Monday, April 30, 2007

Tracking City Spending (UPDATED)

There's been a lot of discussion in our area and on line about City of Toledo spending - specially in light of the new garbage tax (which is going into the general fund and not dedicated solely to garbage service) and the comment by many city council members, including the Republicans, that there wasn't any where else to cut the budget.

Originally, the city was going to start collecting the tax on May 1st, with an estimated revenue of $2,916,000 for the year. However, our mayor decided to start collecting the tax the date it was approved by council - April 2nd - which means that the city is going to get an estimated $364,500 MORE revenue than originally projected.

Of course, that means another $364,500 of spending that the city can make...

So, since the City is getting more of our money than anticipated and because they said there was no unnecessary spending in the budget, I thought I'd start tracking their spending. (See list on left column.)

I will be listing all expenditures that are, in my opinion, UNNECESSARY. The tracking of such spending is not a reflection on any group or organization that is the recipient of such funding - merely a reflection of how far our local government has come away from fulfilling its statutory duties and how costly such spending can be. And many people will say that such recipients deserve such funding ... my point is that council should be prioritizing the spending and not raising our taxes so that government can do 'nice' things to the detriment of doing 'statutory' things.

My source for these expenditures will be the Toledo City Journal which is the official city record of ordinances approved by City Council.

To start off:
* City Council spent $25,000 to the LCIC (Lucas County Improvement Corporation) despite the mayor's position that the city already has an economic development department and is providing staff support for the organization.
* $15,000 to the MetroParks to provide educational nature programs at the Ottawa Park Nature Education Center.

Or these which are on the agenda for today: (note - corrected as previous post wrongly indicated that the $43,000 had already been voted on)
* $43,000 for the design, hosting and maintenance of the city's website. (Now, the city needs a website and hosting for it, but already has a person on staff who's supposed to be working on design.)
* $39,900 for gateway beautification - meaning flowers at the entranceways to our city.
UPDATE: The $39,900 was approved by City Council and has been added to the running total in the left column.

If you are aware of any general fund spending that should be included, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

10 comments:

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

My nomineees
ORD. 06-07
Authorizing the expenditure of $25,000 from the General Fund as a contribution to the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo for the Artists Relocation, “Live, Work, Create Toledo” program; authorizing the Mayor to enter into any necessary agreements to facilitate the contribution; and declaring an emergency.

ORD. 57-07
Authorizing the Mayor to enter into an Agreement with Humane Ohio in an effort to address the cat over population at its source and prevent unwanted cats from being born by providing a program of spaying and neutering; authorizing the appropriation and expenditure of not more than Thirty Eight Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($38,000.00) for these professional services from the Cat Regulation Fund; and declaring an emergency.

Maggie Thurber said...

BSRG - I've added the "live, work create Toledo" program, but not the cat spaying and neutering.

My reasoning is because there is a cat licensing law and the fees collected from this law go into a dedicated account (Cat Regulation Fund) which is supposed to be used for such expenses.

Now - whether or not there should be such a law is another issue entirely. But because of the nature of the fund, the expenditures are limited in scope and are not coming from the general fund.

I've decided to examine the General Fund at this time because that is where the additional garbage tax revenues are going.

Perhaps there will be an opportunity in the future to do this same sort of tracking for the Capital Fund and special funds.

Maggie Thurber said...

And thanks for the suggestion!

mholdri said...

Maggie, I think you're doing a wonderful job of informing Toledo about the runaway gov. that the city has. Keep up the good work!!!

When you were asked on the radio today, who would be the leadership that is going to turn things around; I think the answer is going to be the people who's eyes you and others open.

My hope is to move back to the Toledo area at some point. But at the moment, the lessons I am learning at LI and in DC are going to be invaluable in the future!

Thanks again!

Kurt said...

The irony of this is beautiful. The city continues to spend on nonsense when true needs must be met. Take, for instance, the city Prosecutor's office. There is currently one less prosecutor per judge, which is outrageous, not to mention the fact that the city doesn't recognize the city prosecutors for who they are, officers of the court, and they are paid significantly less than their counterparts. They are not just another city employer Carty, they are officers of the court.

What troubles me is that as this economy declines, this creates a greater need for good prosecutors. With that, you need to pay them the market rate for lawyers if you expect good lawyers. Of the six city prosecutors, two should be fired and replaced, and three should be hired. Additionally, they should all be paid a fair amount. About 20,000 more than what they're currently making to encourage good people to sign up for it. Sure, 4 of the 6 are good, but they should be making about 20,000 more per year.

As the economy continues to decline, there will be a greater need for good prosecutors, for when the economy fails, crime increases. In the meantim, the current prosecutors are underpaid, and Judge Goulding is without his own prosecutor, because he is the newest, which is outrageous. By the way, Goulding should be elected. He's a good guy, and more importantly a good judge.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kurt - you've made an excellent point about the Muni Court Prosecutors. As it is, they handle so many cases that they really don't have time to properly prepare. Most cases are settled - not because that's in the best interest of justice - but because it's quicker and easier.

Yet we've got money to buy and plant flowers....

Frank said...

Hey Maggie,
Is there someway for the public to get a copy of the city's budget? When I heard about the cuts that were being looked at, increase in costs (taxes), and all the other foolhardy stuff that the city was coming up with, it would be nice to have something to look at and suggest for next year to cut or eliminate (instead of fire or police officers). Of course, if all full time city employees were to pay a part of their medical coverage, a 10 percent cut in wages for city council and the mayor, we might be able to get rid of this "trash tax".

Maggie Thurber said...

Frank - I couldn't find a copy of the budget on their website.

Actually, to really take a look at the spending, you need to view the 'detailed report of expenditures' which gives all the various line items and the amounts. I have a copy of the proposed detailed report of expenditures for 2007 - which also includes actual costs for 2003-05 and the approved amounts for 2006.

It's where I got the idea that there is about $80,000 in the Mayor's Office budget for unnecessary items - like marketing, advertising, seasonal employees, car rental, and temps - that could be cut.

If I can get an updated copy now that the budget is passed, I'll try to post it here.

If you find a copy on-line, let me know and I'll link it.

kateb said...

Try this:

http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/pdf/TO14454327.pdf

:-)

Hooda Thunkit said...

Nothing at this time however...

It might be interesting to look at which department and fund each employee (of Toledo) in government center is paid out of.

I seem to remember hearing of people working there sometimes being paid out of funds from elsewhere. . .

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