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February 21, 2000
City of Toronto Outlines Action Plan to Offset Budget Shortfall
  
The Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Toronto, Michael R. Garrett,
told the Budget Advisory Committee of Council today that a "concerted effort on
three fronts" is needed to offset a $60 million shortfall in the 2000 operating
budget.

The City's Budget Chief, Councillor Tom Jakobek (East Toronto) added that,
"Significant work has to be done by Budget Committee in the coming weeks. We
need to resolve the shortfall, keep our commitment to a zero per cent tax
increase and protect the services that are important to the people of Toronto."

Mr. Garrett suggested first that action be taken to inform the Ontario
Government about the seriousness of the City's current and long-term financial
situation. The province specifically needs to reverse downloading decisions in
some key areas such as child services, capping on emergency shelters and court
security costs.

Secondly, he said that the Budget Advisory Committee needs to consider
conducting a detailed review of the budgets of the City's agencies, boards and
commissions (ABCs). Within the context of the budget review, Mr. Garrett also
called on the Committee to review priorities within City programs and then
assess inter-program priorities.

Mr. Garrett said that, despite the shortfall, City staff had made "significant
progress in getting the new City on sound, sustainable fiscal ground." The City
has benefitted from savings of $301 million since amalgamation and continues to
work on finding efficiencies. The majority of directly-controlled programs
(DCPs) operated by the City reached their budget goals of a zero increase,
became more efficient and added some important new initiatives to their
programs. Expanded litter cleaning programs and enhanced snow clearing are two
examples where services were enhanced this year.

However, DCPs are only 21 per cent of the picture. Thirty-nine per cent of City
services are now cost-shared by the province (where standards are mandated
province-wide) and 29 per cent are agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) such
as the police, TTC, library, public health and the zoo. The remaining 11 per
cent of the budget is for non-program (reserve fund) and capital financing.

The City's Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Wanda Liczyk, presented the
Budget Advisory Committee with details on the City's sources of revenue and
expenditures and the effects of provincial downloading. Ms. Liczyk said that,
"the City needs to continue to examine revenue sources and expenditures to
ensure secured financial footing in future years."

The Budget Advisory Committee will continue to meet to review all the City's
operating budgets. Following that, Council's standing committees will provide
input in March 2000. A special meeting of Council is scheduled for its
consideration of the recommended operating budget on April 26/27.


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