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Despite the 1998 amalgamation being widely opposed in Toronto and the other municipalities, the merger compromised Metropolitan Toronto, East York, North York, Scarborough, York, and the former City of Toronto as a cost-saving measure proposed by the Government of Ontario.
Fast forward to over a decade later to a study by the Fraser Institute, a public policy think-tank based in B.C, and residents are not surprised to see that the cost savings, smaller bureacracy, and lower taxes that were promised by consolidating municipal governments were not accomplished.
In fact, previous financial reports reveal that the amalgamation efforts actually increased costs. Property taxes, public sector employee compensation and long-term debt has inclined and no financial benefits can be demonstrated from the merge.
The study, titled the Municipal Amalgamation in Ontario concludes that the reason for the increases was the speed in which municipalities were forced to consolidate. Although lack of competition due to the demolishment of small companies may also be a factor, rushed contract negotiations with unions and hasty decisions from local governments may also be to blame.
De-amalgamation is not an option to resolve this situation, however its evident now more than ever that twelve neighbourhood councils might be better than the four community councils we have at the moment. In terms of next steps, residents can look forward to a report on reforms that may improve the fiscal imbalance, to be released next spring.
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