In a season defined by giving and getting, it feels opportune to take a moment to reflect on what your city will be asking from you in the new year.
For property taxes in Toronto, the request works out to — are you ready for this? — an additional eight bucks a month.
Seriously, that’s all. Eight dollars per household. It turns out when you cut through all the complexity attached to property taxes and municipal budgets, the dollar amounts are very small.
And so the proposed two per cent residential property tax increase in Toronto’s preliminary 2017 budget – set to be approved in February — translates to an increase of $96 annually on the average tax bill. Eight dollars a month.
Of that, just $4.60 monthly will go to fund ongoing city expenditures. Another $1.16 will go to capital projects to build transit and housing.
Most of the remainder is tied to a longstanding policy to reduce the burden of property taxes on businesses. There’s also some property tax revenue that goes to education, but the city has nothing to do with that.
And remember: eight dollars is the average. If your home is valued at less than about $587,000, you will pay less.
Another reminder: these small increases will come on top of an overall property tax burden that is far lower than the GTA average by every measure.
I’m giving you all these numbers to make two points.
First, this is the easiest and best way to understand Toronto’s budget debate. So much of the city budget coverage is dominated by arcane percentages and dollar figures in the millions of dollars.
But translate those budget figures down to their monthly impact and we’re talking small change.
Providing a new child care space? Maybe one cent a month. Additional track maintenance to reduce the number of TTC issues that cause delays? Add another dime. Better park maintenance? That’ll be two cents, pal.
When your local politicians are squabbling about funding shelter spaces or student nutrition programs — literally life-or-death issues — they are usually talking about pennies. A little goes a long way.
Which brings me to my second point.
For many of us, even though we gripe endlessly, living in this city is a bargain. Next year, my eight bucks will buy mobility, shelter, community and opportunity. These dollars and cents get us a city that I love, even with all its damn flaws. So tie a ribbon on my tax bill – I’m happy to get it.
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/torys-toronto-matt-elliott/2016/12/27/matt-elliott-property-taxes-in-toronto-are-a-bargain.html on 2016-12-27T00:00:00.000Z