Plan to End Waste and Carelessness with Taxpayer Dollars

"Council has spent recklessly for the last 10 years, without input from the residents and businesses who are most impacted by these spending plans. It’s time for a new approach to City Hall finances that restores respect for taxpayers." - Mark Saunders

Toronto – Today, Mark Saunders put forward a plan to respect taxpayers and get the City’s finances back on a sustainable and efficient footing. These policies focus on advancing solutions that respect taxpayers, actually listens to the City’s Auditor General, and welcomes input from residents and businesses.

With over $16 billion in operating funds and nearly $50 billion in the ten-year capital plan, the City of Toronto’s budget needs to focus on delivering the services that residents expect and setting up the city to live up to its potential. Residents should expect the absolute highest degree of scrutiny when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent. Yet year after year, we see the same increases to base budgets of City programs without any questioning of value for money or whether these are the best uses of City resources.

“Council is supposed to serve taxpayers, not the other way around. As Mayor, I will dissect every single increase that is proposed to City budget lines, and demand the highest degree of accountability for these investments,” said Mark Saunders. “We need to push for more data and reporting, especially after years of budgets that get passed with input from only the same select group of vocal, self-interested City Hall insiders.”

To restore accountability and fiscal discipline to City Hall, Saunders will find efficiencies without reducing service.

Respect the taxpayer by:

  • Pledge to not vote for a property tax hike greater than the rate of inflation.
  • Stop wasting money by revisiting the funding formula for City Hall ‘pet projects’, such as the recently awarded $400 million facelift to the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. This represents money that could be better used for affordable housing, addiction treatment, and food banks, among countless other priorities.
  • Require all new pilot projects to have funding set aside for winding down the projects, if they are not going to become permanent along with benchmarks for defining success.
  • Work with the City Manager to optimize City departments to centralize functions and eliminate duplication, such as IT functions.
  • Stop the bottleneck and make better decisions - faster. There are 72 Visions, Plans and Strategies listed on the City’s website - and this doesn’t include each Division’s Strategic Plan. There is a Skateboard Strategy, a Toronto Nightlife Action Plan, a Pollinator Protection Plan, a Walking Strategy, etc. The city needs to prioritize what’s important.

Respect the Auditor General by:

  • Undertake immediate meetings with the Auditor General (AG) to understand why open recommendations have not been implemented by City Council and to better understand the impacts of non-implementation.
  • Commit to developing—in tandem with the AG—a standard of implementation that ensures recommendations from the Auditor are finally taken seriously at City Hall.
  • Work with the province to ensure continuation of key funding regarding audit and accountability functions within municipalities.

“We don’t necessarily need to spend less—we need to spend smarter,” added Saunders.

In the coming days and weeks, Saunders will announce more details of his plan to protect Toronto’s future.