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Di Giorgio appointed as Toronto's new budget chief

02/05/2013 10:58 EST | Updated 04/07/2013 05:12 EDT
Coun. Frank Di Giorgio has been appointed as chair of Toronto's budget committee, filling the role after Coun. Mike Del Grande's resignation.

Di Giorgio, who represents York South-Weston (Ward 12), was nominated by Mayor Rob Ford and appointed by the executive committee on Tuesday.

"He's been very, very loyal to our administration… I know he's going to do a fantastic job," said Ford. "And he understands the value of a tax dollar, and that's the most important aspect of being a budget chief."

When Di Giorgio was asked if he anticipated more cost-cutting measures — what Mayor Ford termed stopping "the gravy train" during his 2010 campaign — he said, "a lot of the gravy has been looked at and caught."

"I think that there is little low hanging fruit …at this time," he said, shortly after his appointment Tuesday. "I think we need to perhaps look to generating greater revenues and looking at opportunities at bringing in more revenue."

Di Giorgio has been on the job for less than an hour and already he has some bold budgetary ideas.

Push to cut land transfer tax by 5%

Earlier this year, the Mayor had requested a zero per cent tax increase in 2014. On Tuesday, Ford and his new budget chief said they'd be willing to go as high as two per cent.

Both also said they wanted to take 10 per cent off the city's land transfer tax.

Di Giorgio added that he would like to continue a departmental spending freeze that was put in place last year.

Del Grande stepped down from his role as Toronto budget chief on Jan. 16, just after the last budget was passed, because he was unhappy over last-minute moves to add new spending. He also was upset that Mayor Ford voted for a motion calling for a tax freeze for 2013, essentially voting against his own budget.

Del Grande was the main architect of the city's $9.4-billion budget, and had held the role for two years. Among Del Grande's qualms was the late addition of $12 million in new spending measures.

Di Giorgio has been one of council's more low-key members, and one of Mayor Ford's most loyal supporters.

On the day Del Grande resigned, Di Giorgio told CBC's Jamie Strashin, "I'm a soldier, if asked I will serve [as budget chief]."

Ford told radio listeners on his show over the weekend that he backed Di Giorgio for budget chief.

Di Giorgio began his political career in 1985 as a councillor in the former City of North York. In 2000, he was elected to Toronto city council in his current ward.

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