How did Doug Ford and his brother cover budget gaps at city hall? They raised taxes - 2019-05-03
According to the province, the funding it is withdrawing from public health services, and asking cities to pick up the tab for, is hardly anything. $33 million a year to start! Maybe $42 million! A pittance! (The ultimate size of the cut and its effect are disputed — never mind that for a moment. Let's just focus for the sake of discussion on the numbers the province acknowledges.)
To emphasize how little being handed this bill should inconvenience Toronto's city government, they keep repeating that it's just "a third of one per cent" of the city's total $13.5 billion budget. A hole so small you surely could just cover it with a little red tape cut from somewhere else in the bureaucracy, right? Premier Doug Ford has even been making some noises about how he and his brother showed the way when they were running the clamshell on Bay. So let's take a look at how the Ford brothers plugged a similar-sized hole in the city budget.
In 2013, as Doug Ford never tires of reminding us, city council voted to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway further into Scarborough. The city's share of the cost of doing so would need to be covered by a loan over 30 years. Even after raising development charges to cover part of it, Toronto was left with a budget gap of $38 million per year to service the loan. This is an interesting number, because as you may have heard, it is roughly one-third of one per cent of the city's total budget. So how did the Ford brothers and the council they led fill that hole? By putting the city on a gravy-restricted diet? No. They raised taxes. A 1.6 per cent dedicated property tax levy was imposed to pay for it.