Rossi unveils finance plan that doesn’t involve magic
In his race for the mayor’s office, Rocco Rossi has made some pretty big promises: privatizing Toronto Hydro, building subways and digging a tunnel through downtown. So when the Toronto Sun started reporting on his financial plan this morning, we were sort of expecting more big and crazy things, like promising to find a winning lotto ticket every day, or mining for gold under Fort York. Those hopes were dashed when Rossi unveiled a plan that is actually modest and sane (well, relative to his previous announcements).
The Sun’s details:
Looking ahead over the next five years, Rossi’s plan to trim almost $500 million from the budget would respect the city’s existing labour agreements but “manage vacancies” and hold increases in new agreements to just 3% — a saving of $264 million.
Rossi commits to keeping the Toronto Police Services budget to only a 3% increase rather than the current 6% and targeting similar cost savings within the TTC.
The plan also banks on cutting city procurement by 10%, a saving of $100 million; reducing the cost per tonne of household waste collection through outsourcing and managed competition, a saving of $50 million; and opening up competition for “appropriate, non-essential services,” a saving of $46 million.
Putting the police and TTC budgets on the negotiating table is a surprise move, one that no other candidate has risked (whether council would hold the line is another matter entirely). Another thing that sets Rossi’s plan apart is that it does not rely on the province to ride to the city’s fiscal rescue. Beyond that, though, there’s a lot of similarity between this plan and those of George Smitherman and Rob Ford. All three rely on staff attrition to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the city over four years.
The Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee is now calling Rossi “the fiscal conscience of the campaign” (a barnburning slogan if there ever was one). But isn’t it a sad state of affairs that the election’s standard for fiscal rectitude is being set by the only candidate who isn’t proposing tax cuts and isn’t promising free money from Queen’s Park?