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Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins on Wednesday vetoed and sent back to city council an ordinance that allocates $4.7 million for additional street resurfacing in council Districts 1 and 3.
Using his veto power for the first time, Mr. Collins said the ordinance, which identified 12 sections of streets to be repaved, trespassed on the mayor’s job as outlined in the city charter.
“Our trained professionals in the Engineering Services Division evaluate streets based on specific, established, and validated criteria,” Mr. Collins wrote in his memo.
“Allowing this ordinance to stand does not allow for the fair and equitable distribution of funds and creates a dangerous precedent.”
The ordinance passed Aug. 26 by a council vote of 10-2, enough to meet the nine-vote requirement to override a veto. The no votes were cast by District 2 Councilman Matt Cherry and at-large Councilman Sandy Spang, who lives in District 2.
The money in the vetoed ordinance would come from the street construction, maintenance, and repair budget, which has a total of $7.3 million. After allocating the $4.7 million for streets in Council Districts 1 and 3, council is set to consider an ordinance next Tuesday to allocate an additional $1.9 million from the street repair budget to pave streets in Districts 4, 5, and 6.
Only District 2, in South Toledo, is excluded from additional repaving money.
Mr. Collins contends that his administration was planning to use part of the $4.7 million allocated by council to repave 7 miles of streets, mostly in East Toledo and central city, areas covered by Districts 1 and 3.
But Councilman Mike Craig, who spearheaded the passage of the ordinance, said the mayor didn’t tell council about his plan for the $4.7 million until after the vote last week.
“I’m reasonably certain that [the veto] will be overridden. One of his comments to me was, ‘Find me the money and we’ll repave more streets.’ Well, there’s the money. I fully expect him to do his duty and try to get streets repaved,” Mr. Craig said.
Most street resurfacing is handled through the capital improvements budget, a $12 million budget that council passed in June. That budget provided money for about 50 miles of repaving, with less than 1 mile in District 3, but between 6 and 13 miles for the other five districts.
A report by the city’s Division of Engineering Services showed that District 6, in Point Place and West Toledo, actually received the smallest share of street repair money from 2009 to 2014, at 11.48 percent. According to the report, District 3 got 13.73 percent, followed by District 5 with 16.03 percent, District 4 with 16.39 percent, District 2 with 20.53 percent, and District 1 with 21.84 percent.
Mr. Collins said he agreed with Mr. Craig that East Toledo deserves a bigger piece of the paving pie, but that the 2014 capital budget was already too far along in planning to be changed this year.
“I said, ‘Please trust me on this, I will take care of it,’ and he basically went his own direction on it,” Mr. Collins said.
District 1, represented by Tyrone Riley, fared better than District 3 in the capital budget, but not as well as it should, according to Mr. Riley. He put together his own list of streets that needed repair.
“The streets that are named in the ordinance are in dire need for repair, and to ignore the need to repair these streets is disappointing,” Mr. Riley said.
Mr. Collins said he hopes council pays attention to the explanation in his message.
“Good communication also requires the art of listening,” the mayor said.
The mayor last week announced a staff reorganization that will relieve Executive Assistant Lisa Ward of her duties as public information officer, in part so she can focus more of her time on being a liaison with council. However, he denied that his administration failed to inform council.
The veto message warns that conflict between council and the mayor could set back economic development.
“We are poised for a long-awaited window of opportunity for Toledo and all of northwest Ohio. To maximize these opportunities, we as a governing body must work together and commit to a common goal,” the mayor wrote. “If we are perceived as polarized, potential investors will seek other options.”
The mayor’s plan for the street repair budget provides $3.6 million to repair 7 lane-miles of residential street in 2015, mostly in Districts 1 and 3.
According to Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Mazur, the mayor is going beyond the previous uses of the budget, which he said is typically reserved for routine maintenance by city crews, such as pothole repair, not to repave large sections of roadway using contractors.
The mayor’s plan for the $7.3 million fund also would pay for new road repair equipment that would speed up the repaving process for the whole city, put $1.05 million in a reserve for emergencies, and use $1.5 million to repay loans taken out to build Riverside Drive in the Marina District and to repair Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, both of which are fully or partially located in Council District 3.