The City’s budget committee wants to hear from you.
Councillors heard from speakers in 2 of 4 public consultations into the 2011 budget Wednesday night. The last 2 are set for Thursday, one at the York Civic Centre in Etobicoke and the other at the Scarborough Civic Centre, starting at 6. Councillor John Parker, who sits on the budget sub-committee, says it’s meant to show the budget process to Torontonians, so they can have a say before it’s voted on, “what the proposals are. To give them a chance to look them over, to kick the tires, slam the doors and then find out what they think of the proposals that are put forward. What their thoughts are, what their concerns are and what their ideas are.”
A total of 35 speakers were on the agenda at the North York Civic Centre on Wednesday night. Over 100 people came out to hear what they had to say. Another consultation was going on simultaneously at the East York Civic Centre. Increasing arts funding was a common theme of the night. Claire Hopkinson is the Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council. She says the City’s art sector has two requests for the budget committee, “to commit to reaching the city’s per capita funding target of 25 dollars by 2013. Also, commit to ensuring the billboard tax revenue is fully directed towards arts programming.”
President of the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, Matthew McGuire was another presenter. They want to privatize garbage collection, “a recent C.D. Howe Institute study found that we can save 50 million dollars a year by doing this.”
Chair of the budget sub-committee, Councillor Doug Ford says the City has a spending problem not a revenue problem, “We’re 3 billion dollars in debt in the City. We’re paying 446 million dollars a year, servicing that debt. Just imagine what we could do with the 446 million dollars if we didn’t have it.”
City Council will review and approve the budget on February 23rd. The 2011 budget is balanced, includes a zero property tax increase and has no major service cuts.