City manager says Toronto homeowners could get ‘second tax bill’ due to Ford government cuts

City manager says Toronto homeowners could get ‘second tax bill’ due to Ford government cuts

It won’t be possible to cut nearly $180 million from the city budget in 2019 without affecting services, the city’s manager told Toronto council on Tuesday.

“It will not be achieved through efficiencies without scaling back services,” said Chris Murray.

“You can’t rule out there being a second tax bill.”

Council is meeting today and Wednesday and at the top of the agenda is a report on provincial cuts to funding that city staff have calculated will cost a total of $177.65 million in 2019, including a $65 million reduction to Toronto Public Health; an $84.8 million reduction for Children’s Services and a $24 million reduction from the cancellation of the planned provincial gas tax funding.

Murray said going back into the city budget, which was debated and set earlier this year, in order to rebalance it to reflect the funding cuts, is a “unique occurrence.”

Mayor John Tory held a news conference Tuesday morning before the council meeting began, saying that the provincial cuts were made without regard to the budget process.

Since the Progressive Conservative government tabled its budget on April 11, news of funding cuts has been announced in dribs and drabs. Tory called it: “Torture by 1,000 cuts.”

In council Tory brought up an interesting bit of history: when the province cut $150 million from the city’s budget in 2013, the vice-chair of the budget committee was Councillor Doug Ford, who is now premier of the province and leader of the government imposing the reduction in funding on the city.

“We’ve been prudent managers of the taxpayers’ money, but these folks, the province, wants to come back and put the burden on the back of the hardworking people of Toronto,” the residents of Toronto. It’s not fair,” Ford said in 2013.

Also on the council agenda: A motion asking the province to work with the city on the revitalization of Ontario Place.

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF

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