posted February 18, 2009
See also 2009 Budget Summary
The 2009 Budget was released at a public meeting of the Budget Committee of City Council on February 10, 2009.
The City of Toronto Recommended Operation Budget was released to the public (in summary form) on February 10, 2009.
The highlights listed by the City's press release include:
The public slide presentation presented more detail. The sections of the presentation echo the communication objectives of the city:
Continuing provision and in some cases enhancement of city services, specifically (from the presentation):
Another view from the city presentation:
The budget process traditionally carries forward ongoing activities with little comment, and focuses on changes and highlighted priorities. Presentation is also naturally focussed on political considerations.
Notes from the verbal presentation:
The presenters wanted to emphasize the city's constructive role. To do so they highliqhted a new toronto.ca website section: http://www.toronto.ca/torontohelps. User fees will increase, but only to an inflation adjusted level, according to the presentation. The average property tax increase amounts to 25 cents per day, an amount that was repeated for effect many times by the presenters, including the Mayor. Commitment to public space was highlighted by a number of relatively small projects, including plans to add a playground to Campbell Park. Details of Libraries as a public resource were reviewed. Programs to defer or forgive rate increases for the disadvantaged were highlighted.
As well as financial perspectives, a mandate for performance management was reviewed, including a promise for an April performance review. This review would include efficiency and community outcomes measures, and what they call best practices and benchmarking.
Increases in Parks and Recreation spending were explained by new services and parks.
Presenters promised ongoing review of programs, search for savings, green program development, and improvements in public accessibility to city hall (beginning with a new, small, public accessibility office).
The presentations did not include an analysis of staffing levels that we could find.
We noted the absence of evaluation and review of fundamentals. For example organizational structure, collaboration, and control issues were not reviewed. The presentations implied a high degree of centralization, something which was an important effect of amalgamation. The effect of recent centralization on budget effectiveness was not addressed. Although some intention of performance review was mentioned, the programs described seemed oriented very much to the macro level.