In the current state of recession, can Torontonians really afford tax hikes?
Mayor David Miller thinks so.
Local residents appear to disagree.
On Feb. 10 the mayor proposed a four per cent tax increase on residential properties in the city’s 2009 budget.
“I don’t agree with it,” Scarborough resident Edith Rozal said. “He can find other means to raise funds instead of increasing the homeowner’s taxes again,” Edith Rozal said, a Scarborough resident.
Budget highlights include investing in the TTC, funding enhanced public programs, and implementing climate change strategies, all of which are appealing but expensive initiatives.
In what sounded like a child sponsorship ad, the mayor said the tax hike will only cost average families a quarter a day.
“If at all, he should raise taxes in the upper rich bracket of society, those who can afford to spare money to pay for the additional taxes,” Rozal said.
In an effort to ease fears, the mayor argued there would be programs to make it easier for low-income seniors and people with disabilities to qualify for a tax break, or complete cancellation.
In East Scarborough homeowner Revathy Navaretnan’s case however, this does not help.
Navaretnan said she believes those like her in the middle income tax bracket are usually left out of these deals.
“It’s just not a good thing for us, maybe if the housing market was going up then I would agree with the mayor,” said Navaretnan.
“Right now we are paying taxes but the value of houses isn’t going up and we’re losing more jobs.”
Naveretnan’s neighbour, Marivic Ramirez, is more accepting of the tax hike if it means giving tax breaks to those who need it.
Ramirez works for the Ontario March of Dimes and sees many people who are unable to even pay for basic needs.
“I think it’s okay if people in the middle income bracket have to pay more because those in the lower income just don’t have the means to pay for the increase,” Ramirez said.
More information on applying for deferral or cancellation will be available when residents receive their final property tax bills.
Meanwhile, the proposed 2009 budget breakdown is available to the public on the city’s website: http://www.toronto.ca/budget2009/index.htm.
The operating budget review process will continue March 31 and April 1, when City Council members meet, to consider the final budget.