NEWS

Toronto budget: 1.75% may be tough, budget chief says

11/21/2013 02:51 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — hobbled by recent council motions that strip him of most of his powers and much of his office budget — may now have to compromise as the city begins its budget deliberations.

Budget chief Coun. Frank Di Giorgio said Thursday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning that the mayor may have to back down from his stated desire to hold next year's property tax increase at 1.75 per cent.

"We're going to have a mountain to climb as a budget committee to meet that particular target," Di Giorgio said.

He cited a number of factors putting pressure on next year's budget, including:  

- Council's decision to opt for a subway over light rail in expanding the Scarborough subway.

- Reduced transfers from the province.

- Ford's interest in decreasing the Municipal Land Transfer Tax by 10 per cent.

"The way the numbers are shaping up, it's going to be very difficult for the budget committee to come in at 1.75 per cent," said Di Giorgio. "The mayor, of course, isn't going to be happy."

On the land-transfer tax, DiGiorgio wants some kind of relief in next year's budget but feels a 10 per cent cut may be overly ambitious.

"Whether it's doable or not … you can't meet all goals at once."

Complicating matters is council's recent moves to curtail Ford's power and greatly reduce his budget in the wake of an ongoing drug-use scandal.

Many of Ford's powers have now shifted to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. That means Di Giorgio, as budget chief, must report to Kelly because the budget committee is a subcommittee of the executive, which the deputy mayor now chairs.

Di Giorgio was scheduled to meet with Kelly on Thursday afternoon. The budget committee will meet on Friday.

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