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Published: Wednesday, 1/30/2013

Toledo City Council unanimously approves 2013 operating budget

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council today unanimously approved the city's 2013 operating budget and the capital improvements budget with last-minute changes that include dedicating $100,000 to the police department’s shuttered Northwest District Station and another $100,000 for economic development projects along a stretch of Sylvania Avenue.

Council also unanimously approved a change to the way the administration can start individual capital improvement projects. The mayor's office is now required to get approval from council for each request in the spending plan.

“To write a check for $28 million and say 'do whatever you want with it' … that is not responsible,” said Councilman D. Michael Collins, who wrote that amendment to the capital improvements budget.

Spending across all of the city’s funds this year will total about $610.69 million, said City Finance Director Patrick McLean.

The total proposed capital improvements budget for the year totals about $32.3 million.

Two amendments approved  today shift money from the capital improvements budget to the general fund. Council voted 9-3 in favor of the $100,000 for the Northwest District Station at 2330 Sylvania Ave., despite the fact that Mayor Mike Bell said he would not reopen the building and staff it with police officers. Voting against were Councilmen Lindsay Webb, Adam Martinez, and Mike Craig.

Ms. Webb said it was a political statement for councilmen to support funding for the building when the mayor has no intention of using that cash.

“We are essentially setting aside $100,000 that can't be used,” she said.

Mayor Mike Bell's capital improvements budget, originally released last month, sets aside funding for paving 51 miles of road lanes along with money to build a fire station and renovate another. In all, the city plans to repave 61 miles of roadways since there is funding left over from previous years, Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said.

The 2013 general fund budget — which is used to fund things like police and fire salaries - forces the city to take millions out of the capital improvements budget to keep Toledo’s books balanced. The proposed general fund budget predicts about $244.59 million in spending and an equal amount in revenues - up from the $238.98 million in revenues and spending in the 2012 budget.

The city will take about $14 million from the capital improvements budget, which is more than the $11 million it took from that fund last year.



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