Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins continued to clamp down on city spending but also ordered his top officials to explore joining forces with other governmental agencies for greater buying power.
The mayor said he has rejected several city contracts because of problems, but he also wants to create a “public sector collaborative” for buying goods like fuel, as well as possibly combining the city and Lucas County’s information technology departments.
“I was thinking over the holiday that we might see if our friends [cities, townships, school districts, and Lucas County] would be interested in coming together as a public sector collaborative and having one universal contract for the purchase of gasoline,” Mayor Collins wrote this week to City Finance Director George Sarantou. “Just a thought to assist in our fiscal challenges.”
The idea is not new, and several attempts to merge county and city departments in the past have failed. There was an ill-fated attempt to combine the city and county inspections departments that died in former Mayor Mike Bell’s administration. Additionally, Mr. Bell last year said he had reached out to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr regarding a buying partnership.
Councilman Larry Sykes, a former Toledo Board of Education member, during an agenda review meeting Tuesday asked the mayor to consider forming such partnerships with the school system and county. Mayor Collins responded by saying he had just hours earlier sent an email on that topic.
Council on Tuesday was handed an annual ordinance that authorizes the administration to buy goods and services. Among the items on the list are 1 million gallons of gasoline; 750,000 gallons of diesel fuel oil; 300,000 gallons of fuel oil; an unspecified amount of helicopter fuel, and 37,300 tons of crushed stone.
Councilman Steven Steel asked for more specifics on the items and the price tags. He questioned why office furniture would be listed when the city government is flush with empty desks. “Don’t people already have furniture?” he asked.
Mayor Collins said he rejected a request from the police department for $40,000 to buy new furniture for the Northwest District police station in West Toledo. Instead, the mayor told police commanders to find old, unused city-owned furniture.
The mayor promised during his campaign to reopen the station within 100 days of taking office. Last month, the cost was estimated to be $120,000, but city officials warned it could reach $225,000. Mayor Collins said the cost would be held to $120,000.
Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada said she favors cooperative buying with the city.
“Something as simple as joint salt purchasing would help,” Ms. Contrada said. “It has been done for a while but the bigger the consortium, the more buying clout you have.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at:
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