Toronto likely to approve new taxes

Toronto Council is likely to approve two new taxes later today, according to Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone. “I think that the mayor’s compromise is going to pass – that’s my sense, absolutely,” said Pantalone, who represents Ward 19 (Trinity Spadina). “From the discussion, that’s clear what’s going to happen. The opponents are disheartened.”

Pantalone made the comments after council broke for lunch today, in a debate that council has voted to continue until a vote tonight. The debate concerns the imposition of two new taxes – a land transfer tax and a vehicle registration tax – which together will raise $175 million next year.

That number is much reduced from the original package councillors voted to defer in July. That would have seen the city take in $356 million. But a compromise put forward by Mayor David Miller earlier in the day reduces that substantially this year, by among other things exempting first-time homebuyers of homes under $400,000 and grandfathering purchase agreements signed before the end of the year from having to pay the new tax.

Pantalone said the compromise, combined with the newfound support of the Toronto Board of Trade, has tipped the balance in what was an evenly divided council in the mayor’s favour.

Will the vote be close?

“It depends on what close means,” he said. “Does it mean one vote? It will be more than one vote. Is it unanimous? I don’t think it will be unanimous.”

However, it became clear that the tax package’s opponents were losing momentum.

Ward 34 (Don Valley East) Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, one of the most vocal opponents of the tax plan, didn’t move a single motion when he stood up to speak.

“Let me say to the mayor – these taxes are yours,” he said just after the lunch break.

But the delay that we had has worked well to taxpayers’ advantage. We have been told for months that these are necessary. But miraculously, it seems that we can do nicely with $50 million less. This is either a modern day loaves and fishes story or the fact is that this city is a management-free zone.”

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