TORONTO, Ont. – After two days of debates, Toronto city council passed its 2013 budget Wednesday.
The $9.4-billion operating budget — approved Wednesday by a vote of 37-8 — includes a $3.1-million increase to the city’s firefighters’ budget.
Mayor Rob Ford praised the budget.
“It’s the great result of collaboration between councillors from all sides and with city staff, citizens and stakeholders,” he said.
“This budget secures Toronto’s financial future and it keeps residents and businesses safe.”
“Every single member of council can be happy with the small compromises made in it because with those compromises we have turned the corner,” Ford said.
However, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is not thrilled with the budget plan that council ballooned by $12-million.
“The fact is that we’re setting up for next year for an absolute disaster,” he said.
“Next year is election year. We’re going to put this into the budget this year.”
“Next year, we’re going to have to fund it and probably have to fund it through taxes.”
Throughout the week’s council meetings, a number of motions were added to increase spending for services and departments, including to the fire department, which saved 63 positions.
“If the councillors in this chamber haven’t got the backbone to stand up on their own two feet and make their own decisions — unpressured by unions and unpressured by special interest groups — then they shouldn’t be here,” Holyday said.
Ed Kennedy, president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, disputed Holyday’s claim that council was “bullied” by the union.
“We’ve gone out there with the information and saying ‘please, take a look at it again because you know what, we’re not the ones that have been playing with the numbers.’”
A two per cent property tax increase had already been approved Tuesday, which translates to an increase of $62.08 for the average household assessed at $474,368 in 2013, according to the city.
Some budget highlights
- $1.63 million for school nutrition program
- $3.8 million for child-care fee subsidies, which will add 264 child-care spaces
- $894,450 to some community grants
- $6.8 million to the social housing reserve