Toronto Mayor Miller's recent Tweet of the evening: "Budget tomorrow:build Toronto during a downturn:preserving and enhancing city services, protecting the most vulnerable, without a deficit."
How do you provide and increase services without a deficit?
In general the answers are to (1) cut back on other programs and/or (2) increase taxes.
I guess today's announcements on all of the new programs are in preparation to justify tomorrow's announcement of #2.
I believe that social services are necessary and important, especially in a large city where there is a diverse population to serve. But! I wonder if all of these proposed programs are actually filling a demand.
re. Establishing an employment resource centre at Metro Hall. There are many many many employment and job training agencies in and around the city. Some are well-run and others - not so much. Why pour money into creating a new entity when there are already many local ones with the same mission?
Ideally the agencies that fund these programs can perform regular and comprehensive evaluations to ensure that the best models continue to receive adequate funding, and the ones that are poorly run either shape up or peter out. When tax dollars - whether federal, provincial or municipal - are used, there definitely needs to be accountability to ensure that waste is minimized.
Maybe the city's role is not to provide the services, but to ensure that the NPOs running them are up to par.
How can this be done without turning every department into a bureaucratic ball of red tape? That's the $8 Billion Dollar Question.
I want City Hall to be smart about tax dollars. Put money into programs that have a specific demand that is not being met, and have a defined metric system to evaluate if funded programs deserve to continue receiving funding. With an anticipated increase on demand of social services, let's make smart investments in our city.
More info on the 2009 Budget