Toronto

Mayor Ford's critics warn of deep cuts in 2012

Critics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford say the passing of the 2011 operating budget is short-term gain for long-term pain.

Critics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford say the passing of the 2011 operating budget is short-term gain for long-term pain.

On Thursday afternoon city council endorsed the mayor's $9.4-billion budget, which included no property tax increase — the first time that has happened in 11 years. 

But some city councillors say a $774-million deficit predicted for 2012 will mean deep cuts to programs and services. They point to what was slashed in the 2011 document as an indication of what's to come.

The program to disconnect downspouts was scrapped. So too was funding for the Toronto Public Library's urban affairs branch. 

The TTC will reduce some of its services and user fees for many city programs are going up.

Former city budget chief Shelley Carroll says it's a sign of what's in store for next year.

"I think we're looking at much bigger cuts. This year we've affected what the budget committee called ‘a few citizens.’ We're talking about thousands and thousands and thousands being affected next time around," said Carroll.

Also adding to the pressure is the knowledge that the city's surplus was wiped out to help balance the 2011 budget.

In spite of repeated questions about how he will deal with the 2012 shortfall, Ford has been reluctant to provide any details.

"The ink's not even dry on the 2011 budget," he said Thursday, "so I want people to enjoy the zero per cent tax increase." 

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