Posts Tagged: mike del grande

Feb 11

Budget Chief Del Grande admits city has revenue problem

The Globe & Mail’s Ana Mehler Paperny profiles budget chief Mike Del Grande, who waxes philosophically about the city’s small share of overall tax revenue:

“Out of every dollar that people pay in taxes, the city gets, I think, about six cents,” he says. “We get more than six cents when the federal government or the provincial government tosses us a bone, but the problem with tossing bones is that they’re not consistent. There’s no reliability.”

If his talk of what he calls “a new deal with cities” from the province and the feds sounds familiar, it’s because former mayor David Miller had a similar refrain. Mr. Miller argued incessantly that Toronto’s systemic funding challenges stem from senior levels of government not stepping up to the municipal funding plate. Mr. Miller campaigned tirelessly and fruitlessly for a penny of the GST.

via The quandary facing Rob Ford’s budget chief – The Globe and Mail.

Sure would have been nice for more people to acknowledge this during the election.

Feb 11

A look back at Mike Del Grande and Sue-Ann Levy’s imaginary city budget

Via a comment on BlogTO, I came across this 2007 Sue-Ann Levy column, in which she details a fun weekend she spent with Councillor Mike Del Grande, currently the city’s Budget Chief. To summarize, they got together and used their imaginations to drastically slash the city’s budget. Councillor Del Grande liked the outcome so much he archived the article on his website:

So last week Del Grande and I spent two days looking for savings and our own revenue tools to replace the $356 million anticipated from the new land transfer and vehicle ownership taxes.

We found some $440.9 million — $419.4 million from what I’ve called the Big Ticket Items like wages and benefits. There was another $21.5 million from what the socialists like to call “chicken feed” — the small yet symbolic cuts to councillor office budgets, their wage hikes and free food, the city’s grants, special events, cultural and plant watering budgets that Coun. Rob Ford raises year after year.

via The Toronto Sun: City Hall.

The 440.9 million they “found” is similar to the amount Ford pledged to cut in his first year in office. And we know how that turned out – the 2011 budget is, in fact, bigger than the 2010 budget. Same as it ever was.

It’s interesting to look at the items Levy and Del Grande put on their mythic chopping block. A bunch of it is pure fantasy. They wanted to kill the city’s 100-year-old fair wage policy. Easier said than done. They suggested freezing wages for non-unionized staff, something that was actually done under Miller, but isn’t sustainable.

Then there’s the kind of stuff that, in retrospect, feels a lot like foreshadowing. They slashed office budgets to $30K and froze council salaries. They cut the free food and coffee and slashed travel budgets. They even proposed a cut to the Tenant Defence fund. All things that have been floated by the new administration in the mayor’s office.

Incredibly, Del Grande and Levy also snuck in a cut to the lobbyist registry. Which saves very little money and seems like a real loser of a proposal. But then, who needs oversight when you’ve vowed to be awesome and make no mistakes?

The most prescient thing about this whole exercise, which was surely meant to make David Miller look like a spending-addicted tax-ocrat, is that to find their half billion dollars in ‘savings’ Del Grande and Levy had to apply a series of ‘revenue fixes.’ They account increased revenues from new condo assessments and provincial uploading. They even proposed a property tax hike of 6%.

Of course none of this matters now, because council’s right-wing has decided the city doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. And magic privatization fairies will solve everything.

Feb 11

Invisible mayor

Anna Mehler Paperny and Kelly Grant weren’t able to get an interview with Amir Remtulla, Ford’s new Chief of Staff, for their weekend article, so they sort of improvised with a long feature that ledes with an imagined stage play. It’s not bad at all, and includes some great quotes:

Even budget chief Mike Del Grande doesn’t “see much of Rob,” he says.

“I bump into him and he goes, ‘How’s it going, buddy?’ That’s about it. I tell him I haven’t removed the windows from my office and jumped out yet. The guy’s a busy guy. I don’t probably see as much of him as I did as a councillor.”

Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s jovial big brother, is perplexed when asked why the mayor has been somewhat cloistered – even though he is the Ford doing the interview for this story, not his brother.

via The enigma that is Rob Ford’s new chief of staff – The Globe and Mail.

I love the Doug Ford bit because it’s such great feigned ignorance.