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Councillors react to KPMG’s proposed cuts to public works

Toronto city councillors met  Monday to discuss KPMG’s proposed cuts to public works – but they couldn’t  even agree on how much needs to be shaved from the 2012 operating budget .

Last week, the Core Services Review recommended the city could save money by eliminating fluoride in drinking water and snow clearing, among other programs administered by public works and infrastructure.

“The KPMG report has missed legislative obligations the city has,” Coun. Gord Perks told reporters at City Hall on Monday.

“We simply don’t have enough information in front of us today to approve any of these cuts,” Perks added.

In the end, the Public Works Committee decided not to make any recommendations as to what services needed to be cut. Instead, the council’s Executive Committee will make that decision when it meets in September.

Toronto is trying to trim a $774 million budget deficit, but there are reports that the municipal government has already found about $442 million.

“We’re just trying to correct all the problems from the last seven years and the previous administration,” Coun. Doug Ford told CityNews.

“I sit on the budget committee. Until we actually start subtracting all the efficiencies that we’re finding, then we’ll be able to come up with a firm number. By law, we have to come up with ‘zero,’” he said.

Perks said not only was the committee being rushed through the process, the total $774 million deficit doesn’t take existing cuts into account.

“I’ve been told I have five minutes to consider 24 different cuts to really important services. I guess that gives me about 20 seconds to look at snow clearing, about 20 seconds to look fluoridation. We’re being rushed here.

“But that’s not the issue here. The issue is, [Mayor Rob Ford’s] allies are profoundly misleading Torontonians,” Perks said.

The city’s budget chief Mike Del Grande said that “$774 million is a real number.

“All of the things that come after [the audit], whether you raise taxes, whether you raise TTC fares, may or may not come to fruition. Saying there’s a $442 million deficit makes all kinds of assumptions,” del Grande said.

“There’s no cooking of the numbers,” he added.