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Published: Thursday, 12/4/2008

McNamara urges Toledo find funds for CareNet

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara wants to help fund the health-care plan for low-income Lucas County residents without insurance by digging into council's budget and eliminating a so-called slush fund.

Mr. McNamara wants to provide CareNet with $25,000 for six months of funding by reallocating $13,332 earmarked for the 12 council members' $200-a-month limited spending account and $11,668 by freezing a vacant auditor post for five months.

The city gave nothing to CareNet for 2008. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's proposed 2009 general operating fund budget again allocates nothing for the program.

Mr. Finkbeiner submitted a 2009 spending plan with $21 million in cuts.

"People are losing their homes and their jobs, and the need for health care is only going to increase," Mr. McNamara said. "Using discretionary funds to ensure the success of CareNet is a much better use of taxpayer dollars."

Four council members used their discretionary expense accounts this year.

Councilman Betty Shultz spent the most: $1,587 for breakfast meetings at the Toledo Club and a June golf retreat for a task force that advises the city on computer problems and upgrades.

Last year, Mayor Finkbeiner and some council members said the city should not fund CareNet with tax dollars, given a projected $10 million budget deficit they were facing at the time.

Councilman Tom Waniew-

ski later announced he had raised $65,300 through private donations to fund the health-insurance program Mayor Jack Ford created in 2003. Mr. Waniewski said he has been searching for funding for CareNet.

"Lo and behold, Joe comes up with $25,000," he said.

Mr. Waniewski said other funding sources could be found for the second half of 2009.

CareNet connects people who don't have health insurance or don't qualify for government programs with health-care providers.



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