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Morning Brew: Council passes the 2013 budget, Cllr. Del Grande quits budget post, Mammoliti calls overspend a "disagreement," a non-partisan beer, and HST for transit

City council officially passed the $9.4-billion budget 2013 budget yesterday, adding new spending for additional firefighters, nutrition programs, daycare and housing. Mayor Rob Ford in favour of spending $3.1 million for 64 new firefighter positions despite suggesting the day before he wouldn't back the plan. Despite the flip-flop, Ford declared the budget the best in Toronto's history.

In the wake of spending plan getting the approval of council, its architect, councillor Mike Del Grande, called it quits as Rob Ford's budget chief. Del Grande suggested he would quit his post if councillors added new "emotional" spending to the document. He told CTV he felt a motion to include more transparency in the budget process was a personal attack.

Also in finance, councillor Giorgio Mammoliti says the more than $12,000 his campaign is alleged to have overspent during the 2010 election is the result of a disagreement between two auditors. In an interview with the National Post, Mammoliti claimed, in strange third person voice, "it isn't about the candidate."

They might be political foes, but that doesn't mean Rob Ford and Adam Vaughan can't share a pitcher of Mill Street and a sandwich. A picture of the non-partisan luncheon at Monarch Tavern in Little Italy taken by councillor Paul Ainslie settled a bet that the three-day budget council meeting would wrap up before 1pm on day two, according to Doug Ford.

The Grid's Ed Keenan has an interesting proposal for transit funding: a two per cent HST hike that would raise around $1.3 billion a year for new LRTs, busses, and subways in Toronto. Keenan argues the idea could be more palatable as it was the rate of tax many Toronto citizens paid in 2006. Is this a better way of raising cash than a casino?

The TTC enforcement officers fired for covering skipped shifts with fake tickets could be made to give back their pay, according to CEO Andy Byford. Several of the sneaky staff were paid more than $100,000 a year plus overtime.

Finally, Toronto's open bus shelters could soon be a thing of the past. According to Jack Lakey, the Toronto Star's "fixer," Astral Media has decided not to install any more of the glass waiting areas over complaints about the lack of protection from the weather. Unfortunately, it's not clear what will replace them.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Gotta Love Train Yards" by calebwildes/blogTO Flickr pool.

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