Mayor Rob Ford speaks with councillors during the budget debate.

City passes budget after long day of debate

Councillor reject most of Ford's last-minute cuts

Toronto City Council  approved the $9.6-billion operating budget for 2014 in a 35-9 vote on the eening  of Jan. 30, leaving Mayor Ford angry at councillors for failing to pass most of his alleged cost-saving measures.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Ford introduced several motions which he said would save the city close to $60 million. They included cutting $7 million for planting trees, reducing the city hall staff budget and eliminating security guards at libraries.

“This has $60 million dollars in savings, easily,” Ford said as he introduced the motions before voting began.

Councillors, however, did not approve the majority of his motions . When one motion did pass the mayor quipped that he would take whatever victories he could.

Altogether, council passed three of Mayor Ford’s motions, cutting abot $726,000. Ford later went on to call the budget “the worst passed since I’ve been mayor.”

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said council passed is a “very good budget” that was created from the input of all of city council.

“I’d like to thank the members of the budget committee and executive committee for putting together such a fiscally responsible budget,” said Kelly.

In contrast to Ford’s motions, the measures introduced by Kelly were all passed with ease.

In a trio of motions, several councillors attempted to divert funding for the Scarborough subway extension. Councillor Josh Matlow asked for $12 million in funds to be held in reserve until more studies were done, and made it clear that he wants the extension dead.

“The current plan for the Scarborough subway is fiscally irresponsible,” Matlow said.

Speaker Frances Nunziata eventually threw away both Matlow’s and other councillors motions on the subject, noting that the city may face legal challenges if they did not.

Other motions that council approved included an additional #3 million in funding for the TTC, increased money for housing services and an extra $2 million to save one fire truck.

Throughout the debate  councillors routinely challenged each other for the motions that were being introduced.

At one point, Councillor Mary Margaret-McMahon asked Mayor Ford why he was willing to remove security guards from libraries, using the murder at the Main Street library as an example. Ford was less than kind in his retort.

“I can’t comprehend how you think sometimes Councillor McMahon,” Ford said.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti attacked fellow councillors several times throughout the proceedings, at one point causing Speaker Frances Nunziata to declare a five-minute recess after one outburst.

“Why can’t you let me ask my questions?” he shouted afterwards.

Mammoliti also introduced his own motion to change the Welcome to Toronto sign to “Welcome to Toronto, you’ve just been slapped with a land transfer tax.”

In the middle of voting, Councillor Mammoliti abruptly left his seat and was not present when the final budget was voted in.

Councillors who voted against the budget include the mayor’s brother Doug Ford and budget chief Frank Di Giorgio.