Executive committee approves proposed budget
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends City Council's Executive Committee's discussion about budgets in Toronto on Wednesday January 22 , 2014. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 22, 2014 9:25PM EST
The city’s executive committee has voted in favour of the proposed 2014 budget despite an impassioned plea from Mayor Rob Ford.
Ford called the budget “the worst” he has seen since assuming office during Wednesday’s meeting, but the budget was ultimately passed by a vote of 10-2 and sent to council for final approval.
The budget features a 1.75 per cent property tax hike, which includes a 0.5 per cent increase to help fund a shortfall in the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line into Scarborough.
A tax increase of 0.48 per cent due to provincial legislation will also be tacked on, meaning home owners will see a total tax hike of 2.23 per cent.
The increase equates to about $44.37 for the average homeowner.
“We didn’t see any efficiencies today and we didn’t see any savings today. It is not sustainable or responsible budgeting and it is not what the Toronto taxpayers want,” Ford said at a press conference following the vote. “Next week I will be presenting savings at council that will save well over $50 million with little or no impact to services and it will be up to the councillors to make the right decision.”
Ford took issue with the budget’s use of rough figures for the revenue expected to be generated by this year’s and next year’s land transfer tax, telling reporters on Wednesday that committee members are playing “shell games” with the city’s finances.
“They are already projecting $358 million for next year and if it comes in great and if it doesn’t what do we do? Well we use last year’s surplus, which I am totally against,” he said. “That is not the way people run their businesses and it is not the way I run the city.”
Ford called a 'coward' by Minnan-Wong
Ford grilled city staff about several areas of spending on Wednesday, including new hires in the legal division and the number of employees manning the city’s 311 call centre, but his suggestions for cuts were rebuffed.
Coun. Denzil-Minnan Wong then called Ford a “coward” for suggesting that council had returned to its tax-and-spend ways after stripping him of many of his powers.
“He was here from January to November. Did he propose any efficiencies? Did he implement any efficiencies? No he did not,” Minnan-Wong said. “And now he is pointing the finger at us and saying it is all our fault. That is not leadership and that’s not being a leader; that is called being a coward.”
The executive committee briefly considered a higher tax increase on Wednesday after Chief Financial Officer Rob Rossini made a presentation advocating a 3.21 per cent increase in order to help replenish the city’s emergency fund in the wake of December’s ice storm, but the increase was ultimately kept to 1.75 per cent.
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