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Michael Hardner

Toronto - Is Our Fiscal House In Order ?

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Eye Magazine

There's a nice spread in Eye Magazine this week that proposes that our fiscal shape is better than some say. I'm interested in hearing from those who disagree - especially if you have stats to counter these numbers.

Per capita debt:

Toronto: $967

Edmonton: $1,123

Montreal: $1,700

Chicago: $2,264

New York: $3,100

What Toronto spends on:

Provincially mandated services (no discretion): 32.9%

Police and emergency services: 16.2%

TTC: 15.8%

Debt charges: 4.7%

Everything else: 30.4%

2009 Operating Budget balance:

Toronto: +$354.8 million

Province of Ontario: -$14.1 billion

Government of Canada: -$33.7 billion

Average annual property tax bill:

Toronto: $2,334

Mississauga: $2,559

Brampton: $2,951

Markham: $3,037

Oshawa: $3,187

Vaughan: $3,314

Oakville: $3,461

Best Places in North America to do business (Rated by Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index — score in parenteheses)

1. New York City (72.77)

2. Chicago (65.24)

3. Toronto (58.16)

4. Los Angeles (55.73)

5. Philadelphia (55.55)

Mostly, I'm interested in the use of statistics to prove a point - and how they can be deceptive.

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I sat through a speech a couple of months ago for the Board of Trade, and the speaker outlined just how well this city works. It was an eye opener, a refreshing one at that. I wish I had some way of putting it here, but most is from memeory (so I wont)

Suffice to say, we could be doing better than the stats you laid out. It is a rich city but needs someone at the helm to guide it, and frankly , the choices we have coming are sad and pitiful.

You can pick who is who.

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I sat through a speech a couple of months ago for the Board of Trade, and the speaker outlined just how well this city works. It was an eye opener, a refreshing one at that. I wish I had some way of putting it here, but most is from memeory (so I wont)

Suffice to say, we could be doing better than the stats you laid out. It is a rich city but needs someone at the helm to guide it, and frankly , the choices we have coming are sad and pitiful.

You can pick who is who.

I would still like to see open government at a local level, measurement of output and budgets mapped out at a departmental level.

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Eye Magazine

There's a nice spread in Eye Magazine this week that proposes that our fiscal shape is better than some say. I'm interested in hearing from those who disagree - especially if you have stats to counter these numbers.

Mostly, I'm interested in the use of statistics to prove a point - and how they can be deceptive.

I think overall Toronto for the most part has done really well. Toronto has run mostly balanced budgets. There have been tax increases but I believe the last one was 3%. I'm in York Region and the last one we had was on the order of 9%. It runs some really good services. The TTC compared to York Region is great. Runs frequently and costs a dollar less per ride.

People naturally get upset about money, but that's the Conservatives motif. Doesn't matter how well the budget is, if a Liberal or otherwise is in charge, they're taxing and spending. I love how a lot of the people who call into these conservative radio shows complaining about waste can't actually come up with examples of money being flushed down the toilette. Oh well.

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I think overall Toronto for the most part has done really well. Toronto has run mostly balanced budgets. There have been tax increases but I believe the last one was 3%. I'm in York Region and the last one we had was on the order of 9%. It runs some really good services. The TTC compared to York Region is great. Runs frequently and costs a dollar less per ride.

People naturally get upset about money, but that's the Conservatives motif. Doesn't matter how well the budget is, if a Liberal or otherwise is in charge, they're taxing and spending. I love how a lot of the people who call into these conservative radio shows complaining about waste can't actually come up with examples of money being flushed down the toilette. Oh well.

When I hear my councillor spew the phrase "get our house in order" I ask him what he did during the Lastman years when he was going cap-in-hand begging for money from Harris every year. I understand that Rob Ford is going to consult with Hazel McCallion about running the city. I wonder if he'll take her advice when hears about that 9% property tax increase.

I can also imagine the last laugh will be shared amongst Miller, Pantalone and Ford. As Ford breaks his promises one at a time, Miller will have his foresight and vision confirmed. Pantalone would have been bashed for sure for keeping his election promises. And Ford would be chuckling as the right-wing clamour to defend those broken promises being too stupid to realize they are now defending the continuation of Miller's Transit-City plans.

