Mayor John Tory is trying to reverse the city’s $12-billion deficit

Mayor John Tory is trying to reverse the city’s $12-billion deficit

Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services and rising costs

The city’s deficit for next year is expected to exceed the $1 billion Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised during the last election campaign.

And now, Mayor John Tory is taking a new tack to try to reverse the city’s $12-billion hole.

Tory is proposing a 10-year plan that would use an extra $3 billion in tax proceeds to reduce the number of Toronto police officers, fire and paramedic vehicles. The city’s fire chief, Michael O’Halloran, says the police and fire cars are taking up valuable space and are “undermining firefighting and emergency medical service.”

The additional tax money would be paid to existing employees by reducing pay and benefits — though the mayor is trying to limit the tax hike to 1.5 per cent, which he says is “very low.”

The new tax plan is supported by the city’s Board of Trade and the Toronto Police Association. But the mayor is not satisfied with the cost estimates.

He has refused to commit to the 10-year plan and has been willing to increase taxes if the shortfall grows.

The mayor says he understands the need to cut costs but insists the money is simply being taken from existing employees to pay the tax bills.

“The bottom line is we’ve got a deficit to plug. The government has already guaranteed we’ll do that,” said Tory.

“We’re trying to create the right environment for growth. I’m looking at the revenue base and trying to figure out how we’re going to make sure we’re growing in a way that makes sense. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us in terms of the health of our city.”

Tory’s plan calls for paying the $3 billion in tax revenue by cutting the number of police officers and fire engines from 4,500 to 3,900. He says officers are taking up valuable space as they patrol the city’

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