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Tory speaking before executive committee, which will sign off on the budget today. This budget is not balanced. It relies on $45M from the federal government which they have not yet committed. I asked Tory about this and it remains unclear if that will be resolved by Thursday.
I asked story about those programs and strategies promised to residents which are not fully funded in this budget as planned. What would he say to those residents who were expecting them to actually happen? Tory says council only approved those things “in principle”
Some of those plans that are not fully funded in this budget: thestar.com/news/city_hall…
Keep in mind that many of these things were debated and voted on. Press conferences were held. Whether residents understood there was a giant asterisk on those promises with the footnote, “Subject to budget” is unclear
Tory's executive committee is now meeting. They go over the operating and capital budgets that budget committee, under Tory's budget chief @CllrCrawford has forwarded to them. It will be finalized by council on Thursday (March 7)
This should obviously say Tory not story
Layton (who is not on executive) walks in to committee, now incredulous that committee members haven't asked a single question on the water budget, which they just approved
The solid waste budget, which includes a reversal of garbage bin rebates, is also approved without debate. It is difficult to describe what Layton's face looks like.
The budget committee at present moment, is stacked with Tory allies, so nothing got through that this executive committee would likely want to jump on. We are now at the operating and capital budget and will get a presentation from staff
Staff have provided a new report reflecting the budget as forwarded by budget committee toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2…
A line that caught my eye: "Notwithstanding the above, challenges to fund the increasing (state of good repair) backlog and growing unmet capital needs remain. What does that mean? Repairs backlog will grow from $6.024B in 2018 to $9.506B as a result of this and previous budgets
"Unmet capital need" is projects council agreed to build and then have not funded. Those projects will total $37 billion+ in next 15 years, staff say. I've added in TTC's unfunded capital required just to keep existing system functional. Does not include transit expansion
City manager Chris Murray says there is an understanding why the police budget has increased 3% this year after cutbacks.

The point of the cuts were to modernize the service. There was nothing in the "Way Forward" plan that sid after a few years they'd reverse those moves
Murray says he has met with federal staff about the $45-million request to offset shelter costs related to refugees. There has been no commitment yet, Murray confirms. Question: Has council ever "balanced" a budget (finalized) on the promise of funding with no guarantee?
What we're talking about come Thursday is council just saying, "the federal government will fund that" and approving the expenditure without the actual revenue source. I have not seen this in four previous budgets, but this is a short memory
Worth noting staff have now explained the total residential property tax increase - 2.55% + adjustments for city tax regulations + a city building fund increase = 3.58% total for homeowners, or about $104 for the average homeowner
Also worth noting previous attempts by councillors to get programs previously promised funded and have the TTC's 10-cent fare increase reversed. That would have added an additional $30.63 for the average homeowner - so a total increase of about $135 thestar.com/news/city_hall…
To be clear, the $104 increase + TTC fare increase + plus water & garbage rate hikes is what is currently being recommended for average homeowner. For $30.63 more, city could reverse fare increase, increase library hours and other services
Here is what the budget committee approved above and beyond the staff recommendations:
On to questions of staff now. Cressy is having them outline now an anti-gun violence plan that is now largely unfunded. I wrote about that here: thestar.com/news/city_hall…
Programs now not funded, Cressy has staff say, include expansion of successful program that brings emergency personnel, community leaders together to intervene with at-risk youth (called FOCUS). Can fund expansion to one area within existing funds, but need $200,000 for two more
An interesting exchange now: Cressy asks city manager why these programs are not included in budget with request to federal government but shelter costs are. Murray essentially says they believe they should not keep it on the tax base while they hope feds honour the request
McKelvie asking friendly questions of staff now - if they believe their climate change action plan is "achievable." This budget delays hiring some planned staff to implement TransformTO. When she arrived in the room, she was accompanied by one of Tory's policy staff
Crawford: "Is this budget balanced?"

Murray: "The short answer to your question is yes it's a balanced budget"

Murray goes on clearly note there is no guarantee the city will receive the requested $45M from the feds and if they don't they'll have to draw it from reserves
Crawford asks if this budget cuts services. Murray answers that it maintains services at the 2018 level. He does not say, but it is important to note, that the city grows in size every year
Crawford tries to counter criticism about potholes not getting filled. Murray suggests things will be fine in 2019. Here's what the situation is over the next decade: thestar.com/news/city_hall…
Thompson, a member of Tory's executive, has staff reiterate claim that the youth equity strategy will be fully funded this year with an additional $2.5 million following internal pressure from mayor's office. Here's my latest story on problems that remain: thestar.com/news/city_hall…
Thompson asks about poverty reduction. Staff are currently working on next phase of the city's plan. Here's my latest story on how council is falling behind on election promises they just made to reduce poverty (Thompson did not sign this pledge): thestar.com/news/city_hall…
Ainslie now essentially asking for what the current capital iceberg total is - all the unfunded projects. Staff have only provided a partial total, which is quite misleading. Doesn't include unfunded transit expansion, etc. as I mentioned earlier.
Ainslie asks now about the Open Hours library service expansion plan. Asks what's happening with it (first phase meant to start this year is not funded in this budget). There isn't someone from the library here, so he doesn't get his answer.
The $87.45 million budgeted this year for winter weather operations (snow removal, etc.) will probably be "somewhat challenged" by recent weather, says transportation staff
Want to feel like you are here with me in this very packed committee room? (You do, right?) @JohnstonPhotog has you covered
More from @JohnstonPhotog, who has helped me out with what @m_layton's expressions were like earlier
Bailao now asking about repairs to Toronto Community Housing units. She notes things are stable this year - some closed units have reopened.

Staff earlier told us there is the risk of thousands of closures in the next decade with no funding currently committed for $3B+ backlog
Tory is now having senior staff note specific division-wide increases in budgets without getting into specifics. He is shading those he says are spreading "propaganda"
OK now on to motions. Crawford is adding $102,600 for menstrual products, money for StreetART program and changing how major event grants are funded (which I will need to review and get back to you)
Crawford, who is the mayor's budget chief, also calls criticisms of this budget "propaganda".
Bailao has a motion on review of winter operations, including working with union representing outside workers (who are proposing ways they could help):
Pasternak has this motion on accelerating purchase of an unspecified piece of parkland:
Tory says he's not taking issue with budget commentary. He, just moments ago, called some of it "propaganda". He uses his five minutes to speak now largely reacting to this budget commentary. "I think this is a responsible budget."
Tory acknowledges low property taxes are not the only reason people voted for him, but says they were well aware it was one of key parts of his platform. Notes his own vote percentage
All of Crawford's motions pass. Motions from Thompson, Bailao and Pasternak are also supported. This budget is now off to council, which makes all final decisions on Thursday. Story coming soon.
Here is the full transcript of us asking Tory's budget chief @CllrCrawford about his use of the term "propaganda" to describe criticism of this budget (An unrelated question between questions was skipped over):
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