We don’t have to have a battle royal this Jan. 17 over the city’s budget. On the day we walk into the council chambers to vote on a 2012 budget, we will know that the path of fiscal restraint we’ve been on for many years is finally paving the way for a budget that actually listens to Toronto. The current projected surplus of $140 million will already have been announced to be larger still.
Since 2007, council has worked to introduce other streams of revenue so that growing the economy of a megacity is not a drain on the pockets of senior citizen home owners. These include, notably, the Land Transfer Tax paid only by those who profit from the real estate market, and the provincial revenue that is coming from the gradual upload of social service costs that were unreasonably put on the city by the Harris government in 1998.
Since 2008, council has directed the city manager to function in a state of cost containment. In layman’s terms this means that as employees retire, or depart, we live without them as long as we can. If the department reorganizes and functions without that person, the position eventually disappears. In some areas, our stated standards for a service are adjusted downwards unless you, our citizens, speak up about poor quality. The main point here is that money is saved and operating surplus accumulates to your benefit.
It is a sound fiscal formula and it has been a long time in the making and is one that can and should be put towards the 2012 budget. It leaves room for you to contact your councillor if there are reductions in this budget that you would like to see reversed. Is it your local bus route, your sidewalk snow clearing, your local library hours, your local pool, your local art club, museum or local recreation program instructor?
Council can work together to create a budget that does listen to Torontonians while respecting your pocketbook, so call your councillor, call me, call 311, talk to your neighbours. Talk about the city that you want to live in.
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