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I understand that Rob Ford is going to consult with Hazel McCallion about running the city. .

That would be dumb.

There is no comparison to running Miss vs TO.

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That would be dumb.

There is no comparison to running Miss vs TO.

Ford had a lot of dumb things in his election platform. But that didn't stop the voters from voting for him.

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Ford had a lot of dumb things in his election platform. But that didn't stop the voters from voting for him.

No doubt, but I bet most voters did so thinking it was time to poke Council in the eye. A la the Sandra Bussins of the Council , who didnt get in anyhow.

My opinion went from "Oh lord No" pre -election, to "well lets see what he can do" post to now thinking he will be a damn embarassment of epic proportion.

But hey, he has yet to top Mel's "they put you in pots and boil you" or some such.

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But hey, he has yet to top Mel's "they put you in pots and boil you" or some such.

Well, he's not mayor yet, but as councillor, his bon mots on immigrants, cyclists, AIDS funding and the waterfront rank up there with anything from the mouth of Mel.

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Ford will do what he can but he does have only one vote. Reading this one would think that Liberals just never lie or make campaign promises they can't keep :rolleyes:

Thought I'd post this because it is funny

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/10/26/kelly-mcparland-latte-futures-plummet-as-toronto-contemplates-ford-mayoralty/

excerpt:

All across the city the scene at Starbucks was being repeated. The man in charge of closing the main access highways every weekend for kite-flying festivals and g0-cart races was checking the want ads for job openings. Classes were cancelled at the new Streetcar Drivers’ Training Centre, where they’d been practising how to arrive at stops in bunches of three or four at a time, twenty minutes behind schedule, without bumping into one another. There were nothing but sad faces at the Toronto Works yard, where they’d been busy digging up roads for seven years — the same ones, over and over — and now face the prospect of putting them all back together so people can actually drive on them.

David Miller’s SUV driver, who knew to keep the motor running while the mayor made his annual Earth Day speech, was devastated. So were the taxi drivers outside TTC headquarters, who stand to lose all that business from commissioners taking cabs across town to discuss improving the transit system. Up in the planning department, where they’d been figuring out when to break the news of yet another fare hike so they could build themselves a new headquarters, gloom was everywhere. What’s the point of working for the public transit system if you can’t borrow money to build yourself a new office, conveniently near the highway and with plenty of free parking?

Speaking of devastation, what about plans for the new four-story hockey rink down near the waterfront, the one the old council wanted to build even though it would cost $88 million and they only had $34 million to pay for it? Don’t even ask. You think Rob Ford’s going to agree to borrow an extra $54 million for a rink where the Zambonis have to travel by elevator, just because it would be prettier than the alternative? Give up sweetheart. You ever see Rob Ford? You think he plays hockey?

:)

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When GWB did it, they blamed it on 911. When Stephen Harper did it, they blamed it on the recession even though it didn't start until 6months later in October and Harper himself in August wasn't acknowledging there was a recession yet.

So I wonder what the excuses will be or what the blame will be when Ford turns the budget into another deficit like the right-wing usually does.

Tell it like it is, a man of his word, will keep all his promises - until he starts breaking them. But as Ann Coulter would say about the facts, "it would be so boring".

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Miller did a good job managing the cities assets. The NDP always does look at them in NS they are taking their debt seriously and are playing the political costs because of it. Don't worry after Ford is done they will be screwed. Conservatives or Liberals don't actually pay for their promises that is just a lesson I have learned.

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'Is our fiscal house in order?' is always a relevant question, and I don't mind that Ford is asking the question. I do tend to have issues with what he sees a city doing, but that's besides the point.

I don't think you have to be especially right wing to see the problems with the proposed waterfront arena complex. Poorly funded to begin with, I'd like to know how the city plans on raising the remaining money. If there is such demand for arenas in Toronto, why has nobody from the private sector stepped up? This project just begs for a PPP. It should also be part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the waterfront/portlands, and this seems like a one-off. Does anybody really want to use an arena complex surrounded by what is for all intents and purposes an industrial graveyard?

As a taxpayer, I do want to know:

Who's funding the project, and in what proportion?

