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Published: Tuesday, 4/6/2010

Waniewski lists city outlays he calls wasteful

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo taxpayers spent $100,000 to buy 1,076 pairs of work shoes for city employees and will pay more than $11,000 in property taxes for a vacant barn that formerly housed police horses.

Councilman Tom Waniewski released a list of city expenses Monday he said are wasteful or unnecessary, but at the same time acknowledged that the administration of Mayor Mike Bell got saddled with the bills.

"From my perspective, it continues to point out how government operations need to change," Mr. Waniewski said. "It's the culture I would like to see change, and hopefully Mayor Bell will look to change the culture and how government spends money."

Mr. Waniewski said the city spent $1,150 to move a grandfather clock from the 17th floor of One Government Center to the 22nd floor when the law department changed offices this year.

Jen Sorgenfrei, spokesman for Mayor Bell, said that amount paid for moving the entire department, not just the clock.

The city also budgeted $150,000 in 2010 for tuition reimbursement for the police department.

"Officers can take any class even if it's unrelated to law enforcement," Mr. Waniewski said.

Also, taxpayers will pay $55,000 for janitorial services at the city-owned Erie Street Market near downtown even though it is leased to a private entity for the next three years.

Ms. Sorgenfrei said those are obligations that were created under former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's administration.

"The mayor has said several times that the current arrangement for the Erie Street Market is not a good business deal," she said. "It costs us $300,000 to operate it and we only get $200,000 a year."

Ms. Sorgenfrei said the tuition reimbursement for police and the shoe purchases are contractual obligations.

Regarding the former police mounted patrol barn near downtown, Ms. Sorgenfrei said the lease negotiated by the Finkbeiner administration obligates the city to pay rent until August, 2011, unless the owner is able to find another tenant.

Meanwhile, the horses are stabled in Oregon and are listed for sale.

"The things that Councilman Waniewski mentions are warranted concerns," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

"They are part of a long list of items we were handed when we walked in the door on

Jan. 5, and the city is going to pay its bills."

Mr. Waniewski yesterday also said there are 130,000 delinquent water bills for the city totaling about $18 million.

The amount of more-recent delinquencies is about $6 million, he said.

There are also 12,024 delinquent tax cases in the city totaling $3.3 million, and as of March 17, $362,000 had been collected, he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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