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City hall budget warfare, round two: blanket freeze edition

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Last year’s painful budget deliberations may still feel fresh, but it’s already time to start examining the 2013 allocations—and it looks like this year’s budget battle will be equally vicious. In keeping with Rob Ford’s cost-cutting agenda, city manager Joe Pennachetti has given senior staff and agencies guidelines for a “zero per cent increase” (which most people would just call a freeze) on all budgets, including those of the TTC, libraries and Toronto Public Health. Not surprisingly, the backlash has already started, with police chief Bill Blair warning a budget freeze would mean laying off officers, and newspapers reporting that council has no appetite for that level of spending restriction, especially since it imposes the same treatment on every department. The latter argument is a potential weak spot for Ford. His insistence that all city agencies tighten their belts to the same notch didn’t work very well last year.
[Globe and Mail]