I have said repeatedly that spending at City Hall has been both out of control and irresponsible. I am not ideologically opposed to taxes or spending, but think each need to have a clear purpose that they are meeting.
The last two councils have increased taxes and spending at an totally unsustainable way and have relied on the Province for annual bailouts. I don’t dispute the Ctiy’s claim that the Province has failed to upload areas of provincial responsibility, but if one looks at how this council has responded to financial pressure – it can hardly be seen as an example of difficult leadership or tough decision making.
I don’t believe each department can or should be cut an arbitrary 5% this year and next. Doing so will hurt good and meaningful programs while leaving wasteful, misguided or otherwise unnecessary programs in 90 to 95% in place.
The annual budget has increased 1.5 billion under David Miller’s leadership. There is undoubtedly an opportunity to dig through all of this new spending and find ineffectively deployed resources. There is an opportunity to look at non core areas of spending and find significant cuts to ineffective spending while preserving program funding for well functioning and necessary resource deployment.
But before this Council attempts another ‘do as we say not as we do’ like they did with the unions during the negoiation that led to the longest strike in our City’s history – they ought to look at their own offices first.
They should cut 5% of their 53 100 office budgets, this year and next. They should cut 5% of their 200 000 staff budgets this year and next. And above all they should cut their own salaries 5% this year and next. They could also cut out the catered council meetings, the free coffee, the free zoo, golf, parking and metro passes they give themselves. While they are at it, they could cancel the city boxes at the Rogers Centre and the Air Canada Centre.
None of this spending does anything but stroke the egos of a bunch of ward bosses who find importance through these perks. Gutting these perks, and cutting back Councillor salaries, political staff salaries and councillor’s office budgets would also help them and their staff understand how difficult the current economic crisis is for many Toronto families. Cuts to their own office resources would also allow them to understand how their cuts to real programming impact the civil service as they deploy services to residents.
It seems to me only fair that these guys start with any cuts closest to themsevles and work out toward residents – who pay more than ever and are receiving less than before for it.
Who is with me?