Truth in Numbers: When Is a Budget Cut Not a Budget Cut?
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.




Truth in Numbers: When Is a Budget Cut Not a Budget Cut?

A periodic look at the troubling state of numeracy in Rob Ford's Toronto.

The Claim:

“Toronto police are poised to dodge layoffs next year in Chief Bill Blair’s latest budget proposal that gets almost halfway to the city’s target…”National Post

“Blair and board members say…the board has a 4.6% or $43.1 million decrease and resolved to achieve the rest of their 10% target in time for the 2013 budget.”Toronto Sun

“In vowing to shave roughly 5 per cent this year and another 5 per cent next, the board and chief say they’re on track to meet Mayor Ford’s city-wide target of 10-per-cent budget reductions for 2012—even though they’re taking twice as long.”Globe and Mail

“There’s a smaller budget at the end of the day.”Councillor and Police Services board member Frances Nunziata

The Truth:
In April, city manager Joe Pennachetti instructed all City departments, agencies, boards, and commissions to work on a 2012 budget proposal that was 10 per cent less than they had spent in 2011. Any attempt to describe what the police board has done with its budget as a “cut” in this context is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst—their budget reduction is off a 2012 projection, not what they actually spent in 2011. Quite simply: the police budget that’s been approved in principle (though it still needs to come to council for a vote as part of the full 2012 budget process) is higher than it was in 2011, and the library budget so far—and the library board is seeking further cuts—will be at least 5.7 per cent lower.

For all Ford’s talk about cleaning up the books and the excess spending, and his ominous threats of fearless showdowns with the various boards who set these budgets, the rhetoric now is that the big pain for the police will be in 2013. They got a pass, and the libraries didn’t.

And just what will those library cuts look like?