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Published: Tuesday, 6/25/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Mayor, Collins show tax returns

Both enjoy high credit scores; 2 other hopefuls don’t share info

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins, right, and Mayor Mike Bell released personal financial documents Monday that showed healthy incomes and high credit scores. Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins, right, and Mayor Mike Bell released personal financial documents Monday that showed healthy incomes and high credit scores.
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Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins and Mayor Mike Bell released personal financial documents Monday that showed healthy incomes and high credit scores.

Mr. Collins, the political independent challenger for mayor, released his 2012 federal tax return and a recent credit report that showed no outstanding credit-card debt and an excellent credit score. Mayor Bell, also a political independent, responded within hours to a request from The Blade for the same information, which also showed an excellent credit rating, no past-due credit-card amounts, and no late payments.

Mr. Collins opened the door into his personal finances during a morning news conference, when he said the candidates’ finances are relevant for voters. “The next mayor will become CEO for the city of Toledo and will be in charge of nearly a half-billion-dollar budget,” Mr. Collins said. “Transparency on how mayoral candidates handle their personal finances is key for the citizens of Toledo in making their decision on who is best qualified to lead the city.”

RELATED CONTENT: Mike Bell tax return and D. Michael Collins tax return

In a rare moment, Mr. Bell agreed with Mr. Collins.

“Having an understanding that people can actually take care of their own financial wherewithal, I think, is important and if you can’t demonstrate it even at home, then you are going to have some major problems if you are trying to run a whole city,” Mr. Bell said.

Candidates Joe McNamara, also a member of council, and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, said they would be transparent, but neither could do so on Monday.

Mr. McNamara, a lawyer who collects a $27,500 annual council salary, said he was in meetings Monday and did not have time to make the records available.

“I have a strong record of transparency, forcing the city to put its budget online so that the people can see how their money is being spent,” Mr. McNamara said. “I believe our mayor needs to be open and transparent. I will release these documents before the primary.”

Mr. McNamara acknowledged having credit-card debt but declined to provide an amount. He is married with no children.

Similarly, Ms. Lopez repeatedly said transparency is important to her and steered the conversation away from The Blade’s request for her credit report and tax return.

“I think people want to hear about how [the candidates] are going to create jobs,” Ms. Lopez said in response to a question about her personal finances.

Later, Ms. Lopez said she carries credit-card debt, has a car loan, and a mortgage, but declined to elaborate. She also declined to say what she thought her credit score is.

She is divorced with two children and said her parents recently moved into her home. Ms. Lopez said she took out a loan to build a new bathroom with handicap accessibility for her father, but did not know the amount. As county auditor, her annual pay is $94,246. According to Lucas County Common Pleas Court records, she was paid $7,000 a year in spousal support from 2009 through 2012 plus $15,000 annually in child support from her ex-husband, Roman Arce.

According to the June 8, 2012, court record, Mr. Arce said: “As soon as I paid a total of $21,000 for three years’ worth of spousal support and $60,000 for four years’ worth of child support, [Ms. Lopez] promptly filed for an increase in child support and is now asking this court to more than double my current annual child support obligation.”

Ms. Lopez called Mayor Bell, a former firefighter, and Mr. Collins, a former police officer, “double-dippers,” because they are retired with public pensions and also receive salaries for their elected offices.

“Two double-dippers have not turned around the city of Toledo,” Ms. Lopez said.

Both Mr. Collins and Mr. Bell used TransUnion to produce a credit report and both credit scores were under the “VantageScore” model. That is the name of a credit rating product offered by the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The top VantageScore is 990 as opposed to the top FICO score of 850. Multiplying a VantageScore by 0.86 translates it into an approximate FICO score.

Mr. Collins’ credit report shows a 916 score, considered excellent. Mr. Collins said he has no credit-card debit, no home mortgage, and no vehicle loan. Mr. Collins has three adult daughters and had a son who died. He also has eight grandchildren.

According to his 2012 federal tax return, Mr. Collins and his wife — Sandra Drabik, who is retired from the University of Toledo — made a combined $205,244 last year. That includes Ms. Drabik’s retirement benefits and $5,168 from Social Security benefits collected by Mr. Collins. The documents provided by Mr. Collins to The Blade did not include a Schedule A form, which separately lists charitable donations.

His 2012 income included $42,247 from his pension from nearly three decades as a Toledo police officer, $23,797 from his Toledo City Council salary, and $1,783 from Lourdes University.

Mayor Bell, who is single with no children, had an even higher credit score — 927, according to his report. His 2012 federal tax return showed $108,481 in salary; $31 from taxable interest; $541 from taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local income taxes, and $69,395 from pensions and annuities. He gave $8,584 in charitable donations last year, according to the documents.

Mr. Bell’s credit report four years ago showed a mortgage of $66,110 and a credit card at the Toledo Firefighters Federal Credit Union with a balance of $742. The current credit report shows an open conventional mortgage, current with a balance of $34,388. He also has an open American Express account with a $2,037 balance and another credit card with a $953 balance.

Concerns about runaway credit-card borrowing helped sink the mayoral ambitions in November, 2001, of Ray Kest, the former Lucas County treasurer. Mr. Kest, who had touted his money-managing skills on the campaign trail, gave The Blade permission to examine his credit report. It showed Mr. Kest and his wife had $81,000 in debt on 10 credit cards.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.


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