Sunshine List Loophole Allows Some Individuals To Avoid Disclosure

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Toronto’s public servants are battening down the hatches in preparation for the storm over the annual Public Sector Disclosure list, also known as the Sunshine List, by making their disclosures as cloudy as possible. The list provides taxpayers with basic facts: name, amount earned, and in many cases, a vague job title. Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is urging the province to close a loophole that doesn’t total earnings of people collecting multiple taxpayer-funded salaries.

The group notes that many of the job titles include “Captain Communications,” “Enterprise Technical Support Specialist,” “Field Training Officer Level 2″, “Manager Development Engineering Engineering Construction Services”, and “Administrator.”

“I’m seeking to understand the differences between an ‘Inspector’ and an ‘Inspector Generalist’” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Outreach Coordinator Andrea Micieli. “Knowing these employees were paid salaries over $100,000 gives me reason to question administration costs and positions.”

The list indicates there are 15 “Library Service Managers” employed by the city of Toronto who are making over $100,000 a year, but only 6 land surveyors.

“Although the creation of the Sunshine List was to increase transparency in government, it needs to go further,” noted coalition Research Director and Outreach Coordinator Josh Lieblein. “For example, without metrics defining taxpayers’ needs, there’s no way to know which need is being met, or if it is being met at all, for the amount of money city staff are being paid.”

The coalition calls on public-sector employees to define their roles with more clarity for taxpayers in order to justify high salaries, and for governments to mandate more extensive disclosure, such as a distinction between personal and business expenses for each employee, or a specific breakdown of an employee’s duties.

“Torontonians are looking at yet another annual increase and bloat in government salaries at a time we’re seeing a higher unemployment rate,” pointed out coalition President Matthew McGuire. “What taxpayers really want is a clear horizon when it comes to knowing how their tax dollars are spent.”

Finally, the coalition is asking the province to close the Sunshine List Loophole that allows, for example, an individual who is a part time town councillor in one municipality and works a full time job also subsidized by taxpayers to avoid having their true earnings reflected on the Sunshine List. “In fact, this individual may even avoid any disclosure at all, even if their total earnings are greater than $100,000 annually,” McGuire added.

Police Salary Disclosure Demonstrates Political Pork: TTC

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The Toronto Police Service’s sunshine list reveals that over half of all police employees earned six figures in 2014. In total, 4,125 police and civilian employees are earning $100,000 or more annually; a figure that has Toronto Taxpayers Coalition demanding answers.

“Toronto Police Services take up the biggest portion of Toronto’s overall budget, and salary costs are a big part of that,” said coalition president Matthew McGuire. “With over half of Toronto police service’s staff earning six figures, it’s easy to see that costs need to be reigned in.”

A recent study by Workopolis, Canada’s largest career website, found that the average Ontarians yearly salary is $49,088. The coalition argues that taxpayers who pay the salaries have a right to demand answers and deserve more than “excuses and cop-outs”.

If there’s a silver lining for taxpayers, it’s that the list now includes “paid duty earnings” where officers work off hours for third parties argues Josh Lieblein, Outreach Coordinator for the coalition.

“Other Ontario police forces have long disclosed paid duty earnings, and we’ve been pressuring Toronto police to include these figures for years. Including this information gives the public a clearer picture of the labour costs in the Toronto police budget.”

With Toronto seeing a 42% drop in crime over the past decade, the coalition argues the police budget is a matter of supply and demand economics. “When crime rates drop, police spending should also go down. It’s no wonder that with budgets like this we can’t afford to build essential public transit infrastructure, or repair the crumbling Gardiner” McGuire adds.

Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Rallies Opposition To Tory’s Trash Tax: Councillors Get An Earful, Tory’s Fiscal Cred in Tatters

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Mayor John Tory and council’s left had a tougher time than expected getting a 58% increase in garbage bin fees approved by council thanks to a sustained campaign from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition.

“John Tory managed to hike taxes to pay for his budget today, but he spent whatever credibility he had as a fiscal conservative,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Matthew McGuire.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition took the lead on the solid waste file, actively promoting our campaign on social media and urging our members to email their councillors to vote against Tory’s scheme to remove a rebate on the new garbage bins; playfully nicknamed “Tory’s Trash Tax”.

“Our members received quick replies from their councillors, which shows that the men and women Torontonians sent to City Hall to represent their views were paying close attention to what was being said,” McGuire pointed out.

While Tory’s Trash Tax passed the vote today, 10 councillors voted against it and Tory was forced to agree to look at freezing solid waste rates for 2016.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition will continue monitoring City Council and public opinion for reaction to Tory’s Trash Tax.

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Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Uncovers John Tory’s Trash Tax

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The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition has learned that John Tory intends to make Toronto taxpayers pay twice for the grey and green Bins introduced by the Miller administration in 2008.

Up until now, the user fee associated with waste collection from these new bins had been offset by a tax rebate. Tory plans to remove this level of tax protection, allowing the city to collect the user fee and increase the property tax burden on residents.

“It’s very disappointing to see John Tory relapse into his old pattern of not being able to say no to bad ideas,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Matthew McGuire. “He won the election by convincing Torontonians that he held fiscally conservative values, but it seems that he’s fallen under the sway of a growing group of politicians who are keenly focused on finding new ways of taxing the overburdened citizen.”

Budget documents estimate that rolling back the rebate would bring an additional $17.9M into the city coffers. However, there is no evidence that suggests that this money will be dedicated to cost recovery for the new garbage bins, or that the revenue will be going into the city’s operating budget.

Over the weekend, the coalition set up a portal to allow taxpayers to send an email to their councillor urging them to keep the rebate.

“Mayor Tory has introduced this tax grab at a time when the city is saving more money than ever on garbage collection thanks to privatization, coming off the heels of his decision to deplete the city’s capital reserves to pay for the same budget,” observed McGuire. “This raises serious questions about the long-term health of our city’s finances, and about the Mayor’s ability to manage those finances.”

“This amounts to a 0.75% tax hike on Toronto taxpayers, breaking a promise to keep tax hikes below the rate of inflation.”

The proposed new Solid Waste Rates are the second item on today’s agenda. Taxpayers can send a letter to their councillor in under 45 seconds by visiting http://www.torontotaxpayer.ca/stop-torys-trash-tax/

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Taxpayers Coalition Concerned About Tory’s Inaugural Budget

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The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is concerned about the lack of cost savings initiatives in Mayor Tory’s 2015 budget.

“Though we appreciate and understand the need for an injection of money into services and infrastructure, we are concerned about the clear lack of focus on exploring more efficient ways to save money,” says President Matthew McGuire.

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Andre Marin to highlight Coalition panel on municipal accountability and transparency

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The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is pleased to be hosting an outstanding panel to discuss Bill 8 and its impact on municipal government accountability and transparency. Featuring Ombudsman Andre Marin, and moderated by Newstalk 1010′s Jerry Agar, the forum is sure to take an in-depth look at the current need and potential future impact of the Bill, and what it means for our city governments.

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