February 3 – 2012 City Budget – Sum Up

2012 City Budget – Sum Up

Toronto City Council wrapped up the 2012 City operating and capital budgets on Tuesday, January 17. Here’s my final count of what was saved and a note on what was lost.

What Was Saved

A total of $32.7079 million in services saved.

$2.8 Million in Services Saved at Budget Committee on January 9:
• 58 student nutrition programs ($0.4 million)
• Programs in 12 TDSB shared-use community centres ($2.1 million)
• Programs in 2 TDSB school pools ($0.3 million)

All funds to maintain these services are drawn from a pool of $8.8 million in unanticipated assessment growth.

$5.9119 Million in Services Saved at Executive Committee on January 12:
• Hardship Fund (see below re dollars)
• Arts community grant funding from the Community Partnership Investment Program (CPIP)($1.9 million)
• Toronto Public Library cut reduced ($3.084 million)
• Local sidewalk snow clearing ($0.9279 million)

Hardship Fund: If Province doesn’t pick up the cost from July 1 onward, the funds will come from the Toronto Employment and Social Service net budget to pay for the program.
Funds to maintain all other services are drawn from a pool of $8.8 million in unanticipated assessment growth.

$5 Million in Services Saved at Toronto Transit Commission on December 14:
• Some transit route service during peak periods ($5 million)

Funds to maintain these routes are from diesel fund savings in TTC operating budget.

$18.996 Million in Services Saved at Toronto City Council on January 17:
• School-based child care rent subsidy ($1.7173 million)
• Child care programming ($0.67 million)
• Free children and youth registered programs at the City’s 20 Priority Centres ($1.3 million)
• Ice rink time in 10 arenas ($0.26 million)
• Programs in 5 school pools ($0.6835 million)
• Social service and public health grant funding from the Community Partnership Investment Program (CPIP)($2.2953 million)
• Transit route service ($5 million)
• Three homeless shelters ($1.9719 million)
• Mechanical leaf collection services ($0.51 million)
• Health funding to Immigrant Women’s Health Centre ($0.05 million from City; results in an additional savings of $0.15 million from Provincial funding)
• Toronto Environment Office staff to implement climate change action plan ($0.323 million)
• Toronto Public Library cut reduced ($3.89 million)
• Live Green Toronto Community Animators’ program ($0.325 million; half of funding provided in 2011)

Funds to maintain these services are from the 2011 surplus except for Immigrant Women’s Health Centre (from $8.8 million in unanticipated assessment growth), Toronto Environment Office (from reserve funds), Toronto Public Library (from Tax Stabilization Fund), Live Green Toronto Community Animators’ program (from Infrastructure Partnership Reserve).

What Was Lost

The list of what was lost is a more time-consuming process to assemble. Some reductions in the budget are described as “service efficiencies” and others as “minor service impacts” or “major service impacts”. Of course, these terms can be highly debatable. Sometimes a reduction in an individual budget is due to the completion of a temporary project that no longer requires operating dollars. Wading through City documents to document what was lost is going to take a bit of time.

In the meantime, here is the short list from the Toronto Star:

• “Lay off more than 1,000 workers as a result of various cuts.
• Defer hiring of 236 police officers and 117 civilian staffers ($14.636 million)
• Defer hiring of 68 firefighters ($7.22 million)
• Defer hiring of 36 paramedics ($1.1 million)
• Close five of 106 wading pools and two of 59 outdoor pools. ($157,000)
• End Wintercity outdoor programming ($46,000)
• Reduce road cleaning (streetsweeping); local streets will see sweeping reduced to bi-monthly from monthly ($4.24 million)
• Close visitor cafeterias in long-term care homes. ($304,000)
• Reducing funding for community animators in the Toronto Environment Office. ($643,000)
• Consolidate maintenance of new trees and street trees. ($278,000)
• Stop city management of the Christmas Bureau, set up in 1956 to distribute gifts to needy children. ($151,400)
• Cut back on horticultural services: end rejuvenation of rundown flower beds, and cut back on flower and shrub planting. ($600,000)
• Eliminate four free garbage tags provided to each house for overflow garbage. Instead, residents can purchase tags at $3.10 each. ($1.29 million)” Read More …

