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Published: Thursday, 7/9/2009

Toledo Municipal Court pares $1.1M to draw down city shortfall

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Municipal Court and its clerk's office slashed $1.1 million from its 2009 budget, helping to reduce the city's financial shortfall this year, officials said yesterday.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner praised the court's judges and Clerk Vallie Bowman-English for the cutbacks, but said it would reduce the city's $10 million deficit by only $336,889.

In December, 2008, Ms. Bowman-English said she would have to lay off 10 people to meet Mayor Finkbeiner's proposed $310,000 in cuts to her budget.

Judge Timothy Kuhlman, Municipal Court presiding judge, likewise said he had a problem with a proposed trim of $453,111 for personnel services reimbursements.

The city, however, still planned for those cutbacks amounting to $763,111.

"We are glad they are going to meet that and exceed that number," said Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff.

The savings are in employee salaries and benefits as well as savings in court security.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, chairman of council's law and criminal justice committee and a declared candidate for mayor, said the court's cutbacks will reduce the amount of cost-cutting needed to balance this year's budget.

It was $12.5 million before council on Tuesday approved a new contract with the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, which saves the city $2.4 million through the end of 2009 and nearly $800,000 in 2010.

Mr. Finkbeiner said the city still needs so-called "revenue enhancements" to balance its books.

He has asked council to approve cutting the 100 percent tax credit given to Toledo residents who work and pay taxes in another city, and to raise the trash-pickup fee to help make up the difference with the projected deficit.

But Councilman George Sarantou said council's goal is to balance the budget without raising taxes or fees.

In 2007, the mayor sought deep cuts to security and pretrial services, but the city ultimately had to maintain some of that funding.

In November, 2008, the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals, in a 14-page decision, sided with the seven municipal court judges who argued that more funding was required to adequately protect the public while doing business in the courthouse.

That upheld their authority to order city officials to give them more money.



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