Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services and a worsening economy
Mayor John Tory’s office has been forced to admit defeat in its attempts to make good on a pledge he has made repeatedly on the campaign trail for four straight years to be fiscally responsible with the city’s fiscal health and to provide more services and support for its growing population.
This is the second time in three weeks that the chief government and official opposition in Toronto’s council have reached a tentative agreement on an austerity budget that does not make good on the mayor’s promise to bring back money for road repair, infrastructure projects and the TTC.
In a city whose infrastructure is in such dire need of repair, that seems to be a promise Mayor Tory should never have made, but the $1-billion shortfall in the city’s operating budget this year is so large and so onerous that it may be heeding his call to be “fiscally responsible.”
“I would really like for people to go out and support us so that we have a better fiscal outlook,” he told reporters on Monday. “We have got to make sure we’re on the right path, so I’m hopeful for the council to help me make sure that our budget is on the right path, but we’re the biggest municipality in the country. We’re not a small municipality. We have a growing population.”
The question of the city’s budget, like all important matters in city halls, is almost invariably a bargaining chip in council negotiations. This is a bargaining chip that has been used by the mayor to great effect — on the cost of the city’s expensive garbage incinerators — through his “no garbage, no budget” campaign and on the need to create more money for road repairs and ancillary services through his “road less tax” campaign.
Last week, council passed a six-month