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Published: Friday, 2/20/2009

Lawmakers gird for war over road repair dollars

BLADE STAFF

Toledo's roads are in terrible shape and the city's elected district councilmen will soon be at odds over how to divide a shrinking pot of money dedicated to fix residential streets, Councilman Michael Ashford said yesterday.

"It seems like it's going down that course," Mr. Ashford said after adjourning a committee meeting he called to discuss the city's 2009 capital improvement budget.

The Finkbeiner administration has not yet delivered its proposed 2009 CIP budget, which dictates how much money the mayor wants spent on streets and other capital projects.

But council yesterday got a list of $22.6 million in proposed resurfacing or complete reconstruction for main arterial streets identified by the city's engineering services division.

The cost to fix commercial streets this year will come from three sources. The largest portion is $8.22 million from the city's CIP budget, with $6.54 coming from state and federal grants, $6.96 million in grants and loans from the Ohio Public Works Commission, and $935,000 from an urban paving account.

The list of residential streets has not been created because the funding is still unknown, said Dave Leffler, Toledo's director of public utilities.

"Last year we had a good year and we did $10 million in residential streets," Mr. Leffler said. "We can't say how much we will do this year because we don't know how much we will have."

Lower-volume streets generally have lower priority because they are not eligible for matching state or federal funds.

The city has about 1,100 miles of streets.

One million dollars pays for three miles of asphalt resurfacing without curb repair or replacement, 1.5 miles of asphalt resurfacing with curb replacement, one mile of residential street replacement with a new roadbed base, or 0.5 miles of concrete street replacement.

Mr. Ashford and Councilman Mike Craig renewed similar charges made last year that the allocation of street repaving money would unfairly be applied to their districts.

Mr. Ashford said paving done in the downtown central business district should not count against the funding he receives for residential streets. Mr. Craig said the same thing about roads being constructed in the Marina District along the Maumee River in East Toledo.

"I am somewhat disappointed there is not a formulated 2009 CIP budget since we are going into the construction season," Mr. Ashford said.

Mr. Craig said District 3 "got less than scraps less year and scraps the year before."

Toledo's capital improvement budget, which pays for street repaving and other projects, in 2008 allocated $48.11 million, of which $16.78 million was applied to debt service.

That left nearly $31.33 million for projects in 2008, up from $29 million in 2007 and $29.55 million in 2006.

However, council redirected about $8.7 million of unspent capital improvement money from the past several years to balance the city's 2008 and 2009 budgets.

Most of the CIP money comes from a portion of the city's 2.25 percent wage tax.

- Ignazio Messina



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