Message from Joe Pennachetti, City Manager
The City of Toronto continues to make major advances in strengthening our fiscal health and for the second year in a row, the operating budget was balanced without the use of the prior year’s surplus. The 2014 Budget makes important investments in our future while keeping the tax increase to a minimum. The overall 2014 tax increase was only 1.14 per cent, which is below the rate of inflation. This includes the cost to maintain current service levels as well as investing in transit, roads, housing, emergency services and our recreational facilities for today’s residents and generations to come.
The 2014 Operating Budget is $11.2 billion (tax and rates approved) and ensures that the City will continue to deliver high quality and affordable services, while making investments in key strategic priorities to enhance Toronto’s economic vitality as well as support social development for our diverse and vulnerable residents.
The City delivers more than 140 distinct services many of which are provided on a 24 hour/7 day a week basis. These services address the social, economic, physical and governance needs and the quality of life of Toronto residents, visitors and businesses.
One of the challenges the City faces is delivering such a wide range and complexity of programs and services to a large metropolitan city is the limited fiscal tools available to Ontario municipalities and the revenue/funding constraints relative to the other levels of government. In order to maintain Toronto’s enviable quality of life and ensure Canada’s largest metropolitan area continues to be globally competitive, it is essential that we strengthen our intergovernmental partnerships, including a final re-alignment of social services funding, and find new revenues to address the pressures growth and city building is placing on the demand for enhanced city services combined with the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure.
My directions to City divisions and agencies at the start of the 2014 budget process were to manage spending with a 0 per cent expenditure increase over the 2013 Budget for all services to include savings generated from the implementation of Service Reviews, and to implement the existing priorities within this base budget.
Virtually every City program and agency met the challenge of bringing a budget forward that had a 0 per cent increase, achieving $60 million in savings realized from efficiency and cost saving measures with little impact on services. As a result, the vast majority of the City’s services remain in place in 2014 with modest enhancements of $18 million primarily for transit and emergency services. I’m proud of our achievements in finding efficiencies while making modest enhancements for transit, community safety and wellness for our residents.
City Council approved a 2014 – 2023 10-year Capital Plan of $28.7 billion (both tax and rate supported programs). The 10-Year Capital Plan continues to advance the City’s long-term fiscal plan objectives and focuses on infrastructure rehabilitation. Importantly, the plan also continues a lower reliance on debt to improve fiscal sustainability.
The 2014 – 2023 Capital Budget and Plan includes $3.560 billion for the Scarborough Subway Extension; and road works including ongoing rehabilitation work on the Gardiner Expressway, road resurfacing and reconstruction and key capital projects to address traffic congestion.
I am proud that the Toronto Public Service continues to deliver on service excellence, stewardship and commitment as demonstrated by their many accolades from international agencies and community groups including:
- The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and Deloitte proudly presented its Gold 2013 IPAC Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award in the Municipal Category to the City of Toronto for transforming securing social assistance benefits with its City Services Benefit Card.
- For the third straight year, the City of Toronto has been named to Security Magazine’s “Security 500” – the Top 500 Security Organizations. The City of Toronto is listed overall at number seven in the Government Category, and is the highest Canadian entry as well as the highest-rated city.
- The City’s “Welcome to Toronto…We’ve Been Expecting You” hospitality excellence program has won and Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) award in the Product Development – Workforce Development category.
- The City of Toronto was recognized by Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) for being one of the leading contributors of mentors to The Mentoring Partnership. The City was also the first public sector partner to reach the 1,000 mentoring matches milestone since the program began in 2004.
- Long-Term Care Homes & Services staff at Fudger House, home to 250 residents, recently won the provincial Supporting Seniors Award from the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS).
- The Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division was presented with three awards by Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) at the 2013 PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show. An Excellence in Design Award was received for the Regent Park Aquatics Centre and two Innovation Awards were won for the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground rebuild in High Park and the Investing in Families initiative.
- Toronto Public Health was awarded the prestigious Baby-Friendly Initiative designation in January. The Baby-Friendly Initiative is a worldwide program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
- The City of Toronto has won a national municipal environmental award for its Live Green Toronto program. The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) presented the City with the 2013 Environment Award to the City in June.
- The Financial Planning Division received the “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award” from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award recognizes individual governments that succeed in achieving budget documents that are of the very highest quality and reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting.
I’d like to thank the Toronto Public Service for continuing to deliver service excellence and enhanced customer service to the residents and businesses of Toronto. Through their hard work, Toronto remains a highly ranked global city to live, work, play and invest.
Joseph P. Pennachetti