It was, in the words of Mayor Rob Ford, the greatest budget in the history of budgets, EV-AR! Forged in the icky cauldron of compromise and consensus, Budget 2013 was without parallel in the annals of city budgeting here in Toronto. A first on almost every level. The firstest, the bestest than all the restest.
So unimpeachable was the document, the third (and perhaps final) budget of this mayoralty, that it withstood the early volleys of tinkerers, looking to mess with perfection. Bids to raise the property tax increases even higher than the reluctantly established 2% were easily brushed aside. Easier still to crush was the motion from former go-to Team Ford QB, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, to forgo a property tax increase altogether and an invitation to hop aboard his crazy river boat casino scheme that would fill the city’s coffers up yearly to the tune of half a billion dollars.
But something funny happened with that motion. Mayor Ford was only one of four councillors to vote in favour of Mammoliti’s 0% property tax increase. Why? Who knows. Maybe just instinct. Maybe just a not-so-subtle dog whistle to his supporters that he was but a reluctant tax raisers, only forced into it by a renegade council determined to steal his mandate.
Either way, all bets were now off. If the mayor didn’t see fit to toe the line on his own perfect budget, why should anyone else? Whatever support he had went up in smoke. Many regular right-of-centre allies banded together with their more centrist colleagues around the issue of cuts to the fire department (perhaps swayed by the sea of red shirts in the chambers sported by firefighters) and began bringing forth motions to reverse the proposed cuts, adding money back into the budget. Huddles abounded. New plans hatched. Mayor Ford was left on the sidelines, shaking his head and grumbling to an equally grumpy Deputy Mayor.
The final outcome was delayed when council just barely missed snagging the 2/3s majority needed to extend the meeting time in order to finish the budget last night. But it’s probably not going to alter the end result. There will be some additional spending, pulled from the capital side somewhere. And the only real drama will be whether there’s enough to force Budget Chief Del Grande to make good on his promise to quit his post if council defies his edict to keep the purse zipped. Fingers crossed!
Whatever happens, it’s become glaringly apparent that Mayor Ford can’t catch a break. Perfection is not his to have. His only good days at this point in time are the ones that don’t really, really suck.
— almost sympathetically submitted by Cityslikr