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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2008

Finkbeiner reroutes project funds to pour $250,000 into road fixes

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Finkbeiner administration is abandoning plans for a bike path at Greenwood Park and slashing nearly all planned funding for a new dog park to direct another $250,000 toward repairing the city s streets.

Tom Kroma, assistant chief operating officer for the city, said a record number of pothole complaints prompted the change. That money will go toward the city s mill-and-fill program, which involves grinding out the rough areas and overlaying that area with hot asphalt.

The administration planned to spend:

• $260,000 to replace docks, including those along Promenade Park and the former Toledo Edison steam plant downtown. That will be cut by $60,000.

• $45,000 to build a dog park in South Toledo s Highland Park, but that will be cut to just $5,000.

• $150,000 for a recreational trail for mountain bikes in Greenwood Park that instead will get nothing.

City Council is expected to approve the capital improvement budget at its regular meeting today. Council spent nearly four hours yesterday reviewing the spending plan.

Councilmen Michael Ashford and Mike Craig renewed their opposition to the allocation of street repaving money.

The city of Toledo is 88 square miles and Carty [Finkbeiner s] plan is to only repave 14.9 miles in the residential neighborhoods, Mr. Ashford said earlier in the day during a news conference.

I represent District 4, which includes [the] central city and North Toledo, he said. The Finkbeiner administration has proposed that less than 1 mile be paved in the neighborhoods in District 4 and that is not acceptable.

Mr. Ashford said the city should forgo plans to purchase automated trash collection trucks and instead use that money to repave 55 miles of residential streets.

Julian Highsmith, the city s commissioner of solid waste, said the city s fleet of traditional trash trucks is in disrepair and needs to be replaced.

A 10,000-home pilot program for automated garbage trucks begins May 5.

Mr. Craig, who represents District 3, including East Toledo, said his constituents have for years received well below the average money spent per council district for street repair.

Also yesterday, some councilmen were shocked to learn the city s computer system, including that of the finance department and water billing, depends on spare parts that apparently can be found only on eBay.

Valerie Robertson, commissioner of information and communication technology, said the 20-year-old computer system is serviced by an out-of-town company that must resort to finding hardware from the online auction Web site.

The city of Toledo is a half-billion-dollar operation and it s dependent on eBay to keep its computer system running, Councilman D. Michael Collins asked. That is unacceptable.

This year s capital improvement budget includes $950,000 to replace the city s finance department computer software to allow timely financial reporting.

Ms. Robertson said allocation starts a process that will cost $10 million over the next 10 years.

Councilman Betty Shultz, who has urged her colleagues for years to focus on the computer system s shortcomings, said people finally have realized the peril it presents.

We cannot get real-time financial information, she said. The fact that they would want to spend money on a dog park or anything, without knowing exactly how much we have, is ludicrous.

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



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