Today, I’m proud to tell Toronto taxpayers that I am continuing to do the work for which I was elected. Through this budget, the people of Toronto can rest assured that its City continues to:
· hold the line on property tax increases
· invest in priorities like the Scarborough Subway
· deliver the services that they need; and
· be a competitive city to do business.
· Invest billions of dollars into Toronto’s growing infrastructure needs
Since amalgamation, the City has carried an annual budget shortfall which in recent years has grown.
Each year’s shortfall was solved with one-time fixes. These one-time fixes actually contributed to our financial issues, leaving us with an even bigger shortfall every year.
But I want to remind you that last year, my administration turned the corner. We looked at our services and determined which ones were our core services and found permanent savings.
And in 2013, because we found these savings, we were able to – for the first time since amalgamation – eliminate the unsustainable use of surplus money from the previous year to fund annual expenses.
I am happy to say that the 2014 City Budget is balanced, protects core services, and for the second year in a row, it is balanced without the use of prior year surplus funds.
However, I do not agree with the proposed residential tax increase of 2.5%; this is higher than the 1.75% increase which was agreed to back in January. I will be continuing to speak with the City Manager and Budget Chief to bring this number down.
The original 1.75% proposed included a buffer to allow for subway funding, and I also see no mention of a Land Transfer Tax reduction.
I find it hard to believe that in a budget of over $12 billion, we cannot find a further $18 million in efficiencies – that`s less than two-tenths of one percent.
So far in 2013, City Council has approved over $12 million in spending that went against staff recommendations.
In just one short week since my powers were reduced, we can see the old ways of tax and spend have returned to City Hall. I will not stand by and let this happen, and the taxpayers of this City should not either.
I’d like to thank City Manager Joe Pennachetti, CFO Rob Rossini Josie LaVita, Director of Financial Planning, and the Budget Chief, Councillor Frank Di Giorgio for their work – and I’d also like to thank all the staff – for their efforts in drafting a proposed budget for City Council to consider.
Thank you for helping to usher in a new era in the City’s history – one that’s built on a strong foundation of accountability, transparency and strong customer service.
— Unsigned, but presumably from Rob Ford, Unchained Mayor of Toronto