Proud of consensus on funding key city services

[attach]4948[/attach]The city will undertake a three-pronged approach to the pre-budget review, consisting of the recently completed Core Service Review and the upcoming Efficiency Review and User Fee Review, which will look at revenue-generating opportunities. Essentially, in order to balance the 2012 budget, the city must either make the decision to spend less, do less, or work to do more, with less.

The Executive Committee recently met once again to discuss recommended service cuts in the lead up to the city budget. After listening to 205 deputations over almost 20 hours, the committee voted on recommendations made by the city manager on the KPMG Core Service review. Deputants spoke of the importance of city programs and services, ranging from libraries to children’s services.

Like many of you, I value our libraries, arts and culture and the environment, and the many core services the city provides. I am pleased at this time that we achieved consensus on saving snow clearing, grass cutting standards, TTC Blue Night and Wheel Trans service levels and library branches from being cut. Many important items were deferred until additional information is gathered and discussions can take place between all levels of government, such as childcare services, EMS and fire services, community group grants and others.

The city needs a sustainable funding model. Further review and analysis will be necessary to ensure the city is able to consolidate areas across city divisions. Over the summer, I developed a plan in which I identified a number of efficiencies by streamlining city operations and services that will be part of the review process. By realigning city services, I am hoping that we can protect museums, as our heritage is an integral part of our city’s culture. We need to look for alternative and innovative mechanisms to minimize impact on services and service delivery. Options such as these must be examined first, and only then can suitable recommendations for budget cuts be made.

Working toward the budget, I want to make certain that we are able to do more with less and create a fiscally sustainable city, while still delivering a level of service residents have come to expect and enjoy. After all, these are the services Toronto is celebrated for and what residents of Toronto are proud of, and I am optimistic the city can reach our financial goals while maintaining our vibrant cultural vision of Toronto.