In face of the $575 million shortfall for its 2008 operating budget, the city announced$34.4 million in cuts on Friday. While these cuts are only for the remaining months of 2007, they are being recommended to carry over into 2008 which would provide the city with up to $83 million in additional savings. If no solution is found between now and January to eliminate the shortfall, not only will the current cuts continue, but additional cuts will be announced for the 2008 budget.
According to the National Post, the mayor has said that even if city council decides to vote in favour of his proposed taxing measures in October, the service cuts announced Friday would still continue. The new taxes proposed by the mayor would bring in approximately $356 million per year, still leaving the city with an approximate $215 million shortfall.
Parks, Forestry and Recreation – Beginning mid-September to the end of December, 2007, all of the City’s Community Centres will be closed on Mondays. All programming held on Mondays will be cancelled. Outdoor artificial ice rinks scheduled to open in December will not open until January and the City’s golf courses will close one week early. Residents will see reduced park maintenance and a reduction in the residential tree planting program.
Garbage and recycling (Solid Waste Management Services) – Releasing seasonal litter staff two weeks earlier than normal and a reduction in the number of litter vacuums will result in more litter on the streets. The December yard waste pick-up will be cancelled and the scheduled introduction of curb-side pick-up at townhouses is cancelled. The night shift at the Disco Transfer Station will be cancelled, requiring contractors and residents to drop waste at that location during daytime hours.
Transportation – To further reduce costs, there will be less street cleaning, fewer pothole repairs and a reduction in the number of times grass is cut on City streets and expressways. Sidewalk snow plowing and clearing of snow left in driveways (windrow) by City plows will only occur when there is a minimum of 15 cm. of snow, the current service standard is 8 cm. Automated leaf pick-up in areas that have this service, will be reduced from two pick-ups to one.
Toronto Public Library – Access to 16 library branches will be restricted due to Sunday closures. The Storyteller in Residence and the Teen Fine Forgiveness programs have been canceled.
Toronto Public Health – As a result of the hiring freeze, there will be a reduction in health promotion programs and community outreach services such as tobacco use prevention, parenting programs and workplace health. In addition, Toronto Public Health will reduce environmental reporting, production of printed materials to support tobacco use prevention, the new Food Guide, Trans-fat education, and translation of various materials into languages other than English.
Municipal Licensing and Standards – As a result of the hiring freeze, there will be significant delays in issuing licenses and responding to requests for inspections and bylaw enforcement, particularly for graffiti eradication.
Emergency Medical Services – The bicycle paramedic program in the Entertainment District will be reduced from four days a week to two days a week.
Fire Services – There will be a decrease in proactive inspections and public education programs.
Toronto Building – Due to the hiring freeze, there will be reduced bylaw enforcement, particularly the Sign bylaw. The public submitting development applications will also experience delays at building application counters. The Green Roof Initiative will be delayed. The adoption of a bylaw regulating construction related vibration will also be delayed.
Court Services – By redeploying 50 per cent of the staff who work in the customer phone service office, there will be as long as 20-minute wait-times for telephone inquiries. Clients may be referred to the internet or be required to visit court offices in person.
Children’s Services – Funding for new services at community run family resource centres in under serviced areas has been cancelled until the end of the year. Funding to make City-operated daycares accessible to clients with disabilities has been deferred.
Mayor’s Office – Renovations to the Mayor’s office and the second floor of City Hall have been cancelled. Additional staff needed to meet requirements of the City of Toronto Act will not be hired. The Mayor’s initiative on Economic Development Opportunities for Toronto to promote investment has been deferred, resulting in cancellation of the economic mission to China and Los Angeles.
Administrative Divisions – As a result of the hiring freeze and other cost containment measures, service provided in administrative areas of the City which directly support day-to-day operations will be reduced. Reduced service will be in effect at parking tag counters, tax and water counters, and vendors will experience delays in the payment of invoices. In addition, services that support front line staff, such as Information Technology, will be reduced resulting in longer system down times and impact public service.
-City of Toronto Press Release
While both The TTC and Toronto Police Services have until the fall to announce their 30 and 10 million dollar respective cuts, they provided the city with a preliminary estimate. While The TTC has so far found $6 million and is now determining where the remaining $24 million will come from, the Toronto Police Services Board has decided that no more than the $3 million it has already found will be cut from its budget and is instead seeking to transfer court security, a $43.5 million expenditure, back to the province.
“Toronto is the only city in North America with a population of over two million people that continues to rely solely on property taxes to deliver services,” said Councillor Shelley Carroll, chair of the City Budget Committee. “A city as large and diverse as Toronto, with unique transit and policing needs, requires sources of revenue other than an unfairly structured property tax system to pay the cost of the services the City needs to succeed.”
Ontario is the only province in Canada where social programs are paid for through property taxes.