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Published: Tuesday, 10/20/2009

City Council likely to debate best use for leftover $3.9M

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Council President Joe McNamara and Councilmen Betty Shultz, center, and Lindsay Webb have different ideas for the $3.9 million. Council President Joe McNamara and Councilmen Betty Shultz, center, and Lindsay Webb have different ideas for the $3.9 million.
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Three Toledo councilmen today will begin making cases on how to spend the $3.9 million of capital improvement money left over from rejection of the Safety First plan at the polls last month.

Council President Joe McNamara wants to use most of the money to pay 2010 debt service costs for the purchase of new automated trash trucks and containers.

He said that plan would cut the city's 2009 deficit, which stands at about $7.8 million.

"We would reduce the deficit by $2.5 million and also save taxpayer money by paying down the balance so interest payments will be lower for the new trucks and carts through the capital improvements fund instead of the 2010 general fund," Mr. McNamara said. "It is capital improvement money and that can be spent on anything that lasts longer [than] five years."

The $3.9 million was set aside in the 2009 capital improvement budget pending voter approval to reallocate the 0.75 percent income tax in the Sept. 15 election.

The estimated bond principal and interest for the automated trucks in 2010 is $2,218,775. The notes issued for the containers will mature and be rolled over in 2010. The estimated interest payment due in 2010 is $290,000.

The notes' principal of nearly $9.7 million can be reduced by $640,000, which will reduce future years' debt-service costs to the city's general fund, Mr. McNamara said. "By paying the $640,000 we are reducing interest costs by $25,000 next year," he said.

The 180,000 trash and recycling containers - which cost the city $9.67 million to buy two for every household - will start arriving in the city Nov. 16.

Council agreed July 7 to spend $12.2 million to buy 40 automated garbage trucks, which the Finkbeiner administration said would be paid for through the city's general fund with savings from layoffs of refuse collectors.

Councilmen Lindsay Webb and

Betty Shultz have offered their own ideas for the $3.9 million.

Ms. Webb suggested it be equally divided into allotments of $650,000 for capital projects in each of the city's six council districts. "The mayor set aside the $3.9 million by denying us residential street repaving, so we did no new residential streets this year," Ms. Webb said. "So I thought it would be appropriate to lock up the money in equal shares amongst the six council districts so the money could be used for residential street repaving."

She said voters implied they wanted the money used on capital improvements such as street repair - not general fund expenses such as police and fire salaries - when they rejected Safety First, called Issue 1, on the ballot.

Mrs. Shultz wants the $3.9 million put toward the city's new finance computer system - a project that already has cost about $12 million. "I believe very strongly that Toledo doesn't know how much money it has or does not have, and that won't come about until will have real-time financial reporting," Mrs. Shultz said. "This is a new finance program and it is an ongoing project."

Although the city's general fund deficit is about $7.8 million, council is considering accepting $3.2 million from FirstEnergy Solutions through the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition. That would pay down the 2009 deficit to about $4.6 million.

Council members will meet at 2 this afternoon for their agenda review meeting in One Government Center.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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