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article imageToronto Budget Chief says the City is $2.5 billion in the red

By Andrew Moran     Jun 8, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Toronto Budget Chief Mike Del Grande warning city councillors of the city`s financial woes. Del Grande said the capital budget shows that Toronto is $2.5 billion in debt and could reach $4.3 billion by the end of the council term.
The city of Toronto is facing a $774 million operating budget shortfall, the Toronto Transit Commission is looking at a $39 million deficit next year – fare increases could occur in 2012 – and Mayor Rob Ford has pledged to eliminate the land transfer tax, which brought in $278 million in revenue last year.
Councillor and Budget Chief Mike Del Grande is urging the mayor to cease any plans to cut the land transfer tax because of the city’s financial woes.
City Councillor Gord Perks speaking with reporters during a media scrum.
City Councillor Gord Perks speaking with reporters during a media scrum.
“The mayor has indicated that he would like to see that tax removed,” Del Grande, reports CBC News. “This is not the year to be looking at the land transfer tax. I think, as most politicians, people are very quick to criticize about promises. But the same old story goes, you don't really know what you have until you get into it and you see the surprises that are awaiting you.”
But City Councillor Gord Perks, a strong critic of the Ford administration, said the issue of the city’s $774 million shortfall “is grossly exaggerated” and the mayor is using it in order to “talk about cutting services we don’t need to cut.”
“I guess what the mayor needs to be saying to Torontonians is I would like to cut the land transfer tax, so I would like to ditch a whole lot of public services you rely on. But that’s not what he’s been saying,” said Perks, reports City News. “What he’s been saying to people is we don’t have the money to deliver important public services.”
Toronto Budget Chief Mike Del Grande (R) speaking during a press conference.
Toronto Budget Chief Mike Del Grande (R) speaking during a press conference.
Perks added that the budget can be easily balanced if city hall implements a TTC fare increase, modest property tax increase and minor cuts.
Del Grande, though, told reporters after a budget committee meeting that the capital budget is showing that the debt is $2.5 billion and could climb to $4.3 billion by the end of the council term.
“It also indicates on the operating side we’re just under $450 million dollars, which is the third-largest expenditure at the city of Toronto. Fifteen cents out of every dollar goes to service the debt. And that will climb, doing nothing, to about $630 million.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
The mayor’s press secretary, Adrienne Batra, told the National Post that Ford remains committed to eliminating the land transfer tax, but did state: “the fact that there is a $774-million structural deficit obviously raises some significant challenges.
The city is conducting a core service review to analyze various budgets and potential savings. It has also sought the opinions of Toronto residents with an online survey.
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