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City council approves 5-year, $320M spending plan

  • park17p-4

    South Toledo’s Danny Thomas Park will receive $300,000 toward a much-needed renovation.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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  • CTY-rig21-7

    This year’s capital budget allocates $1.35 million to the Fire and Rescue Department, which should pay for three ambulances and nine other emergency vehicles.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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  • CTY-concert31p-15

    Downtown Toledo’s Levis Square will see $500,000 in improvements in the city's capital improvement plan.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Several city departments are slated to have new vehicles, downtown’s Levis Square will see $500,000 in improvements, and South Toledo’s Danny Thomas Park will receive $300,000 toward a much-needed renovation.

Toledo City Council on Tuesday approved a five-year, $320 million capital improvement plan, including a nearly $70 million capital budget for 2018.

Much of that $70 million goes to debt service payments and major street improvements, but council also appropriated about $11.3 million to 29 projects throughout the city.

“I am really extremely happy, because not only are we finally getting to things that we’ve needed to get to from a capital standpoint, we doubled the amount of sidewalks we’re going to do, we’re providing safe vehicles for police and the fire department, and we’re repairing parks that should have been repaired years ago,” said Councilman Tom Waniewski, who chairs the budget oversight committee.

This year’s capital budget allocates $1.35 million to the Fire and Rescue Department, which should pay for three ambulances and nine other emergency vehicles. The Toledo Police Department will receive $900,000 toward new vehicles. Chief George Kral said that should pay for about 18 new vehicles to replace the most high-mileage cars in a fleet of about 150.

Officials also budgeted $100,000 for new building inspection vehicles and $250,000 for parks and recreation vehicles and equipment.

Another $1 million has been set aside for sidewalk repairs along with $250,000 for lighting improvements.

Officials project a healthy income tax collection of about $39 million toward the capital budget in 2018 and nearly $200 million over the next five years. Mr. Waniewski attributed that boost to the city’s ability to fund more capital projects than in the past.

Councilman Tyrone Riley cast the lone vote against the spending plan, citing concerns over a lack of transparency.

He said council used to invite the city’s department leaders into a public hearing in council chambers so that they could present their capital requests and both council members and the public could ask questions. This year, that meeting was held in a city council conference room and no member of the public attended.

“I believe that this process was less transparent than in years past,” he said.

In other business Tuesday, council approved an ordinance recognizing Lucas County as a bird-friendly community through participation in the Ohio Lights Out Campaign.

Council also formally recognized the Toledo Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club for its work at Wilson Park. The group has adopted the park and plans to install an overhead screen and projector in the shelter house as well as permanent benches and a patio with a permanent canopy.

It also donated $1,000 to pay for neighborhood children’s admission to the pool this summer.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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