Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Budgets, budgets, budgets...

...well three budgets to be exact in recent weeks. First was the federal government's version - which has just passed in the Commons. Provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara followed quickly on the tail of Jim Flaherty with the Ontario budget. Lastly, we have Toronto's municipal budget - which thanks to the mayor and the new City of Toronto Act - has appeared out of nowhere.

City Council and the public in general will have scant opportunity to review, or in any fashion influence this latest spend-fest.

To some, the big news out of all this was how the senior levels of government ignored Miller's pleas for a New Deal for Cities - (or sone of the New Deal for Cities - aka the 'One Cent Now' begging bowl.)

Remarkly, even hard-core Millerites such as the Globe's John Barber have pointed out the folly of Miller's campaign. Let's be real, all mayors would like any freebies that can get from anywhere - what's not to like about getting $$$ that you're not accountable for. However, it's only Toronto - with its civic government bought lock-stock-and-barrel by the public sector unions - that needs the money.

Canada's cities are world leaders in municipal financial strength. This is due - in the main - to careful spending and conservative requirements for reserves such as sinking funds. While Toronto does maintain the minimum sinkning funds as required by law, other reserves have been repeatedely raided.

Anyway - back to the budgets. Not only was Toronto ignored, to add insult to injury, the 905 belts' payments into the GTA Social Services Polling arrangement will be phased out over a number of years. The provice will pick up the difference. This actually exacerbates the fiscal advantage that the 'burbs maintain over the city. Unless their politicians catch the Toronto disease, I'd be expecting for reduction in business taxes in these jurisdictions.

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