Nov 28, 2017
By Jane Brown
Toronto’s mayor is calling it a “steady as she goes” budget.
John Tory is boasting that the proposed 2018 operating budget would boost city spending by less than one percent.
And Tory promises taxes will be kept low while significantly investing in the areas that will have a real, positive impact on people’s lives.
“It’s gonna be property tax increase at the rate of inflation as proposed, and it will at the same time, make sure that we make significant investments, the biggest transfer of money from the city to the TTC ever, significant investments in new childcare, two new childcare centres, 800-plus new child care subsidies financed by the Government of Ontario,” Tory explained Monday night on CP24.
Budget documents reveal Toronto is expected to carry into next year a surplus of nearly $142-million, thanks to the still strong real estate market.
Tory’s rosy view of the budget is not held by everyone involved in the process. City manager Peter Wallace recently said prosperous Toronto has areas of really big failure in congestion and transit, housing and child poverty. Wallso also called Toronto’s budget process a relentless reinforcement of the status quo.
Former city councillor Doug Ford is the only declared candidate to oppose John Tory’s bid for re-election next year. He is accusing the mayor of letting city spending “skyrocket” while nickel and diming taxpayers.
Meantime, the City of Toronto has earned a barely passing C grade for its budgeting and public disclosure of financial data from the C.D. Howe Institute.
But the good news, is that’s up from an “F” last year.
Toronto’s not alone. The report called Fuzzy Finances: Grading the Reports of Canada’s Municipalities argues that almost all of Canada’s bigger municipal governments “obscure financial reports” with inconsistent presentations of key numbers.
The researchers are scolding budget makers for using cash accounting, rather than accrual accounting, where revenues and expenses are recorded when earned, no matter when the money is actually received or paid out. The think tank also gives lower grades to municipalities that understate both spending and revenues by using gross figures rather than net figures.
Other GTA regions by comparison, Peel Region received an A-minus up from a B-plus; Markham got an A-minus up from a B; Brampton received a B-minus, down from an A-minus; Mississauga got a B, same as last year; Vaughan was graded with a B-minus, same as last year; and Durham got a D-plus, same as last year.