Monday, September 19, 2011

my comments to the agenda for the September 19, 2011 Executive Committee meeting on item 2011.EX10.1, Core Service Review� Final Report to Toronto's Executive Committee

On behalf of myself and along with the hundreds of thousands of residents who voted for and support the Mayor, his Executive Team members and those councilors who comprehend and realize that Our City should not have to pay, nor is it the responsibility of the Council to pay for goods and services that fall directly within the Constitutional and legal responsibility areas of the provincial and or federal government, for programs that involve income redistribution.

Most taxpayers acknowledge and agree that Toronto has a financial operating and capital budget crisis cause by spending, borrowing and deficits going back to 13 years after amalgamation. But at the same time,
City staff in 1998 has gone from 45,860 employees to over 53,000 in 2011 and increase of 16%.
As you all know the City budget has skyrocketed 184% from $5 Billion to $9.2 Billion while inflation for the same period increased 25.21% an annualized average of just 2.29208%.
The official census confirms that our population as of 2006 was 2,503,281 or an increase of just 1% from the 2001 census population of 2,481,494. The city’s official confirmed census for the population in 2011 will be known by all in 2012.   
We have outlined below some suggestion of accounting changes for budget preparations, expense reductions and staff and benefit changes for the committees consideration and perhaps it would be appropriate at some time for the members of the Executive and City council to openly and transparently inform the taxpayers of Toronto as to how, what and where the provincial government has provided the tools for our City to thrive in this current shaky and on going down turn in the global economy that has made our City of Toronto more fiscally sustainable during the past year and proceeding five years?
Along with an honest, transparent explanation and reasons why it is that the provincial government mandates services, programs and procedures that our City must administer does not get reimbursed at 100% of the total costs of these provincially mandated services?  
The following recommendations and suggestions are for the consideration by the Mayor, Executive and Council.
1.          A 1.7% City binding bylaw be introduced in 2012 that would forever restrict the combined total number for annual, full time, part time, seasonable, union and non union employees, employed by the City be annually no greater or exceed this 1.7% allowable number of employees to be employed by the City on a annual basis. The base figure for calculating the 1.7% would be the federal government’s population census for the City of Toronto only and as taken every five years.
2.           An immediate combined employee layoff of 8,500 employees through a combined program of, attrition, eligible buyout packages or actual permanent layoffs to take effect January 1, 2012 and link all and any merit pay to and individual employee’s annual performance.  
3.          As over 70% of the City’s budget is for public transportation within the city borders but continues to be used on a daily basis as a service by hundreds of thousands of non City residents or City taxpayers the City should consider the following options.
             A.  For 2012 a one fare for adults, seniors and students of $4.00 and a $2.00 child fare which would be $2.00 less than the $6.00 equivalent in dollar fare currently charged by the more over crowded, cleaner and efficient bus and subway system in the world class city of London..
             B.  An outright privatization of the operations, management and service of the TTC.
             C.  One transit authority for the GTHA which encompasses the needs of commuters from Oshawa to Hamilton incorporated and harmonized with the Go Train operations and operated and funded through run by Metrolinx with a Board consisting of elected members from the City of Toronto, Region, provincial and federal governments and out of the control of Metro council. Without a lasting and final political commitment from the province and federal government’s any transit system within the GTHA shall not succeed.

4.       Reverse the existing golden severance package deal for councilors that includes a one year paid salary and benefits for extended health and dental care, life insurance LTD and mileage benefits for one full year after a councilor has been defeated at the polls and voted out of office. Once they have been voted out of office it is impossible and unnecessary for them to perform their previous elected duties and the City would be exempt from paying at all under existing labour laws. All defeated councillors should be limited to a severance package of a maximum of 13 weeks of only a salary.
5.       The 2012 City budgeting process for all departments, agencies, commissions Boards etc. should be changed from the current outdated historical incremental budgeting system in which the new budget starts with the balance at least equal to the previous year’s total balance or estimate. A Zero base budgeting process commences with the budget development system in which all departments, services and programs within the budget start with a heading of zero and detects inflated budgets and has a greater political control over executives, managers, services and programs. It further assists in channelizing the City’s limited revenues from low priority to high priority areas.
6.      The City’s current mileage rate benefits for all employee should be reduced from its current rate to a maximum of .35 cents per km with the 2012 budget process  and implemented as a condition of continuing employment with the City for all employees, union, non union, seasonable, part time, full time, executive and managers alike. 
7.       The salaries of all senior and top bureaucrats should be frozen for the 2012 budget process and until they manage to come up with some meaningful and enlightened ways and means for the ensuring the long term financial ability for the City to meet its debt and operating and capital budgets obligation. If they cannot do this then the Mayor, his Executive team and Council must find the individuals who can.
8.       Redeploy 30 officers from the police mounted unit to other community policing duties when preparing the 2012 budget. This would leave the mounted unit with 13 officers and 18 horses from the current 43 officers and 28 horses without reducing the number of actual officers in the force. 
9.       Through attrition the civilian component of the police services should be reduced by 5 per cent each year for the next 4 years and then caped at that number.
10.    For the current and future capital needs and operating costs  of the City’s Toronto Hydro our City should consider that Toronto Hydro secure venture capital by forming a limited partnership, a joint venture, selling 45% of its shares through private placement, self underwriting and or a direct public stock offering to access capital, new management and operating funds.
11.    The Toronto Zoo another agency corporation of our City should also consider the possibilities of selling 45% of its shares through private placement, self underwriting etc. and or a direct public stock offering.
12.    The City’s retirement defined benefit pension plan must be changed and fully incorporated with the Canada Pension Plan and employee contributions equally matching contributions and not to exceed 4% of salary as a condition of continuing employment with the City for all employees, union, non union, seasonable, part time ,full time, executive and managers alike. 
13.    The City’s employee benefit package should be changed to be on a 50/50 co payment basis and the maternity leave top up benefit should be reduced to 50% of salary for 25 weeks and the on site subsidized daycare for preschool aged children should be on a maximum subsidization of 25% being paid by the City and 75% paid by employees and also as a condition of continuing employment with the City for all employees, union, non union, seasonable, part time, full time, executive and managers alike. 
14.      Mayor Ford’s suggestion for matching the 22 provincial constituency boundaries by reducing the current 44 City ward boundaries and the number of councillors from 44 to 22 should be implemented by the province prior to the next City election in 2014. In the meantime councilor’s and the Mayor’s annual salary should be reduced by 6% for the next 5 years commencing with the reduction in the 2012 budget process for same.
15.      Commencing with the 2012 budget process all City tenders and all bid requests for City contracts or work etc. should be open to all contractors and corporations be they employ union or non union employees and the union wage or far wage policy should be rescinded to stop the present discrimination against non unionized contractors and workers to ensure greater transparency, openness, fairness and cost efficiency.
16.     The council should ask the province to allow the City to amend the Property Tax Rebate Program for Vacant Commercial and Industrial Buildings to stop the current open ended period clause to a maximum lifetime tax relief for such properties of 2 year in total, unless the owner of the property has made an application or has an ongoing application before the proper City departments for a RE Zoning, Re Development or Extensive Renovations.

The City must put aside the dark dystopia of the feminist imagination found in such allegories as Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and ensure that the 2012 City Library budget is reduced by at least 15% and that certain library operation where warranted are amalgamated with other library facilities and some closed and the properties offered to developers for the much needed social house units throughout the City. 

We all must remember that almost every public and high school, university and college within the City also have library facilities.  

With warmest regards and respectfully submitted, I remain,

Toronto/North York/Willowdale