Update: City Councillors Approve 2% Property Tax Hike
Toronto city council began the first dal of final talks to approve the 2013 budget by finalizing how much more you'll be paying on your property tax bill.
Council approved the Mayor's recommended 2% increase, rejecting motions to raise taxes by 3.1% and 2.25%. Council also rejected a motion from Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti to freeze taxes, a motion that Mayor Rob Ford voted for, despite urging councillors just hours earlier to approve the budget as is.
Mammoliti suggested a temporary floating casino on the waterfront could make up the lost revenue is taxes were frozen.
"If it doesn't work, you just float it away."
A 2% tax increase means the average household (with a home worth $474,386 in 2013) will pay $62.08 more in 2013 with an average municipal of $2532 excluding education taxes.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Mayor Rob Ford held an impromptu news conference urging all councillors to pass his "Turning the Corner" budget saying that it was a good one that did a lot for the residents of this city.
Mayor Ford boasted about the budget not relying on surpluses and says that there were more positives to be achieved if council approved it.
It appears council will also back off (at least in part) on cuts to Toronto Fire that the union says will mean delayed response times of 63 seconds. The executive committee had recommend hiring a handful of staff and a motion from Councillor Paul Ainslie is asking for just over $3 million in funding (lasting until results of a fire and EMS efficiency study are known) be used to hire an additional 63 firefighters. He'd also like to keep Runnymede Fire Station open and keep trucks on the road that were recommended to be taken out of service.
Councillor Doug Ford predicts his brother, Mayor Rob Ford will back the motion.
"It was a compromise. Let's see if we can move this forward. We still have a great budget."
Councillor Joe Mihevic is also looking to increase funding for student nutrition programs from $1.1 to $1.5-million this year and his motion made Tuesday afternoon appears to have enough support.
Also included in the capital budget is a $505-million to make sure that when you drive on the elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway that you car doesn't suddenly fall through a gaping hole.
But councillors have been stalling on this because why throw good money after bad if ultimately we end up tearing down all or part of the Gardiner.
The Canadian Automobile Association is calling on council to move forward with the ten year plan because if something isn't done the Greater Toronto Area could be in for a crisis.
The CAA says if nothing is done about the state of the highway, the risk of a lengthy closure due to safety concerns increases and would have an enormous impact not only on the GTA’s economy and road congestion, but also on the quality of life for GTA residents.
(some files by D. Agar and Russ Courtney)