Finances and Government
These Notes are part of a series of Notes on key City issues to update City Council at the start of its 2018 – 2022 term.
What are the Issues?
Click on the link below each issue to read the full Note.
2019 Interim Operating and Capital Estimates
City Council is required by December 31, 2018 to establish Interim Operating and Capital Budget Estimates in order for the City to fund and meet existing contractual commitments from January 1, 2019 to the date of approval of the 2019 Operating and Capital Budgets.
Given that 2019 is the first budget year under the new term of Council, the operating budget will not be approved until the end of April 2019, which is one month later than other years (April vs March). City staff generally recommend Interim Estimates at a higher rate (33% vs 25%) in the first year of a new term to accommodate the longer interim period.
Toronto’s Long-Term Financial Plan
The City’s Long-Term Financial Plan (LTFP) was received by the Executive Committee in March 2018. Staff were directed to report on individual strategies and actions contained in the LTFP, as appropriate, following the start of the 2018 – 2022 Council term.
The LTFP provides a long-term framework for financial decision-making including a series of key actions available to Council and, under Council direction, City staff. These are broken into a foundational step of integrating program and revenue decisions, and five principles to support implementation of Council’s direction.
The City’s Revenue Base
The City is required to balance its operating budget each year, so revenue must match spending. Since 2010, the City’s operating budget has grown by approximately 3.2 percent annually, but it has declined on an inflation adjusted and per capita basis. The City’s Long-Term Financial Plan has identified that there is a growing gap between the levels of spending required to meet Council’s directions and available funding.
Capital Financing: Debenture Issuance and Credit Ratings
The City’s capital projects are financed by a variety of sources including contributions from the operating budget (“capital from current”), reserves and reserve funds and grants from other levels of government, as well as the issuance of debt.
At the beginning of a term of Council must consider a bylaw that provides the Mayor or the Mayor’s Alternate (Deputy Mayor or Budget Chair), and the Chief Financial Officer with the delegated authority to negotiate a debenture issue up to an annual dollar limit determined by Council.
Performance Measurement, Benchmarking and Reporting
The compilation and reporting of municipal performance measurement and benchmarking results provide valuable information for monitoring City operations, assessing how well Toronto is doing and supporting resource allocation decisions. Public reporting of performance measurement and indicator results, supports accountability and transparency of municipal service delivery as well as providing a tool to help assess the quality of life of Torontonians. Toronto’s performance measurement results are examined and reported from an internal perspective, by reviewing multi-year trends, as well as from an external perspective by benchmarking results against other municipalities.
Customer Service Improvement Initiatives
Toronto at Your Service (“TAYS”), the City’s integrated customer service initiative, will provide a consistent, timely and efficient customer experience to all residents, businesses and visitors, across all service channels. Under a “digital first” approach, TAYS aims to improve service delivery and customer experience, and reduce service delivery cost.
The City of Toronto has numerous initiatives underway to improve business processes and practices, build on the tradition of great customer service in the Toronto Public Service and meet evolving customer requirements. Service modernization is one point of the City’s four-point modernization plan announced in 2016. The other three-points of the plan include hiring a Chief Transformation Officer for the City of Toronto, modernizing office space to use the city space more efficiently, and maximizing the value and efficient use of the City’s land and property assets.
Service modernization is supported by the TAYS Program Office to ensure efforts are focused and prioritized. The Program Office oversees corporate service modernization projects and aligns improvement activities under a common vision and strategy.
Information and Technology Initiatives
The use of technology, wireless devices, social media and collaboration tools for communication and information sharing by cities and their residents is growing. These changes are driving public expectation for services anytime, anywhere, on any channel and any device. There are opportunities for the City to use big data to improve efficiency and effectiveness across a broad range of government programs and a need to modernize systems to improve cost effectiveness and usability. With tremendous expectations on City government, the City is working to improve how it deploys new capabilities and solutions.
Key Government Transformation Initiatives
Investments in modernization, business transformation and technology are necessary to realize future savings and efficiencies as well as new ways of delivering projects, which includes breaking down silos and improving co-operation, collaboration and governance across all City divisions and agencies.
City-wide Real Estate Transformation
The City of Toronto owns one of the largest, most complex and valuable real estate portfolios in North America. In January 2018, the City launched a City-wide Real Estate Transformation project to address the varying governance structures, program objectives, investment plans, processes, data and technology, skills and expertise between the over 24 divisions, agencies and corporations involved in real estate activities. The new City-wide approach sets a mandate to strategically plan decision-making and outcomes in a coordinated, cost effective way.
The City has centralized authority for strategic oversight of real estate assets, placing renewed focus on more comprehensive portfolio strategies and planning to establish clear investment directions, engagement and coordination of all City partners.
Supply Chain Transformation Program
The City’s procurement process is a time consuming, manual, paper-based process which does not consistently leverage innovative procurement processes and market and spend data. Changes to the way the City plans and manages procurement actions, as well as process improvements and automation, will result in a more strategic approach to procurement, as well as significant cost savings.
Smart Cities Initiatives
A smart city uses technology and data to optimize resources and enhance quality and performance of urban services, increase economic competitiveness, and engage citizens more effectively. A smarter city develops and implements innovative policies and technologies to ensure these benefits are realized in a manner unique and consistent with its core values of economic, social, cultural and environmental vitality.
Smart City encompasses a broad range of opportunities to support City improvements and address issues that are underpinned by innovative uses of data and technology. Smart Cities goes beyond technology though, as it is an opportunity for the City to drive service excellence and improve the quality of life.