2011 Toronto budget tries to stop gravy train

Rob Ford is introducing no property tax increases or major service cuts as part of the 2011 Toronto budget.

“It’s time to listen to the taxpayers of Toronto and do what’s right with their hard-earned money,”  Ford told the city’s budget committee meeting on Jan. 10.

Residents of Scarborough can voice their concerns for the Scarborough budget in a public discussion on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Scarborough Civic Centre, which the council will then consider on Feb. 23.

Leading the public debate at the Scarborough meeting will be non-Scarborough councillors, including budget committee vice-chair Doug Ford (Etobicoke North), Frank Di Giorgio (York-South Weston), Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and John Parker (Don Valley West).

Scarborough councillors Gary Crawford (Scarborough Southwest) and Paul Ainslie (Scarborough East) have also confirmed their attendance.

Scarborough’s budget includes the unsolved issue of funding for the 2015 Pan Am Games, especially for its biggest venue, the aquatic centre to be opened at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.

“There were concerns about remuneration [regarding] the land … it was a bit of a shocker,” said Crawford. “I’m hoping that at this point, [the city] will have the money to deal with it. ”

The mayor and councillors were surprised to learn an $47 million is required on top of the $48.5 million that city council has already agreed to spend.

On Monday Ford told reporters  Toronto and its taxpayers are not going to pay for these last-minute surprises.

Further plans for 2011 include TTC service reductions, which have so far been put on hold.

“At this point services are being upheld, and it is a stay-as-it-is budget,” said Crawford.

Public meetings across the city are scheduled to take place Jan. 24–27 for Toronto residents to find out which routes are to be changed and why.

This year, four public consultations on the city’s budget are to be held, double the number from last year.

Ford further stated at the Budget Committee meeting that the city will be able to cut costs and still deliver excellent service, marking a new era for Torontonians.

“I am committed to putting the hard-working taxpayers of Toronto back at the centre of everything that we do,” Ford said. “We’re all in this together and, together, we will succeed.”