NEWS

Budget committee zeroes in on 2.25% tax hike

01/08/2014 01:13 EST | Updated 03/10/2014 05:59 EDT
The final day for Toronto's budget committee to approve the city's capital and operating budgets is shaping up as a showdown between Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Kelly has endorsed a committee proposal to hold the residential property tax increase at 2.25 per cent, a rate that includes 0.5 per cent to extend the Scarborough subway.

"We must move forward in a fiscally responsible manner, ensuring that we acknowledge the challenges of our individual taxpayers," said Kelly in a statement issued Wednesday. "At the same time we cannot ignore the social challenges and the growing needs of our communities."

And while Kelly is happy with a 2.25 per cent increase, Mayor Ford has said he wants to hold it at 1.75 per cent, including the subway levy. Coun. Doug Ford, the budget committee's vice chair, also wants an all-in increase held at 1.75 per cent.

Budget committee member Coun. Michelle Berardinetti told CBC News on Wednesday that holding the increase at 1.75 per cent is not possible.

"We are presenting a responsible budget," she said.

A property tax increase of 2.25 per cent would cost about $55 a year for the average homeowner.

Earlier on Wednesday, the budget committee voted to defer a $2.375 million request from the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar to upgrade to a new lobbyist registry system. Coun. James Pasternak balked at the cost, saying the system would likely be out of date by the time it comes online in 2023.

Pasternak also said the city is hoping the province will help cover cleanup costs related to last month's ice storm, which is expected come with a $75-million price tag.

Wednesday is the final budget committee meeting to approve the city's capital and operating budgets.

The budget goes to the city's executive committee in two weeks and then on to council for final approval at the end of the month.

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