2014 City Council Election: Ward 21 – St. Paul’s

The Incumbent:

Joe Mihevc

The Race

For the past couple of municipal elections, incumbent Councillor Joe Mihevc was handily elected to City Hall by the residents of Ward 21. Despite this, the Councillor chose not to respond to our survey. The challengers who did respond broadly agreed to halt rising taxes and cut the size of City Council. Interesting to note is a proposal to explore public-private partnerships to expand the subway network.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Councillor Joe Mihevc, Rosina Bonavota

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Will consider
    Licursi, Cos Yes and it should be reduced to below rate of inflation


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Savings that is reasonable with the priorities of taxpayers
    Licursi, Cos Train staff to work smarter, not harder. Change philosophy of 'spend it, or lose it' to 'save money, earn money.'


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Yes
    Licursi, Cos Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Will consider
    Licursi, Cos Yes and it is also worth looking into park maintenance.


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Yes to phasing out
    Licursi, Cos Yes to phasing out over ten years


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Joint agreement creating jobs and sharing labour costs with federal and provincial governments.
    Licursi, Cos Expedite permits for business. Small property tax break for businesses that create job.


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted Co-ordinating departments to relieve traffic congestion and drive-safe neighbourhoods.
    Licursi, Cos Build subways, not LRTs because Toronto has been effective at building subways. Federal and provincial governments need to help pay for subways.


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted All sides should focus on interests of taxpayers.
    Licursi, Cos Negotiate on a case-by-case basis and negotiate different terms that may not have to be a pay raise. Both sides must feel comfortable.


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted There could be opportunity for these investments.
    Licursi, Cos Small shopping malls next to subway stations. Private advertising and store fronts in transit stations.


  • Candidate Response
    Bustamante, Ted As Councillor, the constituents and I will be more informed, more engaged, and build a community, a connected Ward 21 with good governance in our lives, for the everyday taxpayer
    Licursi, Cos Parking, taxes, and reducing traffic. Fill empty store fronts on St. Clair West. More parking spaces for small business. Stall increasing property taxes.

 

The full responses

  • 1. Do you support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation?

    To make this work, a comprehensive review needs to be in place and that all costs are included within this proposed property tax cap. Secondly, communicate an accountable and transparent “proposed property tax cap” report for all Toronto taxpayers to review. Thirdly, once all taxpayers of Toronto have reviewed this report, then after, a city vote is to be announced for the Toronto taxpayers.

    2. Where, specifically, do you advocate finding savings in the current city budget?

    Advocate savings that is reasonable with the priorities of taxpayers  across the city.

    3. Do you support reducing the size of Toronto City Council?

    The city can reduce the size of council. I believe if you do a great job at council for Toronto taxpayers, then the council can operate.

    4. Will you support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street?

    I believe there are improvements and we can work and discuss a better deal that’s beneficial for the city and taxpayers.

    5. What are your thoughts on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax – will you support reducing it or eliminating it?

    Phasing out Municipal Land Transfer Tax.

    6. Toronto’s unemployment rate is much higher than the provincial rate. What are your ideas to create job growth in Toronto?

    Create job programs and share the labor costs with Federal/Provincial governments and businesses for each skilled and experienced unemployed individual. This joint agreement on creating job programs and sharing labor cost can significantly drop the unemployment rate and improve the local city economy.

    7. It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show. How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?

    To ease congestion, I would plan ahead and co-ordinate with Toronto taxpayers and those city departments on delivering an all-day stress-free traffic congestion and deliver drive-safe neighbourhoods for each resident and their families. The current transit planning is a process and collectively we can improve stronger efficiencies.

    8. Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term. What advice do you have for the city’s negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?

    From all sides of the upcoming negotiating teams: focus on the interest of Toronto’s taxpaying young and old residents and their families.

    9. Do you see opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) involving the City of Toronto? Where, specifically?

    There is an opportunity for an investment providing benefits for the City of Toronto economy and the Toronto taxpayer.

    10. What is the top issue of concern for residents in your ward? What will you do as Councillor to address the issue?

    As Councillor, the constituents and I will be more informed, more engaged, and build a community, a connected Ward 21 with good governance in our lives, for the everyday taxpayer.

  • 1. Do you support a property tax cap ensuring future hikes are no greater than the rate of inflation?

