Talk about infrastructure dominated a busy day at Toronto City Hall Tuesday as the city’s Budget Committee met to break down the 2013 budget.

The budget calls for a two per cent property tax hike as well as cuts to services and spending in order to find money to help prop up some of the city’s failing infrastructure.

Most pressing on the list is $505 million for the rehabilitation of the crumbling Gardiner Expressway over the next 10 years. It also calls for spending over the next decade to include $447 million for major road resurfacing and $208 million for major road construction.

“We’re going to focus on infrastructure,” Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, told CP24 Tuesday afternoon.” We’re going to put $505 million into the Gardiner over the next ten years, we’re going to be pumping more money into transit, we’re going to be looking at roads, fixing pot holes, so it’s a good budget.”

Even with those expenses on the horizon Budget Chair Mike Del Grande expressed optimism, saying the city is getting closer to balancing the budget without tapping reserves or surplus funds.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but it’s certainly a better position we find ourselves in in 2013,” Del Grande said.

Del Grande was unanimously re-elected chair of the Budget Committee Tuesday. This is his third straight turn in the spot.

While council plans to explore various revenue options, including leasing the Gardiner in order to help pay for repairs, Coun. Norm Kelly told CP24 he’d like to see a retail sales tax implemented to help pay for infrastructure costs.

“The goal of this administration is to make government as effective and efficient as possible. Once that task has been completed you have to look to other revenue tools,” Kelly said. “For infrastructure the tool that I support is a retail sales tax. It not only has contributions from the residents of Toronto, but by all the 905’ers who come in here and use our infrastructure and don’t pay for it.”

Budget Committee will continue to go through the capital and operating budgets over the next few days before sending it to Executive Committee next week. It will then have to go to council for final approval.

Last year’s fiscally conservative budget was packed with proposed service cuts. It took 49 days to pass at council.

Political cloud hangs over city hall

At the Executive Committee meeting Monday, Coun. Doug Holyday was also re-elected as chair of the Employee & Labour Relations Committee. He said the city is moving forward with business as usual, despite the lingering question about whether the mayor will be allowed to remain in his job.

Mayor Rob Ford was in court Monday, appealing a judge’s decision to remove him from office after he was found to be in a conflict of interest.

“We’ll deal with the city’s budget and we’ll deal with the byelection if that’s to be the case and we’ll deal with an appointment if that’s to be the case,” Holyday said. “Or we’ll certainly deal with the appeal judge overturning the previous judge’s ruling. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

If Ford loses his legal appeal to stay in office, Holyday, who currently serves as deputy mayor, could be chosen by council to serve as mayor for the remainder of the current term.

With files from CP24’s George Lagogianes and CTV’s Nathalie Johnson.

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