This week the City passed the 2016 capital and operating budget. While I cannot say I am thrilled with the final results, there are some important measures that did make it through.
Throughout the budget process Councillors on all sides of the political spectrum shared their concerns regarding Toronto's revenue problem. Despite this fact, in this budget we did not agree to look at alternative revenue tools, and we failed to keep up with the current rate of inflation. I strongly supported Councillor Shelley Carroll's motion to have our property tax increase be based on the current rate of inflation. Unfortunately, Council voted to use last year's rate, putting the City further behind. After two consecutive Mayors making these cuts, the programs and services we rely on are at continued risk.
One important motion that would have improved services while maintaining the Mayor's proposed tax rate would have been to reduce the increases to the Toronto Police Services budget. While other departments were mandated to make a 2% cut, Toronto Police Services received a budget increase of over 2.7% or 24 million dollars. By reining in the TPS budget, items such as child care, our parks, and housing could have seen much needed support. I supported Councillor and former Police Board Member Michael Thompson on this motion, despite the fact it did not pass.
There were some bright sides to this budget. I am happy to announce that funding for the previously approved skating project on Grenadier Pond project was approved. Our planning staff received the funding needed to carry on with work that is important to our ward, such as staffing for area studies and heritage conservation districts.
Working together, we can keep pushing for a financial plan for our city that is sustainable and just. Thank you to all who took the time to share your thoughts and ideas on this with me.