01/29/2014 11:53 EST | Updated 03/31/2014 05:59 EDT

Toronto budget debate: Councillors tackle property tax first

Toronto councillors are debating what the property tax will be in the coming budget, a hot-button topic that members have voted to tackle ahead of the wider budget.

The budget process is typically contentious, but several councillors had starkly different priorities just hours before the debate began on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Coun. David Shiner said that council should push through a zero per cent increase on property taxes, as the city is already saving millions by not filling vacant jobs.

That contrasted with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly’s support of a 2.23 per cent increase in the property tax, a portion of would go toward the Scarborough subway extension.

And Mayor Rob Ford has suggested that the budget is the worst in the city’s history, while promising to present millions in potential savings at today’s council meeting.

The mayor would not reveal what those potential savings were prior to Wednesday’s council meeting.

The Toronto Sun reported Wednesday that some of the mayor’s proposals included seeking $19 million in sponsorship money for the Pan Am Games and eliminating a $3.1-million general expense fund for council.

When Coun. Frank Di Giorgio, the budget chief, spoke to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday, he was asked about the details reported in the Sun.

Di Giorgio said that all of things the mayor was suggesting had been looked at previously.