Rob Granatstein with The Sun makes the same point that lots of people made this past week — that the 2011 budget is nothing, and the real test comes in 2012 — but puts a bit of a conservative spin on it:
By 2014, Toronto won’t have any wiggle room to borrow any more, at its current pace. Someone has to get a handle on how this city spends.
So, starting the day after the 2011 budget is passed, work on 2012 begins.
Who knows what the 2011 surplus will be? But it’s hard to believe Ford will have $346 million in found money to play with.
Again, this budget is not truly Rob Ford’s. The 2012 budget will be his and a major test of our new mayor.
The interesting days are far from over.
“Someone has to get a handle on how the city spends” is the same kind of simplistic bullshit we were fed throughout the election. Honestly, I think it’s time to start demanding that people who grouse about city spending and the increases over the past seven years actually speak in specifics. Name the departments that should be cut and the services that should be reduced. It’s become increasingly clear this past week that there are not easily accessible gravy deposits at City Hall.
Earlier in his editorial, Granatstein writes that Ford “demanded the city stop going cap-in-hand to the province and the feds.” I agree with him that this was not the year for city council to be asking for increased funds from senior governments, but to simply gloss over the issue of intergovernmental relations — the dismissive ‘cap-in-hand’ phrase comes up way too often in the media — is a mistake. One of the critical roles the Mayor of Toronto must play is as an advocate for this city with the provincial and federal governments.