Toronto mayor byelection could cost $...

Toronto mayor byelection could cost $9 million

Posted in the Georgetown Forum

only taxpayer money

Hawkesbury, Canada

#1 Dec 7, 2012
Toronto mayor byelection could cost $9 million
Published on Thursday December 06, 2012 Share on twitterShare on facebook

Paul Moloney
Urban Affairs Reporter

45 Comments
It would cost taxpayers up to $9 million to hold a byelection for mayor of Toronto if an appeal court upholds Mayor Rob Ford’s ouster from office.

An initial estimate of $7 million included the cost of polling stations and staff but not the cost of rebating campaign donations, city staff told the budget committee Thursday.

In the 2010 election, the city doled out about $2.4 million in rebates to campaign contributors. Under the rebate program, someone contributing $300 gets back $225; a $1,000 contribution results in a $575 rebate and a $2,000 donation attracts a rebate of $908.33.

While the 2010 numbers include rebates for donations to councillor campaigns, the bulk of the rebates related to donations to the mayoral candidates.

“It’s a big price tag,” said Councillor James Pasternak, a budget committee member.“The question will be whether council wants to approve a byelection with less than two years to go before the general election.

“It’s something all councillors will have to think long and hard about. It is a very sobering decision to go for a byelection with so little time left before the next general election.”

Ford, elected mayor in October 2010, was ordered out of office by a judge over a violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. That’s on hold until Divisional Court rules following a Jan. 7 appeal hearing.

If Ford loses his appeal, council can call a byelection or appoint a caretaker mayor until the next general election in October 2014.

Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, were elected as penny-pinchers but are leading the charge for a byelection.

“What price do you put on democracy ?” Councillor Ford said Wednesday, three days after Mayor Ford used his radio talk show to say:“They should let the people speak: they should have a byelection and let people run. And I’ll be running.”

Some in their inner circle, however, would prefer council reappoint Ford.

Even the possibility of a writ being dropped has city hall buzzing.

Several possible right-leaning candidates — councillor and TTC chair Karen Stintz, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, and former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory — did not publicly rule out the possibility of a run even after it was made clear Mayor Ford can run for re-election.

But Councillor Adam Vaughan, a possible mayoral contender, said the cost of rebating campaign donations will likely be a factor in council’s decision.

Vaughan said another reason to look at an appointment is timing. Following a byelection, the winner would soon have to begin the 10-month campaign for the general election.

Meanwhile, budget papers tabled at the budget committee reveal the mayor is hiring another staffer for his office, bringing the total complement to 19, but still less than the 23 employed by former mayor David Miller.

Ford, who has highlighted the shrinkage in his office budget in speeches, has earmarked $1.9 million to run his office next year. That’s the same as his 2012 budget, but he expects to spend only $1.6 million this year or 15.5 per cent less.

City council is to finalize its $9.4-billion operating budget in mid-January

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