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Smitherman vows tax freeze

George Smitherman is promising, if elected mayor, to freeze Torontonians’ property taxes for one year while he puts a clamp on city spending.

George Smitherman is promising, if elected mayor, to freeze Torontonians’ property taxes for one year while he puts a clamp on city spending.

Portraying himself as a tough but safe alternative to archrival Rob Ford, the former deputy premier told reporters yesterday he would also freeze city hiring, with few exemptions, for one year.

And Toronto would embark on no new spending initiatives while he personally leads a 100-day, line-by-line review of the city’s $11.7 billion in annual operating and capital spending. He would take the results to meetings in all 44 wards for a “full public flogging.”

“It will be back to basics at City Hall ... The era of waste and abuse is over,” Smitherman declared, adding his various freezes would also extend to city user fees, the mayor’s $167,769 annual salary and councillors’ $99,620 pay packets.

Smitherman’s tax pledge comes only days after he announced a $10-million youth job-creation plan to be supported by a hike in business property taxes, followed hours later by a statement that there was a miscommunication and the plan doesn’t include a tax hike.

 
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