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Rose-coloured assumptions tint mayoral candidates’ fiscal plans

Mayoral candidates, from left, Mark Sutcliffe, Catherine McKenney and Bob Chiarelli. (Patrick Louiseize/CBC) The first thing to know about the battling fiscal plans of this…

Friday, Oct 14

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Mayoral candidates, from left, Mark Sutcliffe, Catherine McKenney and Bob Chiarelli. (Patrick Louiseize/CBC) The first thing to know about the battling fiscal plans of this election’s two key mayoral contenders is that their proposals aren’t all that different.

Not, at least, when it comes to lightening taxpayer wallets.

The difference between Mark Sutcliffe’s promise to raise your taxes — from 2 to 2.5 per cent — and Catherine McKenney’s promised three per cent cap is relatively minor.

McKenney’s plan adds $10 to $20 million more to city coffers than Sutcliffe’s taxation target. That’s not chump change, but is a teeny slice — less than half a percentage point — of the city’s operating and capital budgets.

The extra stress on the average taxpayer? About $40.

So neither plan would amount to a dramatic change in the money that flows through city hall.

The second thing to know is that campaign financial promises are big-picture plans of how to manipulate a complicated budget of more than $5.1 billion. They make many assumptions, some more realistic than others.Zero per cent tax increase without cutting services? That’s the pledge of some candidates, like Bob Chiarelli. it’s hard to see how that’s possible. Consider that last year, keeping up wage increases alone cost $80 million.The Sutcliffe and McKenney plans are more reasonable. Still, some details in both are worth unpacking. Sutcliffe efficiencies not guaranteed Sutcliffe’s big assumption is that he will be able to find $35 to $60 million in savings.He’s promising to cut 200 vacant jobs — meaning […]

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