City of Toronto staff issued a series of reports this week that recommends a slate of top 10 new fees, tolls and tax increases to help fund public transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Officials down at city hall are calling for more than $1 billion in public transit funding. City staff published a number of reports Tuesday, which recommend holding public consultations in order to generate opinion on a top 10 list of revenue sources for transit.
The staff noted in the report that new revenue is greatly needed in order to fund The Big Move, a $50 billion initiative conducted by the provincial agency Metrolinx to expand transit throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It has been of great concern to many that the proposal could be derailed in some way since the Ontario government is looking to slash its $13 billion budget deficit.
Despite Mayor Rob Ford’s fervent opposition to any type of new fees or tax increases, the staff reports suggest introducing a one percent sales tax, which could garner $1.3 billion annually, and a 10-cent gas tax that could net $500 million each year for transit.
“A concerted effort from business, community and government leaders is required to put the arguments [for transit funding] on the table,” said Cam Weldon, city deputy manager and chief financial officer, who authored the study. “Without public support the Province will be unlikely to implement the new taxes that are required to fund the plan.”
The executive committee meets next week and the staff is recommending that it approves public consultations on transit funding. It also notes that the consultations should be concluded by spring 2013 because city council could then make its final decision prior to Metrolinx announcing its expansion funding plans a few months later.
According to the report, there are only seven Metrolinx projects funded, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (Phase 1), Finch West LRT (Phase 1) and GO Transit Rail Improvements. Meanwhile, many of its projects and its phases are unfunded, such as Phase 2 of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the Scarborough RT from Scarborough Centre to Malvern and the Yonge Subway extension from Finch Station to Richmond Hill.
Here are the 10 different transit funding options (in order of projected annual revenue):
Highway tolls | 10 cents per kilometre | $1.5 billion
Personal income tax increase | one percent | $1.4 billion
Sales tax | one percent | $1.3 billion
Parking levy | $365 per space | $1.08 billion
Land transfer tax | one percent | $600 million
Payroll tax | one percent | $500 million
Fuel tax | one percent | $500 million
Development charges | $5,000 per unit | $200 million
Property tax | one percent | $90 million