Plan to reduce street repairs to open pools draws attack

City council president sought $261,000 move

4/29/2014
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hicks-Hudson
Hicks-Hudson

A proposal by the Toledo City Council president to divert money from street repairs or other capital projects to add to the number of city pools open this summer was hosed down Tuesday by opponents on council.

No vote was taken on Paula Hicks-Hudson’s plan, submitted Friday, to reassign $261,000 for repairs to and reopening of Wilson and Jamie Farr pools, which were not included in the previously approved general-fund budget for recreation, but opposition was clear during council’s agenda-review meeting Tuesday.

“Taking additional money out of the capital improvement fund — that bothers me a lot,” Councilman Mike Craig said. “I can’t support capital improvements fund being used. It doesn’t matter whose district it comes from. I don’t think there is anyone here who drives only in his own district.”

Councilman Theresa Gabriel, meanwhile, said the capital-budget ordinance could be tweaked to include a clause stating the city would seek donations from organized labor to do some of the work needed to repair the pools.

But Ms. Gabriel, who had cast the lone dissenting vote against the general-fund budget because it took millions from capital improvements to pay for police, fire, and other general operations, said she could not support Ms. Hicks-Hudson’s proposal as written.

The city’s already-approved general fund provides $266,199 to operate Navarre, Pickford, Roosevelt, and Willys pools and the splash pad at Savage Park from July 1 through mid to late August.

Ms. Hicks-Hudson said her proposal for opening Jamie Farr and Wilson was “not set in stone but it is a starting point for us to begin to work to make sure we at least have pools open in all four quadrants of this city.

“I think that we should not have to make a choice between one thing or other when we don’t even have a capital improvements budget presented to council,” she said. “To say we are going to necessarily take those dollars from streets is disingenuous.”

Mayor D. Michael Collins said he would cede to council’s wishes if it approved moving the money, but asked council to identify what streets slated to be repaired would not be fixed. The mayor could veto the legislation or simply not spend the money, letting it sit in a city account all year.

Councilmen Lindsay Webb and Jack Ford declined to say whether they would support the ordinance as presented, but both said it would be altered before coming up for a vote next week.

In other business, council reviewed accepting and allocating this year’s federal Community Development Block Grant funds totaling $6,889,058, federal HOME Funds of $1.7 million, and Emergency Solutions Grant funds of $569,389.

Council could make last-minute changes to the allocations for federally funded community service agencies and homeless shelters.

Council also reviewed a resolution to rename Sherman Park as Janet Smolenski Park and an ordinance to allocate $15,000 of general fund money to Art Corner Toledo for an art mural program.

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