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
Day after TTC fare hike announced, city finds cash to avoid increase
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 11)
TTC chair Karen Stintz announced today a transit fare hike is cancelled, which should keep more riders using the city's transit network. Photo by Kris Scheuer.
Looks like there won’t be a TTC fare increase after all.
One day after Mayor Rob Ford begrudgingly announced a 10 cent transit hike to make up a $24 million budget gap the city declared its delivering an extra $16 million to the TTC and will let the transit commission axe $8 million in unspecified cuts at a later date.
“Fare increases and service cuts are the last options the TTC looks at,” TTC chair Karen Stintz told the Town Crier. “We want to make sure the fares remain affordable for those who are dependent on transit.”
The cancellation was made possible after city staff was able to find the money needed to keep fares at current levels.
“The city manager was able to identify the $16 million so that our (TTC) subsidy could be increased and we were able to manage ($8 million) through unspecified cuts,” said Stintz.“We have $8 million that we will have to manage (cut) throughout the year. It won’t be a service cut.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross didn’t have details on where the $8 million in cuts would come from, but hoped to have more information on Wednesday when the TTC meets to vote on its budget.
Mayor asking other departments to cut more to avoid fare hike
(Written Jan. 10 for Town Crier.)
Mayor Ford announces the preliminary 2011 city budget. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Today, Toronto got its first glance at a budget under Mayor Rob Ford.
The bad news is TTC is proposing a 10 cent fare hike and reduced bus service on more than 45 routes to increase service on busier ones.
“I did not want to agree to this,” Ford told reporters speaking about the fare hike. “I am not happy about this.”
Ford says he wants to find another option rather than raise transit fares including asking other departments, including the police, to reduce their requests for increases.
However, as of today the recommendation is the TTC raise fares on Feb. 1 including: Adult tokens going up 10 cent to $2.60, Metropasses increasing to $126. Student and senior ticket prices would increase 10 cents to $1.75 and student Metropasses would rise to $104. Children’s fares would remain unchanged.
There would also be service reductions on 48 bus routes including: Royal York 73B no service after 7 p.m. Leaside 56 no service after 10 p.m. Mon-Sat. Forest Hill 33 no service after 7 p.m. Mon-Fri and no service on the weekends or holidays. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged 10, budget, cents, city, fare, hike, increase, Karen Stintz, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, Paula Fletcher, Rob Ford, Town Crier, TTC