The strike balance sheet is finally in: Toronto posted net savings of $33.2 million from this summer’s 39-day civic workers’ walkout. But instead of handing out rebates to taxpayers, Mayor David Miller wants to use the windfall for next year’s operating budget.
“The savings will be put toward keeping taxes down next year,” Miller said yesterday.
Departments funded by taxes (which excludes garbage pickup and water services) saved $36.1 million from not having to pay wages and benefits to striking workers, according to a staff report that will go before the executive committee.
Of the services funded by fees, the garbage division lost $4.1 million mainly because of post-strike cleanup costs — a loss to be absorbed in its 2009 budget — while Toronto Water saved $1.2 million that will go toward the department’s 2010 operating budget.
The city is facing a tough budget process in 2010, said Councillor Shelley Carroll, chair of the budget committee.
Financial staff recommended holding on to the strike savings to reduce the pressure to hike taxes next year.
So how much breathing room will an extra $33.2 million buy?
The city says a property tax hike of just 1 per cent translates to roughly two-thirds of that: $21.4 million.