So, after an entire day of verbose, voluminous and expensive debate, Toronto City Council just passed the Mayor’s 2018 residential property tax hike of 2.91% by an entirely predictable vote of 31 to 11 that breaks down almost entirely along partisan lines.
- NDP Councillors Augimeri, Davis, Doucette, Layton, Perks, Perruzza and Carroll (who thinks she’s a provincial Liberal) opposed the tax rate… not high enough.
- Conservative Councillor Ford opposed the tax rate because it was too high.
- Councillors Karygiannis, Matlow and Mammoliti opposed the tax rate because they need a soapbox to preach on and a drum to bang to get the media attention they thrive on.
- Interestingly, NDP councillors Cressy (who got an amendment of his included) De Baeremaeker, Filion, Fletcher, Fragedakis, Mihevc, Shan and Wong-Tam sided with the Mayor – who has gone out of his way to green light NDP initiatives over the past several months in an attempt to keep the left from fielding its own candidate in the upcoming mayoral race. He won’t succeed. The scorpion always stings the frog; it’s what they do.
The Mayor, aided and abetted by most media, will continue to refer to this tax increase as a “2.1% increase in line with inflation” when, it is in fact not.
Anyone saying this is a “2.1% increase in line with inflation” is lying. Mayor John Tory and his council allies should be honest enough to admit what the actual number is.
The 2.1% refers only to one part of the mayor-and-council determined increase. It does not include an annual 0.5% increase for the mayor’s “City Building Fund” – which the mayor proposed and council passed a couple years ago, but which must be approved annually in the budget under provincial law. It also does not include a 0.3% “policy shift” that shifts the burden from commercial taxpayers to residential taxpayers each year. That policy is sound, but it is a council policy.
This on top of a 5% water tax & 2% garbage tax raise, plus hikes in user fees.
The mayor and council will pretend their hands are tied on these latter two increases which bring the total residential tax increase they’ve imposed to 2.91% – according to the city’s own budget documents. But, they fail to mention that they did the tying. And they could untie their own hands any time they choose. But, they choose not to.
So, the average council-determined residential property tax increase for 2018 is 2.9% – well above the annual inflation rate of 1.9-2.1% – no matter what the mayor and his allies want you think.
And none of the above includes the 2% increase in garbage taxes and 5% increase (again) in water taxes Toronto council approved in December – nor the user fee increases included in the operating budget they will debate next!
To sum up:
I’m not arguing that 2.91% is excessive. You can decide if it is or is not. But, there’s no denying it makes living in Toronto more expensive not more affordable – and there’s no denying it’s 50% higher than the inflation rate. Even more, when you consider the garbage, water and other user fee increases that are included. If this tax increase is justified and reasonable, Mayor John Tory and his council allies should be honest enough to admit what the actual number is.