Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Toronto City Budget - The Problem Is Ford

Numbers Game | Toronto Media Co-op
The City budget is not and has never been in a financial crisis according to figures released by the Wellesley Institute, an urban health research and policy institute in Toronto.
Ford, along with the rest of the administration's allies have often repeated the $774 million deficit number as the current shortfall that has to be covered in order to balance the city budget. The perceived 'high number', along with proposed major cuts to key services such as childcare, nutrition programs and libraries, have scared a number of residents and prompted a backlash. This has allowed the Ford administration to promote a wider range of smaller cuts with less backlash.
The irony of the $774 million shortfall number is that it has been exacerbated by the Ford's decisions to freeze property taxes in 2011 and eliminate the vehicle registration tax. If property tax increases were maintained at the GTA average (3% a year) and if the vehicle tax was not eliminated, no cuts would be necessary.

“So we haven’t overspent for the last seven years, I guess,” Doug Ford said at budget deputations to Robert Cerjanec, a university student union representative. “Do you have any solutions to help the problem?”  It was a question asked repeatedly by Ford-allied councillors.
Surprisingly, neither Cerjanec, nor most of the 300+ deputants referred to the Mayor's own Core Service Review consultation.
The consultation, which polled over 13,000 Torontonians in depth-on their budget priorities, found that participants overwhelmingly supported increasing "property taxes to keep the same level of City services." 
Not increasing "user fees or taxes even if this means reducing the level of service" had the least support. The mean recommended "property tax increase for all participants was 5.15%."

The big question that Ford Nation supporters and trolls frequently ask is "do you want your taxes to increase to pay for these services?". As you can see by the above survey of 13,000 Torontonians, the overwhelming answer is YES.

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