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Published: Wednesday, 5/30/2001

Toledo tax a step closer to a vote for renewal

A request for voters to renew Toledo's additional 0.75 percent income tax is one step closer to the September ballot.

City council gave first reading yesterday to a measure to ask voters to renew the tax for four years and a resolution directing the Lucas County board of elections to put the issue on the primary ballot.

The renewal would allow the tax to continue to be collected from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2006. It generates about $52.4 million a year for the general fund budget.

Council President Peter Ujvagi said he expects the tax matter to be given a final vote at council's next meeting June 12. It must be referred to the board of elections by June 28 to appear on the September ballot.

He said some council members have talked about asking voters to make the tax permanent. But Mr. Ujvagi said he believes by having to return to voters every four years, “It holds us accountable.”

In other action, council voted 11-0 to approve payment of more than $63,000 of expenses the city incurred while preparing for a threatened strike by city trash collectors and sewage plant operators in December.

Council has debated the payment for months, with Councilman Gene Zmuda the most outspoken against paying the bills. Mr. Zmuda was at yesterday's meeting but was not on the council floor at the time of the vote.

The administration spent the money to hire security guards, install security lighting and cameras at city buildings, and other strike preparation work in the days preceding a threatened walkout by Teamsters Local 20.

In other action council:

  • Approved money for this year's sidewalk repair program. As a result of the vote, the administration will send letters to 1,300 property owners whose sidewalks are targeted in this year's program, telling them they have 30 days to repair their sidewalks or the city will fix them for them and bill their property taxes.

  • Referred back to the administration an ordinance to outlaw the use of engine brakes by semitractor-trailer trucks, because the city made the noisy braking practice illegal in 1998. Often called “jake-braking,” the practice is illegal in Toledo, but the city did not use that term because it is from the Jacobs Vehicle Equipment Co., which is just one manufacturer of the prohibited engine brakes.

    Because city law does not mention the term “jake brake,” officials from the city's transportation department did not realize the practice had been outlawed. Mr. Zmuda said the issue was cleared up in a committee hearing.

    Councilman Robert McCloskey, however, asked for better signs to make it clear to truckers that the practice was illegal.

  • Approved the allocation of more than $215,000 from the Toledo City Parks Fund to 24 community organizations and agencies. The parks fund is a trust fund established by the estate of Paul Block, Jr., late publisher of The Blade.

  • Voted to designate a portion of South Avenue from Broadway to the Anthony Wayne Trail as Ruth Gonzalez Garcia Way, to honor the local political activist and leader in the Hispanic community.

    Mrs. Garcia, 80, who attended the meeting, said her family was the first Hispanic family to live in the Old South End and was not accepted. “We had to struggle, but we made it,” she said.

    Mrs. Garcia and her two sisters led an effort to have the Roman Catholic Church establish the Guadalupe Mission Church in their barrio and later worked for the establishment of a community center in the neighborhood, which today bears the name of one of her sisters, Aurora Gonzalez.



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