Who is responsible for making the cuts for a tax freeze?
So, Joe is having a little meltdown because the Library Board and the Transit Commission sent back a list of possible cuts for Council’s consideration and selection. (See the related LFP article here.)
What were they asked to do?
This is the resolution passed at Council on December 20, 2010: “all civic boards, commissions and agencies BE REQUESTED to bring forward a list of salary and wage savings, vacancy management savings and potential service cuts with the 2011-2015 budget impacts and service implications.”
That is what they did. The respective managements of the two bodies provided a list of the possibilities and their impacts. There was no indication that the board members and commissioners were required to select from the list, nor to recommend a specific course of action.
The motion goes on to say that “the combined list of service cuts be reviewed by the Municipal Council in terms of impact on the tax levy for 2011-2015 and the impact on service levels and asset management, and those service cuts BE TESTED by the Municipal Council through the public participation process (January 29 and February 2,2011)”.
To me that says “Give us a list of possibilities, we’ll check it over, present it to the public for comment, and then we’ll decide.”
So what’s Mayor Fontana’s problem?
He got what he wanted. And the boards and commissions that gave him those lists were (if I counted correctly) comprised equally of councillors and public members.
Or does he need someone else to take the rap for the outcome if things go wrong?
The police have come forward with a possible $700,000 by finding an extra little pot of gold (where did that come from?) and delaying additional hiring for a few months. The mayor finds that “gratifying”. That was on a budget request of $84 million! And they still haven’t figured in the cost of wage settlements.
The Library was expected to come up with the same size of cut on a budget request of $17 million.
LTC was expected to find savings of $1.7 million on a $22 million dollar ask. Not exactly small change in your back pocket.
The library is operating on a shoestring. Our transit system is as efficient as any you can find in Ontario. Their managers are taking cuts, not getting raises. Bus drivers and librarians don’t get retention pay. And they are not hiring new staff, just trying to hold on to what they had in 1995.
The Library Board and the LTC met the targets that were set for them before the election; the Police Services Board, even with its offering of $700,000, has not.
The zero tax increase is a campaign promise made by some councillors and, yes, the newly elected mayor.
Just make the damn cuts, Joe.
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