Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has introduced a cost-cutting plan that is under intense criticism by left-wing groups and councillors. Ford has reportedly received three death threats since he has revealed his plan. Potential service cuts have found both defenders and detractors, but question nobody has yet been able to answer: If spending is not curbed, how will city council deal with the huge budgetary shortfall?
Statistics from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, calculated using figures from the City of Toronto, show that the $774 million gap could be filled by increasing residential property taxes by 34%. Tenants would not be off the hook either, facing a likely 10% rent hike as a result.
Toronto Taxpayers Coalition issued the warning last week, suggesting homeowners may face a 34% property tax hike if city council is unwilling to cut spending. The coalition argues that significant progress can be made by outsourcing services, staff layoffs, and eliminating the fair wage policy, “the most unfair policy in the city.”
The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is a group representing the interests of taxpayers. Coalition president Matthew McGuire called the potential tax hike a “ticking tax time-bomb”. The coalition was accused of fear-mongering, but McGuire pointed out the calculation was made using city numbers. He pointed out that a 1% property tax increase would raise $22.6 million in revenue, and noted the $774 million budget shortfall could be made up with a 34% property tax increase.
The prospect of reduced spending is a contentious but popular one, as increased city debt passes the responsibility to future generations who will be required to pay higher taxes and more interest to service the debt, ultimately worsening the financial situation.
The coalition pointed to contracting out services, staff reductions, and eliminating the fair wage policy as a “great start” at eliminating the budget shortfall. The fair wage policy stipulates that employees of private companies who have contracts with the city must be paid inflated union wages similar to those paid to employees on the municipal payroll. The fair wage policy benefits a small group to the detriment of the entire city, as bloated employment costs drive up taxes and eliminate the benefits of competition otherwise gained through contracting services out.