Jan 29, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Toronto city council will begin debate on the 2014 budget today. And there will be no shortage of motions, amendments, and surprises that will make for a long and combative session.

The official proposal is for a 2.23% property tax increase. That includes half a percentage point for the Scarborough subway, and a mandatory property assessment of .48 per cent imposed by the province.

But Mayor Rob Ford is planning on introducing $50-million in spending cuts that he has refused to divulge until the meeting. His proposals could include scrapping the land transfer tax. The mayor promised to eliminate the tax when he took office, but hasn’t been able to so far. Councillors are unwilling to give up the $350-million it brings in every year.

Councillor David Shiner wants a property tax freeze, and Councillor Josh Matlow wants to defer the funding of the Scarborough subway. Matlow says it’s the wrong time to add half a percentage point to the tax load to fund a project “we know very little about.”

The budget debate will be held in the shadow of this year’s election campaign, and the power-sharing by Ford and Kelly. That sets the meeting up for lots of campaign-style rhetoric.

It gets underway at 9:30 this morning.

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