Toronto city council passes 2014 operating budget 35-9

Watch the above video: Toronto city councillors passed the 2014 budget after almost 12 hours of debate. Alexandra Pinto reports.

TORONTO – Toronto city council passed its 2014 operating budget Thursday night, ending a long day of heated debate between councillors.

The $9.6-billion budget passed by a vote of 35-9 Thursday evening almost 12 hours after debate on the budget began.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly congratulated his fellow councillors on passing the budget.

“This truly was a collegial effort. The budget is not mine it’s theirs and I congratulate them for it,” said Kelly.

Councillor Janet Davis said she was happy the budget expanded services while still being affordable for Toronto families.

“We’ve added some really important services for families and kids. We’ve expanded the library hours,” said Davis. “And I think we have put together a very prudent budget that keeps the tax rate affordable for the people of Toronto.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Rob Ford takes on council in heated budget debate. Jackson Proskow reports.

One person not happy with the budget was Mayor Rob Ford, who voted against the budget.

“Tell me one councillor that saved one dime,” Ford told reporters. “I’m the only one. I’m the only person as a member of council down here that is working to save taxpayers money.”

Earlier Thursday, Mayor Rob Ford introduced a variety of motions he says would help the city save $60 million and keep the 2014 property tax hike to just 1.75 per cent.

Among those motions are having low-income families pay for city programs, force people to pay library fines, remove security guards from libraries, fire managers and no longer plant trees in the city.

Story continues below advertisement

His motions drew questions from councillors, including some from Mary Margaret McMahon who asked the mayor whether he “knows the benefits of trees?”

“Councillor McMahon, I was here every day during the ice storm,” he responded. “I didn’t see you. You were missing in action if you ask me.”

She also asked whether the mayor was aware of the murder that happened at Main Street Public Library in Dec. 2010.

Watch the video below: Toronto ratepayers facing more than just property tax increases. Mark McAllister reports. 

“I’m aware that there [were] people killed at the Eaton’s centre, on a streetcar… do we need security guards at every corner?” Ford asked in response. “Why waste money on people standing there doing absolutely nothing? If there’s a problem, you call the police.”
Story continues below advertisement

Ford also suggested having low-income families pay a minimum of $14 to take part in the city`s Welcome Policy which offers a subsidy to families wishing to take part in city-run programs.

“I represent an area of very, very poor people and they can afford $14,” Ford said. “We can’t give away everything for free.”

In Depth: Mayor Rob Ford

Ford was not able to read all of his motions during his allotted five minutes.

Watch the video below: Mayor Rob Ford not pleased with the property tax hike.

Some councillors  criticized him for not circulating the motions prior to Thursday.  Others demanded he be given extra time to read them all.

Story continues below advertisement

“They are doing everything in their power to keep me from presenting these,” Ford said after council recessed for lunch.

“These motions are going to be on the floor and we’re going to vote on them.”

Ford had promised at least $50 million in savings would come from his motions.  Ford opposes the 2.5 per cent property tax increase city staff proposed in November. The mayors says his proposed savings could bring the property tax hike down to 1.75 per cent without significant cuts to services. But he acknowledges he doesn’t expect his motions to be passed by city council. 

Councillor Mike Layton took to twitter to express his displeasure with Ford’s motions:

Council voted 32-13 in favour of setting the property tax hike at 2.23 per cent Wednesday evening. Ford expressed his disappointment with the vote Thursday saying councillors “spend like drunken sailors.”

See Rob Ford read through his motions.

Read the full list of Ford’s motions to city council below:

Story continues below advertisement
  • Eliminate the $7 million cost for planting 97,000 new trees in 2014.
  • Request the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to continue exploring corporate sponsors and other options for the 2015 Pan Am Games Celebrations to eliminate the $19.1 million cost of the Host City Showcase Program and to report back to the July 8 and 9, 2014 meeting of City Council.
  • Eliminate the $500,000 Pan Am Park Splash Pad at Exhibition Place planned for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
  • Direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to report to the Community Development and Receation (sic) Committee on charging a minimal fee for 109,000 Welcome Policy registrations and 11,530 memberships, in order to reduce the $10 million cost in 2014 to $7.5 million, and that notice of these proposed fees be given.
  • Request the Province of Ontario to allow the City of Toronto to collect unpaid library fines as property taxes and add the amounts to property tax rolls going forward.
  • Request the Toronto Public Library Board to eliminate Security Guard Service to reduce the $1.58 million gross cost in 2014.
  • Request the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, to report back to City Council by July 2014 on options to reduce management with minimal impact to front line services by driving efficiencies and consolidating back office operations to achieve savings of $3 million.
  • Request the General Manager, Toronto Employment and Social Services, to report back to City Council by July 2014 on options to reduce management with minimal impact to front line services by driving efficiencies and consolidating back office operations to achieve savings of $2 million.
  • Eliminate 5 new positions for the Strategic Initiatives Team ($339,000), 2 new Heritage Studies Positions ($88,000) and 5 new Additional Area or Avenue Studies Positions ($297,000) totally a cost of $789.000.
  • Request the Director, 311 Toronto, to report back to City Council by July 2014 on options to render 311 staffing levels more cost efficient while improving productivity.
  • Request the Treasurer, Office of the Treasurer, to report back to City Council by July 2014 on options to render Revenue Services Call Centre staffing levels more cost efficient while improving productivity.
  • Eliminate the Employee Engagement Survey, totalling a cost of $250 000 in 2014.
  • Eliminate the City Council 2014 General Expense Budget of $3,146.9 million and the $60,000 Council Business Travel Expenses Budget, and require that all expenditures previously funded from these budgets now be funded from the City Council Constituency Service and Office Budget, to achieve a saving of $3.2 million, and City Council’s Constituency Service and Office Budget Policy be amended accordingly.
  • Reduce External Grants paid by the City by $5 million, excluding Arts and Culture Grants; and (b) request the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, to report back by July 2014 on how to better measure the impact of grant funding as well as to track spending in order to ensure transparency.
  • request the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to report back to City Council in July 2014 with options to accelerate the implementation of shared service opportunities in the KPMG Shared Services Efficiency Study to achieve potential cost savings ranging from $10 million to $15 million in 2014
  • Eliminate the printing of Our Toronto and City Insider magazines, totalling a cost of $476,000 in 2014.
  • Reduce the following budgets that were recommended to be offset by new revenues from additional 2013 assessment growth, and adjust the program and service levels and the associated staff complement accordingly:

(a) Toronto Public Health by $214,100 for the economic increase in the cost of the Student Nutrition Program.

Story continues below advertisement

(b) Toronto Public Library by $260,000 to standardize hours at all District and Research and Reference (R&R) Branches at 69 hours/week.

(c) Municipal Licensing and Standards by $190,000 for two new by-law officers to improve the Multi-Residential Apartment Building (MRAB) re-inspection rate

(d) Social Development, Finance and Administration by $390,000 for a 2.2% economic factor increase requested for Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP).

(e) Parks, Forestry and Recreation by $186,000 for 10 new youth spaces based on the St. Stephen’s Community House model.

(f) Toronto Public Health by $394,300 to expand the Student Nutrition Program into 27 additional schools.

(g) Parks, Forestry and Recreation by $765,700 for tree canopy maintenance.

  • Reduce City Council’s Staff Salary Budget from $11.93 million to $10.9 million, achieving a saving of $1 million.

Sponsored content