It’s hot out already, and it’s not even noon. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Heat Alert until further notice.
The Library is open and air conditioned, as is the Pelmo Community Centre. Weston Lions Pool is fantastic—and was not very busy yesterday, when I was there with the kids. Admission is free, and the water is cold. Bring a pair of flip-flops, though; the change rooms are, well, well travelled.
Frances Nunziata explained her decision to vote for service cuts in her email circular. The relevant section is below;
In the weeks leading up to City Council, I heard from many constituents in my Ward. I considered each email and telephone call that I received, and please rest assured that I looked to Ward 11 first and foremost throughout the budget process to ensure our residents would continue to have access to services important to us. I understand that the Toronto Public Library is a particularly important service for residents in the Ward and I took action to ensure that the Weston and Mount Dennis Libraries would continue to provide high levels of service, despite reports of low circulation in these branches.
I approached the Budget and the issue of program funding from a long-term perspective. The previous administration spent $700 million on streetcars – money which the City did not have to spend. The $154 million surplus was slated to be used to pay for this purchase, which was to be paid by debt. Deducting money from this surplus means that it will take longer to pay down this debt – and more money will have to be spent on debt servicing next year. Debt is a burden on all Torontonians that must be taken into account in a fiscally responsible budget. Ultimately, the funding that was restored to services will have to be reconsidered during the next budget cycle in order to finance the current debt.
The City is spending less this year on operating costs, $9.358 billion compared to $9.407 billion in 2011. The 2012 Budget has reduced the City’s reliance on one time revenue to cover costs from $346 million to $102 million. This Budget puts Toronto on a better fiscal path for future budgets; unfortunately, we will still be having some of the same discussions next year because the 2013 Budget pressure, with the amendments that were made at Council, is now $200 million.
The decision I made to vote against the additional expenditures that passed at Council was not an easy one and was not something I took lightly. That being said, I believe that it was the responsible choice to make for the future of the City and the provision of essential services in Ward 11.
This is the week when Toronto City Council votes to determine the extent of cuts to various city departments and organizations. Many departments have seen major cuts scaled back as public pressure has mounted. As already noted, last October, Police Chief Bill Blair presented an expenditure increase as a cut and stared down opposition. As a result, by 2013 the cost of policing this city will approach a billion dollars and continue to consume an ever-increasing portion of the total budget. Chief Blair can confidently assume that his budget will be relatively untouched, either this year or in the years to come.
In contrast, the Toronto Public Library system has managed its resources prudently over the past several years. Library visits are up while costs have declined on a per capita basis since 2004. As a reward for their efficiency, libraries, which are reckoned to be the great equalizers in terms of social opportunity, still face cuts to hours and personnel. Rather than being planned and deliberate, budget cuts appear to be dependent on force of personality, the mood of councillors, and public pressure rather than actual need. Hardly a rational or well-thought out process.
Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22) has an excellent summary of potential cuts here.
Our councillor, Frances Nunziata represents one of the poorest wards in the city yet has voted consistently to reduce programs and services that mitigate the grinding poverty of many of her constituents. Her voting record for 2011 reflects a 97% adherence to the Ford Agenda.
It is hoped in her 15th year as councillor that she will start the New Year with a resolution to do the right thing and vote to maintain programs and services so desperately needed in Ward 11.
A late-found pot of money means that library hours will probably not be cut While Frances Nunziata was predicting that library hours would have to be trimmed, Rob Ford’s allies on the powerful executive committee voted in the end to soften the tough 2012 budget and preserve library services.
Nunziata earlier told Correire Canadese that
cuts to the library system will not lead to closures… but rather to “the reduction of a few hours of operation.” She emphasizes that “taxpayers cannot pay out-of-pocket.”
In the end, however, City Council will be asked to cut the library budget by $3.9 million, instead of $7 million. According to the Star, library hours will probably not have to be reduced. Council will vote next week on the budget.
The extra money came from a $8.8 million surplus from higher-than-expected property tax revenues in 2011.
Toronto Public Library’s Mount Dennis branch will be closed for over a year beginning on Saturday, October 29th. This is to allow for extensive renovations. During that time, Mount Dennis patrons are asked to pick up their holds at the Weston branch on King Street. This will no doubt mean a busier library and an even tougher time to find a parking spot for regular Weston patrons as many people will come by car.
Would it be too much to expect that Weston branch hours will not be reduced? Perhaps there is even a case for expanding hours while Mount Dennis is closed.
The Weston Library will be hosting an energy conservation workshop on Thursday, October 20. The Toronto Region Conservation Authority will be explaining energy rates and billing, and showing ways to save money.