After witnessing Mayor Ford’s budget launch of his Respect for The Taxpayer Tour, only one thing is certain. It all depends on what kind of taxpayer you are that’ll determine just how much respect’s coming to you over the next few years. The mayor assures us that we’re all in this austerity mode together but it certainly seems some will find the going more austere than others. While we got an inkling today of the lucky winners (and losers), all will be revealed at breakneck speed over the course of the next 7 weeks.
Some quick first impressions:
1) At this point what does seem clear is that the mayor and those helping him write the budget believe taxes are an entirely different beast than service fees. Paying to register your car with the city is a tax, so bad and now gone. Paying to ride the TTC is not, so it can be hiked although unhappily from the mayor’s perspective. (More on that shortly.) Property tax hikes have become an unbearable burden for homeowners but service fees to use some city services are less egregious. Taxes, bad. Service fees, ahhhh, what are you gonna do?
2) When the mayor, out on the campaign trail last year, assured voters and his opponents who accused him of having a hidden agenda of service cuts to accommodate his promise to lower or freeze taxes, he was, well, lying to everyone’s face. “No service cuts. Guaranteed.” is now “no major service cuts”, and just what exactly constitutes a “major” versus minor service cut is a fluid question whose answer all depends on who’s asking and when. It may be a library branch, but just a little, underused library branch or it could be a bus route, but an underused bus route. The mayor and his people are big on finding ‘efficiencies’ and ‘re-allocating’ resources in order to not be forced to say the word ‘cuts’.. unless it’s preceded with the word ‘tax’.
3) The profligacy of the David Miller administration which our current mayor railed on and on about while campaigning for the job is now going to help fund Mayor Ford’s 2011 operating budget with all its tax and service cuts. Yep, well over half of the proposed $700+ million of revenue is coming from the surpluses of the last two years. “A surprise surplus,” Miller foes screeched, “is just a sign of fiscal incompetence.” Burning through said surpluses to paste over tax and services cuts, though, is just the neo-conservative way and surest sign of being prudent fiscal managers.
4) The TTC is in a whole lot of fucking trouble and having such an avid anti-transit administration now in place overseeing it promises nothing but a continued downward spiral. Many capital projects remain unfunded including the mayor’s “Transportation City” subway plan. There’s a proposal already made to scale back many bus routes despite a recent uptick in the system’s ridership. The only thing the new administration seems to agree with its predecessor about is that our transit system needs substantially more funding help from senior levels of government like most other non-3rd World countries have. You know, the ones with much, much better transit than ours. What was kind of bitter joke during the campaign about Toronto having the best 1970s transit system in the 21st-century is now looking more and more like an entrenched reality.
All this as well as a 10 cent fare hike now on the table which both the mayor and TTC chair, Councillor Karen Stintz are none too happy about. But don’t worry, folks. I’ve got a good feeling that this is one being dimed to death we’re not going to face this year. The mayor and his faithful chair will beat it back over the course of the next 6 weeks or so and, conveniently, claim to have been looking out for the little guy just as other budget items are voted into place, full of fee increases and service decreases, many of which will have got lost in the rhetorical shuffle that always accompanies TTC fare increases.
5) This is the ‘easy’ budget. With all of its one-offs and ‘unsustainable sources’ of revenue (ie, the other guy’s surpluses), short of a miracle economic turnaround during the next year, it’s going to get a whole lot uglier. The mayor has left himself with very little wiggle room. On the plus side, with the new, expedited budget process, we’re going to find out about it much sooner and be able to warm up and get limber before we have to bend over, touch our toes and cough.
— by the numbersly submitted by Cityslikr
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it’s becoming increasingly clear that Ford is following the lead of his good buddy Jim Flaherty: burn through an inherited surplus to pay for ill-advised tax cuts and then use the subsequent cash crunch to push through an agenda of privatization, selling public assets and ideologically-targeted “reductions”. how else to explain Ford’s unilateral decision to freeze property taxes AFTER winning the election? he wants to make sure that the cupboard is completely bare so the city will be forced to adopt his particular brand of “austerity measures.” Flaherty’s strategy of late has been to finance tax cuts by running a massive deficit. Ford doesnt have that luxury, and, even if he did, it would run counter to his fatuous claim that the city has a spending problem not a revenue…blah blah.
Ford is no Flaherty. We are fortunate that he did not eliminate the Land Transfer Tax which brings in $200 million so he could spend. Even though he said Toronto has a spending problem.(smile)The proposed $9.396 billion operating budget is greater than Miller’s last.
Those suckers who voted for Ford will quickly realize that he didn’t do much for renters(45%) and those who don’t register vehicles… I am still amused by the essential servcie designation would cost taxpayers $12 million more per year to deny the TTC union the right to strike when ever the PROVINCE passes the legislation. McGuinty should rein in Ford; given the funds where meant to benefit more riders through light rapid transit…coffee & muffins anyone?
Sonny, I wonder if your predictions will be better than your logic?
Maybe raising TTC fares would be a good idea. Afterall, it’s only the rich folk who use it.
BTW, McGuinty has a lot more respect for RF than you might think.
“warm up and get limber before we have to bend over, touch our toes and cough.”
You’re as crude as any right winger.
Why would you expect to assume such a position? Do you not believe that RF will find enough slush at CH to balance the 2012 Budget also? If a spender like DM can run up a surplus of $350 million surely a frugal, business-minded man like RF can easily do better.
(I’m so glad I only read the bottom bit of the post)
Dear Mr. MacQuarie,
We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are wondering if you mean that ‘frugal, business-minded’ mayor of ours who just ‘found’ $16 million extra in just over 24 hours. To use his own words, that would indicate either ‘corruption’ or ‘gross incompetence’.
Watch it and then keep yer pie hole shut until you have something the least bit interesting to add, you tosspot.
(See? We can toss around English slang as well.)
You know you remind me of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party crowd. All alarmist and half-cocked. RF has only just found his office at CH and still quite incapable of finding $16 million. That there is so much slush swishing around is a reflection on the culture down there than the guy who’s just arrived in the leader’s office. There is corruption and incompetence, as acknowledged by DM in 2003. He didn’t sweep it out like he promised. He simply turned a blind eye.
BTW, you’re as rude as the Tea Party crowd too – you should stick to American slang you’re not clever enough to carry off the English variety.