Toronto does not face a fiscal crisis by any means. But with low residential taxes, high public expectations for City services, and significant infrastructure maintenance and investment needs, Toronto’s candidates and voters face tough choices during this October’s elections. This is the conclusion of a new paper by Enid Slack and André Côté of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG).
The first in a Pre-Election Perspectives series, the paper assesses the state of the City’s finances to help inform Toronto’s municipal election debate as it heats up this fall.
The authors provide four main findings:
1. Toronto does not have a “spending problem” – with expenditures roughly the same as they were a decade ago, when inflation and population growth are taken into account.
2. The real property tax burden has been falling – and Toronto residents, on average, pay low property taxes compared with residents of other Ontario cities.
3. The City faces a major infrastructure funding shortfall – and will not be able to maintain the infrastructure it has or invest in what it needs without new, reliable revenue sources.
4. Toronto’s debt is relatively modest and manageable for a growing city.
“If Torontonians and their politicians want to maintain public services, make needed investments in infrastructure, and ensure the City’s economic competitiveness, they need to be honest about the costs and how they’ll raise the revenues to pay for it,” says IMFG Director Enid Slack.
Perspectives No. 7 Pre-Election series paper, Is Toronto Fiscally Healthy? A Check-up on the City’s Finances, can be accessed here.
Find ten Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Toronto’s finances here.
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