Several councillors on the fence over tax vote

Several councillors on the fence over tax vote

A number of Toronto city councillors hold the balance of power in deciding if two proposed taxes will be passed onto residents during Monday’s vote at city hall.

Mayor David Miller wants council to support the two controversial levies — the land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee. He calls them important “revenue tools” that are needed to help the city out of its cash crunch.

Miller says the taxes could raise $356 million a year. Toronto is facing a $575 million budget shortfall next year.

The taxes, if implemented, would see homebuyers pay about $4,200 more on an average Toronto home, while an annual vehicle registration tax would cost car owners $60 and motorcycle owners $30.

The issue has caused tension at council. There are still councillors who are undecided if the measures should be imposed.

With less than a week until the historical tax debate, the mayor’s office is quietly drumming up support and trying to persuade those on the fence.

“(They called) trying to be warm and fuzzy,” Coun. Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) told CTV’s Naomi Parness.

He recounted one call like this: “Hey Peter, how are you? You OK today? Can we count on your support? No? Well, we will call tomorrow.”

Other swing voters include councillors Anthony Perruzza (York West), Suzan Hall (Etobicoke North), Maria Augimeri (York Centre), Mark Grimes (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and Bill Saundercook (Parkdale-High Park).

In July, council decided — by a vote of 23-22 — to defer the vote until after the October provincial election.

“This is a very serious matter for the city of Toronto and its one none of us can, quite frankly, take lightly,” Perruzza said on Tuesday.

Budget Chief Shelley Carroll (Don Valley East) hopes councillors will approve the controversial taxes because she feels it will help rectify the city’s financial woes.

“This is part of a formula that we need to build for a city this size. We haven’t had it, and we’ve paid for it,” Carroll said.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, a vocal Miller opponent, says he will be voting “no.”

“There’s a fear, because (it’s like) ‘if you don’t support these taxes, we’re not going to give you this skating rink or this particular project,'” Minnan-Wong said.

There are several proposals in the works that Miller will use to try to sway councillors to support his plan.

With a report from CTV’s Naomi Parness