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Numbers don’t back up Ford’s boast about saving taxpayers $1,000

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to reporters at a news conference as deputy mayor Doug Holyday looks on at City Hall Jan 25, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

When Toronto councillors declined to endorse any new tolls or taxes to pay for transit this week, Mayor Rob Ford proclaimed he had just saved every household in the city $1,000.

"I feel fantastic. We fended off the wolves today and saved the taxpayers at least $1,000 a family," he told reporters.

Where did that figure come from? According to a staff report, the $2-billion the province hopes to raise each year to build transit works out to about $860 a household across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

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Mr. Ford's number came from a back-of-the-napkin calculation by deputy mayor Doug Holyday. Mr. Holyday said he divided $2-billion by 2.3 million – the figure he had for GTHA households – and got $933. The mayor took that and rounded up, he explained.

Asked about his methodology, Mr. Holyday produced figures worked out in pencil on his copy of the city managers' presentation to council.

He ran his work by city manager Joe Pennachetti, who advised him the numbers were on the high side because they did not account for payments from businesses or fees and taxes collected from people who live outside the region.

"I don't know how to calculate that. It's unknown figures," Mr. Holyday said.

When that is taken into account, Mr. Holyday said he was advised the number is more in the range of $450 to $500.

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief

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