Toronto

Pet, business licencing cuts suggested

Eliminating pet licensing, streamlining business licensing and outsourcing animal care are among the latest round of suggestions on how the city can reduce expenditures as mandated by Mayor Rob Ford.

Some services make the city money

Eliminating pet licensing, streamlining business licensing and outsourcing animal care are among the latest round of suggestions on how the city can reduce expenditures as mandated by Mayor Rob Ford.

The city on Monday released a report by auditor KPMG that looks into which services provided by the municipal licensing and standards division can be modified or eliminated.

The review found that none of the services provided by the licensing department could be classified as "core." Core services are those that are legally mandated or considered essential to the functioning of the city.

As a result, the city should consider eliminating licensing of pets as "few cats and most dogs are never licenced," according to the report. Pet licensing nets the $660,000, the report said.

$6M inflow through business permits

Meanwhile, "some business license categories do not seem to serve a clear public purpose. They could be eliminated unless some need for the licences is identified."

But at least in one instance, the city is moving in the opposite direction. City staff are looking into licensing tattoo parlours and piercing studios as an infection control strategy to help prevent the spread of diseases like hepatitis.

Such a move, the report notes, could "mean 3,000-5,000 more business licenses."

The report did not specify which licenses have been identified as those that do no serve a clear purpose. However, like pet licensing, the report notes that business licensing and enforcement contributes just under $6 million to city coffers.

The city could also cut back on the level of service for animal emergency services, and lower the standards for wildlife call responses and collecting dead animals, the report suggests.

The report does not make any policy recommendations; it is up to council to determine which cuts are worth implementing.

It will be debated by council's municipal standards and licensing committee next Monday.

Taken together, the municipal standards and licensing budget is $21.6 million, a small fraction of the city's $9.4 billion budget.

Toronto is faced with a looming $774-million budget shortfall. In the spring, the city kicked off a comprehensive review of all city services, how they are provided, and the fees people pay for them.

The city has already released four KPMG reports so far that have suggested cuts to the public works, economic development, community development and parks divisions.

Later this week, the city is expected to release reports pertaining to government management and planning and growth management. The final report to be released Thursday will be discussed by the executive committee and will address the TTC among other services.

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