Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kicked off his executive committee’s consideration of the 2013 operating budget Thursday, Jan. 10, morning with a stump-style speech, trumpeting his administration’s successes and making it clear there’s more work to be done.
“This budget represents a turning point for Toronto,” said Ford.
“It’s something I was elected two years ago to do — and we’re getting the job done — as promised,” said Ford. “Don’t get me wrong — there is still a lot of work to do over the next two years — and I am committed to finishing the job.”
Ford’s remarks come as he and Toronto Council await a decision by a Divisional Court panel of judges, appealing his conviction for violations of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. If the appeal is unsuccessful, Ford could be running in a mayoral byelection or seeking council’s support for a reappointment.
At the executive committee meeting, Ford offered a preview of his pitch to voters and his colleagues.
He pointed out that the 2013 budget is no longer relying on prior year surpluses, that council has reduced the size of government — eliminating 1,346 staff positions since 2011 — and that for the first time police have been able to hold the line at a zero per cent increase.
“By getting spending under control, we are borrowing less and are no longer on a collision course with our debt ceiling,” said Ford.
“Because of our fiscal discipline, international bond rating agencies have kept our credit rating strong — even while they lowered ratings for the Province of Ontario. Because of this, we spent $10 million less in 2012 to service our debt and will continue to see the savings in 2013. Over the next 10 years, we’re reducing our planned debt by $804 million while still spending $1.2 billion more on capital.”
He summed up with strong support support for the budget.
“Folks, this is a fantastic budget. It’s good news for homeowners; once again we are holding the line on tax increases — keeping them lower than inflation. It’s good news for renters. 136,000 households in Toronto will get a rent reduction this year because we reduced property taxes for their landlords last year. And we’re holding the line on their taxes this year. It’s good news for employers. Our administration remains committed to working with businesses to make Toronto the top choice for employers to invest and create new jobs.”