Well, that's the choice and I think most would agree that Toledo's government hasn't done what it needs to do in terms of cost savings or cuts prior to talking about a tax increase in the guise of a 'trash fee' added onto our water bills.
What I find so frustrating in all of this is that Councilman Frank Szollosi (D-at large) is the one leading the charge to cut rather than tax - and no one is joining him. Where are our Republicans on council? Surprisingly silent on the core Republican philosophy of small government and low taxation.
Here's my suggestion. Before you begin to even consider a yes vote on increasing taxes on Toledoans, mandate that all non-union employees incur a payroll deduction to help pay for their insurance coverage...Not just city council members, though they should pay, too - but ALL city employees not covered by a union contract. After doing this, the city will have better standing to go back to the unions and request an agreement on payment as well.
Then, roll back all the PERS pickups that have been granted to all non-union employees. The city is required to contribute a specific percentage toward PERS for every employee. But over the years, as unions bargained for pick-ups (the city 'picking up' part of the mandated employee contribution), those pick-ups were applied to non-bargaining employees as well. Eliminate the PERS pick-ups for all non-union employees, including the Mayor and Council if they currently enjoy such a benefit.
Again, this will give the city better standing for similar discussions with the unions.
Some other things that can be done? Council can pay their own parking, eliminating the $5,000 cost for parking expenses separate from their parking garage costs. They can also eliminate the $13,000 auto allowance...use your own cars and claim a deduction on your income tax instead of charging the public for travel or having us pay for a vehicle for you to use.
The Mayor can eliminate some of the publications he's getting...his budget went from around $700 to over $2,000. He could also use email instead of sending formal letters and reduce his postage costs. And why he needs $18,000 in outside printing when that line item hasn't been over $8,000 in several years is beyond me. I guess that he's using our tax dollars for publicity purposes while saying there's nowhere else to cut the budget.
He can also take a lesson from Gov. Strickland and reduce his 'food' budget which is currently around $6,000. Miscellaneous supplies is the line item where you can hide a bunch of goodies...it's at $6,600 but hasn't been over $2,000 for several years. Or the $10,000 for marketing, $13,000 for travel, $1,000 for parking (not the government center garage), $5,600 for vehicle rental, $18,000 for advertising (separate from the already mentioned marketing), $30,000 for interns (let them earn credit instead of paying them), $18,000 for temps, $21,000 for misc. charges and services ... the list goes on.
And these are just two offices. With these kinds of expenses, don't tell me that you have to cut police and fire or charge for garbage pickup!
One person who spoke during the public hearings said the budget needs to be 'nickeled and dimed.' I agree. While each of these items seems like a small amount when you look at them individually, every city department has these kinds of expenses and they add up.
Cut these things first - then we'll see if we need to talk about tax increases conveniently called a 'garbage fee.'
Link to The Blade which has downloadable pdf's of revenues and expenses...these are large files.