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Published: Thursday, 3/14/2013

City finance director, law director critical of SUV purchases made by mayor's office

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Several Toledo councilmen blasted Mayor Mike Bell again Tuesday with accusations that they were misled into authorizing the purchase of two sport utility vehicles.

City Finance Director Patrick McLean and City Law Director Adam Loukx stopped short of accepting blame.

But both admitted an ordinance last year that paved the way for the mayor’s office to buy a 2013 Chevy Tahoe and a 2010 ordinance that allowed the city to buy a 2011 GMC Terrain were poorly written.

Mr. McLean — during a barrage of questions from Councilman D. Michael Collins — admitted the two vehicles, along with others in the last 10 years, were paid for with money from the wrong city fund.

He said the city over the past decade has not properly replaced money from the vehicle replacement fund, and now the Bell administration is asking council to transfer $437,646 from the city’s general fund for those purchases.

The two SUVs, which have some luxury options such as leather seats and strobe lights, cost taxpayers a combined $69,000.

Mr. Collins repeatedly asked Mr. McLean if the vehicles were bought appropriately.

Mr. McLean said the authorizing ordinances could have been clearer and should have identified the proper funds.

The request presented Tuesday before council’s agenda review meeting to shift the $437,646 from an expected 2012 general fund surplus for the accounting adjustments rekindled the controversy over the SUVs and the rift between the mayor and members of council.

“It is unfortunate that we have to be suspicious of ordinances,” Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson said.



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