Confidence-inspiring TTC budget found $24 million with haste and blue pen

Confidence-inspiring TTC budget found $24 million with haste and blue pen

The way that Rob Ford and Karen Stintz hastily announced and then de-announced the TTC fare hike left a lot of city hall observers scratching their heads: was this a fake-out to make sure that the new mayor got credit for “saving” transit commuters from a fare hike? Or was this, as the mayor and his allies contend, simply a matter of finding more money than they thought? The evidence from files off the TTC’s Web site [PDF] suggest just how hasty it was: lots of blue pen, crossed-out numbers rewritten by hand, and the phrase “unspecified budget reduction” repeated over and over. All that’s missing is the napkin the first draft was written on.

The Globe and Mail reports that Stintz, Ford and his close advisors found the money at a morning meeting yesterday, “after Mr. Ford threatened to fire recalcitrant managers in his debut budget speech… One new source of money was key: Police Chief Bill Blair offered significant savings in a previously scheduled 90-minute meeting.” So now it looks like the police are going to forgo replacing 200 or so police officers—the exact opposite of what candidate Ford promised. Also, Ford has made liars out of us by including the police in the budget pain. We aren’t exactly sad to be proven wrong on this one.

Apparently, the hasty revisions are continuing today, as the city keeps bashing out its budget and TTC meetings. This was a natural consequence of Ford’s insistence on a condensed budget schedule—hopefully next year, things will go a bit more smoothly.

• City scraps proposed TTC fare hike [Globe and Mail]
• Handwritten notes on TTC doc: how to cancel a fare hike [Toronto Star]
Michal Hay [Twitter]
• Budget document: #TTC fare hike scratched out in blue pen [National Post]

(Images: TTC report—operating budget)