamation over 20 years ago.

She added they found over $600 million in cost savings alongside the City’s Chief Financial Officer and credited the New Deal reached between the province and Mayor Olivia Chow that will include $400 million in operating funding.

The staff-prepared budget includes investments in transit, housing and community, an increase in the police budget, expansion of the Toronto Community Crisis Service and a TTC fare freeze.

Carroll said they are still waiting on the Federal government to provide $250 million necessary to support the refugees in Toronto’s shelter system.

“We’re doing all we can to house over 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers but this is truly a federal responsibility,” explained Carroll.

If the federal government does not provide this funding, the City will be forced to bring forward an additional Federal Impacts Levy of six percent.

“That would be the federal policy taking a direct hit on Torontonian pocketbooks, but it would be the only way we could avoid once again seeing those heartbreaking images of those people camped out on the street because they can’t get into our Intake Center. Because we’ve run out of resources.”

She said the government will have until Jan. 26 to make a decision before the additional levy will have to be brought forward.

“I sincerely hope that the Trudeau Government will make a decision to step up in very short order. I’m optimistic.”

How the increase will impact homeowners, renters

A spokesperson for Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government has contributed more funding to Toronto than any other in Canadian history.

“Our government has been – and will continue to be – a strong partner for the people of Toronto, on housing, public transit, and much more,” they said in a statement. “We have contributed more to the City of Toronto than any federal government in Canadian history and we welcome the Province of Ontario similarly stepping up its support.”

The budget launch on Wednesday marks the beginning of the process and there will be opportunities to provide their feedback, including a series of telephone town halls with Mayor Chow.

The final budget will be released on Feb. 1 and brought to City Council for approval on Feb. 14.

Jay Goldberg with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said this increase could be devastating for some Toronto families as the cost of living continues to skyrocket.

“Right now, in the province of Ontario, we have 400,000 people that are working two jobs. grocery prices are shooting up by $700 this year over last year family budgets are tight. We know that 50 per cent of Canadians are saying they’re $200 away from not being able to pay their bills,” said Goldberg.

And he said renters won’t be exempt from the impact of this tax increase.

“Landlords are going to be paying exponentially higher taxes themselves. Absolutely, they’re going to pass on the cost to the greatest extent possible,” said Goldberg. “We know that people who own buildings, people who run buildings aren’t just going to eat these costs and not pass them on. So, this is going to affect fundamentally everybody in the City of Toronto.”

Goldberg said he would’ve hoped to see a forensic audit of the City’s books with a line-by-line review of services before this budget came out.

“We needed a very thorough review to make sure that every extra dollar they’re asking taxpayers to spend is absolutely necessary. And I don’t think we’ve done that. And so I think that’s to the detriment of Toronto taxpayers,” explained Goldberg.

With files from Caryn Ceolin of CityNews

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