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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Where Toronto Property Taxes Go

Here's a little analysis on the Toronto budget, based on some second-hand, hard-copy sources.

On the weekend, the Toronto Star had a useful budget primer that I can't seem to find online. I'm also working from the booklet that was handed out at the public budget consultation.

Some analyses talk about the city of Toronto having a $6.5 billion dollar budget -- the sixth largest government budget in Canada, after the federal government, Ontario, Quebec, BC, and Alberta. However, looking at this budget doesn't give you a clear idea of where your taxes go, because some of the budget items are offset by provincial grants or user fees. For example, public transit represents 14% of the overall budget because it cost $908.9 million in 2003. However, fares totalled $727 million, and so the city only had to give transit $182 million.

So, here's where your property taxes go, after user fees (like TTC fares) and provincial grants are excluded:

  1. Police, 22.3%
  2. Fire, 9.6%
  3. Shelter, Housing and Support, 9.6%
  4. Debt charges, 8.5%
  5. TTC, 8.0%
  6. Social services, 7.8%
  7. Transportation, 6.2%
  8. Parks and recreation, 5.3%
  9. Library, 4.3%
  10. Solid waste management, 3.9%
  11. Public health, 2.4%
  12. Children's services, 2.2%
  13. Emergency medical services, 1.6%
  14. Information and technology, 1.4%
  15. Finance, 1.3%
  16. Grants, 1.2%
  17. Facilities and real estate, 1.1%
  18. Homes for the aged, 1.0%
  19. Human resources, 0.9%
  20. City council, 0.6%
  21. Urban development services, 0.6%
  22. Other, 0.4%

The city raised (in 2003) about $2.86 billion in property taxes. The numbers above are from a graph (in the booklet) titled "How your tax dollars worked for you in 2003". I saw it once online, but can't find it anymore.

Remember, the city has a $344 million shortfall -- which represents 12 percentage points on this list. Also remember that some of these list items can't really be touched -- debt payments are mandatory and most of the social services are provincially mandated.

What would you do?



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