Opposition on council mounts for CIP budget

Ford: Plan doesn’t ‘ring true’ for city

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    City Councilman Jack Ford

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  • Opposition to Mayor D. Michael Collins’ proposed capital improvements budget grew Monday as Toledo City Council continued to dissect the spending plan, and some councilmen continued grumbling about the seemingly unfair allocation of street-repair funding.

    During the public hearing, District Councilman Mike Craig, who represents East Toledo and the old south end, and at-large Councilman Jack Ford said they would vote against the budget once it comes to a vote. The $61.7 million Capital Improvement Program budget — which includes $12 million for streets, $17 million for debt service, and $14.1 million that will be transferred to the general fund — was released to council later in the year than usual and its approval already has been delayed for council to hold hearings.

    Mr. Craig has voiced the most consistent opposition because District 3 would get less than a mile of streets repaved.

    “They haven’t made my street situation right,” he said. “District 3 has been shorted for years. If they gave me all the street repaving money next year, that would be a good start toward making it fair.”

    The street-repair program alone will cost $12.2 million in city money, but the city is expected to get $23 million in state and federal matching grants for main roadway projects.

    Mr. Ford said the CIP budget — which allocates money for 2014 capital projects and details possible capital improvements spending over the following four years — does not “ring true” to the city’s future.

    He questioned why the Collins administration had not “carved out” city capital improvements money for major projects such as “Hensville,” a $21 million project to revitalize the downtown Warehouse District near Fifth Third Field; ProMedica’s plan to renovate and move into the old Toledo Edison Steam Plant along the Maumee River downtown with an adjacent underground parking garage, or the Marina District in East Toledo.

    Toledo Business Development Director Matt Sapara said the city had not been asked to contribute toward the three projects or earmark future CIP funding for them.

    Mr. Ford said the city should anticipate those requests will come. He cited other requests from other private companies, such as Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois Inc., who asked for public money, subsidies, or infrastructure improvements.

    “They all asked the city for some help,” he said

    Mr. Ford also noted that the city has no plans to set aside money to reacquire the 69 acres at the Marina District sold in July, 2011, to Chinese firm Dashing Pacific Group Ltd for $3.8 million. The city’s deal with the company has a provision allowing it to repurchase the property at the same price if not developed to the city’s expectations within five years.

    The five-year CIP plan the mayor offered shows that he plans to reduce the money taken out of CIP and instead use it for general fund operational costs such as police and fire salaries. This year’s transfer is $14.1 million. Under the plan, next year’s transfer would be $11 million; 2016 would be $7.755 million; 2017 would be $6.755 million, and 2018 at $6 million.

    Council meets today for its regular session but is not expected to vote on an ordinance authorizing more than $17.66 million of CIP money for the street paving and sealing, the sidewalk-repair program, and several other projects such as the construction of a fire station in North Toledo.

    Council is expected to vote on spending $110,476 to upgrade computers and software needed to run an internal delinquent tax-collection program. The city previously paid a vendor $40,000 annually to provide software. In 2013, there was $4.4 million in payroll taxes assessed and $3.3 million collected by the city, records show.

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