With just a few weeks left in Toronto’s budget process, Mayor Olivia Chow is running with a recommendation to bring the proposed property tax increase for multi-residential dwellings down to at least 3.75%.
Chow spoke at the Canadian Club on Monday and said that she's heeding the advice of the Budget Committee and acting in the best interest of renters in the city who “can’t afford to pay more.”
The multi-residential property tax increase is currently proposed at 4.5%, but Chow is looking to lower that figure with the hopes of preventing above-guideline rent increases (AGIs), as well as evictions linked to AGIs.
Chow will present her recommendations for the 2024 budget on Thursday, and City Council is set to consider the final budget package on February 14.
We have the power to shape the city that we want. With this budget, we can get Toronto back on track.
A more affordable, safe, and caring city – a place where everyone belongs – that’s our shared goal. Thanks to @CdnClubTO for the opportunity to share my vision for budget 2024. pic.twitter.com/3uxcSZi4UP
— Mayor Olivia Chow (@MayorOliviaChow) January 30, 2024
As for the city’s residential property tax rate, a hefty bump remains all but assured.
Although Mayor Chow said on Monday that she’s “still listening” to public feedback on what tax rate “makes sense,” she also underlined Toronto’s $1.8B operating shortfall and stressed that budget cuts alone aren’t enough to get the city back on track.
“We cannot cut our way out of this mess. We just can't. There's no way to do it. Cutting deeper, cutting at the bone, hitting the marrow would only accelerate the decline of our transit system. It would damage our ability to provide affordable housing. It would make it harder to serve as parks, protect people in an emergency, or even just fill the potholes,” she said.
“Fixing the financial mess we inherited will mean an increase of about $1 a day for the average homeowner. To me, that's pretty modest. That's 9% plus an additional 1.5% from the city building fund.”
Although the residential property tax bump for 2024 is currently proposed at 10.5%, the city’s budget chief, Shelley Carroll, has warned that that figure isn’t set in stone and could end up being as high as 16.5% if the federal government is unable to provide $250M in funding for refugee claimants utilizing the city’s shelter system. Carroll has also indicated that those federal funds would need to be secured by January 26 — this past Friday — to be factored into the 2024 budget.
“We have not yet heard a decision from the federal government on how they plan to support the over 5,800 refugee claimants stuck in our shelter system,” Carroll said in a statement to STOREYS. ”As a result, my fellow Budget Committee members and I recommended that Mayor Chow continue to advocate to the federal government on this issue, and that she direct the City Manager and Chief Financial Officer report to City Council on options for the service reductions and/or funding sources, including the option to implement a 'federal impacts levy' to address the $250M in uncommitted funds from the Federal government if required.”