December 6, 2016
Toronto City Manager Peter Wallace, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager Rob Rossini and Executive Director of Financial Planning Josie La Vita presented the City of Toronto's 2017 preliminary tax-supported budgets to the City of Toronto's Budget Committee today. The budgets will be reviewed and debated by Budget and Executive committees before being finalized and approved by Council at its meeting of February 15 and 16.
"Our city is growing and so are the needs of our residents and businesses. Toronto's 2017 budget needs to make important investments in our city – in transit, housing, infrastructure and anti-poverty measures. And, it needs to do so in a sensible, responsible way that keeps Toronto affordable,” said Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest), Chair of the City's Budget Committee. "I want the people of Toronto to see their government working hard for them, providing the services they need, in ways that make sense. It's time our city comes together to develop a realistic plan to pay for new transit and to take care of our residents."
The 2017 Preliminary Tax Supported Operating Budget of $10.46 billion focuses on finding sustainable savings across City divisions and agencies while providing high quality, affordable services that respond to the needs of the city's communities.
The 2017 Preliminary 10-Year Capital Budget and Plan is $26.5 billion, of which about 60 per cent is allocated to maintaining and investing in the City's state of good repair. The capital budget and plan continues to fund the City's two largest transit investments – the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the Scarborough Subway Extension. It also provides new funding for SmartTrack and Lower Don Flood Protection, and funds to match federal investments in transit infrastructure projects.
"Earlier this year, the Budget Committee and City Council passed a motion directing City programs and agencies to find a 2.6 per cent net savings over last year's budget," said Councillor Crawford. "Today's preliminary budget shows the residents of Toronto that we are committed to delivering the important services they need in a responsible and affordable way for all residents."
The City strives to deliver high-quality services and to invest in infrastructure while keeping taxes low for businesses and residents. The budget outlook for 2017 continues to be challenging. The demand for public services is rising, especially in the areas of public safety, transit, housing and poverty reduction. As a result, the pressures on expenses are increasing faster than revenues. The City also has substantial capital needs for both new infrastructure and state of good repair. A significant portion of these capital projects remain unfunded.
"While Council considers the 2017 Preliminary Budget and makes decisions to balance this year's budget, it's important that we implement strategies that are consistent with the City's long-term aspirations and financial objectives," said Wallace. "2017 is an important budget year as we build a foundation to maintain and enhance the resilience of the City and its agencies to support sustainable public services."
At the start of the budget process, the City was faced with an opening pressure of $731 million. Much of it is a result of the combination of agency pressures, Council-approved service levels, the deferral of capital projects from prior years and measures that were phased in from prior years, such as the loss of pooling compensation grants for housing, which continues to exert pressure in 2017.
In addition to ongoing expense management, a number of balancing strategies have been applied to reduce the preliminary budget pressure to help keep the residential property tax increase at the rate of inflation. These measures include increased volume of Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) revenue, uploading of social services and court security costs to the Province, and a TTC fare increase and ridership growth. Combined with savings, reductions and assessment growth, these strategies have lowered the overall pressure to $91 million.
"While the City has been able to fund several critical capital projects, we still need to identify revenue options to address the unmet capital needs," said Rossini. "Some of these options will be presented as part of the 2017 Budget and others through the Long-Term Financial Plan."
Toronto is currently updating its Long-Term Financial Plan, which will help the City to continue to manage its expenses, raise revenue and make the most of its assets.
"The 2017 budget process provides an opportunity to narrow the gap between expenses and revenues and to help set Toronto on the path to long-term financial sustainability," said La Vita.
Both the 2017 Budget and the Long-Term Financial Plan provide opportunities for residents to help build the city they want to see. More information about how to get involved in the budget process is available at http://www.toronto.ca/budget
and the Long-Term Financial Plan at http://www.investinginto.ca.
Members of the public can share their views with the Budget Committee at the public presentations scheduled to take place on January 5, 9 and 10. More information about how to make a public deputation is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis.
Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca
, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.
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