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Rob Ford might have been out-saved by David Miller: James


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Rob Ford might have been out-saved by David Miller: James | Toronto Star
By: Royson James City Columnist, Published on Sat Nov 30 2013

How’s this for a head-scratcher?

David Miller, the former mayor who’s been roundly excoriated as a tax-and-spend socialist, may have saved Toronto taxpayers twice as much as Mayor Rob Ford.

Ford boasts he has saved Toronto taxpayers $1 billion over his term in office, ending November 2014.

It’s an astonishing accomplishment, one that qualifies him as the greatest mayor (when it comes to money management) in Toronto’s history, and maybe best in the world, the hyperbolic Ford says.

His financial acumen brought Toronto back from the brink of bankruptcy, Ford claims. The inference is he saved us from the fiscal disaster that was former mayor David Miller.

(The “bankruptcy” claim is so far from the truth it deserves its own column, so let’s set that aside.)

Meanwhile, using Ford math, the councillor who was Miller’s budget chief calculates Miller saved $1.8 billion, likely more, over his four-year last term, ending 2010.

That would make Miller no less than a financial wizard.

In fact, says Councillor Shelley Carroll, much of Ford’s success in keeping budget increases at a minimum directly goes back to steps Miller took to shore up Toronto’s shaky budget foundations.

One of the biggest Miller wins was getting the province to take back — upload — costs of many social programs that Premier Mike Harris dumped on Toronto during amalgamation.

“It should be noted that the upload is now phased completely in and gives Ford $369 million that no other mayor or budget chief had at their disposal,” says Carroll.

She’s been crunching the numbers because of Ford’s fantastical claims during the summer. The mayor has ramped up the $1 billion boast now that the city’s 2014 budget has been launched — the last one before re-election.

The Ford narrative is already clear: Before Ford, bankruptcy. With Ford, budget heaven. After Ford, back to disaster.

Only the most gullible swallow this. Several journalists have deconstructed Ford’s claims and exposed them as greatly exaggerated, often double-counting, using budgetary hocus-pocus and defining savings in unconventional ways. Read the devastating reality check from The Star’s City Hall Bureau Chief Daniel Dale, from last Tuesday’s paper, at thestar.com.

Ford claims the ending of the vehicle registration tax as saving taxpayers’ money and includes $50 million per year for four years; one-fifth of the $1 billion.

In reality it is not a “saving” for ratepayers, only those who license their cars; and the amount is $173 million, not $200 million. And it begs the question: If removing an item from the tax bill is a “saving” for taxpayers, does that not apply to Miller when he moved waste management off the tax bill and made it a user fee?

Carroll calculates $492 million in Miller “savings” from waste management, plus $30 million in other user fees.

Now you see why city manager Joe Pennachetti doesn’t want to include such user fees as budget savings. Using Ford’s logic, an increase in transit fares provides money the city doesn’t have to tax for, and would be a “saving.”

Pennachetti has slowly backed off Ford’s $1 billion claim. He says it is closer to $400 million.

But, using Rob Ford math, the one he is peddling to the public, Carroll confidently claims the following as Miller time savings:
$92 million in “efficiency management of completed capital projects,” or money from projects coming under budget.
2009-2011 Sick Leave Liability savings of $174.1 million. This is the little-told benefit of the 2009 garbage strike. City did get some concessions. Plus another $31 million in net payroll costs from not having to pay the strikers.
Actual “cost reductions through efficiencies of $443.7 million,” a figure that is supposed to compare with Ford’s $800 million that Pennachetti says is really about $400 million.
Provincial upload of services in 2008 and 2009 totalled $426 million — money the city didn’t have to tax for anymore, hence a saving.

The above underscore how dubious Ford’s claims are.

The significance is this: Ford’s been a total disaster on every front but holding spending in line. He says nobody can do savings like him, so Torontonians should ignore his circus act and re-elect him.

But by Ford’s own calculations, even David Miller could do better. In fact, did. Ouch!

I LOVE David Miller.
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


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I guess I should stop fretting - politics isn't about facts it's about tribe.

It's how David miller is and always will be a happy-spending lefty who never met a tax he didn't want to make out with.

It's how Rob Ford is some magician for the taxpayers, saving money by being tough on taxes and cutting things...

All you need to do in order to talk politically these days is just have the labels and a few traits listed underneath. Then all you have to do is identify the person you are talking about: is he a lefty or a righty?

Once that's done stop your research! Go spend some time with your kids or enjoy a good book!

You'll already know all there is to know about the target's economic policy and their outcomes.