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Published: 5/15/2009

Mayor Finkbeiner says he will help to mow city parks

BLADE STAFF
Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announces a plan to get the grass cut in Toledo city parks and cemeteries during a news conference in River Road Park in South Toledo on Friday. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announces a plan to get the grass cut in Toledo city parks and cemeteries during a news conference in River Road Park in South Toledo on Friday.
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Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said Friday that he and his directors will help mow city parks this spring and summer during the city's fiscal crisis, and he invited citizens to help out.

And, weather permitting, the mayor will operate a riding mower Saturday morning in Brookford Park on River Road, near his home.

He said the administration has hired Lott Industries to mow the five city owned cemeteries, despite the refusal of a city union to sign off on the contract.

"I apologize for the tall grass in some of our parks and some of our boulevards," he said.

"This is my backyard. I will be here cutting this park's grass as well as trimming the boulevard between Townley [Road] and Burroughs [Drive]," he said.

Administrators said the city has hired only about half of the 80 seasonal employees that were hired last year to mow parks and cemeteries.

Local 7 American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has refused to give a sign-off to a contractor doing their work saying the money should be used to hire back laid off workers.

The mayor vowed that Forest Cemetery would be mowed for Memorial Day weekend, and Lott Industries crews are to start on Monday. An official said Lott brings its own equipment and supervisors and has done a good job in the past. Their contact is for about $100,000.

To save money and avoid a deficit estimated at about $21 million, the mayor has ordered exempt employees - those not covered by a collective bargaining agreement - to work a 32-hour workweek.

He said that means his office will have reduced hours, closing at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at 1 p.m. on Fridays.

Other offices have enough employees to maintain regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

From a press release by Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop's office

As Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner prepares to saddle up on a riding mower Saturday in Brookford Park and likely violate union contracts by cutting the grass there, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop is reminded of the mayor's failure to act on an offer to partner with the county in lawn maintenance.

One of the recommendations of the 21st Century Government Committee created by Commissioner Konop was for the elimination of city, county, and school mowing crews working on lots next to one another. The commissioner and other county officials have been urging the Finkbeiner administration for years to partner with the county and school districts on a sharing plan for lawn care in instances where a piece of city property is adjacent to county or school property.

Doing so would've prevented the mayor's current problem of grass going uncut on city property.

"We thought we had this done two years ago, but with every solution we found the city threw up another road block," Commissioner Konop said. "Mayor Finkbeiner has a history of not finding solutions, only identifying more problems. Had his administration agreed to our offer, he would not be finding himself riding a mower tomorrow and further angering laid-off city employees."



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