By Gerald V. Paul
Mayor John Tory’s first budget, presented at a committee meeting, was one of give and take for TTC riders – a 10-cent per token fare hike but children under 12 will ride free.
“It’s a sensible, prudent, balanced budget,” Tory told reporters at City Hall.
Under the proposed budget, police would not get an increase but officers’ salaries, which make up the lion’s share of spending, remain under negotiation.
After receiving the two-part budget, the committee will spend the next month reviewing the details before wrapping up on Feb. 20. During the month -long review, the committee will hear from those in charge of specific projects and programs and will invite the public to make presentations.
The final draft goes to Toronto’s executive committee March 2 and will be presented to council March 10.
The proposed budget has two parts: operating and capital.
The operating budget is for annual costs, salaries and maintaining services and facilities. It includes recreational programs, parks maintenance, emergency services, garbage collection and water purification. It’s mostly funded by property taxes and provincial grants.
The capital portion includes construction costs, infrastructure repairs and other one-time expenses. It covers updates and maintenance of libraries, community centres, fire stations and sewage facilities. It’s mostly funded by property taxes but money also comes from reserves and other levels of government.
The budget proposes a tax increase of 2.25% on the city portion of the tax bill, “well below the rate of inflation,” Tory said. That hike does not include a 0.5% Scarborough subway levy, however, so taxpayers will actually see an increase of 2.75%.
Nearly half (46%) allocated to investments will go for Toronto’s transit system, if the budget is approved.