First balanced budget since amalgamation protects services and invests in priorities|
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This year, for the first time since amalgamation, the City of Toronto’s staff recommended operating budget was introduced as balanced.
The 2008 recommended Operating Budget protects existing services and contains important new investments in the City’s highest priorities.
“This is a tremendous achievement for the City,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller. “Building a City that is liveable and provides prosperity and opportunity for everyone is the most important role of local government. This budget allows us to start to make the kinds of investments Torontonians want and deserve. As a government, we have made difficult decisions over the past several months and are now starting to turn the corner,” said Mayor Miller.
At the introduction of the Operating Budget, the Chair of Budget Committee, Councillor Shelley Carroll said, “A balanced recommended budget demonstrates our ability to contain costs and ensure our spending is focused in those areas that have the greatest impact on the quality of life in Toronto.”
The recommended Operating Budget includes a recommended property tax increase of 3.75% and a recommended non-residential property tax increase of 1.25%.
The City’s total $8.2 billion recommended Operating Budget leverages partnerships with other governments to deliver a total of $53.4 million in new investment to support City priorities. This total new investment is made possible through an investment by the City of $12.4 million. Highlights include:
- Providing improved public transit through the Ridership Growth Strategy which will see 100 new buses on the road to relieve peak-period congestion, enhanced off-peak service and investments in the cleanliness and appearance of subway stations
- Meeting our commitment to reduce the waste that goes to landfill through investments that ensure the City reaches the 70% diversion target by 2010 and expansion of the Green Bin program
- Delivering on the City’s plan to fight climate change through initiatives such as Live Green Toronto
- Keeping Toronto Clean and Beautiful through increased neighbourhood beautification project funding, clean-up of orphan spaces and improvement of public spaces through new street furniture
- Delivering on the vision for a new waterfront – 2008 will see the opening of new waterfront parkland and facilities
- Strengthening one of Toronto’s key cultural events by expanding Nuit Blanche to more locations
- Investing in communities and keeping a safe city safer by providing funding to the Community Partnership Investment Program that keeps pace with inflation and increase the support given to the very effective Streets-to-Homes initiative to help people living on the street find and keep permanent housing
- Staying the course on improving Toronto’s business climate through investment in an international centre for Financial Services Training and the Financial Services Information Technology Innovation Initiative and establish green economic sector development initiatives in targeted areas
- To keep up with Toronto’s rapid growth and maintain healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods the City will add additional planners to support community and transportation planning, heritage preservation and support good quality urban design.
Toronto City Manager Shirley Hoy said, “The Toronto Public Service continues to perform well as the City compares very favourably to other service providers. Cost containment measures in 2007, which were carried over into budget planning for 2008, transitional provincial funding for TTC operating costs and the start of some uploading of provincial costs and the new taxes has all combined to assist the City address what are our biggest financial challenges.”
Toronto’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager, Joe Pennachetti said, “The upload of the costs for social services is required to ensure Toronto continues to use all the revenues we directly collect to fund municipal services and we will continue to focus the discussion with the province to ensure this happens.”
The City continues to work together with other Ontario municipalities and the province to resolve basic funding problems in provincially mandated cost-shared programs that are not adequately funded. In addition, Toronto and all of Canada’s municipalities continue to seek a source of revenue that grows when the economy grows – the equivalent of one cent of the GST (http://www.onecentnow.ca) and the establishment of a national strategy to support public transit in Canada. These measures are needed if Toronto is to balance its budget in the future.
Budget Committee will begin its review of the Operating Budget on February 4 and will hear deputations from the public on February 5. At the conclusion of the review by Budget Committee the Operating Budget goes to the City’s Executive Committee on March 25 and then to Toronto City Council at its meeting scheduled for March 31 and April 1.
The public can learn more about city services and how they are paid for and find out how to make a deputation or comment on the City’s budget by visiting the City’s website at http://www.toronto.ca Public deputations will take place at Budget Committee on February 5, 2007. To engage residents and businesses in the budget process, the City has prepared a dedicated budget website and a public outreach poster campaign that will appear in free City transit shelter and street bins.
The City has both an operating and capital budget.
The day-to-day operation of City services is paid for from the City’s operating budget – the money dedicated to salaries and operating expenses such as rent, fuel, electricity, equipment, etc. The City, like everyone else, must pay the increased costs of fuel and electricity and other services when these costs rise. The delivery of City services such as police, fire, emergency medical services, TTC, waste collection and recycling, libraries, parks and recreation, child care and many others are paid for through the City’s Operating Budget.
The 2008 Capital Budget of $1.610 billion was approved by Council last December and is part of an $8.355 billion Five-Year Capital Plan (2008-2012). The City’s capital budget pays for construction and maintenance of roads, the purchase of transit vehicles, the building of major facilities, and the purchase of major equipment. The budget funds the maintenance and construction of City assets and infrastructure, which are needed to support service to residents and businesses.
Stuart Green, Deputy Director, Communications, Office of Mayor David Miller 416-338-7119
Ryan Merkley, Executive Assistant to Councillor Carroll, Chair of Budget Committee, 416-392-4037
Kevin Sack, Director, Strategic Communications, City of Toronto, 416-397-5277
Cindy Bromley, Manager, Finance Communications, City of Toronto, 416-392-4993