January 19 – Budget Post-Mortem

Community Reaction to the 2012 City Budget

Commitment 2 Community:  CPIP Funding Saved in Final Budget Vote

CUPE Ontario:  Budget Vote a Victory for the People of Toronto.  Fight to Keep Toronto Public Continues

Toronto Arts Council:  City Council Fully Restores Arts Grants for 2012!

Toronto Environmental Alliance:  Victory for the Environment!

Toronto Works Better Together:  2012 City Budget Round-Up: When is a Cut Not a Cut?

Wellesley Institute:  People Care About the Kind of City They Live In

Tallying Services Saved

  • Budget Committee takes $2.8 million in service cuts off the table
  • Executive Committee saves close to $6 million in services
  • TTC reverses $5 million in service reductions on busy peak-time routes (from TTC savings)
  • City Council removes almost $19 million in service cuts

Read More …

January 17 – Final Budget Vote: Council Takes $19 Million in Service Cuts Off the Table

January 17:  It was high drama at the final day of the 2012 City budget process at City Hall.  City Council met to review and vote on the 2012 City operating and capital budgets.  Although three days were set aside to conclude the budget process, City Council whipped through debate and completed its voting by early evening.  In the end, City Council, mostly by narrow margins, voted to safeguard nearly $19 million in City services that had been slated for cuts in the staff-recommended budget, and later endorsed by the Budget and Executive Committees.  With one notable exception (a move to defer contracting out of custodial City staff work), every motion to overturn service cuts passed despite opposition by the Mayor and most members of the Executive Committee.  As well, the majority of Council elected to use a small portion of the 2011 budget surplus to cover the cost of many of these services, against the wishes of the Mayor.

Councillor Colle led the charge moving a motion to reverse almost $15 million in service cuts to child care, priority centres, ice rinks, pools, community grants, TTC, three homeless shelters, and mechanical leaf collection services.  It was a real nail-biter with 23 votes in favour of saving these services and 21 against.

Who voted to save these City services:  Councillors Augimeri, Bailao, Carroll, Cho, Colle, Davis, De Baeremaeker, Doucette, Filion, Fletcher, Fragedakis, Layton, Lee, Lindsay Luby, Matlow, McConnell, McMahon, Mihevc, Pasternak, Perks, Perruzza, Vaughan, Wong-Tam

Who voted to cut these City services:  Mayor Ford, Councillors Ainslie, Berardinetti, Crawford, Crisanti, Del Grande, Di Giorgio, Ford, Grimes, Holyday, Kelly, Mammoliti, Milczyn, Minnan-Wong, Nunziata, Palacio, Parker, Robinson, Shiner, Stintz, Thompson

Councillor Moeser was unwell and could not attend the meeting.

Some additional motions passed to reverse proposed service cuts to public  libraries, the Toronto Environmental Office, the Immigrant Women’s Health Centre, and the Live Green Toronto Community Animators’ program. Read More …

January 10 – Sign Petition to Save Community Services, Executive Committee Takes $6 Million in Cuts Off the Table, Just Under $80 Million in Cuts Remain

Sign Petition to Save Community Services

After public calls in support of the arts, the Executive Committee took $1.9 million in cuts to community grants for arts programs off the table, along with a handful of cuts outlined below.  However cuts to community grants for community services remain. Please read the Commitment 2 Community message below and take one moment right now to sign the petition to safeguard community services delivered through the CPIP community grants program!

A message from Commitment 2 Community:

Please  take action on the 2012 City Budget now -visit  http://togethertoronto.ca/campaigns/community-services to sign a petition urging your city councillor not to cut funding to the Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP).  Signing this petition is quick, easy and effective. Your message will go to directly to your city councillor and you can customize it with your own comments or concerns. After you have signed, be sure to share the link widely over email, blogs, Facebook or Twitter.

