It took about 45 minutes for one of the year's most important meetings of Toronto City Council to devolve into a shouting match on Wednesday morning.
The Speaker was forced to call a 5-minute break after Mayor Rob Ford tried to interrupt a councillor whose turn it was to speak.
At one point, Ford bellowed from his chair for city councillor Michael Thompson to 'sit down,' and 'shut up' while it was Scarborough East Councillor Ron Moeser's turn to address the floor.
The scene was just a raucous up above in the gallery, as security guards showed a group of anti-poverty demonstrators to the door.
Members of the Ontario Coalition Againast Poverty were there to voice concerns over possible cuts to affordable housing programs.
It was an opening hour that set the tone for what's expected to be at least 2 days of emotional debate, as councillors begin the process of approving Toronto's $9.6 billion city budget for 2014.
The Mayor's Executive Committee has recommended a property tax increase of 1.75% (including the hike to pay for the Scarborough subway extension).
Add in current value assessment, a mandatory provincial requirement relating to a shift in tax policy, and the increase comes in at 2.23%.
If approved, it would see the average homeowner with a home worth just under $500,000 pay about $56 more in taxes this year compared to 2013.
The Executive Committee voted to increase projected revenue from the land transfer tax in 2014 to make the budget numbers work, which Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says creates an unbalanced budget (about $8 million short). The committee increased the land transfer tax projection above what staff had pencilled in.
Kelly would like to see the tax increase come in at 1.73% and the 0.5% subway levy added on to come to 2.23%. When the 0.48% current value assessment is added it would mean an extra $68 to the tax bill of the average homeowner
City staff had recommended a budget that saw taxes rise by 3.21% and increase of about $81 dollars on the average tax bill. That included putting money away in a weather reserve and money to help repair the tree canopy.
Councillor David Shiner is suggesting there be no budget increase, saying that because of vacant staff positions, people are paying more for less service and the city can handle a zero percent budget.
There could be another debate over the subway extension.
Councillor Josh Matlow is recommending the tax hike to pay for the Scarborough subway be eliminated and early funding for the project put off until the 2015 budget process.