A budget compromise reached last night between the Finkbeiner administration and Toledo City Council leaders cuts spending on criminal justice and gives council members $7,500 each to dole out to nonprofit organizations.
The plan eliminates a $4.5 million deficit that cropped up since previous Mayor Jack Ford recommended a $235.1 million budget in November.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's final proposed 2006 budget is $235.08 million - about $27,000 less than Mr. Ford's proposed budget, but with significant changes in spending priorities.
Council has scheduled a hearing on the budget for 2 p.m. Monday and expects to vote on it Tuesday.
Among the proposed changes is a cut of $720,000 to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which provides criminal and vehicle records to police and courts in northwest Ohio.
Mike Navarre, interim executive director of CJCC, said the agency's total budget is about $3 million. He said the cut could force layoffs and likely would reduce services to the city.
Dave Moebius, Mayor Finkbeiner's assistant chief operating officer in charge of the budget, said the administration plans to avoid the loss of services to police officers by offering to merge its information technology operations with the county in a regionalization effort.
The proposed budget would reinstate a so-called discretionary fund out of which council members could contribute to nonprofit agencies that serve public purposes. Each councilman would be able to distribute $7,500.
Council had a $90,000 fund in 2004 and no fund last year. In some years, it has been as high as $20,000 per council member, according to council President Rob Ludeman.
Councilman George Sarantou said council wants to make sure the budget is not based on overly optimistic assumptions. A big one is the mayor's goal of keeping overtime spending to $3.5 million - $700,000 less than was spent in 2005.
"That is going to be very challenging for them to do that," Mr. Sarantou said.
Councilman Frank Szollosi agreed and charged that the city is already on track to spend more than $5 million on overtime. He portrayed the Finkbeiner's administration's overtime spending as fiscally imprudent, compared with that of the Ford administration.
Mayor Finkbeiner defended his $3.5 million overtime budget, saying he has sternly warned his department directors about living up to the overtime budgets. He accused Mr. Szollosi of engaging in politics and said Mr. Ford inflated revenue projections for 2006.
Mr. Szollosi's suggestion that the mayor was casting a blind eye at overtime payments to members of the police and fire unions that endorsed him last year drew an angry denial from Gregg Harris, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association.
He said Mr. Szollosi's contentions were made only to further Mr. Szollosi's political career. He said Mr. Szollosi should resign.
"I'm not going to back down from casting the spotlight on what looks to me like an unusually large disbursement of overtime," Mr. Szollosi responded.
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