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Planned tax increase down, mayor pushing for bigger drop

Rob Ford wants hike held to 1.75%

Toronto homeowners may not have to dig as deep as expected to cover property taxes in 2014.

The city was on course for an increase of 2.5%, including a levy to cover the cost of a Scarborough subway extension. On Wednesday, the budget committee shaved it to 2.25%.

But Rob Ford is determined to knock that figure down even more. "Everyone knows we can get down to one and three quarters", the mayor told reporters.

The difference between the two tax schemes is about $13 for a typical Toronto home.

Ford says he can come up with savings needed to close the gap "easy, more than 50 million".

The mayor plans to reveal where to find that cash with a series of motions at city council. Toronto's budget will be on the agenda of council's meeting starting January 29th. Ford suggests contracting out services east of Yonge St and some care of Toronto's trees will be among his proposed areas of savings.

"Services will be better, they won't be touched", vowed the mayor. "If you contract some stuff out, you may see that as a service cut, I don't see that as a service cut.  I see that as better services if the private sector's delivering instead of the government delivering 'em".

The budget committee rejected Ford's push to reduce the land transfer tax by 5%.

The executive committee is the next body to tackle the budget. That happens January 22nd.

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