So sometime this week (I’m predicting Wednesday but not ruling out Thursday), city council will approve the 2015 operating, capital and rate support budgets. It is at that point when the 2014 municipal campaign will officially close. John Tory actually takes over, full on, as mayor of Toronto.
What?! you say. But John Tory’s been mayor since December 1st of last year when he was sworn in. He’s got the chain of office to prove it.
True. But since the 2015 budget process kicked into gear in December, we’ve been told that this was an election year budget, cobbled together by city staff and assembled in a short time frame with the minimal of input from city council. Normally a year long process scrunched down into 4 months or so.
I don’t reject the notion out of hand. New mayor, new council (sort of), with lots of things to do post-election. To hit the ground running, from a budget perspective may be a little too much to expect without much guidance and input from staff. Continuity favours the bureaucracy once every 4 budget cycles. This one’s it.
To a point, of course.
That below the rate of inflation property tax increase was a major campaign plank for John Tory. Ditto SmarTrack dough. And I find it a bit hard to believe that staff thought it a great idea to add $443 million to the capital budget to expedite the Gardiner repairs. I’m not saying the mayor had anything to do with it but his Deputy Mayor of choice, Denzil Minnan-Wong, sure does love him his car.
Still, tradition has it we cut the mayor some slack on the very first budget after being elected to office. A mayoral mulligan, if you will. Sort of a, he did what he could but his hands were tied by previous decisions, kind of thing. Next year, though. Next year.
Starting on the first day after the 2015 budget is passed, Mayor Tory has stated work begins on the 2016 budget. That one will be his baby, the one that will start to shape his legacy. 2015 was tying up loose ends left behind by the previous administration or two. (In theory, at any rate.) 2016, well, that’s Tory time. While he’s offered up hints of the direction he wants to take the city in, when budget 2015 wraps up, the buck starts stopping on his desk. There will be no one else to blame, no more before his time talk. John Tory will be master of his own fate.
Within the confines of being a mayor, that is, a position we all know to be limited in the powers of both the purse and jurisdiction. Actually, now that I think about it, there are plenty of receptacles for mayoral excuse-making when it comes right down to it. An uncooperative and unruly city council. Neglectful senior levels of government. Overzealous accountability officers! A culture of non-accountability rife in the ranks of city staff.
So scratch that. There’s no end to blame gaming at a mayor’s disposal. It’s just, going forward, we no longer have to indulge John Tory that opportunity.
— blamelessly submitted by Cityslikr