Toronto’s property tax increase is fixed at two per cent, after Toronto Council voted down plans to increase the tax hike at the beginning of the 2013 budget deliberations.
Council supported the property tax hike recommended by Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee – after being urged to stick with that number by Ford himself.
But in a bizarre moment at the vote, the mayor joined three other councillors in voting to freeze property taxes by York Centre Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.
“A two per cent property tax increase is not good for Toronto,” Mammoliti declared during debate of the tax rate.
He said his constituents wanted a tax freeze, so that’s what he was moving. When pressed on how he would make up the revenue, Mammoliti said the whole budget could be solved by installing a temporary casino on Toronto’s waterfront.
“You could easily set up a temporary casino on a boat – if it doesn’t work, you just float it away,” he said.
In the end, he persuaded three other members of council to vote with him: Ford, Ward 38 Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, and Speaker Frances Nunziata.
Council also voted down other changes to the mill rate.
Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks moved a 3.1 per cent tax hike, and Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis moved a 2.25 per cent tax hike.
Perks pointed out later that the mayor had effectively voted against his own budget.
“You know, I a long, long time ago gave up trying to understand what our mayor’s long term goals are but it’s interesting to note that he voted against a budget he spoke in glowing terms about earlier in the day,” he said.
“I’m not sure that he actually has a clear idea of what financial future he wants for the City of Toronto.”
Perks said that council might yet restore some of the programs that have been cut – notably, in the area of fire services, children’s nutrition programs and public transit.
“There are still several options open to those of us who want to see services maintained,” he said, pointing out that council could dig into $25 million being used to pay down the city’s capital debt.