Video: Update: City Council Passes 2013 Budget
Toronto city council has passed the $9.4 billion dollar 2013 budget, with councillors approving the addition of about $12 million in extra spending.
The extra cash, among other things, puts cuts to Toronto fire on hold and boosting spending on student nutrition.
An amended motion from Councillor Paul Ainslie was approved by the majority of council to give Toronto Fire just over $3 million 63 firefighter positions while keeping fire trucks on the road and Runnymede station open. It essentially puts cuts on hold until the results of an efficiency study are known later this year.
Councillor Joe Mihevc led the ultimately successful charge to spend just over $1 million on student nutrition.
"That's going to provide one million breakfasts to hungry children in our city. That can't but be something joyous for parents and all of us really," he says.
Councillors also approved spending half a billion dollars on repairs to the Gardiner Expressway over the next ten years.
The 2013 budget carries a 2 percent property tax hike that will cost the average homeowner $62.08 more compared to 2013.
The city will pull $47 million dollars out of reserves to pay for services in the 2013 budget, but Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says it's unprecedented that the city did not have to dip into a prior year's surplus to pay the bills.
"After two years of hard work, we have brought our fiscal house into order and turned the corner with this budget," says Ford. "This budget improves services, lowers our debt, keeps taxes affordable and is based on sustainable spending."
Although Ford wasn't happy to see additional spending tacked on the budget he says it could have been worse.
"It could have been ($50 million) more. We fended them off. They're (free-spending councillors) like piranha. Sometimes you're going to get bitten."
Budget Chief Mike Del Grande had previously stated that he would resign if councillors boosted spending before final approval. After they did, he didn't offer any immediate insight on any possible plans to follow through.