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Published: Saturday, 8/22/2009

Finkbeiner argues merits of Issue 1 with McNamara

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McNamara McNamara
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Council President Joe McNamara went head to head Friday with dueling statements regarding a crucial issue on the September ballot that, if approved, would reduce the city deficit by $3.9 million.

Mr. Finkbeiner said voter passage on Sept. 15 of Issue 1 - also called Safety First - would eliminate funding for residential street repaving through 2012.

"We are sucking the guts out of our capital improvements budget, and I don't think that's going to bring jobs," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Issue 1 would change the way Toledo's 0.75 percent renewable income tax is allocated. One-third of the tax now goes to capital improvements, one-third to the general fund, and one-third to police and fire.

If approved, for the remainder of 2009, all of the money would go toward the general fund and police and fire operations. For 2010, 2011, and 2012, the allocation would be half to police and fire, one-third to the general fund, and one-sixth to capital improvements.

Mr. McNamara said the outgoing mayor is misleading voters and called on him to back off. He called the mayor's statements a "complete work of fiction."

"Your campaigning against Issue 1 will seriously jeopardize public safety," he wrote to Mr. Finkbeiner. "If Issue 1 fails, the city of Toledo will not be able to utilize the $3.9 million we have already budgeted to pay for police officer salaries."

Mr. McNamara pointed out to Mr. Finkbeiner that his attempts to push tax increases through council have failed; that he hasn't identified how to make up the $3.9 million if Issue 1 fails, and that he no longer will be mayor next year.

"Because layoffs require a 30-day notice, to recoup the loss of the $3.9 million from the public safety budget, you would have to lay off 200 police officers beginning Oct. 16," Mr. McNamara wrote.

On Tuesday, council rejected Mr. Finkbeiner's proposal for an alternative ballot issue.

After withdrawing his support of Issue 1, the mayor proposed legislation to place a question on the Nov. 3 ballot for voters to allow only a one-time transfer of $3.9 million from the capital improvements fund to the general fund.

Councilmen Michael Ashford and Betty Shultz voted in favor of putting the question on the November ballot. Phillip Copeland was not present.

If the Safety First Plan is passed, the city still will have a predicted shortfall of about $3.8 million. A coalition of councilmen urged people to vote yes and the Lucas County Democratic Party's executive and central committees endorsed its passage.



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