Tag Archives: budget

City to decide what services to deliver

Memo for city manager refers to core service review
Some city services could be discontinued altogether
Kris Scheuer

City Manager Joseph Pennachetti.

The city is reviewing all city services with an eye on determining what are core services. what is mandated and what is discretionary, according to an internal memo obtained by 680 news.
Toronto’s city manager Joe Pennachetti’s March 21 memo to city staff outlines how the three-part service review will work and why it is needed.
“In the longer term, we have an operating funding shortfall, with the 2012 beginning operating pressure estimated at $784 million,” states his memo.
“Starting in April, we will conduct a three-part service review program to prepare for the 2012 budget process. The three parts will include: a core service review, service efficiency studies and a user fee review. The Core Service Review will study whatservices the city should be delivering and the Service Efficiency Studies will examine how city services are delivered,” the memo continues.
“These reviews are expected to generate significant efficiencies and cost savings,” states this memo.
These are just excerpts of the 3-page memo, which can be read entirely here.
This review goes beyond just looking at what services  the city currently delivers. It will be looking at what services could be cut or possibly discontinued in terms of the city delivering them. Staff will report back in September with recommendations.
The March 21 memo outlines the goals of the review.
“Core Service Review. This element of the service review program will develop an inventory of all services, service levels and service standards. The review will:
• define which services are legislated, core and discretionary
• benchmark services and service levels against those in other jurisdictions
rank services for potential reductions and discontinuation and identify the service, policy, human resource and financial impacts of recommended service changes.”
Pennachetti continues to write, “While the funding gap in the 2012 operating budget is significant, the goal of the Core Service Review is beyond cutting costs – it is to confirm the services and functions that are core to what the city does and to innovate in other areas. The outcomes will provide solid reasons for continued service delivery in core areas and for making any necessary changes in other areas.”
There will be much more to report on this when we see those reviews and what the recommendations are and whether it includes job cuts, service reductions and possible elimination of services delivered by the city/public sector.

Toronto city services

Here what your taxes pay for in Toronto
Kris Scheuer

What city services are most vital to you? Image courtesy of City of Toronto.

The city passed its 2011 operating and capital billion totaling $13.326 billion.
What is Toronto getting for this money? Well click here for some insight into all the services the city provides for your tax dollars everything from public health, snow removal, parks and roads to police, social housing, libraries, fire services and clean water.
Next year, the city faces a $774 million shortfall that has to be made up by cutting services and raising TTC fares, property taxes and user fees just to balance the 2012 budget. So what services are most crucial to you and what can we cut and do without?

Donlands second subway exit on hold

City defers Woodbine, Wellesley and Greenwood plans too
TTC will proceed with 2nd exits at stations when cash available
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 28)

The TTC has postponed building second exits at 4 subway stations until sufficient capital cash is available. Tristan Carter/Town Crier file photo.

The city has deferred all plans for controversial  second exits  at Donlands, Woodbine, Greenwood and Wellesley subway stations due to budget shortfalls.
The Toronto Transit Commission had originally recommended deferring three of the projects though not Donlands as it was scheduled for 2013, but councillor Mary Fragedakis pushed to include it as she thought it was important all four stations be dealt with together.
“Once the TTC capital (budget) has sufficient funds, we will reconvene a meeting for the Donlands and Greenwood communities,” said Fragedakis of the two stations in her ward. “This has only been deferred — not cancelled.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said that the commission decided to put these projects on hold in order to complete other more pressing issues.
“We have $2.3 billion in unfunded capital budget for the next 10 years, so state of good repair are priorities and Ashbridges Bay (streetcar) car barn is a priority,” said Ross.
“We will come back next year or the year after to look at restoring funding,” he said.
Strathmore Boulevard resident Lisa Dymond, who has been pushing for alternative locations to the Donlands project, said she hopes the delay will encourage the TTC to revisit other options.

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Donlands station second exit deferred

Kris Scheuer

TTC's proposed second exit for Donlands subway is on hold for now. Image courtesy of TTC.

City council voted Feb. 23 to defer building controversial second subway exits at Wellesley, Donlands, Greenwood and Woodbine TTC stations.
A motion by Councillor Mary Fragedakis to amend the Toronto Transit Commission’s capital budget was approved during the city’s budget debate.
Her motion, which passed 42-2, was “City Council add the Second Exit at Donlands station project to the list of projects being deferred pending resolution of the TTC’s $2.3 billion Capital Budget funding shortfall.”
She sent out a press release Feb. 25 stating, “City Council voted overwhelmingly to defer the second exit project at Donlands station until the TTC is able to secure the necessary funding. Other second exit projects deferred at the February 23 Council meeting include Wellesley, Woodbine and Greenwood stations.” Continue reading

2011 city budget with tax freeze

Budget includes some service cuts
And 2012 budget outlook grim: city officials
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 24)

Mayor Ford talks to city hall media Feb. 23 about the budget. Town Crier file photo.

The good news is that city approved its 2011 operating budget today with a tax freeze.
However, the 2012 budget is already shaping up to be one that will involve hikes in TTC fares and property taxes and selling off city assets to fix the projected $774 million hole for next year’s budget.
But that’s a worry for another day.
Mayor Rob Ford was beaming after the passage of the first operating budget of his administration.
“This is a great day for the taxpayers of the city. For the first time in 11 years we passed a zero percent tax increase,” Ford told the media. “We campaigned hard and definitely slowed down the gravy train.”
Ford said not only did he attend the four public meetings on the budget with hundreds of deputations, but personally returns calls from Torontonians regarding their priorities.
“If you talk to the citizens out there, I am sure 99 percent of them are happy at not having to pay higher taxes,” he said.
The city passed the $9.381 billion gross budget with few amendments.
Councillor John Filion that did get one through with a 44-1 vote to increase the Toronto Public Health Budget with one-time provincial funding of $100,000. This money from the provincial Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is earmarked for a communication strategy to encourage HIV and Syphilis screening.
Mayor Ford was the only one to vote against this provincial money.
“Everyone says it’s provincial money. No it’s taxpayers’ money,” Ford explained his vote to the media.

