Why Rob Ford's Budget Proposal Is As Irrelevant As He Is - 2013-11-28
Rob Ford has some serious problems with Toronto's draft 2014 operating budget. When City staff unveiled their recommendations the mayor denounced the property tax increase it includes and stalked out of the room, followed by a press stampede that the Lion King's Scar could not have engineered better. Unsurprisingly, the first round of articles about the budget orbited around Ford—focused on his reaction rather than the content of the budget itself—and his claim that a 2.5 per cent residential property tax increase was evidence of a returning gravy train, one that had picked up steam in the week that had elapsed since council had stripped him of most powers.
This, to be clear, is false: Joe Pennachetti, the City's top civil servant, told reporters that "there was no impact with respect to the mayor's role" and even if you aren't inclined to believe him, the suggestion that staff would be able to substantially revise a $9.6 billion budget in six days is preposterous. Toronto's budgets take months to write, weeks to finalize, and days to format and print.
Compounding this proclamation of ignorance (whether willful or not), Ford maintains that Torontonians can only bear a 1.75 per cent property tax increase, and that it is entirely possible to reach this target without cutting services and while simultaneously reducing revenues. This too is preposterous. The primary conflict here is not between Rob Ford's 1.75 per cent property tax increase and the 2.5 per cent increase recommended by staff, but between Rob Ford and reality.