Rob Ford still struggles with math, honesty
Since being swept into office on a wave of David Miller bashing, Rob Ford hasn’t stopped hammering on his predecessor’s supposedly reckless squandering of taxpayer dollars. The Globe and Mail has provided cause to cast some doubt on Ford’s claims about his administration’s savings, however, pointing out that much of the mayor’s apparent fiscal prudence is the product of clever budget rejigging that paints him as more of a penny-pincher than he really is.
The Globe has the story:
The mayor’s office is touting his first-year accomplishments, including the fulfilment of pledges to limit politician spending. Mr. Ford’s brother Doug, councillor for Etobicoke North, circulated a list of the administration’s achievements on Friday, noting that the mayor has saved $700,000 by reducing his office budget from $2.7-million to $2-million.
Much of that comes from the fact Mr. Ford relies on fewer staff than his predecessor. However, changes in the way the mayor’s office expenses are allocated – a new council expense policy was approved last January – suggests some of the savings may have resulted from costs such as telecom and telephone services and insurance reserve contributions being absorbed in a different city budget.
For instance, Miller’s expenses included $11,513.98 for phone service, but there’s no comparable budget line for Ford because the mayor’s office no longer has to publicly report phone service as an expense. The Globe also goes on to note that Ford’s claim that reducing councillors’ expense budgets has saved nearly $900,000 assumes all councillors blow their entire budget (which they don’t). These accounting practices point to one of the defining characteristics of Ford’s administration thus far: portraying sketchy math as real fiscal conservatism.