City council approved the 2013 operating budget just after noon today, and, despite $12-million in last-minute spending additions, this year’s debates weren’t nearly as dramatic as last year’s coup by centrist and left-wing forces. That’s not to say there weren’t shenanigans, the best of which starred habitual headline-grabbers Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford.
- Mammoliti started things off with a surprise motion for a property tax freeze, passionately arguing that a floating casino on the waterfront could bring in any extra money that the city needs. When a skeptical Ron Moeser wondered where Mammo planned to get such a boat, the York West councillor responded, “British Columbia has got a few for sale right now. You can laugh all you like.”
- Ford then shocked the room by being one of only four members of council to actually vote for Mammoliti’s proposed freeze. By doing so, he was effectively voting against the budget he had urged council to support a few hours earlier, which included a two-per-cent tax hike. Ford’s press secretary later explained the mayor was just being “open-minded,” though councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong acerbically noted, “I find it highly unusual for the chair of the executive committee and the mayor to vote against his own budget.” Unfazed, Ford called the final budget—with the property tax hike intact—the “best budget in Toronto’s history.”
• Budget approved: Toronto council saves firefighters, breakfast program and child care [Toronto Star]
• ‘Where is this boat you’re talking about?’: Mammoliti proposes tax freeze paid for by temporary floating casino [National Post]
• Mayor Rob Ford votes against his own budget [Toronto Sun]
• ‘We fended them off. They’re like piranhas’: Rob Ford agrees to compromise as council passes ‘best budget in Toronto’s history’ [National Post]