Author: Christian

Toronto Mayor Tory says the city is on track to deliver

Toronto Mayor Tory says the city is on track to deliver

Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services and a failing Toronto police force.

“This is not a crisis — we have the highest taxes in Canada,” the mayor told reporters at city hall Wednesday morning.

“It’s not a crisis,” he repeated several more times while holding a chart highlighting the city’s massive financial obligations.

“The debt, the deficits, the obligations that we have, those are the obligations — that’s what we’re accountable for, that’s what we’ve committed to — I think we have a responsibility to keep the city moving forward,” Tory said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re focused on what the people of Toronto expect,” he said, adding that the city needs to “get to a point where we can meet the commitments that we’ve made and not be a problem to ourselves and to the taxpayers and to all Canadians.”

He described Wednesday as a meeting of “counsels” — the mayor and city manager, as well as staff — about “what needs to get done, what needs to be fixed.”

Tory is expected to announce his agenda for the coming weeks, saying he wants to make sure Toronto is “on track to deliver” when it celebrates its centennial in 2021.

The city’s unfunded pension obligations are $2.5 billion, he said — more than half the city’s $4.3 billion operating budget. Meanwhile, the deficit is nearing $1 billion, almost exactly the same level as the previous year.

The city’s tax rate is at its highest level since the 1920s, and the province’s new tax-sharing regime is making it harder for municipalities to grow without losing financial support by the province.

“There are a number of things that are being done that we need to focus on, that are costing us more money and having a negative impact the longer they’re in effect,” he said.

The government is preparing to cut the city’s operating subsidy, which helps lower city costs, from $200

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