LaSalle Apartments, center, in downtown Toledo. There are questions about whether roughly $4 million from Toledo's capital improvement fund is restricted because it is was reserved to pay down the city’s debt on what is left from a $7.47 million bond lent in 1995 to what is now the LaSalle Apartments.
It is hard to believe. In fact, it is incredible. After a summer of scrutiny regarding proper accounting for various pots of “found money” at Government Center, the mayor and her administration have yet again “discovered” previously unfound millions in the city’s coffers.
After taking two days to answer a city council member’s question regarding how much money was in Toledo’s capital-improvement fund, the administration said Toledo had more than $9 million available for capital projects.
There are many questions, however, about whether roughly $4 million of that is restricted because it is was reserved to pay down the city’s debt on what is left from a $7.47 million bond lent in 1995 to what is now the LaSalle Apartments.
If all this sounds familiar that is because Toledo has heard this story before.
In June, The Blade discovered more than $8 million in a general obligation debt service fund, raising questions about whether it could be available for street repair and other projects.
After much investigation, city officials figured out that money belonged in TIF funds that authorities had neglected to set up for the Franklin Park/Westfield TIF and the Jeep TIF.
How in the world does this keep happening at Government Center?
How, when everyone from former Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas to the state auditor has been called in to review city finances and solve the mystery of what money belongs where, can the Hicks-Hudson administration still not have a grip on Toledo’s accounting?
This is a disturbing pattern: Money seems to appear out of nowhere, city officials take days to answer questions about where it belongs and what it can be used for, and that leads to more questions.
When do the questions end? If money continually ends up deposited in the wrong accounts, how can anyone know how much the city has available?
After the summer’s money mysteries, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson yielded to calls for an outside audit, asking State Auditor Dave Yost to direct that effort. The problem is that Mr. Yost’s office does not expect to produce the audit results until next June. That is more than almost nine months away.
Meanwhile, we are left, not just with accounting questions but questions of basic competence and transparency.
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