FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2016
Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is satisfied to see Toronto City Council approve a 1.3% residential property tax increase, despite attempts from several members of Council to hike taxes higher.
In 2015, Mayor John Tory gave a clear promise to the taxpayers of Toronto to hold property tax increases to the rate of inflation or below. That increase was set at 1.3% for this budget season and a clear majority of 30 councillors voted to keep this commitment.
“On the Council floor today, we saw attempts by several left wing Councillors to change this property tax hike to something higher. While it is true an elite sect of Torontonians could volunteer to pay more taxes, the overwhelming majority of taxpayers should not be compelled to” says Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli.
Again and again we hear Councillors talk about Toronto’s property tax rate in comparison to other municipalities. This ignores the economic realities of the cost of living in Toronto, as well as the fact that residential property taxpayers are constantly hit with tax increases. From a “City Building Fund” that asks residential property taxpayers – again – to shoulder the burden of paying for infrastructure, to the recently approved 8% water rate increase and 3% garbage collection rate increase.
“Residential property taxpayers can’t avoid paying their property tax bills, their water bill, or their garbage fees. Yet, there is a perception their wallets can be emptied more. In 2016, the city must commit to a mature conversation about the tax base to ease the burden placed on residential taxpayers in Toronto” states Ms. Micieli.
The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition cautions City Council to not begin any discussion of taxation tools without serious proposals to cut spending in Toronto on the big items. City Manager Peter Wallace told councillors the biggest three cost pressures for the city are the Toronto Police, the Toronto Transit Commission, and Toronto Community Housing. These are departments currently ripe with waste and overdue for fiscal reform.
Recently, we have seen movement by some councillors to push back against the unsustainable and exploding Toronto Police Services budget. No discussion about the city’s finances is complete without addressing this single largest cost pressure on the city’s operating budget.
“We have a KPMG report. We know that Freedom of Information requests from the public don’t produce line-by-line breakdowns of the police budget. There is a lack of accountability and transparency from an organization that is supposed to serve the public who pays them. The police budget should be cut by the tens of millions, right now.” says President Andrea Micieli.
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