NEWS

Toronto budget chief defends vehicle tax cut

09/13/2011 09:08 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

One day after the City of Toronto proposed $100 million worth of wide-ranging cuts, the city's budget chief defended council's quick move to cut the lucrative vehicle registration tax.

The vehicle registration tax — an annual $60 expense for most passenger vehicles and $30 for motorcycles — raised almost $50 million a year for the cash-strapped city.

But it was also a tax that was detested by Toronto car owners, and it became a hot-button issue during the election, with many of the mayoralty candidates — including Mayor Rob Ford —promising to take the tax off the books.

Scrapping the controversial tax was one of the newly elected council's first order of business.

And the move to remove the money-maker from the city's revenue stream came as it tried to pare down a massive budget shortfall in the hundreds of millions.

But Toronto budget chief Coun. Mike Del Grande said no one person could be blamed for moving quickly to scrap the tax.

"All of the councillors who had appeared on TV, in the media or otherwise said they would repeal it and it was done in a blink of an eye," Del Grande told CBC's Metro Morning. "Collectively you can't lay it on one person's lap."

Del Grande said there was a "mad rush" to get rid of it by all mayoralty candidates and that it was "the first order of business" for the new regime.

Meanwhile, city manager Joe Pennachetti said he tried to listen to all sides of the budget debate cut before making recommendations, but admitted that the city's more vulnerable residents could be most affected by the cuts.

"I am cognizant of that. I have done what I can to minimize the impact there," he told Metro Morning. "I will agree there will be an impact for all residents and especially those areas related to social services."

The report released Monday asked council to consider wide-ranging cuts to areas that included subsidized daycare, affordable housing, and Wheel-Trans services.

MORE:cbcNews