Friday, November 30, 2012

Where the Money Goes, & Where It Comes From: City of Toronto Operating Budget

A broad diversity of opinions exists regarding how the City of Toronto should spend its money. Everyone has their own ideas about services that deserve more funding, or that ought to be cut to the bone.

When having these discussions, it’s productive to glance at how the city operating budget (currently proposed at $9.42 billion) breaks down, to serve as a reference point. You might be surprised at how much -- or how little -- some departments actually receive.

How We Spend the Money, & Where It Comes From

Where the money goes:
Expenditures, 2013 City of Toronto Operating Budget [source]
(Click images to view larger)

Where the money comes from:
Revenue Sources, 2013 City of Toronto Operating Budget 

[My own pet cause is the Toronto Public Library, which handles a higher circulation per capita than any other public library system in the world, for not even two cents of your taxpayer dollar.

Some of my techie compatriots mistakenly think that libraries are increasingly obsolete in an interconnected digital world -- but the reality is, demand for library services has never been greater.

I’d also mention Heritage Toronto, but in truth the level of funding here is basically a joke. Want to guess what the total program expenditure for this department is? For the entire city of Toronto? $740k. Yeah. On the chart above I believe it gets lumped in unceremoniously with ‘Other’.]

Take some time to read more about the City of Toronto’s operating budget, so that you can have an informed discussion about it:
2013 Operating Budget Presentation (proposed -- pdf)
2013 Operating Budget Analyst Notes

The analyst notes for specific agencies (e.g. the Toronto Zoo) can be quite intriguing... Deliberations and debate will take place in council over the next few months, with a final vote in January.

What are your budget priorities? Should we be spending more, or less -- and on what services?