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Fun with budget numbers: most city councillors have been prudent with cash, but the Sun slams them anyway

True to form, the Toronto Sun leads today with (yet another) story on the spending habits of Toronto’s city councillors. The piece strains to show how our elected officials are featherbedding crooks making off with taxpayer’s hard-earned money. (Can anyone guess which councillor’s farewell party makes a prominent showing in this story?) There’s just one problem with the story’s logic: for a year that’s already mostly over, few of the councillors have spent even half of their budget.

Rocco Rossi crunched the numbers Monday and found a 25 per cent cut to most councillor’s budgets wouldn’t be noticed.

He pointed out while there are some big spenders, there are some who spend relatively little and are still under $10,000 halfway through the year.

“There is not a systematic reason to have the expenses at the level they are at,” Rossi said.

The Sun helpfully provides the numbers they gathered, and it’s hard to see what the fuss is about. The annual budget for a councillor’s office is over $46,000 and only five councillors have spent even half that much. Adam Giambrone gets lambasted by the Sun for his French lessons, but even with those, he’s spent less than $10,000 so far this year. One of council’s prominent conservatives, Denzil Minnan-Wong, has spent over $12,000. As we all know, Rob Ford has spent $0 (he even reimbursed the city for office expenses), but also near the bottom of the spenders list is Adam Vaughan, who’s dropped just a hair under $2,000.

Maybe Giambrone is boning up on French (pun intended) because he wants to jump into federal politics. Who can say, but more importantly, who cares? In an election that’s been about billion-dollar subway plans and asset sales, carping about French lessons and Web site revisions seems like the Sun decided on the outrage before they got the story.

• Councillors’ office tab — $500,000 and counting [Toronto Sun] • Who spent what at City Hall [Toronto Sun]

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