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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Councilman decries loss of money for dredging plan

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A teary-eyed Toledo Councilman Lindsay Webb yesterday criticized her colleagues on council as well as the Finkbeiner administration for punishing Point Place - her hometown community - for political decisions she's made this year.

"What is frustrating for me is I feel my community is suffering because of who I am and the decisions I have made," Ms. Webb said.

The first-year councilman was referring to an apparent lack of support for holding intact $1.35 million the city has amassed to help pay for the $5 million dredging of the Ottawa River - now a decade in the making.

"It's heartbreaking to me no common ground can be made with the administration," she said.

Ms. Webb later said none of her fellow council members had offered a helping hand.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner plans to balance a $10 million deficit for the 2008 budget by unused capital improvement project money - including nearly $1.1 million for Southwyck infrastructure improvements and the Ottawa River dredging money.

Ms. Webb yesterday offered an alternative, and wants council next week to approve using $1.3 million from other unspent projects, including $524,577 for the city's Hoffman Road landfill.

"You could table this," she said. "But if you want to vote against this, at least have the courage to go on the record."

Ms. Webb said voting in favor of pulling the dredging money - which she said will revitalize the river and Point Place for boating - would have political ramifications in November.

Councilman Joe McNamara said he supports the dredging project and wants Ms. Webb to find alternative funding to balance the budget, but not at the expense of pulling money from the city's landfill.

"The Ottawa River is heavily contaminated and we are faced with a $4 million fine, and to avoid that we have agreed to put sediment from the river in the Hoffman Road landfill," he said. "That $500,000 is to expand the landfill to handle that material, and if we don't do that we will be sacked with a $4 million fine."



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