Will Toronto’s rushed 2011 budget have major cuts? Depends on what your definition of “major” is

Will Toronto’s rushed 2011 budget have major cuts? Depends on what your definition of “major” is

Toronto Police will get a three per cent increase in budget, but no new cops (Image: Alfred Ng) 

City staff are busy trying to put a budget together now that the mayor has directed them to find a way to freeze property taxes, trim their budgets, and not have any “major” cuts to the city’s cherished services, like the TTC, police and libraries. Like so many things, the devil is in the details, and the Toronto Sun reports that a lot will depend on what the definition of a “major” cut is.

Budget chief Mike Del Grande said staff are still working on the budget.

Del Grande said he met with staff Tuesday about the process next week’s budget launch would go through.

Del Grande said it is clear staff will present a balanced budget, no tax increase and “no major cuts” as directed by Ford in a budget letter endorsed by city council.

“What’s major mean? I don’t know, it just means no major cuts,” he said.

With that, Del Grande wins the award for Least Helpful Explanation by a City Councillor.

There’s already talk by the Toronto Public Library of shuttering its Urban Affairs branch in old Metro Hall. Closing a whole library down seems kind of “major,” but perhaps not if it caters to pointy-headed downtowners. Elsewhere in the budget, the Globe and Mail reports that Rob Ford is backing off of his commitment to give the police force 50 new officers they didn’t want to begin with. Not that the police are having their budget trimmed—they’ll almost certainly get the three per cent increase they’ve requested, bringing their budget to just shy of a billion dollars.

We won’t make a “gravy squad car” joke here, but the police have to be pretty happy with this new age of austerity so far.

• City budget wrangling continues [Toronto Sun]
• Ford backs off campaign vow to hire more police officers [Globe and Mail]
• City Council speeding to get through 2011 budget [National Post]
• Lots of gravy in bloated police budget [Toronto Star]