What are the terms and conditions of the funding?

How does this project fit within the city's planning model?

What alternatives were looked at and why are they not appropriate?

If these basic questions can't be answered (and publicly), the taxpayer shouldn't be footing the bill

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Miller did a good job managing the cities assets. The NDP always does ...

Yeah Bob Rae did a great job here in Ontario . Miller pissed so much money away its sickening . The parking meter disaster alone cost some where over 20 million .

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Yeah Bob Rae did a great job here in Ontario . Miller pissed so much money away its sickening . The parking meter disaster alone cost some where over 20 million .

Don't forget the $6 million bike lane on Jarvis. :lol:

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'Is our fiscal house in order?' is always a relevant question, and I don't mind that Ford is asking the question. I do tend to have issues with what he sees a city doing, but that's besides the point.

I don't think you have to be especially right wing to see the problems with the proposed waterfront arena complex. Poorly funded to begin with, I'd like to know how the city plans on raising the remaining money. If there is such demand for arenas in Toronto, why has nobody from the private sector stepped up? This project just begs for a PPP. It should also be part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the waterfront/portlands, and this seems like a one-off. Does anybody really want to use an arena complex surrounded by what is for all intents and purposes an industrial graveyard?

As a taxpayer, I do want to know:

Who's funding the project, and in what proportion?

What are the terms and conditions of the funding?

How does this project fit within the city's planning model?

What alternatives were looked at and why are they not appropriate?

If these basic questions can't be answered (and publicly), the taxpayer shouldn't be footing the bill

If they could actually get their hands on $88 million to build an arena complex in Downtown Tornto, would it not make more sense to invest that money to fix up a large number of existing community arenas that are falling apart? Is it any wonder urbanites feel that they are an afterthought to the "world class" city of downtown Toronto? Well, the downtowners found out that you reap what you sow.

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If they could actually get their hands on $88 million to build an arena complex in Downtown Tornto, would it not make more sense to invest that money to fix up a large number of existing community arenas that are falling apart? Is it any wonder urbanites feel that they are an afterthought to the "world class" city of downtown Toronto? Well, the downtowners found out that you reap what you sow.

For one the capacity of other rinks is at full bore, so the need for rink time is paramount.

Two, from a best case scenario, the downtown rink would benefit the city as a ton of tournaments want to come here, but the facilities (hotels near rinks) are lousy and showcasing the city is better wqith a DT rink

Urbanites have no such feelings, best I can tell.And really, urban is what....?....Etobicoke? Scarborough?

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Well it stands to reason that if Miller was able to find 250 million in efficiencies, that IS what Ford promised to do, no?

Would you like to buy the Gardiner Expressway from me ?

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Eye Magazine

There's a nice spread in Eye Magazine this week that proposes that our fiscal shape is better than some say. I'm interested in hearing from those who disagree - especially if you have stats to counter these numbers.

Mostly, I'm interested in the use of statistics to prove a point - and how they can be deceptive.

Nicky

I think your approach is very narrow - it focuses on statistics obtained from a single news article. I would be more interested in analyzing how the statistics are presented. For example - like most media statistics are based on half truths. The statistics provided focus purely on "property taxes" paid by home owners, not commercial or industrial taxes that the city also collects. The reason why Toronto's homeowners prpoerty taxes appear lower comparatively is because we have strong commercial and industrial taxes which offset lower property taxes. I think if you factor in commercial and industrial property taxes you'll see that Torontonian's actually pay higher overall taxes.

The debt numbers you presented also do not reflect total public debt interest of all agencies which are not captured in the municipal budget. Right now Public Debt Interest (PDI) will be lower, because interest rates are low - painting a rosy picture.

Rob Ford is a smart business man - he understands if you lift the land transfer tax the property values for home owners in Toronto. In turn, this will result in more tax revenue for the city. It is unlikely that he will cut the hefty 4% property tax increases from the Miller/Pantalone regime, therefore it is likely that these cuts will likely add greater value to the cities tax base, making it more competiative with neighbouring municipalities.

Lastly, I'm not sure why we are comparing ourselves to New York etc. Is Toronto losing more business to New York or Mississauga?

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