Del Grande says he would consider return to budget chief role
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:31PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:24PM EST
The man who created the 2013 city budget only to resign immediately following its passing says he made the decision to leave after council voted in favour of a motion calling for more transparency in the budget process.
Coun. Mike Del Grande made the comment to CP24 Thursday afternoon, suggesting that Coun. Joe Mihevc’s motion was his final straw.
“We never had any meetings in private like the previous regime had, we had more consultations, more briefing notes to councillors, more core service reviews and then at the end of the day they do this,” Del Grande said. “It was personal and for me it was basically a non-confidence vote.”
Mihevc’s motion passed 25-20 without any debate on the council floor.
Speaking with CP24.com Thursday, the left-leaning councillor for St. Paul’s said the motion wasn’t even about Del Grande and the job he has done as budget chief.
“I’m as puzzled as anyone as to why he is linking his resignation to that 50 word motion that received no attention whatsoever,” he said. “He tends to take things too personally and he’s certainly taking this one personally. This was about process, not personality.”
Mihevc said his motion calling for more transparency in the budget process was largely about coming up with a better way to communicate budget information to councillors.
“You see reams of papers. Some on purple paper, some on blue paper, some on yellow paper and then there is all the binders we get. They flood us and you pretty much have to be Sherlock Holmes to work through what is really going on,” he said. “That’s all my motion was about.”
Del Grande upset with amendments
On Wednesday council voted 37-8 in favour of Del Grande’s budget after several amendments.
Those amendments, which included a last-minute compromise motion to hire additional firefighters, added about $12 million to the $9.4 billion operating budget.
“They made it a political budget,” Del Grande told CP24 Thursday. “I’m always concerned about sustainability and I was concerned about what the 2014 budget would look like. They’re going to be looking at higher taxes.”
Del Grande, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Finance degree from the University of Toronto, has served as budget chief since Rob Ford assumed office in 2010.
Asked if he would consider a return to the role should a suitable replacement not be found, the city councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt said he’d consider it but only if council indicated they wanted him back.
“If they had a vote and said come back that would send me a different message, but that’s not probable,” he said.
Speaking with CP24 Thursday, budget committee vice-chair Doug Ford said he is hopeful that Del Grande will reverse his decision and return for his fourth budget.
“Mike Del Grande is the best budget chief that the city has ever had and my choice for budget chief is Mike Del Grande,” he said. “I don’t believe in begging anyone. He has to have the will to move forward, but he has worked extremely, extremely hard and he is the only budget chief that has went line item by line item.”
Colleagues not surprised by resignation
On Wednesday Del Grande was not present for a news conference in which Mayor Rob Ford proclaimed his budget as the best in the city’s history, and was again noticeably absent in a picture that surfaced showing Mayor Ford and other councillors celebrating the political milestone at a Little Italy restaurant.
“I don’t think it was really a surprise. This is a budget chief who tried to bring forward a budget that supported the mayor’s agenda and the mayor turned his back on it,” Coun. Janet Davis told CP24 Thursday, referring to several amendments Ford voted in favour of. “Why would anyone want to be a budget chief if the mayor can’t deliver the vote and doesn’t support you in that role?”
“The mayor’s office was supporting the budget one minute and denouncing it the next,” Coun. Adam Vaughan added. “The deputy mayor said it was a terrible budget and the mayor said it was a great budget and with exhaustion speaking and frustration mounting all hell broke loose and I guess he (Del Grande) quit.”