City seeks public input on services

Staff at the City of Toronto are asking for the public's input on municipally run services as they try to find ways to fill a looming $774 million budget hole.

The City of Toronto, faced with a looming $774 million budget shortfall, is asking for the public's input on municipally run services.

The city is kicking off a comprehensive review of all city services, how they are provided, and the fees people pay for them.

City services review

City seeks input

Staff launched a website on Wednesday aimed at gauging opinions about city services. It includes:

  • A comprehensive 20-minute survey that attempts to evaluate people's views on services.
  • An interactive map with the locations and times of eight public meetings about city services to be held in the coming month.
  • Detailed explanations of city services, agencies and boards.

"The purpose is for members of the public to tell us which city services are important to them and also what they would like us to consider when making decisions about services in the future," said Jackie DeSouza, the City of Toronto's director of strategic communications.

"The city is facing some difficult decisions in 2012 and in future years to meet our budget challenges."

The city is faced with predicted deficit of $774 million next year, a hole that some critics of Mayor Rob Ford say will only be filled with major service cuts. Ford has so far not specified exactly how the city will tackle the issue, saying only that expenditures in every department will be reviewed.

People 'care passionately'

The current review of city services is part of that push to find savings in the operating budget. Feedback from the public will be condensed into a report by city manager Joe Pennachetti, who will then make a recommendation to council about services, said DeSouza.

But council will have the final say on which services are boosted, cut or eliminated.

"There are 44 city councillors and they certainly want to hear from their constituents in their wards about what services they would like," DeSouza said.

She also said she believes people are willing to take 20 minutes to fill out a comprehensive survey on city services.

As of Wednesday evening, about 120 people had already filled out survey.

"We know that people are interested in their city services. They care passionately. And this is their opportunity to have a say, to tell us what they hold dear and also what they can live without," DeSouza said.

People can have their input on the review until June 17. The results will be made available in July.