Lindsay Webb, a Democrat representing city council District 6, and D. Michael Collins, an independent representing District 2, were the two consistent no votes on the seven "exigent circumstances" ordinances, two tax and fee-increase ordinances, and the final city operating budget.
The tortuous, 5 1/2-hour budget session Tuesday night wiped out a $25 million deficit and led to an approved 2010 budget that avoided massive layoffs - while sticking city employees with unpopular contract takebacks and residents with unpopular revenue increases.
The vote was 8-4, with Councilmen Tom Waniewski and Joe McNamara joining the no vote.
Mr. Collins, a retired police officer, police union president, and part-time college instructor, said he had received a clear message from constituents that they did not back a $15-a-month trash fee.
"I think people expect of me on city council to be their voice. If their voice is not consistent with the majority of council, I don't think their reaction is that I should go along to get along," he said.
Mr. Collins' resistance to the administration's fee plan drove him to an unproductive debate with Public Service Director David Welch over whether the city's recent dramatic increase in recycling was due to the fee incentive for recyclers, as Mr. Collins argued, or the automated blue trash carts that suddenly made recycling easy for all Toledoans, as Mr. Welch contended.
The debate appeared to bore most members of council, as well as Mayor Mike Bell, who finally signaled, with a finger across his throat, to Mr. Welch to drop the subject.
In the audience of council chambers, firefighter James Martin, former president of the Toledo Firefighters Local 92, expressed annoyance at Mr. Collins' refusal to support the trash fee, saying he was afraid to take a politically unpopular step.
Mr. Collins said the trash fee raises more money than trash collection costs, and will be unaffordable for some citizens, especially seniors - even though Mayor Bell committed Tuesday night to use some of the projected $7 million to be made available by Issue 5 to give a fee exemption to seniors.
Issue 5 on the May 4 ballot would reallocate revenue from the 0.75 percent temporary income tax from capital improvements and into the operating fund.
Mr. Welch said the fee is appropriate to the cost of trash collection if the cost of paying for new trash trucks and carts and for expansion of the landfill are included.
Ms. Webb said it's unfair to imply that she is an obstructionist.
"The party of no would grandstand and stand in front of Government Center and throw stones and that sort of thing," Ms. Webb said. "I didn't do that. I worked behind the scenes with the Bell administration and other members of council."
She said her opposition to the "exigent circumstances" ordinance to unilaterally cut employees benefits was based on her belief it could prove to be a costly gamble. And she noted that she was elected to council on a pledge to oppose the trash-collection fee.
Ms. Webb said she remains haunted by her vote early last year for a city budget that soon turned out to be based on overly optimistic income-tax projections.
In that case, council accepted a budget proposed by then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner based on projected income-tax revenues of $168 million that turned out to be about $30 million too high.
She and Mr. Collins pointed out they supported a 0.25-percent income-tax issue on the ballot to let citizens decide if they could afford an increase, which Mr. Bell later withdrew from consideration.
Councilman Wilma Brown, president of the 12-person city council, said she wished the two would have supported the final package.
"I felt that they should have voted for the citizens rather than the unions," Ms. Brown said. "They have a right to vote no, but in a time of crisis we should stick together."
She said she was scared council would fail to meet its March 31 deadline and not be able to pay employees tomorrow.
"I think we should have stuck together and been a party of unity rather than a party of no," Ms. Brown said.
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