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Published: Tuesday, 11/13/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Mayor Bell’s plan puts 2013 budget at $609M

Shifting required to balance books

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell speaks at a press conference at One Government Center about  the proposed 2013 operating budget. Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell speaks at a press conference at One Government Center about the proposed 2013 operating budget.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Mayor Mike Bell on Mon­day re­leased his pro­posed 2013 gen­eral fund bud­get — a spend­ing plan that again forces the city to take mil­lions out of the cap­i­tal im­prove­ment bud­get to keep Toledo’s books bal­anced.

Spend­ing across all of the city’s funds next year will to­tal $609 mil­lion. The pro­posed gen­eral fund bud­get pre­dicts $243.59 mil­lion in spend­ing and an equal amount in rev­e­nues — up from the $238.98 mil­lion in rev­e­nues and the $238.9 mil­lion in spend­ing in the 2012 bud­get.

Mayor Bell said the 2013 bud­get is a far bet­ter out­look than the city had when he first took of­fice in Jan­u­ary, 2010. At that point, he was con­sid­er­ing po­lice of­fi­cer and fire­fighter lay­offs along with deep cuts to other city ser­vices to keep the books bal­anced.

The mayor called it “al­most a lit­tle bit of a mir­a­cle” that the city was able to main­tain its ser­vices with­out rais­ing taxes.

“The bud­get that we are pre­sent­ing to­day presents a much more dif­fer­ent pic­ture,” he said. “Although it’s not glam­or­ous, it does rep­resent that Toledo is re­cov­er­ing on a steady path in this eco­nomic re­cov­ery mood that we are in.”

“We still, though, do face chal­lenges,” he said. “Between 2011 and 2013 we’ll lose ap­prox­i­mately $14.7 mil­lion from lo­cal gov­ern­ment funds, which is nor­mally pro­vided from the state.”

The Bell ad­min­is­tra­tion said it will keep the city in the black by tak­ing $13.96 mil­lion from the cap­i­tal im­prove­ments bud­get, which is more than the $11 mil­lion it took from that fund this year. Even with the in­creased raid­ing of that fund, city of­fi­cials plan to pave more streets than dur­ing any of the last three years.

The 2013 CIP bud­get, when it’s re­leased in Decem­ber, will have $32 mil­lion for more than 50 miles of streets to be re­paved and re­con­structed, with money left over to ren­o­vate Fire Sta­tion No. 3 and build a new Fire Sta­tion No. 12, the mayor said.

“The great­est de­bate we have now isn’t whether we will be add­ing po­lice and fire, but where will we be put­ting the fire sta­tion,” he said. 

“I can tell you that three years ago, the is­sue would have been can we even af­ford to have the fire­fight­ers in the sta­tion.”

The Toledo Fire and Rescue chief, Luis Santiago, left, and Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs, right, attend the announcement for the proposed 2013 operating budget at One Government Center. The Toledo Fire and Rescue chief, Luis Santiago, left, and Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs, right, attend the announcement for the proposed 2013 operating budget at One Government Center.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Dep­uty Mayor Steve Her­wat said the city will be able to pave more streets be­cause the en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices di­vi­sion has been ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing fed­eral and state grants for street re­pair.

City Finance Direc­tor Patrick McLean pre­dicted 3.4 per­cent growth in the city’s in­come tax. The city’s 2.25 per­cent in­come tax, which is linked to em­ploy­ment, is the larg­est source of rev­e­nue for the city.

Mr. McLean es­ti­mated the city will col­lect $163.87 mil­lion from in­comes taxes in 2013, up from the $158 mil­lion or $159 mil­lion ex­pected to be col­lected by the end of 2012.

Other rev­e­nues the city plans to col­lect next year in­clude $10.8 mil­lion from prop­erty taxes; $20.45 mil­lion from “charges for ser­vices”; $6 mil­lion from li­censes and per­mits; $7 mil­lion from fines and for­fei­tures, and $27.16 mil­lion from all other rev­e­nues, which in­cludes op­er­at­ing trans­fers, sales of as­sets, and ca­sino rev­e­nue.

