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Smaller Toronto council, bigger councillor budgets?

The new and slimmed-down Toronto council gets down to business this week at its inaugural meeting.

And that business?

Well, first an address by Mayor John Tory, followed by the election of a speaker and deputy speaker.

Then council members will look at increasing the size of their staff and office budgets – even a pay hike isn’t ruled out.

A staff report to council addresses the governance issues raised by the decrease in council’s size from a planned 47-ward model to 25 wards, as mandated by the provincial government.

City council’s workload will be spread over 26 members — 25 councillors and a mayor — which means that in some cases, the number of constituents per councillor has doubled.

The staff report recommends cutting the number of councillors on some committees while eliminating their positions entirely from some outside boards and committees.

Premier Doug Ford on why he shrank Toronto council:

“I lived that disaster for four years. It’s the most dysfunctional political arena in the country and we would have had even more dysfunction with 47 people. The Mayor knows it’s the right thing. Now he only needs 13 votes (for a majority) to actually get transit built. John Tory and I are going to do great things.”

Lucky 13?

Number of votes Toronto Mayor John Tory now needs to get majority on any issue: 13

Number of votes Toronto Mayor John Tory would have needed to get majority under proposed 47-ward model: 24

Councillors most likely to back Tory on the new council:

Stephen Holyday, Mark Grimes, Frances Nunziata, James Pasternak, Ana Bailao, Jaye Robinson, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Brad Bradford, Gary Crawford, Michael Thompson, Cynthia Lai, Paul Ainslie, Jennifer McKelvie.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to media following his meeting with Quebec Premier Francois Legault, not shown, at Queens Park, in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Total votes: 13

Least likely to back Mayor Tory on new council:

Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Joe Cressy, Mike Layton, Josh Matlow, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Shelley Carroll, John Filion

Total votes: 8

Council wild cards: Michael Ford, Mike Colle, Paula Fletcher, Jim Karygiannis

Total votes: 4

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark on proposed doubling of Toronto council office and staffing budgets:

“Ultimately, there’s only one taxpayer … You look at the boundaries that provincial MPPs and federal MPs have, it’s the same boundaries. My message to Toronto city council is I think we want work with you but we want you to be effective and efficient.”

Members of Toronto’s former city council are pictured at a meeting on Aug. 20, 2018. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

Tory on councillor office and staffing budgets:

“The number of people being served which is close to 3 million in the City of Toronto has not changed. They’re still out there and they still need customer service.”

Ontario Municipal Affair Minister Steve Clark on possible pay raises for councillors and the mayor: “They should look at some of our levels.”

Clark’s office and staffing budget (when he was an opposition MPP in 2016-17)

Support staff: $186,821

Constituency office rent: $30,420

Office operations: $22,478

Communications: $4,175

Travel Within Riding: $5,843

Total: $255,266 (excludes travel to and from riding, Toronto accommodations)

Current Toronto councillor staffing budget: $241,000

Three proposed staffing budgets: $424,000, $460,000 or $482,000

Current Toronto councillor office budget: $34,000

Three proposed office budgets: $50,000, $61,000 or $69,000

Savings if current Toronto councillor staffing/office budgets stands: $7.4 million in 2019.

Canadian currency Toronto Sun files

What Politicians Are Paid Now

Toronto councillor salary: $114,306

Toronto mayor salary: $192,503

Ontario MPP base salary: $116,500

Ontario parliamentary assistant salary: $133,216

Ontario cabinet minister salary: $165,850

Premier of Ontario salary: $208,974

Federal MP base salary: $172,700

Prime Minister of Canada salary: $345,400

aartuso@postmedia.com

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