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Remember the toilet (or, Changing the budget tune)

Mayor David Miller and Budget Chief Shelley Carroll—whose name is increasingly whispered whenever talk turns to the issue of potential Miller successors—today announced what they called the first balanced budget since amalgamation. The truth is that every budget since amalgamation has been balanced; what sets this one apart is that Queen’s Park delivered the bailout in advance, so there was no squabbling over the shortfall. Follow this link to see the city’s platitude-filled, stock-photography-laden budget propaganda: updates on all the same pie charts and bar graphs they issue every year, now unfolding in real-time Technicolor, yet still failing to provide any year-over-year comparisons or, subsequently, any detailed indication of how they managed to pull it off.

Some quick reactions:

1.Remember the toilet. As I wrote a short time back, the city’s current budget suffers from some drastic imbalances. The cops and the TTC tend to gobble up huge amounts of money—as does debt service on previous years’ road repairs and other capital spending—while other departments are run on a shoestring. The budget they’ve balanced is one that serves the city poorly.

2.Playing footsie. Why would Dwight Duncan bail the city out in advance? I dunno, but here’s my guess: City Hall and Queen’s Park need to make the city’s annual budget brouhaha disappear because they are about to embark on some other, more controversial initiatives.

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