    No I do not support any tax hikes period.  The rate of inflation has become a campaign slogan for every mayoral candidate this year.  I disagree with it completely.  Inflation is not something we need to measure our tax rates by.  Taxpayers do not have more disposal income every year that reflects the rate of inflation.  To increase taxes to match that is a double blow to our constituents.  Considering property tax is based on MPAC’s assessment, and as of 2012 MPAC valued Toronto properties with an average 17% increase, our taxes have gone up before the budget committee even sits.  Toronto has a record number of condominiums going up, meaning that an address that was generating tens of thousands of dollars in property tax now receives hundreds of thousands of property taxes.  Population growth should mean more revenue in taxes.  The more people sharing the same roads, police, fire and services should reduce the costs of those services for each contributor.  I think property taxes should go down as population increases.  This is the logic of people grouping together in cities to spend less on shared services.  To compare us to smaller cities with spread out populations does not work.  So in short I do not agree with taxes being raised at the rate of inflation, I believe property taxes can and should be reduced.

    2. Where, specifically, do you advocate finding savings in the current city budget?

    I come from a business background and in those businesses raising our prices is not an option.  In order to be profitable we have had to find efficiencies in places we did not know there were.  I do not believe we need to lay off anyone that is not the solution this city needs.  We need to incorporate such philosophies such as Lean Six Sigma and begin training our city staff to work smarter not harder.  We need to give incentives to those same people to save money.  The whole philosophy of spend it or lose it must be broken and a new mantra of save money earn money must be ingrained in our managers and employees.

    3. Do you support reducing the size of Toronto City Council?

    I absolutely support reducing the size of city council.  I think the biggest challenge councilors face is the size of council.  To have to go through 44 opinions on the most basic of matters hampers the ability of council to effectively get their job done.  If each person takes just 2 minutes to voice an opinion a minor variance will take 88 minutes to be debated.  Considering the size of this city we need to reduce the amount of councilors and allow them to do their job more efficiently

    4. Will you support contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street?

    I feel contracting out garbage has been a huge success.  There are some services we should never contract out such as paramedics, Fire and Police services.  However, it would be worth looking into other servies such as park maintenance.

    5. What are your thoughts on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax – will you support reducing it or eliminating it?

    I think the land transfer tax is a very dangerous tax for the city of Toronto.  Right now we are experiencing a boom in real estate.  People are buying new addresses and older homes in record numbers.  If we rely on this tax what happens when we don’t sell as many houses.  Will this create a huge hole in the budget that we must scramble to fill?  I believe phasing out the land transfer tax over the course of ten years would be the most effective way of removing it.

    6. Toronto’s unemployment rate is much higher than the provincial rate. What are your ideas to create job growth in Toronto?

    In order to create jobs we must support our businesses.  This means expediting permits for those businesses to build and grow.  I would also like to reward businesses that create jobs.  This could be done with a small property tax break.  Currently we encourage buildings to stay empty by giving them a rebate on their property tax.   We need to encourage by giving them a rebate to fill those addresses with real businesses not dust.

    7. It seems City Council has been debating public transit forever with little results to show. How would you fund new transit projects to ease congestion for everyone? Do you feel we need to change the current transit planning process?

    Shovels in the ground are the best way to build transit.  We need to stop planning and start digging.  We are a world class city and need world class transportation of the future not the past.  This means subways in favour of LRT’s.  We need to build subways one station at a time.  We need to get the federal and provincial governments to help us pay for these subways.  Toronto has always been effective at planning subways it’s time to start building subways.

    8. Labour negotiations will be a big part of the next council term. What advice do you have for the city’s negotiating team to get the best deal for taxpayers?

    A negotiation is a give and take process.  We need to work with all labour unions and get to a place we both feel comfortable.  I firmly believe labour unions members understands the fiscal situation we are in and are willing to work with us.  We cannot spend money we do not have anymore.  We also have to keep our workers happy.  This does not always mean a pay raise, perhaps more vacation days or job security could make the difference to the unions.  This is something that has to be done on a case by case basis and must be fair to all unions and the tax payers.

    9. Do you see opportunities for public-private partnerships (P3s) involving the City of Toronto? Where, specifically?

    There are always opportunities for P3’s in every aspect of the city.  I would love to see a joint venture to build a subway station that incorporates a small shopping mall.  I’m sure there are many private companies that would gladly help pay for our subways in exchange for advertising and store fronts within our stations.  I see too many buses with empty advertising slots.  This tells me that we are losing revenue every day.  Perhaps a private company could fill those slots for us if our internal company can not.

    10. What is the top issue of concern for residents in your ward? What will you do as Councillor to address the issue?

    The top issues for my residents are parking, taxes and reducing traffic.  St Clair has gone through a big transformation over the last ten years and is suffering from it.  We need to fill the store fronts that are empty with quality tenants.  We need to find places for cars to park so residents and visitors can leave their vehicles safe and ticket free.  Property taxes are increasing at alarming rates in our ward.  Homes that people purchased decades ago are now worth many times over their initial investment.  This is great for someone selling their house but for someone who is keeping their home it creates a terrible burden they could not have foreseen.  Even necessities such as water are getting to be unaffordable.  We must start to give relief to our tax payers and stop treating them like an ATM.