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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Time, money are wasting

DETAILS haven't been revealed but it's safe to assume that Toledo police officers, if they approve the tentative contract hammered out by union and city negotiators, will be accepting cuts either to their wages, benefits, or both. As painful as that may be, it is vital that Toledo Police Patrolman's Association members vote today to accept the deal, for their own long-term good and the good of the city they so faithfully serve.

The spotlight would then be on City Council, first to add their seal of approval to the police contract when they meet tomorrow and then, no later than next week, to put together the other pieces needed to close the city's projected $12.5 million budget deficit.

The city's fiscal year is half over. Cuts that would have been mere scratches months ago will be deep today, deeper tomorrow, and deeper every day thereafter, making it critical that City Council acts without delay.

Assuming that the city's deal with TPPA follows the pattern of concessions sought from other city unions, up to $5 million may be saved through wage and benefit cuts. The deficit can be further reduced by about $3.5 million by moving money from capital improvements to the general fund for one year, a move that would be offset with federal stimulus funds.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner wants to fill the remaining $4 million hole by increasing trash collection fees and cutting in half the income tax credit given to Toledoans who work outside the city. Thus far, public sentiment and council members have opposed these ideas.

Frankly, we don't care whether City Council follows Carty's lead or comes up with a reasonable alternative of its own. What council cannot do is continue to dither while Toledo teeters on the edge of the financial abyss.

Council members insisted they had to have the police contract before they could address the larger financial crisis. Today, we trust they'll get that deal. Tomorrow, and next week, we expect them to finally act.

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