Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reaction to 3/4%

Informed reaction to the passage of the 3/4% income tax renewal on Tuesday...

WTOL's Bob Chirdon

Toledo Wins from the Blade.

Do you have any reaction?

More 08 Budget Town Halls

Following up two successful public work sessions in January and February, City Council is scheduling 6 more - one for each Council District.

Monday, March 10 - 6pm (District 2) - UT Health Science Campus, Health Ed Bldg Room 100

Tuesday, March 11 - Friendship Park - 6pm (District 6)

Wednesday, March 12 - 6pm (District 3)

Tuesday, March 18 - UT Nitschke Hall - 6pm (District 1)

Wednesday, March 19 - 6pm (District 5)

Thursday, March 20 - 6pm (District 4)

$75,000 In New Spending

City Council approved $75,000 in new spending at the request of City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb on Feb. 26 for an Ottawa River environmental initiative. The vote was 11-1, with Councilman Szollosi dissenting.

In addition, Council approved an operating agreement regarding the Willis B. Boyer vessel at International Park. The agreement calls for the City to continue providing utilities to the ship, estimated to cost $5,000 over the next few years. The Boyer agreement passed 11-1 with Councilman Ashford dissenting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Council Asserts Itself on Garbage Tax

Last month several members of Council met at the Birmingham Branch Library to discuss priorities for the 2008 City of Toledo Operating Budget. One of the ideas to emerge from that session was for City Council to pass legislation prohibiting the Mayor and the Director of Public Service from re-establishing the "refuse collection fee" without a specific authorizing ordinance approved by Toledo City Council.

There are over 200 various taxes, fees, assessments and other charges that the City of Toledo levies - nearly all of which require specific Council action.

In a 9-3 vote on Feb. 26, 2008, Council in fact gave its approval to legislation requiring the Finkbeiner Administration to seek 7 votes to continue the garbage tax after April 2008.

Council members voting to give Mayor Finkbeiner sole authority to impose the $4.8 million garbage tax were Sarantou, Shultz and Sobczak.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

First Public Hearing...

...scheduled for this Wednesday, November 28th at 4:00pm. This initial meeting will be conducted in City Council chambers at One Government Center.

The upcoming evening meetings in each council district are in the process of being scheduled and we should post the details here soon.

Click Here for 2008 proposed Budget

Friday, November 16, 2007

First Impressions, Appreciation

Citizens, city employees and representatives of stakeholder groups are welcome to share their initial reactions to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's proposed 2008 Operating Budget.

The City welcomes your input.

There are many interesting and challenging commitments in the proposal, from the new direction in refuse collection (phasing in automation), new intergovernmental relationships (especially in criminal justice), the new Police and Fire classes, the continuation of the garbage tax - and many more.

Personally, I'm impressed that overall General Fund spending rises only 1.7% over 2007. (After much larger increases in spending in 06 and 07.) And I appreciate the Mayor giving this budget proposal more time and attention than last year's submission, reflected in the fact that this is indeed a 'balanced budget' proposal with several new directions for us to consider.

Along with areas of agreement and certain disagreement, Council members and engaged citizens should appreciate the efforts of the men and women who developed this budget proposal, made it available on-line immediately (a first), and who will work with all of us in the upcoming weeks and months as we analyze, challenge and debate the priorities of the City of Toledo as reflected in the 2008 Operating Budget.

Monday, November 12, 2007

First 2008 Budget Hearing

Everyone is invited to our first 08 budget hearing, this Thursday, November 15th at One Government Center at 1:30pm.

We should have paper copies of the Mayor's 2008 budget proposal available, and we are asking Council staff to upload a link asap.

What to expect? Despite the overwhelming passage of Issue 22, "the Balanced Budget Amendment" doesn't become law until the Lucas County Board of Elections certifies the results of the November 6 General Election, probably around Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, the Mayor has already gone on record with Tom Troy (The Blade) with intentions to submit a balanced budget proposal this week. The proposal will be uniquely his, as he declined to meet with members of council to discuss our ideas for the 2008 operating budget. (I'll dig up the official memo from CoS Reinbolt and post it this week.)

It'll be interesting to see the growth in General Fund spending. From 03 to 05, it was $225 million. By 07, it grew to $248 million. Some of us hope to identify savings to eliminate the garbage tax in 08 and slow the growth in city taxing and spending.

A much debated proposal regarding an expansion of red light cameras probably deserves its own post - but I say we accept the value of increased safety and reinvest the revenue in a new police class.

There are at least two significant changes to the 2008 budget process. First, the Administration and City Council are adopting "performance based budgeting" - attempting to focus on outcomes, rather than line items. Second, new leadership on Council, from President Ashford to the members-elect, all anticipate significant public input and are open to dynamic changes that better reflect Toledo's priorities.

Those priorities, I hope, can be constructively debated here, in the local media, and face to face.