City’s budget chief resigns after council passes 2013 budget
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:54AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:36PM EST
Toronto Budget Chair Chief Coun. Mike Del Grande has resigned from his position after two years, hours after city council passed the 2013 budget.
“I think it’s time to move on. I’ve accomplished, as far as I’m concerned, things that needed to be done,” Del Grande told CP24 late Wednesday, adding that he’s helped bring in financial budgets that tried to maintain “stability” for the city.
He said the job of trying to work with councillors, as well as please city residents is challenging.
“It’s hard for anybody to do the job, but the vilification and the hatred part, and the nastiness that I received during the period just doesn’t make it worthwhile to undertake that kind of abuse,” he said.
Del Grande added that “the icing on the cake” was when a motion was passed arguing that the budget process was not transparent enough.
Del Grande -- who represents Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt – said he was cancelling his appointments scheduled for Thursday and will be keeping a low-profile for the next few days.
Late Wednesday, Mayor Rob Ford praised Del Grande for his hard work.
"On behalf of every Toronto taxpayer, I'd like to thank Councillor Mike Del Grande for two years' service, and three City budgets, as Budget Chief," Ford said in a statement. "He has been a key leader on my team, helping Toronto turn the corner and achieve the sustainable budget we passed Wednesday. I look forward to the contribution he will make as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board."
Del Grande’s resignation comes just hours after Toronto city councillors approved their latest budget.
The approximately $9.4 billion operating budget -- which includes more than $500 million to kickstart repairs of the crumbling Gardiner Expressway, an additional $1.63 million for student nutrition, as well as $6 million in new arts funding -- was passed by a vote of 37-8 on Wednesday.
That's a day ahead of schedule, as council had allotted time through Thursday to debate and vote on the budget plan.
After the budget was passed Del Grande told CTV Toronto he was considering his future. Previously he threatened to resign as budget chief if council tweaked the budget too much.
“I’m going to mull over what I need to do next. As I said I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about in terms of what I’ve done,” he said.
In a press conference following the vote, Ford trumpeted the fact this year's spending plan does not dip into the reportedly $230 million surplus from 2012.
"They said it couldn't be done, but we are proving people wrong folks. We are turning the corner and changing the culture here at city hall. Even the hardcore, left-wing, tax-and-spend councillors have learned not to spend the surplus," Ford said.
Hours earlier, Ford threw his support behind a last-minute compromise that will see the city spend $3 million funding firefighter positions that had been up for elimination.
The mayor told reporters he had agreed to the additional funding, proposed in a motion by Councillor Paul Ainslie late Tuesday, which would see the city's fire service hire more than 60 additional firefighters.
That motion was passed by councillors in a 35-10 vote.
Firefighters clad in red T-shirts had gathered at the budget debate for a second day Wednesday, to register their protest against proposed cuts that would have seen the closure of one fire station and the elimination of five fire trucks, as well as 101 vacant jobs.
While firefighters argued the cuts would have put the lives of Torontonians at risk, Ford countered that funding for new equipment, 20 firefighters and 15 new fire-prevention officers would have kept Toronto’s level of service the same.
Nevertheless, Ford said Wednesday he'd had a change of heart.
"I've not fallen victim of fear-mongering," Ford told reporters, explaining that his position was based on scrutiny of the numbers and not union pressure.
"I looked at everything and I said, you know, 'If we can get the expenditures down from $5 million to $3 million I'd be more than happy to do it."
The "compromise" motion will fund the new firefighters until July, by which time the outcome of a Toronto Fire Services efficiency study should be clear.
Following the vote, Toronto Firefighter Association President Ed Kennedy said he was "extremely happy".
"The mayor and councillors listened to what we had to say, and they're going to be doing the right thing," Kennedy told reporters.
Proposed budget measures rejected in votes Wednesday include:
- the rejection of a $75,000 increase in the Tenant Defence Fund (19-26)
- the rejection of a motion to eliminate drop-in fees for children and youth at indoor pools (18-27)
Councillors had already approved a 2-per-cent residential property tax, voting 38-6 in favour of the hike on Tuesday.
With files from CTV Toronto and CP24