Councillors have clashing visions as budget debate looms
One councillor proposes no increase to property tax, while deputy mayor favours 2.23 per cent
Just a day before Toronto councillors are set to debate the budget, there are many numbers being thrown about by the people who will have to approve them tomorrow.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly spoke to the media on Tuesday, saying he was in favour of the proposed 2.23 per cent increase to the property tax, which includes 0.5 per cent for the Scarborough subway extension.
The deputy mayor said he was "optimistic" that council would back the property tax increase that he was supporting.
But Kelly acknowledged that getting through the budget process wasn’t easy.
"It has been a long and frankly tiring exercise and I'm looking forward to bringing it to a successful conclusion tomorrow," Kelly said.
Moments after the deputy mayor spoke, Coun. David Shiner came out advocating a zero per cent increase to the budget, as a result of hundreds of unfilled positions within the city.
"At the end of 2013, we were charging for 2,672 positions in this city that were vacant, that people weren’t here for," Shiner said Tuesday.
"So when you phone a department and you want an answer and you’re waiting on the line longer than you should, you paid for that answer to be faster. You paid for that answer for $174 million more than you received in services."
Meanwhile, Mayor Rob Ford has promised to bring forward ideas for saving $50 million, though he will not publicly reveal any details of his proposals ahead of the council meeting on Wednesday.
Coun. Doug Ford said Wednesday that the mayor is keeping his proposals secret because he doesn’t trust some of his colleagues.
"It’s come to the point [where] you can’t trust these councillors, so we’re not going to show our cards before council," he said.
"It takes 23 votes to get this budget through. We’re going to present the savings. It’s up to these councillors if they’re going to be back on the gravy train, which it looks like they are, or [if] they’re going to be responsible and respect the taxpayers."
With a report from the CBC's Jamie Strashin