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Toronto headed for surplus, but cuts loom

City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square

Jim Ross

Toronto is headed for a $167.4-million surplus this year, but the city's new budget chair, Frank Di Giorgio, says he is hoping the final numbers will be higher.

The expected surplus is in part thanks to higher-than-expected revenue from the land-transfer tax and salary savings from unfilled vacancies, says a new staff report to be considered by the budget committee Tuesday.

That same report states that the city ended the first six months of 2013 with a $158.6-million surplus, including an extra $16.8-million from land-transfer taxes.

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Mr. Di Giorgio, about to oversee his first round of budget talks, says he would like to end 2013 with more cash than staff are than forecast to cover some looming bills, including new TTC vehicles.

"I am anticipating some pretty high requirements," he said Thursday.

While final numbers are not available, Mr. Di Giorgio said he expects the city will have to find about $250-million in spending cuts to balance the books in 2014. That figure includes a $50-million cut to provincial funding for housing, announced this year, and about $35-million in savings required to fulfill Mayor Rob Ford's goal of cutting the land-transfer tax by 10 per cent.

Mr. Di Giorgio said he is expecting council to push back on the proposed cut.

A new provincial policy, announced this week, to expand the availability of tasers to police forces also is likely to put pressure on the city budget, he said.

The budget update shows the police force has failed to make $6.7-million in spending cuts. It forecasts that police will finish the year with a $2.1-million budget deficit.

The TTC also is expected to finish the year $1.1-million in the red because of increased demand for its Wheel-Trans services.

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Editor's Note: The surplus numbers for the City of Toronto stated in this article are gross, not net, numbers.

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