No Cuts to ‘People Services’ in Toronto 2012 Operating Budget

Dear Toronto City Councillors:

I am writing primarily to ask that there be no cuts to ‘people services’ in the Toronto City Operating Budget for 2012. This can easily be accomplished because a published Operating Budget surplus of $154 million has been found. The $740 million deficit apparently was a figment of someone’s imagination. This deficit figure has been used all year to defend proposed cuts to these necessary ‘people services’ such as the Public Library, Community Centres, Seniors Residences, Wading Pools, Tree Planting, other environmental needs and many more.

I am very pleased to see some of the amendments proposed today (January 12, 2012) that at least ameliorate somewhat the harsh cuts to the people of Toronto.

So congratulations to Executive Committee members for some of the amendments you have proposed to the 2012 Capital and Operating Budgets for the City of Toronto.

I am pleased to see Councillor Berardinetti’ amendments items # 4, 1. and 2. below which ask that library open hours not be reduced and that the City Manager provide assistance and resources to the Library board.

I also think I like the amendments of Councillor Robinson – items #13, 1. and 2. below to have the “Toronto Public Library Board be requested to meet the revised reduction of $3.890 Million from new revenue sources and service efficiencies.”

I like other amendments as well – #8 by Councillor Mammoliti, which seem to be asking that seniors, whose institutional residences have been slated to close, be taken care of before they are closed. However I think it would be better to cancel these closings altogether given the budget surplus of $154 million.

Councillor Milczyn’s Amendment, Item # 10, to reverse the cuts to the Arts Community is really important given the news that Toronto finishes dead last in per-capita contributions to the arts when compared to other major cities.

It is unimaginable that we would allow the world to look at Toronto as the City who cut intellectual institutions such as the Toronto Public Library and the Arts Community. I am glad that most of the Executive Committee’s amendments are going to prevent that kind of embarrassment, particularly when it is unnecessary.

I do not think that Councillor Minnan-Wong’s amendment item # 5, the transfer of the $154 million Operating Budget surplus should be transferred to the Capital Budget. That surplus should be used to stop cuts and city employee layoffs and ensure that there are no more user fees in the city. The 2012 Toronto Budget should invest more in services for poor people and undocumented people, in immigrant neighbourhoods, for disabled people, for youth and the elderly. It should be used to roll back the 10% budget cuts that have been proposed.

Perhaps not on topic here, but I and most Torontonians would like to see ‘Transit City’ plans back on the table. It is clear now that we are going to pay excessive amounts to cancel those plans which were already underway. This is ‘gravy’ that we cannot afford. I am aware that ‘Transit City’ is still alive because it has never come to a vote of Toronto City Council. Given that there is not the ridership for the Sheppard Subway line it is not likely to achieve necessary funding from the private sector with the end result that there will be no new TTC service for residents of both north-east and north-west Toronto. Bring back ‘Transit City’ please.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Budget motions at Executive Committee meeting #14
Updated: 2:15PM. This post has been updated to list all motions that were made during the meeting and subsequently adopted by the Executive Committee for recommendation to City Council.

The Executive Committee of Toronto City Council is considering/has considered item EX14.1, the 2012 Capital and Operating Budgets. (Agenda)

Here are the motions that were moved in the morning session. Debate will continue when the meeting resumes at 1:30PM, and additional motions may be moved. Voting on these motions will take place when debate has finished.

4 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Final)

1. That the Toronto Public Library Board be requested to not consider any reduction in open hours in order to achieve the Toronto Public Library 2012 Recommended Operating Budget of $172.285 million gross and $157.508 million net.

2. That the City Manager provide the appropriate advice and resources to the Toronto Public Library Board to assist them in identifying options to achieve the said 2012 Recommended Operating Budget.

(Note: With the permission of the committee, Councillor Berardinetti revised her motion to delete the struck-out text in part 1 above).

8 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Final)

1. That Downsview Dells, Birchmount Residence and Bellwoods House not be closed until each of the current residents is transferred to appropriate housing or other accommodation appropriate to their needs such as long-term care.