Take action now because a 9.8% cut to CPIP is still being considered and in just over a week, City Council’s decisions about the budget will be final. All 44 city councillors and the mayor will vote on the 2012 budget from January 17-19th.

Take action now because CPIP builds healthy, safe and vibrant neighbourhoods across Toronto. It supports programs for women, children, youth, seniors, immigrants and residents of the city who are homeless, low income, racialized, LGBTQ, disabled and/or live with chronic illness. Learn more about what’s at stake with a cut to CPIP  here, and read United Way Toronto‘s recent letter to City Council supporting continued funding.

Take action now because CPIP is a smart investment in our city. Every $1 the city invests in CPIP leverages $10 from other levels of government, foundations, business and individuals – over $470 million in total. The immense value of CPIP was recognized yesterday by the Toronto Board of Trade; it recommended that City Council “Restore $4.7-million in proposed cuts to the widely supported Community Partnership and Investment Program and  look closely at the widespread benefits these programs have beyond their dollar value in the operating budget.” Read their full submission to council here.

Any cut to CPIP will hurt residents and communities in every ward – let’s take this last chance to raise our concerns. Before City Councillors vote on the budget, we have to be sure that they hear from everyone who is worried about budget cuts to community services and programs, whether online, by phone or in person. If you want to call or email your councillor about the budget,  please visit this link for contact info & helpful tips.

Please ensure the message about maintaining CPIP funding is loud and clear to councillors by signing the petition and sharing it with all your contacts. Together, our commitment to community can inspire councillors to support and strengthen the city-wide network of services fostered by CPIP.
Read More …

January 11 – Women Speak Out Against the Cuts, Toronto Board of Trade Supports Community Grants, Property Tax Increase, Mapping the Cuts Interview

Women Speak Out Against the Cuts

This morning at City Hall, women service users and women workers spoke out against the budget cuts that will disproportionately impact women with racialized women, newcomer women, women with disabilities and young women especially affected.  Women as a group have higher than average rates of poverty; they hold roles as primary care providers, and make up a substantial segment of the public service workforce whose jobs are on the line.

Speakers talked about how the cuts will impact their lives, and the lives of women in their community in areas such as TTC, child care, recreation, health, community grants, and good jobs.  The event was organized by Toronto Women’s City Alliance, the Immigrant Women’s Health Centre, Good Jobs for All, Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, and the United Steelworkers Toronto Women’s Committee.  Read the media release here

Toronto Board of Trade Supports Bigger Property Tax Increase, Protection of Services

The Toronto Board of Trade has written a letter to members of Council calling for a 3% property tax increase (over the 2.5% recommended), an extra 5 cent increase to TTC fares for a total of 15 cent, saving community grants that allow nonprofit community agencies to provide vital community services, health initiatives and art programs across the city, safeguarding services to priority neighbourhoods and investing more in the TTC.  Read the report here

Mapping the Cuts:  CBC Radio Interview

SPT Senior Researcher Beth Wilson (yours truly) was interviewed by CBC Radio’s Here and Now Toronto host Laura Di Battista about the impact of service cuts on low income neighbourhoods, and how to take these damaging cuts off the table.  Listen here

SPT Director of Community Engagement Presents to Packed House at Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence Budget Forum

Last night, several councillors held their local constituent budget forums.  It was standing room only with over one hundred people at Councillor Colle’s forum in Eglinton-Lawrence.  SPT Director of Community Engagement Winston Tinglin and Toronto Board of Trade VP Richard Joy presented their perspectives on the City budget.  Residents took  part in small group discussions and then offered their analysis, asked questions and called for action at the town hall.  Overwhelmingly residents called on Councillor Colle to vote against the service cuts that will hurt their community and groups across the city.

See Winston’s powerpoint presentation here
Read More …