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Published: 12/28/2011

Toledo City Council hosts first budget hearing

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo City Councilman Mike Craig responds to Brenda Hagman about why he hasn't responded to her emails during a town hall meeting at the East Toledo Family Center. Toledo City Councilman Mike Craig responds to Brenda Hagman about why he hasn't responded to her emails during a town hall meeting at the East Toledo Family Center.
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Charts and graphs filled a thick document distributed to the 10 or so East Toledo residents at a town hall meeting Wednesday about the city’s 2012 budget.

Just about as many city officials were there.

But the residents who spoke out at the hour-long meeting at the East Toledo Family Center had more direct concerns: crumbling streets; police protection; nuisance properties.

“We pay taxes like everybody else. I’ve been living in the city my whole life, and everything goes to the other side of the river,” said Gerald Brzuchalski. He was concerned about the allocation — or, in his view, the misallocation — of proceeds from the temporary 0.75-percent income tax when streets are in disrepair.

The temporary part of the 2.25 percent income tax has been renewed by voters about every four years since 1982. It will be on the March 6 ballot. It brings in about $51 million a year.

Councilman George Sarantou had asked the district council members to schedule public meetings to discuss the city’s budget. No other dates have been set; the meeting Wednesday night was the first.

Other issues were brought to the forefront. Longtime resident Glen Cook said police officers don’t stop by to find out what’s going on in the neighborhood. He witnesses drug deals, reports them, and doesn’t see results.

“We’ve got a community that wants to get involved and because of the politics and the unions, we can’t participate,” Mr. Cook said. “I’m disappointed that after all these years, I still don’t know the police in my neighborhood.”

Brenda Hagman spoke of her frustration at the mattresses, chairs and other debris left outside, uncollected for months, by tenants who move from properties owned by landlords who don’t live on the east side and don’t care.

“I’m sick and tired of looking at properties on the east side that are just dumps,” she said.

After each concern raised, Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat sent a representative of a city department into the audience to collect names, phone numbers, and particulars.

District 3 Councilman Mike Craig played host. Mr. Sarantou, chairman of council’s finance committee, outlined the city’s budget plight — plunging income tax revenues for several years with only a slight recent rebound since 2010.

“The fact of the matter is we have challenging times ahead of us,” Mr. Sarantou said.

Patrick McLean, the city’s finance director, explained the numbers in detail.

Mayor Mike Bell last month proposed a $235-million general fund budget for 2012 that maintains core services without tax hikes and hires police officers and firefighters, but that counts on concessions from city unions.

The Bell administration has urged council to approve the budget by Jan. 31, two months ahead of deadline.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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