Budget includes some service cuts
And 2012 budget outlook grim: city officials
(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.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged 2011, 2012, budget, city, freeze, funding, Gord Perks, HIV, increase, John Filion, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, Mike Del Grande, province, Rob Ford, Syphilis, tax, Toronto, Town Crier, vote, zero
No tax increase in this year’s Toronto budget
(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.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged 2011, budget, freeze, Gord Perks, increase, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, Mike Del Grande, Rob Ford, tax, Toronto, Town Crier, zero
Council makes symbolic gesture to pass on pay hike
Savings may go to support student nutrition
(Written Feb. 8 for Town Crier.)
Councillor Mike Del Grande led charge to freeze politicians' pay for 2011.
Council voted almost unanimously today not to accept a cost of living increase with many saying that they needed to set an example for city employees going into a year of contract negotiations.
This year, the city will be negotiating a number of new contracts including one with the TTC as that contract expires at the end of March, and CUPE Local 416’s contract including garbage collectors is up at the end of 2011.
“When those (contract) negotiations start, the first thing everyone will look at is what have we done with respect to our leadership on this,” said budget chief Mike Del Grande during the debate.
He said refusing this 2.6 percent cost of living increase sets the right tone since they are seeking budget cutbacks from city departments and asking employees to show restraint in wage demands.
“We have asked for sacrifices throughout the system and we can start with ourselves,” he said after the vote. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged council, cut, freeze, hike, increase, Joe Mihevc, Kris Scheuer, Mike Del Grande, nutrition, pay, salary, student, Toronto, Town Crier