City Hall has made a mess of our taxpayer finances over the past 8 years. This year’s Long-Term Financial Plan report said that if the city doesn’t change course, in just five years it will have a huge $1.42 billion budget gap. Deficits are illegal, so that would mean the city would have to slash a whopping 10% of its services or rapidly and significantly raise taxes. It is bewildering that Council has continuously slashed important services and yet is in this financial crunch, including mounting debt and, this year, its first deficit in many years.
What has been Council’s reaction to this financial crisis? First, they delayed the report for a whole year. Then, when it was released this spring, John Tory’s Executive they would not discuss it, and other councillors were quiet. This is abdication of moral duty, and a failure of leadership, especially in a city that is booming and flush with wealth.
As your councillor, I will be frank with you about the state of city finances, and the difficult choices that will have to be made. We have limited funding that needs to be spent where it will have maximum impact. I will push for public discussions regarding new sources of revenue and eliminating wasteful spending, rather than leaving the mess for our children. I will work with councillors to make smarter choices. I have the courage to fight to:
- Keep property taxes manageable for the average family, and no greater than the average of our neighbouring municipalities
- Reform property taxes for small businesses that create jobs
- Shift away from reliance on Land Transfer Tax, which is too dependent on fluctuating, over-valued real estate values and caused a deficit this year
- Find efficiencies in the police budget (over 10% of the entire budget and growing rapidly!) and shifting the funds to programs that prevent violent crime and reduce cost of living for residents
- Shift all funds from the Ford Tax to transit projects that will reduce commute times - the Scarborough One-Stop Subway is a waste of $5 billion dollars that would be better spent on projects that get many more people of Scarborough and Toronto moving
Implement new revenue mechanisms - tolling 905 drivers to enter the city, $2 tax on commercial parking for $1billion annual revenue
- Reduce lobbying and backroom deals at City Hall that have skyrocketed the past 8 years and resulted in wasteful projects - council and the budget should be focused on people, not developers and corporations
- Capitalize on funds from the federal housing strategy
- Fight for 2% of the climate tax funds to pay for energy efficiency projects that will reduce utility bills for residents
- Fight for closing federal tax loopholes that reduce $3 billion of annual revenue that cities could draw on
- Raise the hotel tax and include AirBnb rentals
- Raise property taxes on luxury homes assessed at above $3 million