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Consultant on subway report paid from mayor's office budget

Mayor Rob Ford reacts while voting for the proposed nominations for the new Toronto Transit Commission after Toronto City Council passed a proposed motion brought forward by TTC Chair Karen Stintz, on March 05,2012 to dissolve the Ford-friendly TTC board and replace it with a mix of citizens and councillors, in another sign the Mayor has lost control of the transit agenda

Deborah Baic /The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic /The Globe and Mail

If there's one thing on which Toronto's famously frugal mayor is willing to spend taxpayers' money, it's a report justifying subways.

Rob Ford devoted more than 60 per cent of his 2011 office budget to researching a privately financed extension to the Sheppard subway – payments he made after the Toronto Transit Commission subsidiary in charge of the project ran out of money.

The mayor's 2011 expenses, released Friday along with spending records for 44 councillors, reveal he paid Dr. Joanne Kennelly $31,640, including HST, for two months of work on Gordon Chong's subway report.

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That study – which concluded an underground extension of the Sheppard subway is feasible if the city is willing to implement new taxes, levies or tolls – wasn't led by the TTC proper.

Instead, the Ford administration revived a dormant subsidiary of the transit agency, renamed it Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd., and used the just over $160,000 it had in savings to bankroll the project.

When the account ran dry last summer, Mr. Chong, a former chairman of GO Transit, began working for free. The mayor's office stepped in to pay Dr. Kennelly's research fees for September and October.

"The mayor's never happy about spending money … that doesn't have to be spent," said Mark Towhey, the mayor's director of policy and strategic planning. "He spent a lot of time looking at this to make sure that this was the best way to do it and he agreed to cost-share for this portion of it."

As a councillor, Mr. Ford's highest-profile crusade was against office spending. He rarely filed expenses and chastised colleagues who did. One of his first victories as mayor was reducing councillor office budgets to $30,000 from more than $50,000.

In his first full year as mayor, he spent $44,995.30, well below the $171,485.24 David Miller spent in 2010.

Mr. Ford continued to reach into his own pocket for expenses last year, paying $1,422.08 for business cards printed by his family's label company, rather than by the city's cheaper in-house printer.

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He spent $1,499 of his own money for newspapers, including subscriptions to The Globe and Sun, and his media nemesis, the Toronto Star.

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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