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Published: 1/30/2013

City Council OKs $611M budget

Amendment pushes for reopening of district police station

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Bell administration committed $1.7 million to renovate Fire Station 3, the city’s oldest fire house. The Bell administration committed $1.7 million to renovate Fire Station 3, the city’s oldest fire house.
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Toledo City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the city’s 2013 operating budget and capital improvements budget, with last-minute changes that include dedicating $100,000 to a shuttered police station and another $100,000 for economic development projects on Sylvania Avenue.

Council also unanimously approved a change to the way the administration can start individual capital improvement projects. The mayor’s office is now required to get approval from council for each request in the spending plan.

“To write a check for $28 million and say ‘do whatever you want with it’ … that is not responsible,” said Councilman D. Michael Collins, who wrote that amendment to the capital improvement projects budget.

“I think it’s a critical step in good governance and it’s a defeat for the administration because they felt that they had unbridled authority on these issues and we put a bridle on them,” Mr. Collins said.

Spending across all of the city’s funds this year will total about $610.69 million, City Finance Director Patrick McLean said.

The total proposed capital improvements budget for the year is about $32.3 million.

Two amendments approved Tuesday shift money from the capital improvements budget to the general fund.

Council voted 9-3 in favor of the $100,000 for the Northwest District Station at 2330 Sylvania Ave., despite the fact that Mayor Mike Bell said he would not reopen the building and staff it with police officers. Voting against were Lindsay Webb, Adam Martinez, and Mike Craig.

Ms. Webb said it was a political statement to support funding for the building when the mayor has no intention of using that cash.

“We are essentially setting aside $100,000 that can’t be used,” she said.

Ms. Webb said it would be “more prudent” for a councilman to say he would reopen the station as a mayoral campaign promise. The statement seemed directed toward Council President Joe McNamara, a likely candidate for mayor who helped write the amendment.

A second amendment dedicated $100,000 for economic development projects on Sylvania from Lewis Avenue to Secor Road. That money too comes from the capital improvements budget and will be shifted into the general fund.

A third amendment allocated $75,000 for detailed engineering for the “Nautical Village Project,” along Summit Street at the entrance to Point Place.

Mayor Mike Bell’s capital improvements budget, originally released last month, sets aside funding for paving 51 miles of road lanes along with money to build a fire station and renovate another. In all, the city plans to repave 61 miles of roadways as there is funding left from previous years, Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said.

Major projects in the plan include Secor Road between Central Avenue and Monroe Street as well as part of Collingwood Boulevard in the Old West End. About 23 of the 61 lane miles are residential roads throughout Toledo’s neighborhoods and downtown.

The Bell administration committed $1.7 million to renovate Fire Station 3, the city’s oldest fire house. The city in September shuttered the 85-year-old building at 701 Bush St. because of cracks in the floor of the fire engine bay and plans to repair the main station house and add additional space for fire apparatus.

The mayor also has agreed to allocate $2.7 million for a new fire station, which will become Fire Station 12 — the name of a former firehouse at Suder Avenue and Manhattan Boulevard that was closed in 1980. It is to be built on the site of basketball courts in Blair Park, at Adrian and Chase streets. The new station’s service area will span from north of Galena Street to south of Point Place.

The 2013 general fund budget — which is used to fund expenditures such as police and fire salaries — forces the city to take millions out of the capital improvements budget to keep Toledo’s books balanced. The proposed general fund budget predicts about $244.59 million in spending and an equal amount in revenues — up from the $238.98 million in revenues and spending in the 2012 budget.

The city will take about $14 million from the capital improvements budget, which is more than the $11 million it took from that fund last year.

Tuesday’s council approval also included a Bell administration revision to bump up, by $1 million, revenues expected from red-light-camera services, and earmark that extra money for a list of additional expenses.

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



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