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Article by Matthew Bingley from Global News

Toronto has begun the arduous task of setting its 2020 budget with a focus on achievable and affordable targets, while also relying on provincial and federal government partners to come through with funding.

The staff presented the budget on Friday morning to the committee that will ultimately shape it over the coming weeks. Staff said $13.53 billion will go to the operating and rate supported budget and $43.46 billion is designated to the 10-year capital tax and rate supported budget. City Council already approved rate budgets at its meeting on Dec. 17.

Under the budget, property taxes are set to increase at the rate of inflation. When combined with Toronto’s increase in the City Building Fund to address transit and housing, 2020 property taxes will go up 4.24 percent.

For the average residential home assessed at $703,232, staff said residents will be paying an extra $128 increase on their $3,141 taxes.

Included in the operating budget, are $67 million in new expenditures. Those new monies will go towards tackling key city commitments like poverty reduction and addressing climate change.

The bulk of the operating budget, which will go towards paying for city operations, TTC, emergency services and cost shared social programs, comes from property taxes. With that, staff are recommending a property tax increase to help fund them.

Staff repeatedly focused on a need to rely on partnerships to achieve a balanced budget. $77 million has already been factored into the budget, with the assumption that Ottawa will come through with money to cover refugee programs.

The Ford Government's commitment to fund subway expansion has also allowed the city to put money towards transit state-of good repair. On the capital budget, staff said the budget invests $13.2 billion in in transit, which nearly doubles the investment to keep transit in good health. 

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