01/12/2012 12:33 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Ford allies pushing for fewer budget cuts

Members of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee pushed for last-minute changes to the city’s controversial 2012 budget on Thursday, pulling back from several planned cuts.

The budget — thanks in part to a 2.5-per cent property-tax increase and a host of service cuts — will result in a projected surplus of $154 million.

Ford opened Thursday’s meeting by defending the proposed budget, saying it delivers what taxpayers want in tough economic times.

'A reasonable budget,' Ford says

“There has been a lot of fear-mongering about this budget,” said Ford. “But folks the reality is, this a reasonable, responsible budget. The modest changes in this budget will adjust our spending to a sustainable level.”

Council members politically aligned with Ford were expected to rubber stamp the budget on Thursday, but CBC City Hall reporter Jamie Strashin reported that some of them added last-minute amendments.

"They took off the table some of the more contentious cuts around library services, snow clearing on sidewalks, arts grants and cuts to long-term care homes," Strashin said.

Most of the money was taken from the $8 million in increases to the permanent property tax rolls.

The committee also voted to pour the entire $154-million surplus into TTC capital projects.

Left-leaning council members — those who have been most outspoken against the proposed budget — voiced little opposition on Thursday morning.

Coun. Joe Mihevc said that council is heading in the right direction and that the mayor seemed to have lost control of his executive.

Ford disagreed, saying he was proud of the executive and confident the budget would pass during the final vote next week.