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Published: February 07, 2008
Source: The Star To read the article in The Star
Mayor David Miller insists nothing was hidden from the public when he introduced Toronto's budget last week without mentioning an average 21.5 per cent jump in fees to use city ice rinks, sports fields and pools. He knew about those increases, but preferred to concentrate on "the big picture," Miller told reporters yesterday.
The proper forum for "details" – like recommended fee hikes hitting thousands of families across the city – lies elsewhere, he said. "The details of the budget are presented in budget committee. I think that's appropriate. That's the way it works."
In fact, that is not the way it works. When the city's $8.2 billion budget was formally presented by Miller on Jan. 28, the official news release contained plenty of details, including plans to install a stingray touch tank at the zoo and to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812. In light of this, it is ludicrous for Miller to claim that a staff recommendation to hike some permit fees by more than 10 times the rate of inflation was somehow too picayune to warrant mention. There are two explanations for keeping this information from the public when the budget was introduced: either it was intentionally omitted to avoid distracting us from the good news of a balanced budget, or it was mistakenly left out because no one realized that the fee increases would be more significant to residents than petting stingrays or marking the War of 1812.
Either way, Miller's administration looks bad. The mayor compounds that impression when he insists this was business as usual at city hall. It would indeed be a pity if that were true.