“The spend­ing pri­or­i­ties are very clear to us this year,” he said. “First of all, pub­lic safety. In this bud­get there are dol­lars for a po­lice class as well as a fire class and as we ex­am­ine our rev­e­nues early in the new year and with the close out of 2012, we will make some de­ter­mi­na­tions early in the year whether or not we can even add to the size of that po­lice class.”

Mr. McLean said the in­creases in spend­ing next year comes chiefly from more ex­pen­sive base sal­a­ries and wages — which in­creases from $92.69 mil­lion to $97.53 mil­lion. That is a 5.21 per­cent in­crease.

There is also a 9.12 per­cent in­crease in em­ploy­ment taxes and med­i­cal costs for the city from $23.76 mil­lion to more than $25.9 mil­lion next year.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Joe McNamara said the bud­get was as he ex­pected.

“It does not ap­pear there are any sur­prises, in that we were ex­pect­ing it to be bal­anced through bor­row­ing both from the bond mar­ket and in­ter­nally from the CIP bud­get to pay for op­er­a­tions,” Mr. McNamara said.

The pro­posed bud­get also:

• In­creases the mayor’s of­fice bud­get from $728,240 to $827,449 spent out of the gen­eral fund.

• Cuts the bud­get for city coun­cil and city au­di­tor from $1.445 mil­lion to $1.426 mil­lion.

• Adds $210,000 to the city’s rainy day fund. That fund cur­rently has $326,000, which is less than a day’s worth of gen­eral fund op­er­at­ing ex­pen­di­tures at the end of 2011.

Mr. Bell said the 2013 pro­posed bud­get con­tin­ues a com­mit­ment to pub­lic safety with ad­di­tional po­lice and fire classes.

The po­lice and fire de­part­ments are the larg­est ex­penses for Toledo tax­pay­ers — swal­low­ing up 67.29 per­cent of the gen­eral fund. Po­lice will cost $75.3 mil­lion from the gen­eral fund, up from $73.6 mil­lion last year. The po­lice de­part­ment will cost a to­tal of $78.34 mil­lion across all city funds. 

Fire will cost $61.7 mil­lion from the gen­eral fund, up from $60.4 mil­lion last year. Its to­tal cost is $62.89 mil­lion.

The po­lice de­part­ment cur­rently has a class in the acad­emy and will of­fer a po­lice of­fi­cer civil ser­vice exam on Dec. 1. The exam will give the city a new list of can­di­dates, at least 45 of whom will be se­lected to be­gin train­ing in 2013. The fire de­part­ment be­gins train­ing 30 new re­cruits on Dec. 3 who will to be­gin work­ing in 2013. The 2013 po­lice and fire classes will not be­gin un­til cur­rent classes have com­pleted their acad­emy train­ing.

The Toledo Munic­i­pal Court will also cost tax­pay­ers more in 2013 — $14.1 mil­lion, up from $13.55 mil­lion last year.

The cost for pub­lic util­i­ties is up while the pub­lic ser­vices de­part­ment is cut.

Pub­lic util­i­ties in­creases from $151.9 mil­lion this year to $158.1 mil­lion in 2013 and pub­lic ser­vices is down to $66.8 mil­lion in 2013 from $67.3 mil­lion this year.

Mr. Bell on Mon­day high­lighted a rel­a­tively small line item in his pro­posed bud­get for rec­re­ation.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion also main­tained a com­mit­ment to qual­ity of life is­sues af­fect­ing res­i­dents. Despite the re­jec­tion of a levy to sup­port parks and rec­re­ation, the city will al­lo­cate ap­prox­i­mately $175,000 more in the 2013 bud­get to sup­port rec­re­ation ac­tiv­i­ties for Toledo res­i­dents,” said a state­ment that ac­com­pa­nied the 208-page gen­eral fund bud­get book.

Con­tact Igna­zio Messina at: imessina@the­blade.com  or 419-724-6171.

 



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