Miller’s misplaced priorities

Mayor David Miller is tooting his own horn after unveiling what his administration is calling “the first balanced budget since amalgamation”.

But to achieve this feat he had some help.

The province has helped bail the city out of its financial woes to the tune of $188 million, while more significant contribution will come from Toronto residents.

We are facing a 3.75 per cent property tax hike. With the housing market losing steam and higher mortgage interest rates, a property tax increase isn’t exactly sweet music to the ears of home owners. /p>

Also going into effect this year are the land-transfer tax and vehicle-registration fee.

These new taxes will help city hall balance its books, yet one can’t help but wonder why the people of Toronto are being forced to pick up the tab for this.

This isn’t the first time Miller has put the budget ahead of the public. Remember last summer when he closed down community centres as a cost saving measure? The programs these centres offer help keep young people busy, but of course the city’s finances are more important then keeping our youth out of trouble.

At least we can take comfort knowing that with so much money in the public coffers, there will be more to spend on programs and initiatives vital to the city.

So just what do Miller and his administration plan on funding this year? A stingray touch tank exhibit at the Toronto Zoo, with a whopping $932,000 price tag. One would think that a wealthy philanthropist or private sponsor could foot the bill for a project like this, but instead it’s up to the tax payers.

In the city hall news release, budget chair Shelley Carroll said a balanced budget will “ensure our spending is focused in those areas that have the greatest impact on the quality of life in Toronto.”

That being said, stingrays are obviously going to make Toronto safer, cleaner and more prosperous. At least now we finally see where Carroll and the rest of city hall are coming from.