Rossi says no unrealistic tax freezes from him
Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi unveiled his full policy platform and budget proposals, saying he can achieve $460 million in annual savings over his four-year term if elected mayor on Oct. 25.
"We are a great city and a great community, but things have gone off the rails at City Hall," Rossi said in a Tuesday speech.
"Unlike my two principal opponents, I don’t believe in bribing people with their own money," he said.
"I am not offering unrealistic tax freezes or cuts, but neither will I have to resort to painful service cuts and labour strife to pay for rash election promises."
Rossi, considering to be running fourth among the major candidates, said he will do the following:
- freezing hiring
- hold wage increases for the city’s unionized work force to a maximum of three per cent
- reform the city’s pension plan
- saving on procurement
- privatizing waste collection
- sell assets such as Toronto Hydro to pay down debt and invest in transit, with two kilometres of subway built every year
- open non-essential services to outside competition
"Existing collective agreements will and must be honoured, but as they expire, there will be opportunities for reinventing service levels and costs," Rossi said.
He also promised multi-year budgeting and better relations with other levels of government.
Getting the cost of government down has been a major theme in the municipal election.
Frontrunner Rob Ford has made fighting wasteful spending and unpopular taxes and fees the hallmark of his campaign.
Former deputy premier George Smitherman has also promised to cut fees and costs – albeit not as deeply as Ford.
Even Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, the labour-endorsed candidate who hasn’t released a full financial plan yet, has said he would reduce the disliked vehicle registration fee.
The Toronto Board of Trade has asked for more details about Ford’s plans to reduce costs and has questioned Smitherman’s belief that he can get the Ontario government to give Toronto another $100 million per year to help fund the TTC’s operating costs.
Rossi’s policy document mentions some ‘must-do’ recommendations from the board.
After Rossi’s news conference, the board released a statement saying it was "encouraged" that Rossi had cited its recommendations.
"Mr. Rossi correctly recognizes the need to get the structural deficit under control by reducing expenditures," it said of the executive’s plan.
"His plan includes finding $192 million through restraint measures the Board believes are achievable. Mr. Rossi also does not have to rely on new sources of revenue in 2011 by continuing with the city’s planned increase in property tax revenue."