Lucas County commissioners approved a budget in January that projected no revenue growth in 2003. Four months later, the county is $1 million below zero growth, said Harry Barlos, president of the commissioners, during a taping yesterday of The Editors television program.
That could mean county vacancies left unfilled, even layoffs.
“At zero growth, we would still be balanced, but we're already out of balance, and [in] 2004 we're facing a projected $8 million to $10 million deficit,” Mr. Barlos said.
Any decision to lay off would occur sooner rather than later in the year, he said, because by the third quarter of any budget it is difficult to make substantive cuts.
Mr. Barlos promoted the commissioners' request that Toledo create a 37-acre entertainment district near county-owned Fifth Third Field. The district would “show that downtown Toledo is alive,” Mr. Barlos said.
Mr. Barlos reiterated his opposition to a proposal by Tom Chema, president of Gateway Consultants Group, Inc., of Cleveland, that a county tax on cigarettes and alcohol be enacted to finance an eastside arena. He said with SeaGate Centre, the ballpark, and the proposed entertainment district, “the synergy would be on the western portion” for a new arena.
Mayor Jack Ford this week said he is considering a plan to issue a nationwide call for development proposals for the proposed Marina District. Mr. Barlos has his own interpretation: “I think it's a signal that the project isolated on the east side is not going anywhere.”
He believes the Marina District - without an arena -can go forward.
Mr. Barlos a commissioner since 1999, is now the senior member, with the retirement of Bill Copeland - replaced by Democrat Tina Skeldon Wozniak - and the defeat of Sandy Isenberg by Republican Maggie Thurber.
“It's like that song, `Getting To Know You,'” Mr. Barlos said. “We've had a few days that have been difficult.”
Ms. Thurber is the first Republican commissioner in years. But Mr. Barlos said because there are “so many critical issues facing Lucas County, the city of Toledo, and northwest Ohio, this is not the right time for partisan politics.”
Mr. Barlos was questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade.
The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.