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City votes for 2011 tax freeze

No tax increase in this year’s Toronto budget
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 23)

Mayor Ford is pleased council supported a 2011 property tax freeze. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

The weather may have warmed up, but inside city hall council voted to freeze taxes on the first day of a four days of budget votes.
Mayor Rob Ford didn’t campaign on a tax freeze but he announced after the election a tax freeze was a priority.
“Taxpayers won’t have to pay a property tax increase this year,” Ford told the media.
After the vote Ford said that taxpayers sent a clear message during the election that they are sick and tried of wasteful spending at city hall.
“We saved $66 million in the first 100 days that’s more than the previous government saved in seven years,” Ford boasted to the assembled media.
The biggest saving came from canceling the vehicle registration tax as of Jan. 1, which gives taxpayers $64 million back, said Ford.
However, canceling the tax means the city will lose $48 million in revenue and it will cost the city/taxpayers $16 million to issue refunds to car owners who paid for the fee in advance.

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TTC meeting on bus route cuts

Public meeting with no deputations
People fill out comment sheets, talk to TTC reps
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 26)

Christine Miller looks at info on a bus route cut impacting her commute. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

As part of the 2011 budget process the TTC has vowed to cut 48 bus routes in order to increase service on other unspecified routes.
However, a decision on bus route reductions was postponed until Feb. 2 to allow for public consultations so those impacted by the cuts can plead their case.
At the meeting held at the North York Central Library Christine Miller, who relies on two of the bus routes were service reductions are proposed: 56 Leaside and 62 Mortimer, told the Town Crier that the proposed cuts could imperil her safety.
“I take them for work and a night out,” she told the Town Crier. “I get off (work) at midnight. That’s my safe ride home.”
She works as a security guard in midtown and lives in East York. For her the cuts would mean no service after 10 p.m. on weekdays and after 7 p.m. on weekends on the 56 Leaside route. And on 62 Mortimer no service after 10 p.m. on weekends.
“I work ‘til midnight on Saturdays and Sundays as well,” said the 27 year old. “One alternative is 25 Don Mills.”
This would take her close to home but walking a different route that has safety concerns, she said.

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Toronto budget public input

Residents, business people have their say on 2011 budget
Opinions vary widely on priorities
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 21)

Margaret Watson advocates to sub-budget committee to not increase user fees for recreation. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Councillors got an earful from residents, businesses and community groups who came out to speak on the city’s budget at North York Civic Centre.
New councillor Doug Ford, brother to Mayor Rob Ford, chaired the meeting at times with occasionally humourous results.
He mistakenly introduced Margaret Watson from the Canadian Pensioners’ Concern as a deputant about prisoners’ issues. He made a joke of it by saying he needed glasses and playfully referred to former budget chief Councillor Shelley Carroll as “the warden”.
For her part, Watson gave a feisty presentation about preserving services.
“Many seniors are tenants who receive pressure from landlords. We are disappointed you have cut $100,000 from the tenant defence fund,” she said at the Jan. 19 public meeting. “We hope council doesn’t want to put more tenants at risk of homelessness.”

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Noise barrier cut from TTC budget

Proposal to erect noise buffer near Allen and Eglinton chopped
Toronto councillor pushes for project to be added back in TTC budget
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan.20)

Residents living near Eglinton’s Allen Expressway on-ramp say they are furious with TTC for quashing a plan to put a noise barrier between their neighbourhood and a noisy commuter lot.
The approved noise barrier project was noticeably absent when TTC presented its 2011 capital budget in January.

Residents Tom Sandler, left, and Randy Daiter are petitioning the TTC to restore funding for a noise barrier near Allen Road. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

For years, residents living on Wembley Road have complained about honking, beeping and cursing from drivers competing to enter the expressway from Eglinton Avenue, and the noise coming from an adjacent commuter parking lot.
Four years ago, local councillor Joe Mihevc began pushing for funding of a noise barrier along the north side of the lot and the south side of the road’s residential properties.
“There’s been a 10-year plan for all the noise barriers on the Allen,” Mihevc said. “This is the last piece.”
In 2010, about $1.2 million was approved for the noise barrier. The plan was to design and tender it for contract this year, then build it in 2012, Mihevc said.
But there’s been a change of heart at the transit commission. Continue reading

Mayor Ford’s unveils 2011 budget

No “major” service cuts announced
However, some councillors not keen on those that did occur
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 10)

Mayor Rob Ford promises no major service cuts, zero tax increase in proposed 2011 city budget. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Mayor Rob Ford had announced the introduction of the 2011 Respect For Taxpayers budget by repeating his promises of zero property tax increases and no major service cuts.
“This budget follows one of the largest consultation processes in Canadian politics. It was called the Toronto municipal election,” said Ford, referring to the 10 month election campaign. “(Voters) told us very clearly they want us to stop the waste and reduce city expenses.”
Monday, Jan. 10 was the first day of an expedited process that will see the 2011 budget approved by the end of February rather than early April.
Reduce expenses
Ford had asked all departments to reduce their budgets by five percent but a preliminary look shows this request had mixed results. Municipal Licensing and Services requested an additional 12 percent while Employment and Social Services cut its budget by 26 percent.

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