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January 31, 2014

Rob Ford's proposed budget cuts unrealistic and voted down

For the last month Rob Ford has been boasting that he had found at least $50 million in waste in the city budget, but in the end they were deemed too ridiculous and unrealistic. Instead only $726,000 worth of cuts went through council yesterday.

Ford's 18 motions for Toronto's 2014 Budget included:

- eliminating $7 million to plant 97,000 trees - trees that clean up Toronto's air quality, reduce smog, beautify the city, and indirectly boost tourism to Toronto. (Because nobody wants to visit a smoggy city.)

 - $2.5 million in savings by charging $14 for to register for the Welcome Policy, which subsidizes recreation programs for low income families. (Apparently Rob Ford doesn't understand the concept of "low income" families.)

- reversing $600,000 in increases to the student nutrition program. (Something parents of school age children campaigned for in the first place.)

- eliminating security guards at libraries to save $1.6 million. (Because book theft costs the Toronto Library even more to replace stolen books, to say nothing of keeping crime out of the city's libraries.)

- reversing a $390,000 increase to community grant. (Grants that help a variety of special needs.)

- axing council's $3.1-million general expense fund and its $60,000 travel budget, and cutting each councillor's staff salary budget by about 10 per cent. (Ha, like they would ever do that. Why doesn't the mayor axe his own salary first if he wants to halt the gravy train?)

The only two motions that had any impact on the 2014 budget: eliminating the city's employment engagement survey for savings of $250,000, and scrapping two city newsletters worth $476,000.

Total savings = $726,000.

This is Rob Ford's problem when it comes to budget cuts - he doesn't seem to understand that city services are designed to HELP people. Where he sees "gravy" everyone else sees things that are beneficial and needed. eg. If Rob Ford was in charge of an apartment building he would cut off the heat and the hot water, cutback on maintenance to a bare minimum, and fire all the security guards / cleaning / gardening staff, because he would see those things as unnecessary. This is not the kind of guy you want running a city.

Ford's two other successful motions were to request reports on finding $19.1 million in corporate sponsorships for the Pan Am Games and accelerating an effort to streamline city services (which Ford thinks will save $15 million, but might only save $1 or $2 million - or nothing).

Neither of the two reports guarantees any additional money for the city.

The end result was a $9.6-billion budget which passed by a count of 35 to 9, with the mayor and his brother Councillor Doug Ford voting against. After the vote, Rob Ford called it "the worst budget that has ever been presented."

Well who's fault is that? We have a mayor who doesn't seem to comprehend the concept that city services are often necessary - including the ones that protect people, increase tourism and help Toronto's less fortunate.

In the past Rob Ford has made wild claims that his budgets have saved the city "a billion dollars" but there is no actual proof of that when you look at his budgets.

Not even close.

In the past Toronto mayors have always campaigned and wooed councillors to get through the budget cuts or increases a mayor is hoping to get approved. Rob Ford's response has been to try and bully city councillors, calling them childish names, heckling them, acting like a buffoon, etc - as if bullying people would get them to do what he wants.

Rob Ford is not a bridge builder.

Rob Ford is a wrecking ball.

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