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Published: Wednesday, 3/19/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Collins presents his first budget to the public

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Mayor D. Michael Collins and his staff presented their first budget at a public meeting today -- one with austerity but with some attention to the issues Mr. Collins campaigned on.

Mr. Collins' $244.8 million budget includes money for two new code enforcement inspectors.

About 45 people were present at the Main Library in downtown Toledo for the hearing, which comes less than two weeks before the budget is due for a vote of city council. About half of those present were city administrators or Toledo Council members or candidates.

Finance Director George Sarantou said most of the budget is earmarked for police, fire, courts, jail fees, and fixed costs for utilities and refuse collection, leaving about 12 percent for all other city departments.

Mr. Collins pinned some of the blame for the budget austerity on the state government.

"We are using for our total financial operation $16 million fewer dollars as a result of cutbacks coming out of Columbus since 2008," Mr. Collins said.

He said the Northwest District Police Station will open, as promised in his campaign.

"It will be an operational and viable police presence in Northwest Toledo," Mr. Collins said. The mayor's office has been reduced from 11 full-time people plus four interns to eight staffers, he said.

He said the administration would reopen three pools and a splash pad in 2014, with most of the operating funds coming from the Police Athletic League, which is outside the general fund.

He said he would start his combined police and code enforcement program on a pilot basis in Point Place and then move to East Toledo.

"We're going to take this city back one neighborhood at a time," Mr. Collins said. The mayor also defended the 2.5 percent pay raise given to about 800 members of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 7.

"These are the people who crawl into a hole with a wrench and come out looking like human icicles because we have a water main break. Most of us would have called in sick. They didn't because they're dedicated," the mayor said.

The mayor fielded questions about the city's plans for recreation this summer, for changes in water billing, and for repairing streets that were damaged by the harsh winter. In response to one question, Mr. Collins said only one person was fined for not clearing his sidewalk of snow.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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