Land transfer tax must stay for now: budget chief
Toronto's budget chief says the city can't afford to get rid of the land transfer tax this year despite the wishes of Mayor Rob Ford.
Ford promised to eliminate the tax during his election campaign and hoped to get rid of it by the end of this year.
But Coun. Mike Del Grande, his budget chief, said that was not realistic, given the city is facing a $774-million budget shortfall.
"The mayor has indicated that he would like to see that tax removed," said Del Grande on Tuesday. "I think, as most politicians, people are very quick to criticize about promises. But the same old story goes, you don't really know what you have until you get into it and you see the surprises that are awaiting you."
The land transfer tax brought $278 million into city coffers last year.
Del Grande also criticized Coun. Gord Perks, who on Tuesday said the state of the city's finances weren't as dire as Ford has portrayed. Perks pointed to a staff report that indicated the city had an $88.4 million surplus from last year.
"I think that [Ford's] $800-million financial hole is grossly exaggerated and he's using that gross exaggeration as a reason to talk about cutting services we don't need to cut," said Perks.
He said that with modest property tax increase, a TTC fare increase and some modest cuts, the budget can be balanced.
Del Grande, however, said he likely wouldn't look kindly on added expenditures "that people have not thought out.
"A lot of councillors, as well as people in Toronto, still do not get it," he said. "This is not something from my point of view is political to get back at anybody. We've gotten ourselves into trouble. Somebody has to fix it and it's as simple as that."
The city is currently holding a review of all of its services as it tries to find ways to make up the shortfall. It is currently holding public consultations in an effort to determine which services are valued most by citizens.
"We have to stop the way we have conducted business here," Del Grande said.