Garbage collection, public libraries, road repair, TTC, recreation programs, childcare, animal control, water testing, police, fire and emergency medical response are all services the City provides. Many of the City’s 150+ services are provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The budget is a financial plan that describes how much money the City will raise and spend. It determines the level of service provided to Toronto residents and guides decisions on what City infrastructure will be built and repaired.

Operating Budget

The operating budget covers day-to-day spending on services such as recreation programs, parks maintenance, public health, roads, transit, police and other emergency services. Approximately 32 per cent of the funds for the operating budget comes from property taxes. The remainder comes from provincial grants and subsidies, as well as user fees.

Capital Budget

The capital budget funds the City’s infrastructure that supports service delivery. It pays for the construction and repair of transit, roads, bridges, parks and public buildings such as libraries, community centres and fire stations. The City updates and presents a new 10-year Capital Budget and Plan each year as part of the budget process. The capital budget is primarily funded from reserves, development charges, other orders of government and by borrowing funds.

Rate-supported Programs

The City also has three rate supported programs: Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto Water. These programs are funded almost entirely by user fees. For example, water and solid waste fees are calculated by how much water is used and the size of the garbage bin. In turn, the revenue collected from these user fees pays for the services that are provided and the infrastructure to deliver them.


Amortization is the accounting process of allocating the cost less the residual value of a tangible capital asset, such as a library or a community centre, to operating periods as an expense over its useful life. Depreciation accounting is another commonly used term to describe the amortization of tangible capital assets.

Cost-shared Services

The costs of several of City services are shared between the City and other orders of government. For example shelters, daycare, emergency medical services, public health and income support programs are funded by both the City and the Province of Ontario.

The Difference Between ‘Gross’ and ‘Net’ Costs

The gross cost is the total cost to deliver programs and services. This expenditure is offset by funding and subsidies for cost-shared services as well as fees and charges for programs and services. The difference between gross expenditure and these revenue sources is the net budget, which is the amount of the operating budget that is paid for by your property taxes.

Budget Surpluses and Deficits

A surplus occurs when the City either spends less than it thought it would, or raises more revenue than predicted. The City has a policy to use 75 per cent of operating budget surpluses to fund infrastructure projects in the capital budget and 25 per cent to top-up reserves to meet City obligations. The City has never had a deficit, as provincial law requires the City to balance its budget. A deficit would occur if the City’s expenses were greater than its revenues, or if the City collected less revenue than it anticipated.

Balancing the Budget

The City is required by provincial law to balance its operating and capital budgets each year – which means that the money spent must be equal to the money raised. To balance the budget, the City can either increase its revenues using tools such as property taxes and fees, or by managing expenses by changing or reducing the cost of services.

The City Budget is about building a safe, caring and affordable city where everyone belongs.

The Budget Committee will review a staff prepared budget and hear input from Toronto residents and businesses. The Mayor will then present the Mayor’s budget by February 1 and City Council will consider that Budget within 30 days.

Through this process, City Council makes decisions about City services, programs and infrastructure that impact you and your community. Learn how to get involved!