Matt Elliott: John Tory says low property tax increases are needed to protect seniors — but there’s already a program for that.
With the city’s property taxes falling as a share of income, Toronto is struggling with property taxes as one of the least affordable cities in North America.
The problem, says John Tory, is that we’re paying too much while we could be paying more.
Tory is the city’s chief planner, he is responsible for the design of the city’s infrastructure and he is the architect on city policy.
He calls it a problem that requires fixing, not a “fairytale” problem of the mayor’s office to solve.
Here’s what Tory has to say about the problem:
How bad is this problem?
There has been a very serious drop in the amount of real estate taxes collected in Toronto over the past 10 years.
The city is supposed to receive about $1.3 billion a year in property taxes.
Property taxes are what fund the city’s infrastructure like roads, sewage treatment plants, emergency services, libraries, and parks.
But over the past decade the share of the budget the city takes in from property taxes has fallen.
It plummeted from 17.1 per cent of the city’s budget two decades ago to just 7.2 per cent now.
In Toronto, property taxes are the highest in any Canadian city.
If you go to Toronto city hall (City Hall), you find that a lot of the information about the property tax situation is either out of date or just not available.
In recent months the city has been releasing quarterly reports on the property tax situation, but they’re generally just short bullet-point bullet-list items, just like what you see on municipal budgets.
Even some of the more detailed data the city has produced is not updated and sometimes contains incomplete information.
And then there’s this:
We get reports from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TERB) that people are paying far too much for their homes.
The organization’s annual report on housing is based on a survey asking people about their home prices and asking those same people how much they were paying for property taxes.
It turns out that people aren’t only paying a lot for property taxes.