TORONTO - There's a political storm brewing between the province and the City of Toronto, which is about to enter the penny-pinching era of new mayor Rob Ford.

Critics are calling the provincial Liberals deadbeats for failing to come up with the cash they promised to pay the city to help cover the cost of administering welfare for 2010.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan fired back Monday, saying Toronto is entitled to much less than the $53.7 million that some city officials claim is owed.

"They're asking too much," he said.

"The mayor himself has talked about waste, and we just think it's way out of line -- the amount. That's why we never put it as part of the original deal."

The province "agreed in principle" to share in the costs of administering Ontario Works, but the amount was never set in stone, Duncan said.

He said the province is prepared to work with the city to "come to terms with what the appropriate amount is," hinting that Ford -- who takes office Wednesday -- may turn out to be an ally in the dispute.

"The mayor-designate has talked about the system and waste in the system," Duncan said.

"I look forward to working with him as we come to terms about what the amount is."

But Ford was tightlipped Monday after announcing who would sit on his executive committee, a powerful group of councillors who will help him slash spending at city hall.

"I will be meeting with the premier in the next month," he told reporters.

"I'll be more than happy to answer those questions at that time."

No matter how Duncan tries to spin it, the province is still shortchanging Toronto, said New Democrat Michael Prue, a former city councillor and mayor of East York.

"If you didn't pay for a whole year, and now you're talking about, 'Well, maybe I don't owe that much. Maybe I owe less' -- that's the same kind of things that you get from a deadbeat dad," he said.

"It's exactly the same thing. I don't buy it. You make a deal and you're supposed to pay, then you're supposed to pay, or you shouldn't have made the deal in the first place."

A spokesman for Duncan said the province has already allocated $400 million for the coming year to help municipalities pay for the costs of administering the welfare program.

Toronto is receiving $135 million this year alone for welfare payments, said Andrew Chornenky.