Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services
When it comes to budgeting, the mayor is not shy. He is blunt. And he is also firm.
To be sure, Toronto — like all governments — must prioritize revenue and spending. But in his five years in office, John Tory has gone against all grain and held fast to fiscal principles that have drawn fire from some in his party.
In his speech to the city on Wednesday, the most recent of his speeches on the subject, the most senior of Tory’s top aides, assistant mayor Mike Del Grande, said the mayor has always been clear about the direction his government intends to move.
“What we don’t like is that his government has been constantly changing course, that’s what we don’t like,” Del Grande said, adding that the constant change is “a little bit hard for people to understand or to wrap their head around and not understand why some of our decisions are changing.”
“We’re not going to run in circles and waste the dollars of our hard-working taxpayers,” the aide added.
“We’re going to do the right thing. And John Tory’s been clear about the direction we’re going in.”
Those changes have been so numerous that they make it difficult to chart out a single line on the map for the city, as Tory said is required by Ontario legislation for the city to create a “budget reserve.”
As of April 13, the city had spent $40.3 billion in operating revenue for the fiscal year, and had received $40.2 billion in tax revenue, for a total revenue gap of $1.7 billion.
The mayor has repeatedly said the budget gap is not as wide as it appears and, he said, the only changes the city can make are around spending priorities to deal with the budget gap.
Del Grande said Tory has always been straightforward about his plans and what options are available to solve them. When he was mayor from 2004 until 2011, Tory was also “straight as a table” about what resources were available.
But now that a new, more progressive mayor, who ran in a four-way race, is on board, Del Grande said the details are emerging. At