Smaller government be damned: Ford’s first budget grows ranks of city staff

Smaller government be damned: Ford’s first budget grows ranks of city staff

One of the biggest ways that Rob Ford said he would be able to reduce city spending was to hire only half as many people as left the city’s payrolls every year. The city lost six per cent of its staff through retirements and firings every year, and Ford would hire only three per cent back. It turns out there were a lot of things wrong in those assumptions—including Ford’s numbers on attrition—and there’s enough inertia in Miller-era hiring decisions that Ford’s first budget will actually grow the ranks of city workers by 447.

According to the National Post:

Most of the additional jobs — 405 — are for capital projects, such as modernizing the Pape and Dufferin subway stations. The city’s day-to-day operations shed 470 positions, but proposes adding 518, which makes for a net increase of 48 positions, or 0.1% over last year’s operating budget. Staffing in the water, solid waste and parking authority budgets shrunk.

The bulk of the new positions are for the Toronto Transit Commission.

If approved, the combined operating, capital, water, solid waste and parking budgets would hike temporary and permanent positions to 53,336 positions, up from 52,888 in 2010, according to documents the city released Monday.

Ford’s critics were quick to pounce on this, with former budget chief Shelley Carroll saying Ford has been “getting hoisted on his own petard,” which is one way to put it. Another would be to say that this is what happens when the simplicity of campaigning meets the complexity of actually running a city of two and a half million people. People who said that Ford’s budget plan simply didn’t add up—people like Marcus Gee in the Globe and Mail, among oh so many others—ought to be feeling pretty good right now. The budget process will continue at least until late February.

As usual, we can’t help but wonder what this means going forward. Will Ford’s commitment to cutting the budget through attrition mean even more severe cuts next year, as people have been saying? Or will Ford’s new-found flexibility last until then? We suspect we’ll soon discover exactly how much, or how little, room council has to make deep cuts.

• City will hire an additional 447 people this year [National Post]
Mayor’s foes attack slight increase in city jobs [Toronto Sun]
• Ford the cost-cutter adds to city’s payroll [Globe and Mail]