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McGuinty, Eves, Harris -- Is there really a difference for Toronto?
25/02/2005

Toronto Budget Chief David Soknacki gave his City Hall colleagues a glimpse at the provincial-municipal negotiations that have been going on about how to balance Toronto's budget.

Apparently, until McGuinty stepped in on Tuesday to smooth things over, the province was asking for $183-million worth of land to pay off the loan the province gave us to cover costs when they forced an unwanted and ill-advised amalgamation on us.

I wrote about this same issue, two years ago to the day! It seems to me that there are certainly some things that the McGuinty government has in common with the Harris & Eves crew, because apparently some things don't change.

Here's part of what I wrote Feb 25, 2003:

This is bordering on outright theft. First, the province imposed amalgamation and downloading onto us. They promised that amalgamation would save loads of money and that downloading would be revenue-neutral. These were both blatant lies. The people of the cities said "no", and voted 3-1 against amalgamation, but the PC government ignored our vote. When the new amalgamated city had trouble paying the hundreds of millions that amalgamation cost, and the further hundreds of millions that downloading cost, the province generously agreed to help us out. With loans. Gee, thanks guys. We really appreciate having our own income tax dollars loaned back to us so that we can pay for the mess you made of our previously well-run communities. Now the Harris/Eves government wants to take $184 million (the balance owing) out of our hide in the form of land.

The five-year-old Eye Weekly article I linked to is certainly worth a good read. It's titled "Tory hocus-pocus to force more Toronto cuts". True, the Tories were the insitigators of these problems, but Dalton McGuinty has found them too rewarding to make the necessary changes.

Here are four changes McGuinty should make:

  • Forgive the amalgamation loan. Consider it an inadequate apology
  • Adjust the funding of social services so that they are paid entirely by income and sales taxes, not local property taxes
  • Eliminate the special, higher, property tax rate that the Province charges Toronto businesses, just because they can
  • Actually, since property taxes are now based on Current Value Assessment, eliminate any sort of province-wide property tax collection

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