City’s fiscal steward to resign

McLean took over Toledo’s finances at start of Bell’s term

7/16/2013
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McLean
McLean

The city of Toledo’s top financial steward, who has served as Mayor Mike Bell’s finance director since the start of his administration, will resign next month to return to academia.

Patrick McLean, who was appointed by Mayor Bell on Jan. 7, 2010, plans to return to higher education with a position at Albion College in Michigan.

His last day in Toledo will be Aug. 12. Mr. McLean starts the next day as director for Albion College’s Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service.

“It will be an element of teaching, but there will be a focus on helping students understand the public policy process and giving them real life opportunities,” Mr. McLean said. “It’s a very good school. Being able to share with the next generation my public policy experience is important to me. I come from a family of teachers and educators … and perhaps it is in my blood.”

City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said a successor has not been chosen.

“The mayor is working with Patrick and the leadership of the department,” Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

Mr. McLean, a native of Defiance, Ohio, who lives in Ypsilanti, previously was associate vice chancellor for affordability and efficiency for the Ohio Board of Regents. Prior to that he was chief financial officer in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and also chief of staff to the Ohio Senate minority caucus.

He is paid $92,000 annually as finance director.

On his first day leading Toledo’s finance department — at a time when the Bell administration said it needed to address a projected $48 million budget deficit — Mr. McLean said the city’s general fund budget needed major retooling.

A major decline in income tax collections from joblessness in the city was the primary reason for the shortfall.

“Where the $48 million came from was if we had continued to spend at a rate that was in the [proposed] Finkbeiner 2010 budget, with the same revenues, we would have been $48 million in the red at the end of the year, and we had a carryover deficit that year,” Mr. McLean said.

During his tenure, the city aggressively collected unpaid income taxes and started a garnishment program to collect unpaid income taxes through the courts.

“The previous administration had furloughed people who collected delinquent incomes taxes, and we thought that was not a good idea, and it was one of the first things we changed,” Mr. McLean said. “One of the things I am proud of is we have started a culture of continuous improvement.”

Among the cost-cutting Mr. McLean said he promoted was restricting police and fire overtime.

“We are constantly looking at our data and how to be more efficient,” he said. “We used to have 700 to 800 individual desktop printers and now we have between 150 and 250, which saves us $150,000 a year.”

Mr. McLean pointed out that Toledo City Council passed the 2012 and 2013 budgets early and without a dissenting vote.

The 2013 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. The city’s 2013 capital improvements budget 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 as there is funding left from previous years.

Councilman George Sarantou, chairman of council’s finance committee, said Mr. McLean was good at keeping council apprised.

“He came into the city of Toledo finance department during some of the most extremely financially challenging times since the Great Depression, and while I had a number of professional disagreements with Mr. McLean, I always felt that he was doing the very best he could,” Mr. Sarantou said. “Last year we had a major disagreement. He felt there was more than $300,000 that could go into the budget stabilization for the prior year, and I did not feel it was a surplus because we took money out of the CIP budget, but the mayor and the majority of council sided with him.”

Albion, 90 miles west of Detroit, has less than 1,400 students. Tuition and fees for this academic year are $35,866 plus $10,144 for room and board, totaling $46,010.

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