Council returns to city hall amid financial woes
Published Tuesday, September 4, 2007 6:47PM EDT
The city's executive committee has voted against building a Toronto-owned casino, despite millions in revenue the proposed venture could provide for the cash-strapped city.
The vote was backed by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who said the province reviewed the proposal and decided there is no room for another gamboling venture in Ontario.
The casino could have brought much-needed funds to Toronto as the city faces a budget shortfall next year of $575 million.
Coun. Brian Ashton returned to work on Tuesday and said he spent his vacation worrying about where the city will come up with the funds and said it's up to the province to bear some of the responsibility.
"It's like coming back to the bank and finding out that the vault's empty," Ashton told CTV News on Tuesday.
"I think we have to readdress this imbalance that exists with tax dollars going out to the federal and provincial government and not getting back to the city."
In August, the city announced sweeping cuts to municipal services totaling $83 million.
Next week, community centres will be forced to close on Mondays to save money and this winter, city-owned rinks won't be open until January.
Mayor David Miller has argued the city's fiscal problems could have been alleviated had council voted in a proposed land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee rather than deferring the vote until after the October provincial election.
The new taxes would have raised an estimated $350 million for the city.
"These tax measures are the fairest way, much fairer than significant service cuts or a huge property-tax increase," Miller said at city hall on Tuesday.
Budget Chief Shelley Carroll said the city is destitute but had ample time to strategize before a crisis developed.
"This is as bad as it's ever been and we had lots of notice," Carroll told CTV News on Tuesday.
"This council chose not to resolve it (the funding shortage) in July and that has placed us in a very difficult situation."
Miller said if residents agree that the proposed land transfer and vehicle registration taxes are a necessity, they should contact their city councillor and let their opinions be known.
With a report from CTV's Naomi Parness