Mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone says Toronto’s 2011 budget can be balanced by hiking residential property taxes by 2.5 per cent, selling some land and utilizing a $180-million surplus from this year.

While the year isn’t over yet, Pantalone said he has inside information from city staff that there will be $180 million unspent in the $9.2-billion 2010 operating budget.

“It’s a real number,” Pantalone, currently deputy mayor, said of the expected surplus.

“I’ve checked with the city staff about that and that number comes (out)?after that checking.”

The left-wing standard-bearer, who is badly trailing front-runners George Smitherman and Rob Ford, said he will not follow Rocco Rossi’s lead and drop out of the race.

Pantalone said he’s a city builder who would maintain services, while Smitherman and Ford would cut thousands of city jobs through attrition.

If either of his competitors wins the mayor’s chair, “there’s going to be less librarians, less parks workers, less people working in the arts and culture, less people working on environmental initiatives.

“Come on. This is Toronto. This is not Buffalo or Cleveland.”

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