January 18, 2012
Mayor Rob Ford declares victory as his budget passes, despite council reversing $19-million in spending cuts.
Council approved a balanced 2012 operating budget of $9.358-billion and a 2012-2021 capital budget and plan of $14.836-billion.
In the budget battle between the left and right on council, in the end it was the soft centre that made the difference.
Rookie Councillor Josh Colle came out of nowhere with a motion to reverse $15-million in cuts, with $5-million going to the TTC.
However, the mayor is still declaring victory, saying he kept most cuts in place and kept a lid on taxes.
“I saved the taxpayers $140-million. How can you say we lost? I stopped the [property] tax increase at 2.5 per cent … any other mayor would have had it well over 3-3.5 per cent,” Ford said.
As a result, residential taxpayers will see their taxes jump by about $60 on the average home.
Councillor Josh Matlow said councillors of all political stripes worked together to pass the $9.4-billion budget.
“Members of the centre, the left and some at the right, came together to make additions to the budget that reflects the priorities that Torontonians have told us they want to see in the budget,” Matlow said.
He also said if anyone wins with this budget it’s the taxpayer.
“Some people predicted this was going to be the Armageddon budget, that this was going to be the most difficult budget you’ve ever seen in Toronto. What this ended up being was actually a budget that’s reflective of Torontonians’ priorities,” Matlow said.
Colle’s motion also included an increase to the Children Services Budget to restore the school-based childcare rent subsidy and child care centre programming. The motion also included funding be restored to Priority Centre Youth programs, ice-rinks, pools, Community Partnership Investment Program (CPIP) non-arts grants.
The budget debate was expected to take up to three days, but passed late Tuesday evening.
Before the council meeting, Ford said he felt residents knew they face tough decisions, but called it a smart and reasonable budget.
“You can chose the right thing today so the city can move forward this year, or you can try to buy favour with special interest groups,” Ford said at the start of the council meeting.
As with other meetings, special interest groups were on-hand, including parents and children trying to save their pools.
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