Disillusionment, thy name is Ford: city gravy hunters find out governing is, like, hard and stuff
During the election campaign, Rob Ford repeatedly said that there was no question that, if elected, he would be able to find and destroy the ocean of gravy that was flooding city hall. Even right after his victory in the election, he was quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of fat down at city hall, and there’s a lot of waste” when asked about filling the fiscal hole his tax cuts would create. There’s just one problem in the cold light of a February budget meeting: the “fat” and “waste” Ford promised he’d cut just doesn’t seem to be there—at least, not according to the Toronto Star, which informs us that reality is starting to sink in.
Insiders—ranging from members of the budget and executive committees to city financial staff—say that bubbling pot of gravy still hasn’t been found. The financial renaissance Ford campaigned on is still a few years away, they say.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a challenge,” said Councillor Doug Ford, vice-chair of the budget committee and the mayor’s brother. “This administration did not put the city in the position we’re in. You can’t change the world in 100 days. We’ve already done so much and we’ll continue to do more.”
In his short time in office, Mayor Ford has scored a number of symbolic victories. Office budget caps for councillors and the mayor took a $1.46 million whack. Ford won his longtime battle against free food at council and committee meetings. That cut is worth $48,000 to taxpayers. And by coaxing councillors into a pay freeze, he drained another $110,000 worth of gravy.
Important? Absolutely. But it’s still small potatoes.
As the Star notes, Ford’s crack budget team has actually made things substantially worse by draining the city’s reserves as well, meaning that next year Toronto is looking at filling a budget hole that’s about $730 million wide.
How to bridge the gap? A good old-fashioned fire sale of city assets. Potentially up for sale are everything from the city’s $18 billion in real estate holdings to the Toronto Parking Authority and Enwave.
The objective, says Doug Ford, is for Toronto to be like Mississsauga—debt-free and with substantial cash reserves. Of course, Mississauga is also considering a whopping 8 percent tax increase this year and building 30 km of new bike lanes, making the municipal metaphor as clear as, well, gravy.
• Looking for the gravy [Toronto Star]
• Sniffing out the gravy [Toronto Star]
(Image: Dennis Jarvis)
6 thoughts on “Disillusionment, thy name is Ford: city gravy hunters find out governing is, like, hard and stuff”
Although I do believe Rob and Doug Ford are both idiots, if it’s true that Toronto holds $18 billion worth of real estate, selling some of it off might not be such a bad idea.
Ford ..don’t sell the assets until you ask for a % department budget from management or it will be their jobs and you will find the gravy padding in department budgets…anyone who has prepared a budget knows how to pad the numbers
There has to be an incredible amount of fat in the budget – you cannot go from $2.5 billion in 2005 to the current 2011 budget of 49.4 billion without something being grossly out of whack – this budget is larger than a number of the province’s budgets . The problem is that the explanations are unintelligible if you try to find out what is each category – the TTC and Fire and Police do not account for all these increases. Also one should remember that over 60 % of this budget is for salaries and each department should be forced to show the growth in the number of people they employ on a year over year basis for 2005 forward and the qalso to show what theach of the staff categies have been paid and are being paid per person on average on a year over year basis from 2005 forward i.e. managerial, adminstrative, clerical, professional, etc. This would be a good starting point to ask questions and then request a zero based budget not the garbage answers we currently get.
the 2011 budget should be shown as $9.4 billion – there was a typo in my previous comment , however this just emphasizes my point – this is BILLIONS not millions – let’s get some good information from the Financial Planning Department showing growth and really explaining what is going on.
It would appear that the only fat to be found at city hall is around the Ford’s prodigious waistlines.
With a billion dollar budget I would have to say that the police are a huge drain on the taxpayers, and there is alot of gravy that can be cut there.
But of course Rob won’t go after them , or the fire service and have them make some cuts, oh no , we can’t have that, lets go after easier targets like the folks hauling the garbage from the curb, forgetting all about the huge salaries many non unionized managers are getting for doing next to nothing to justify their huge wage.
Many of them can be easily cut and with no change in service.
But for election purposes Ford chooses the garbage haulers as they are visible to the public and not hiding away in offices making obscene salaries.
Ford disappoints me really , he is taking the easy route and not addressing the real drain of taxpayers money.
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