Most councillors fail to save money: report card
Most of Toronto's politicians get a failing grade when it comes to voting to save money, according to a new report card by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Thirty-three city councillors out of the Toronto's 45 representatives on council (including the mayor) received an "F" for voting to save taxpayers some cash. They were also noted for not turning down personal perks, approving an increase to the mayor's budget and not reducing the number of employees (about 45,000) that work for the city.
The federation released the report days before councillors were expected to vote on a tax package that would force Torontonians to pay an extra tax on new homes and vehicle registrations. The issue will be decided on Monday.
"We're trying to help raise awareness around Monday's vote," Kevin Gaudet, the Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, told CTV.ca.
"The mayor keeps suggesting there is a fiscal crisis but he has not helped reduce spending on council. That's inconsistent with asking taxpayers to come up with the cash."
Mayor David Miller received an "F" but his record was a little better than some of his colleagues at the bottom of the list.
For instance, he voted twice out of 12 times in favour of measures that would save taxpayers some money. He also voted to eliminate free parking and free golf passes as perks.
Council Speaker Sandra Bussin, Budget Chief Shelley Carroll and Licensing Chair Howard Moscoe were tied at the bottom of the list while Coun. Rob Ford stood at the top of the list with an "A+".
Ford, who each year can boast spending only a few dollars out of his $53,100 office expense budget, took his thriftiness to another level in 2006 when he claimed he didn't spend a penny of taxpayer money.
Some of his colleagues on council became suspicious of his spending habits, or lack thereof, and asked the city's auditor and integrity commissioner to look into his expenses.
Ford has always maintained he pays for his own cell phone and necessary office expenses.
The report card shows Ford voted against many councillor perks. He voted not to have free food at council meetings, not to have free parking across the city, not to have a free TTC pass and not to have free admission passes to golf courses or the zoo.
Moscoe, who in previous years has made headlines for spending the most of his allotted office budget, received an "F" by the organization. However, he said the group lacks credibility.
"I wouldn't give them the time of day," Moscoe told CTV.ca. "They are a number of right-wing people who pretend to represent taxpayers, but they don't represent any of my taxpayers.
"I don't care about their grading system because they are a phony organization."
He said if the organization was credible, they would give the public an idea of how to become active participants in the group. Instead, people are only given donation options when they click on a "how to join" button on their website.
Gaudet dismissed Moscoe's claims and said council should lead by example.
"This money (they're spending) could be better spent elsewhere," he said.