Toledo City Council received a healthy portion of good economic news Thursday: a positive tax revenue report, data showing reined-in overtime spending, and a briefing on growth created in the region by the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Finance officials presented council with the latest figures on tax collection, showing tax revenue up $2.7 million, or 5 percent between January and May of this year compared with 2011.
While the pace of growth slowed somewhat last month, finance director Patrick McLean said it was partly credited to receipt of one-time tax receipts on stock options in 2011.
Even so, the city's tax revenue growth so far exceeds the 3 percent projected in the 2012 budget.
"[The figures] are on target. They're within budget, even a little ahead," Mr. McLean said. "That's solid growth."
Another good sign for council in the economic report was a chart showing employee overtime costs squarely under control.
Overtime expenditures soared last year, mainly for the fire department, which exceeded its $3.5 million allocation.
This year, all departments are well under their overtime budgets, including the police and fire departments, officials reported.
"That's a real positive aspect of our budget right now," the finance director said. "We have to give a lot of credit to the chiefs for keeping that in line,"
Even so, officials said they are not throwing caution to the wind. Signs of slowing economic growth nationally and continued financial turmoil in Europe remain a concern for the future.
Nevertheless, declining regional unemployment and improving home sales and prices offered encouragement to councilmen.
Unemployment in Toledo was 8.5 percent in May, down from 10.2 percent in May, 2011.
"People are going back to work," finance committee chairman George Sarantou said.
"Not as fast as we would like but … clearly the unemployment numbers are dropping."
Later Thursday, council's economic development committee heard an upbeat presentation from Jeffrey Gold, UT chancellor and executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs, and dean of the UT Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio.
Mr. Gold provided the results of a recent study that shows the importance of Ohio's seven medical colleges, including UTMC, to the state's economy.
Altogether, the colleges had an impact of $42.6 billion on Ohio's economy in 2011.
UTMC's impact on northwest Ohio, which includes its teaching hospitals, was $5.6 billion, Mr. Gold said.
That's an increase of about $4 billion since 2002, according to the report.
"It means that we're continuing to provide a growing volume of quality clinical services," Mr. Gold said.
"It also means that through our education programs and through our research programs we continue to create tangible wealth … good jobs that support the tax base but also support the cultures of our society," he said.
Despite its economic clout, Mr. Gold said UTMC is losing an estimated $3 billion in hospital care every year because of people traveling to hospitals in other areas for medical help.
He attributed that to people's historical familiarity with outside medical centers, lack of knowledge about UTMC, and lengthy waiting times that he said have been addressed.
"The quality of care is high, the access is excellent, the physician work force is extremely strong," he said. "There's very little reason for people to leave the community for services that are offered here."
Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6272.