Wednesday, January 11, 2012

City budget underway: let the snarling begin

The City of Toronto Budget process -- always a contentious adventure -- is now underway for 2012.

The Budget Committee approved the proposed 2012 City Budget, which now moves to the City’s Executive Committee for consideration.

Rob Ford’s policy approach

The reductions are numerous. The Toronto Public Library budget (for example) is being decimated -- literally.

Observer Matt Elliott acerbically describes the approach as
“Austerity-as-ideology, not austerity-as-necessity.”
It’s a tense conversation that lays bare the difference in perspective and vision between Ford and his allies, and the rest of council.

You see, it’s not merely about scaling back expenditures for Ford -- it’s about justifying whether funding for certain programs should even be taking place. Unlike most of my progressive-leaning friends, I do think this is a valuable question to ask. Whether Ford’s clumsy approach is going to get anywhere is a separate matter.

As the Budget proceeds through to council for debate (likely next week), look for plenty of fireworks on this subject.

What do you think about the proposed budget? Have we allowed program creep to expand the scope of what the city provides, unsustainably? Or are we cutting out investments critical to our idea of how the city should work?

Should we be spending more, or less -- and on what services?

Photo sources 
  • Bay Street looking north from Front, April 1904   Photographer: William James, City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 2
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kicks off the Metro Bowl at the SkyDome, Nov 2011  Tara Walton, Toronto Star