Monday, April 14, 2014

Fact #13: Your property taxes have gone up by $228/year under Rob Ford


It's true. In 2010 the average Toronto house was assessed at $407,374 and paid $3,384 in municipal and educational taxes. In the just-approved 2014 budget, the average house is worth $499,521 and will pay $3,612 in property tax. This represents a four-year increase of $228, which is an average increase of 1.6%/year.

The $228 is an average. Half the city will pay less than this amount, and half will pay more (in some cases much more).

Why should I care?

The $228 is actually in line with inflation, so that's a decent accomplishment for the city. However, it is based on our total debt going up (we're paying less taxes than we should because we're borrowing more) and our infrastructure backlog for road repairs and other maintenance is increasing (the backlog for roads alone is growing by $200,000 per day).

Ah, you say, but we don't have to pay the $60 vehicle tax. That's true, but you're paying $153/year more for a Metropass. The $3B or so in user fees that the city charges for services like parks and recreation are also going up at twice the rate of inflation. So let's call the VRT savings a wash at best.

Fine, you may continue, but our taxes are only going up because council stripped Rob Ford of powers and then went on a spending spree. That's not quite true. Rob approved three of the four budgets, and the difference between what council approved for 2014 and what Rob wanted is less than a dollar per household per month.

You may be confused, because raising taxes is not what Rob Ford said he would do. In 2010, Ford promised to reduce the size of government by $3.0B, or 22%. Instead, he's only managed to keep spending growth in line with inflation. Rob Ford hasn't been saving us money - he's just been treading water. So what about the $1B he claims to have saved? If that were true our property taxes would have gone down by 11% (around $360/year), and not up by $228. Rather than do something difficult like cut costs, he's just taking credit for "avoiding" new ones. Which doesn't really mean anything.

If you want to Save Like Ford it's easy - just write down on a piece of paper that you are going to buy a new Escalade, and then rip it up. Boom - you just saved $70,000. How about planning and then cancelling a trip to the Bahamas? You just lopped another $10,000 off the family budget. Finally, go ask your boss to cut your salary by $20k, and you're up to an easy $100 grand. Feels good, doesn't it?

How do I know you're not lying?

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