Fiscally conservative, but not when it comes to the police

I thought this article from the Star regarding the controversy over the police paid duty program was pretty fun. Written by Paul Moloney and Jennifer Yang, it starts like this:

Councillor Doug Ford usually jumps at the chance to save taxpayers money.

But disagreeing with most members of the city’s budget committee, the mayor’s brother defended spending $5.2 million to pay police officers to watch over city road and sewer repairs.

“I’m okay with that,” Ford said. “Is there room for efficiencies? Absolutely. But overall, $5.2 million for a billion dollars’ worth of work, I don’t think that’s too bad,” he said estimating the value of work done each year by the city to upgrade its roadway infrastructure.

via Penny-pinching Doug Ford defends $5.2 million police paid duty perk –

The whole “small budget items don’t matter” rationale is especially rich given that, next week, council will likely vote to shut down citizen committees made up of volunteers because they’re concerned that they take up too much staff time.

Moloney and Yang also point out that the $5.2 million the city spends “to pay police officers to watch over city road and sewer repairs” could have been used to a) retain service recently cut from TTC bus routes; or b) Provided free or reduced-cost access to recreational programs for low-income families, something that was recently capped through cuts to the city’s Welcome policy.

More generally, it also could have been used to reduce the city’s 2012 operating budget gap. A gap that these so-called fiscal conservatives running City Hall seem to be making bigger by the day.

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