Budget talks around the corner
A Town Crier Community Column
With a shift in the city hall budget schedule, residents will now be mixing talk of budget and cost-cutting measures with their sufganiyot and egg-nog during the holidays. The new timeline saw the launch of the 2012 operating and capital budgets on Nov. 28 with the final budget going to council for debate in mid-January. Over the course of December and January, city councillors and Toronto residents will be debating the merits of the proposed budget and engaging in a conversation about the future of our city.
The financial health and future of Toronto has been much discussed over the last several months and these discussions will become more heightened during the city’s budget deliberations. Some key dates to keep in mind as we begin this process include:
• Dec. 8 — Public hearings on the proposed budget
• Dec. 9 & 13 — Budget Committee review & wrap-up of the budget
• Jan. 12 — Executive Committee’s final review of the budget
• Jan. 17–19 — City Council will debate and vote on the budget
While much recent focus has been on the fate of our local libraries and the vital role they play in our communities, there are a host of other city services and programs that could be impacted by the 2012 budget.
Residents come into contact with a city service at virtually every moment of their day. From the water we drink, roads we drive on, and well-used parks and public spaces to the important services provided by our police, fire, and emergency services, the notion and extent of what constitutes a city service stretches far and wide.
While there is a need to find savings and deliver city services in a more efficient way, it is also important to protect the services that are valuable to our residents and invest in areas that will make our city financially and socially stronger moving forward. With the comprehensive review of city services and spending that we have undergone, it is more important than ever for residents to follow the budget proceedings and speak up about their priorities for our city.
It is my belief that in spite of some of the dramatics that will colour this debate on both sides, at the end of the day, Toronto residents will see a budget that balances a modest property tax increase with a collection of efficiency measures. It is important that during these difficult times we move forward with a thoughtful and reasonable approach that leaves our city and its residents on solid footing — which can be achieved through both investment and efficiencies.
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