New Revenue Sources for Toronto: Learning from Other Cities
Toronto is facing unprecedented budget challenges. The impact of the pandemic, deteriorating infrastructure, inflation, high interest rates and climate change will only increase the financial pressure. The City has few revenue options to confront these challenges– mainly property taxes, the municipal land transfer tax, and user fees.
In this context, the City is studying potential new sources of revenue. It is thus timely to look at how other cities have faced and responded to the need to grow municipal revenues.
On May 18, 2023, a panel of experts brought international examples of different revenue sources used in cities around the world. They told us what works, what doesn’t, and what could be applied to Toronto.
Andrew Reschovsky is Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His previous academic appointments were at Rutgers University and Tufts University. He publishes widely on topics related to sub-national government finance, tax policy, and intergovernmental relations. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Antti Moisio is Senior Economist at the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, where he works on projects related to decentralisation and multi-level governance. Before coming to the OECD, he worked in the Finnish Prime Minister’s office as Senior Advisor. He has published on local public finance, efficiency of public services, municipal mergers and political economy. Antti Moisio holds a PhD in Economics from University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
François Vaillancourt is Emeritus Professor, Department of Economics, Université de Montréal, and Fellow at the Interuniversity Research Centre in Analysis of Organizations (CIRANO). His numerous publications include work on intergovernmental financial relations, tax incidence, tax complexity, and language economics and policy. He has been a consultant for the IMF, World Bank, and the governments of Québec and Canada. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Queen’s University.
Heather Taylor is the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for the City of Toronto where she oversees an annual $16 billion operating budget, a $49 billion capital plan, and sets their strategic and financial direction with a focus on long-term financial planning and financial sustainability. She has also led the incorporation of an environmental social and governance (ESG) lens into the City’s investment policies, and procurement and annual budgeting processes to ensure it is part of the City’s DNA.
Enid Slack is the Director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG). She is one of Canada’s foremost experts in municipal finance and has been working in this field for over 40 years. She is respected nationally and internationally for her research on municipal finance and governance. Enid has written several books and articles on municipal fiscal health, property taxes, intergovernmental transfers, and municipal infrastructure finance. She consults with governments and agencies in Canada and around the world. Enid holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toronto.
Reports mentioned in the video include:
Municipal Financing Opportunities in Canada: How Do Cities Use Their Fiscal Space? By Jean-Philippe Meloche and Francois Vaillancourt (IMFG)
Measuring the Fiscal Health of U.S. Cities by Howard Chernick and Andrew Reschovsky (IMFG)
Global Compendium of Land Value Capture Policies (OECD)