Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says that he’ll be recommending to council “an affordable balanced budget” on Wednesday when council meets to vote on the 2014 capital and operating budgets.
“It has been a long and frankly tiring exercise and I’m looking forward to bringing it to a successful conclusion tomorrow,” he told reporters at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
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He said he’ll be supporting a 2.23 per cent residential property tax hike, which includes the 0.5 per cent levy that would help pay for the Scarborough subway extension in the $9.6 billion operating budget. He added that he was optimistic that he had enough supporters on council to get the budget passed.
“On the one side it’ll be fiscally responsible. Last year’s 2 per cent tax increase will be reduced this year to 1.73 per cent,” Kelly said. “With respect to the subway levy, I supported it at council and will urge my colleagues to support it at the budget meeting tomorrow.”
However, Kelly said that the residential property tax hike would not be used to pay for ice storm costs as “we’re going to look at replenishing the storm weather reserve fund from surplus.”
City staff had recommended a property tax increase of as much as 3.2 per cent following the Dec. 21 ice storm that cost the city at least $106 million in cleanup and restoration.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rob Ford said he wants a property tax hike of only 1.75 per cent and has said he won’t support the budget. (He was the only vote against the budget at the executive committee level last week.)
Ford plans to introduce several motions that he claims will save the city $50 million “with little or no impact on services.” But he has remained mum on details.
Highlighting some aspects of the budget, Kelly said it will include money to hire 56 paramedics, 38 fire prevention officers and two bylaw officers this year as well as extra money for the arts and for families and youth.
“We have through the committee process supported the following: the High Park Zoo, the ARC program, student nutrition, swimming program and extended library hours,” Kelly said.
Under the 2014-2023 capital budget, Kelly highlighted the $535 million commitment over 10 years to repair and maintain the Gardiner Expressway.
To build consensus on the budget, Kelly said he’s personally met with half of the 44 councillors and that between him and his staff they’ve met with about 80 per cent.
Ford, who spent Tuesday morning meeting with residents at a public housing in North York, wasn’t one of them.