Budget 2018 is a good news budget

 

Today we launched the 2018 operating and Capital Budget process.

I am proud to say that we are starting in a much better position this year than we have in previous years.

Unlike previous years, there is no operating budget gap to close in the staff proposed budget.

For the fourth year in a row, property taxes will be kept at or below the rate of inflation.

We will have a TTC fare freeze for our city’s millions of daily transit riders.

Millions more will be invested in the TTC and what will be an expanded system with 6 new subway stations opening on December 17.

Funding for social housing repairs will continue and no Toronto Community Housing units will be permanently closed.

More police officers will be hired and deployed with a focus on community safety while, for the second year in a row, the police budget will be flat lined, something that had not been achieved by past administrations.

More shelter beds will open.

And $170 million in additional gas tax money secured from the province by Mayor Tory will begin to be factored into the city’s capital budget.

The city’s fiscal health is strong and sound.

We have strong and stable credit ratings. our reserves are healthy. we have a low debt burden.

this is a good news budget – it invests in key areas while keeping spending low and keeping tax increases low.

but there is still more work to be done over the next few weeks.

there are a number of priorities – these are things that councillors would like to see added to the budget – that have to be considered.

The mayor has been clear he will be supporting:

  • Time-based transfers for the TTC which will allow people to hop on and off transit without having to pay again and again.
  • Increases to the poverty reduction strategy, including implementing a fair fare pass to help those in our city who can’t necessarily afford to ride the TTC.
  • Increased investments in childcare.
  • Investments in additional traffic

Measures aimed at fighting congestion including permanent funding for quick clear squads and traffic wardens along with funding for smart, traffic-moving technology.

  • Funding for the city’s TransformTO plan to help us invest in a strong and resilient city.

So we’ve got some work to do but I’m confident we will find a way to support our key priorities and maintain a budget that invests in key areas while keeping tax increases as low as possible.

Our residents want us to build the city but they also appreciate that we strike the right balance – that we tighten spending, find efficiencies and don’t hike taxes sky-high.

There will be the usual disagreements – many will want us to simply raise taxes as high as possible and, once again, they will make outrageous claims about the proposed budget and its impacts.

Others may argue we should simply slash important services without thought to the true impact on our hardworking residents or not bother building up the city for the future.

Once again, for the fourth year in row I’m confident we will strike the right, responsible balance that people expect.

Thank you.