2. That the City Manager report back to the Executive Committee by April 30, 2012 on a strategy to use existing and future housing funding from the provincial and federal governments to create transitional housing allowances.

3. That the City Manager report back to the Executive Committee by April 30, 2012 on the approach to closing Downsview Dells, Birchmount Residence and Bellwoods House once all the current residents have been re-located to appropriate housing or other accommodation appropriate to their needs such as long-term care.

4. That General Manager, Shelter Support and Housing Administration meet with the Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee to formulate strategies on housing for report to the Community Development and Recreation and Affordable Housing Committees

10 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Peter Milczyn (Final)

That City Council reverse the reduction to the CPIP Budget Envelope of $1.9 million for Arts and Culture Grants, the funds to be drawn from additional assessment growth revenues.

12 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Peter Milczyn (Final)

That the Chief Planner and the City Solicitor report directly to Council on requesting the Province to amend The Planning Act so that the cost of Committee of Adjustment variance applications be based on both cost recovery and the value of the construction as it does for building permits.

14 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Peter Milczyn (Final)

That City Council extend the scope and time frame of the Mayor’s Task Force on Arts and Theatres to work with staff to prepare a report that:

a) Reviews the interdependencies between the arts sector and City departments and services to ensure that these relationships are clarified and strengthened under a new granting structure and that this structure best serves the interests of the sector, the City and the community well.

b) Reviews the capacity and resources of TAC relative to other granting agencies. This includes financial resources and functional scope, and should consider the reporting relationship and accountability to the City

c) Reviews the LASO model in order to understand its impact on arts, economic and social policy objectives. There is increased interest in the model as a potentially effective way to connect communities to programs and benefits.

d) Reviews existing and potential revenues associated with arts investment and develop recommendations for a more self-sustaining model for arts grant funding. Innovative funding models adopted in other major cities will be considered and opportunities for revenue generation will be explored. This review will take into consideration the following:

e) Examine capital generation potential of the arts.

f) Re-engage the Province and other partners in discussions to innovatively fund the arts.

5 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Final)

Recommendations 2 and 165 be deleted and replaced with:

“2. The estimated 2011 surplus of $154 million be dedicated to the Capital Financing Reserve for the financing of TTC capital projects and that future operating budget surpluses be allocated 100% to the Capital Financing Reserve until the $700 million target in new financing for TTC capital projects, as established in the 2012 – 2021 Capital Plan, has been reached. ”

“165. Council’s policy of allocating 75% of future operating surpluses to the Capital Reserve Fund and the remaining 25% to underfunded liabilities and/or reserve funds as determined by the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer be resumed once the $700 million target in new financing for TTC capital projects, as established in the 2012 – 2021 Capital Plan, has been reached.”

6 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Cesar Palacio (Final)

That the General Manager of Toronto Employment and Social Services advise the province that the City will fund the Hardship Fund until July 1, 2012 and request the provincial funding to support future hardship fund applications. In the event that additional provincial funding is not secured, any additional funding needed for the balance of the year be funded from the Toronto Employment and Social Services net budget.

13 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Jaye Robinson (Final)

1. That the $6.974 Million in unspecified reductions be reduced by $3.084 Million and offset by assessment growth to a revised reduction of $3.890 Million;

2. That the Toronto Public Library Board be requested to meet the revised reduction of $3.890 Million from new revenue sources and service efficiencies.

9 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Norman Kelly (Final)

That the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in consultation with the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer review and report to the Executive Committee on:

1. the estimate of lawn cutting fees at city owned lawn bowl clubs to ensure they are incremental costs, over and above the standard park grass cutting schedule.

2. the impact on registration fees for Lawn Bowlers, as created by increased permit fees, to ensure they are in keeping with other recreation program participation costs.

Updated 2:15PM: Motions moved after the lunch break:

2 – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor David Shiner (Final)

That the $927,900 net cost of the local sidewalk snow clearing program be offset against the increase in assessment growth.

11 – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Mike Del Grande (Final)

Request the Toronto Public Library Board to provide customer counts for each library by week date and by the hour.

Posted by Toronto City Clerk’s Office at 12:57 PM

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About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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