TORONTO - Toronto's Budget Committee began the budget process to review the preliminary 2016 tax-supported operating and capital budgets on December 15, 2015.
The 2016 Preliminary Tax Supported Operating Budget is $10.04 billion and focuses on providing stable funding, sustainable savings, and maintaining current service levels. The 2016 Preliminary 10-Year Capital Budget and Plan is $21 billion, of which about 57 per cent is allocated to maintaining and investing in the city's state of good repair. The 2016-2025 Tax Supported 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.
"Toronto's 2016 budget is about achieving the right balance of keeping taxes low while making targeted investments in priority areas like transit, supporting our most vulnerable and emergency services so we can build a functional and vibrant city that provides opportunity and an excellent quality of life to all our residents,” said Mayor John Tory. "I am also committed to keeping Toronto affordable for our residents. We need to hold ourselves to the same kind of restraint and discipline the people of Toronto exercise at home.”
Toronto strives to balance the need to provide high quality, affordable services and invest in infrastructure, while keeping taxes low for businesses and residents. The budget outlook for 2016 and forward is challenging. Despite efficiencies, spending is increasing faster than revenues. As well, the demand for public services is rising, especially in the areas of public safety, transit, housing and poverty reduction. Toronto also has substantial capital needs for both new infrastructure and state of good repair; a significant portion of these capital projects remain unfunded.
At the start of the budget process, Toronto was faced with an expenditure pressure of $426.1 million. The city has applied budget balancing strategies to reduce the budget pressure. This includes revenue changes such as increased Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) revenue, uploading social services and court security costs by the province, and a TTC fare increase and ridership growth. Combined with savings, reductions and assessment growth, these strategies have lowered the overall net budget increase to $57.4 million.
"The 2016 preliminary operating and capital budgets illustrate the reality of the city's current financial direction. Moving forward in 2017 and beyond, our focus is to ensure that we have a capital plan and fiscal framework that are affordable, sustainable and address the needs of Toronto's residents now and in the future," said Gary Crawford, Chair of the city's Budget Committee.
"In the 2016 operating and capital budgets, the city needs to match Council-directed priorities for services and infrastructure with the funding to support them," said Toronto City Manager Peter Wallace. "It is important for Council to take a fundamental approach to address the city's operating and capital cost drivers to ensure the budget is more fiscally sustainable."
"While the 2016 preliminary budgets no longer rely on last year's surplus to continue to make important investments for our city, it is important to look longer term to ensure that revenue continues to be in line with expenditures, capital needs are prioritized and the city's capital financing is put on a realistic and more stable footing," said Deputy City Manager & Chief Financial Officer Rob Rossini.
"The launch of the 2016 budget is the first step in the city's budget review process," said Councillor Crawford. "I encourage all Toronto residents to follow and get involved in the process, as we discuss and debate this year's budget."
Residents can follow the development of the budget as it is reviewed, debated and approved by the Budget Committee, Executive Committee, and finally by City Council on February 17 and 18, 2016. A User Fee Town Hall Meeting will be held on January 11, 2016. Residents and businesses can make a presentation to the Budget Committee at the public consultations on January 12, 13 and 14, 2016.
More information about how to make a public deputation is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis
At its meeting on December 9 and 10, 2015, Council approved the 2016 rate supported budgets for Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services, and the Toronto Parking Authority. In 2016, water rates will increase by eight per cent, while garbage bin fees will increase by three per cent for all bin sizes.
More information about the city's budget and the budget process is available at www.toronto.ca/budget2016