Re: City of Toronto2013 Budget
You have probably seen press reports that Toronto has launched into the debate over the 2013 Budget. The Budget will be reviewed by Council Committees over the next few weeks and be debated by full City Council mid-January.
I am still churning through the documents that support the budget. I encourage you to look around yourself. You can find the documents here: http://goo.gl/fmkWm
On first blush I see some serious problems:
- The budget is not balanced. It relies on the Police finding $21 million worth of cuts without laying off officers: something Chief Blair says is impossible;
- Huge cuts to our Fire Service – 104 positions and an undisclosed impact on response times;
- Hiring deferrals of 26 positions in our paramedic services, again effecting response times;
- Our long term and short term budgets don’t add up. The long term (capital) budget is supposedly drawing between $50 – $120 million every year from the short term (operating) budget. However, the operating budget we have doesn’t show that draw; Most of that unaccounted money is designated for $700 million in road repairs that Council has never approved.
- Housing and homelessness programs face cuts of $128 million at a time when our affordable housing waiting list is 87,301 households;
- The budget proposes raiding the Sustainable Energy Fund for all of its $60 million dollars. This will dramatically slow the City’s work on fighting climate change; and,
- Substantial cuts to our program of doubling Toronto’s tree canopy.
If any of this concerns you, the public deputations for the 2013 budget will start at 9:30 a.m. December 10th and 11th> Deputations will likely go into the evening with each deputing person usually getting 3 minutes to speak. In order to speak to the Budget Committee you need to preregister to speak by 4:00 p.m. on December 7th, 2012. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-338-5851 or fax 416-392-1879. If you cannot make it you can also submit a written deputation. For more information please see: http://goo.gl/nvVGW
I have to confess: I am fed up with budgets that turn into arguments about which service we should cut. I want us to have an annual conversation about what we want to do together to make Toronto an even better place to live.
I’d like to ask you to put a little time aside over the next month to have a conversation with your neighbours, friends and family about the kind of city you want. I hope we can put our energy together and start talking about the City we want. To facilitate that I will also hold a community budget meeting in early January. I would like to hear what services and programs are priorities for your family and our community. At our local consultation, participants will hear a presentation and participate in a discussion about the key elements of the city’s financial plan. I hope to have the location firmed up by the end of the week.
Finally, I have a standing offer to drop by your living room to talk with you for an hour or two about a better Toronto. All I ask is you gather a few friends and neighbours. Contact my office to set up a time. I have immensely enjoyed these conversations and look forward to more.
Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park