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Published: Wednesday, 12/3/2008

Toledo City Council releases spending reports

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Only four of the 12 Toledo City Council members dipped into their discretionary $200-a-month expense accounts this year, and Betty Shultz leads the foursome in spending.

Mrs. Shultz, who stayed within her limit for the year, exceeded her colleagues by far, spending $1,587 for breakfast meetings at the Toledo Club and a golf retreat in June for a task force she said advises the city on computer problems and upgrades.

"It's a group of citizens called the mayor's advisory committee, who come together on IT issues," she said.

Mrs. Shultz refused to identify the members of the group but said it has met since about 1997, and the meetings had been funded by the mayor's office budget.

"When they stopped funding it, I began to use my council money," said Mrs. Shultz, who chairs council's information services committee. "I am not going to expose private citizens who have donated hundreds of hours to unsavory publicity."

Mrs. Shultz said she intends to continue funding the committee's meetings in 2009, even with the city facing $21 million in cuts to balance the year's general operating fund budget.

Toledo councilmen are allowed "a sum not to exceed $200 per month," according to a reimbursable expense form.

The advisory group met for a retreat at Maumee Bay State Park on June 2, which cost $1,103.15

The costs included bills of $21.35 for soda and $153.50 for items like coffee, mouthwash, soap, two Heinekens, a magazine, rolls, and tissues from Kroger.

There also were bills of $72.47 from Gordon Food Service, $211.20 from Food Town in Lambertville, $45.74 from Costco, $73.29 from OfficeMax, $50.75 from House of Meats, $118.70 from Big Apple Deli, $267.30 for a hotel room, and $51.75 for golf fees at the resort.

Council President Mark Sobczak, who said he attended the business portion of the retreat and has been to some of the monthly breakfasts, said the cost is well worth what the city gets in return.

"It's made up of some professionals, and I don't know if anybody should know who they are," Mr. Sobczak said. "They are professionals within the information technology field in the community who advise us on what we should be doing to fix our aging and ailing IT system in the city."

He said Mrs. Shultz has spearheaded a $10 million initiative to fix the city's computer systems and similar consulting fees would be far greater than $1,587 a year.

Mr. Sobczak spent $155.05 for a council staff retreat in June.

Councilman Tom Waniewski spent $350 for two ads in a church bulletin, $193 for flowers for the Sanger branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, and $337 for a district meeting notice mailing.

Councilman Lindsay Webb spent $76.86 for six flags for the Five Points neighborhood, $25 for a membership to the Pat Miller Foundation at the Kahle Senior Center, and a total of $150 for two advertisements.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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