Just a few days after handing out a gift to car-driving taxpayers, city council is poised to Scrooge Toronto residents in the new year.
The city announced Monday that council’s budget committee will consider a 3% hike in garbage rates and a long-planned 9% water-rate increase in January.
It will be the first garbage fee hike since Toronto introduced bin fees in 2008.
“It hasn’t gone up in the last two years and costs go up,” said public works committee chairman Denzil Minnan-Wong.
“I’d like to see it lower but the cuts that staff are proposing to get the garbage rate down, I don’t think would be acceptable to the rest of council.”
Minnan-Wong said some of those cuts would include eliminating city councillors’ Environment Days and the waiving of garbage collection fees for charities and religious organizations.
“We’re going to go through a process of discussion in January and February but I can’t foresee those as options that would be acceptable to council,” he said.
If approved, the bin fee hike will shave the annual rebate for owning a small bin from $10 to just under $3.
The hike would boost the cost of a medium bin by $8.93 to $47, a large bin by $12 to $145 and an extra-large bin by $14 to $204.
Those figures are what people pay after receiving a $224 garbage collection rebate from the city.
The hikes come after several weeks of good news for Toronto taxpayers.
Mayor Rob Ford and city council endorsed asking the budget committee to freeze property taxes next year. Council last week abolished the personal vehicle tax, eliminating the $60 per fee paid by car owners when they renew their plates, starting Jan. 1.
Minnan-Wong said “it’s easy to freeze the tax rate because there is a surplus.”
But he added garbage fees don’t benefit from any of that surplus and the previously-endorsed water rate increase is needed to fix the city’s aging infrastructure.
The hikes came as no surprise to Councillor Mike Layton.
“These are the constants that aren’t calculated into the model of a no-tax increase,” Layton said. “It’s giving money out of one pocket and taking it from someone else’s.”
Layton said there is no question the hikes will hurt people.
Councillor Janet Davis said the water rate hike isn’t surprising because the last council approved a multi-year water rate increase “because we have so much infrastructure work that needs to be done.”