Deputy mayor Norm Kelly puts Rob Ford’s low-tax rhetoric to shame

Deputy mayor Norm Kelly puts Rob Ford’s low-tax rhetoric to shame

Deputy mayor Norm Kelly. (Image: Christopher Drost)

Rob Ford has spent the past two months complaining loudly about the city’s proposed 2.5 per cent hike to property taxes in 2014. Now, it seems as though deputy mayor Norm Kelly is doing what Ford can’t: something about it.

The Post reports that Kelly’s office sent out a statement this morning saying that he’d be supporting a motion to reduce this year’s tax hike to 2.25 per cent. This is a workable suggestion for at least two reasons. One, it’s not an enormous change (a .25 per cent residential property tax increase is the equivalent of about $6 million for the city). And two, it’s coming from Kelly, whose job, now that Ford has been stripped of most of his powers, is to carry on the mayor’s respect-the-taxpayers mandate with as much dignity as he can muster. Unlike Ford, Kelly still has enough legitimacy that he can come out in favour of a tax break for residents and not seem like a blowhard making unrealistic demands.

Ford has been asking for a 1.75 per cent tax bump, despite the fact that his own budget chief has told him that achieving such a small hike would be “very difficult.” Kelly’s 2.25 per cent includes a .5 per cent hike earmarked specifically to pay for the Scarborough subway extension, a project Ford personally championed against the advice of transit planners.

Ford has yet to suggest a specific way to carve out the savings necessary to make his preferred tax rate a reality, and he only has a few more weeks to do so. City council’s final budget vote is scheduled for January 30.