Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Toledo is broke but has money for a study?

Yes, of course we do! Can you say 'stuck on stupid'????

The City of Toledo - still - has a budget deficit. According to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's July letter to City Council, it's just over $8.6 million. Yet last night, council passed Ordinance 383-09 "Appropriation for engineering & planning by Tetra Tech of Municipal Solar Field, $110,000 Water Improvement."

This is on top of the $65,000 they've already spent, but if they spend the additional money now, they might be able to get some federal dollars for this.

This is just more twisted logic. First they needed to spend the money to show that we're 'supportive' of the solar industry.

(I hate it when politicians think that 'being supportive' of an industry means they have to spend our tax dollars, rather than their own by purchasing stock or making a personal investment in these companies!)

The additional money is urgent, they say, because maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to get help from Washington for the project. So what happens if we DON'T get any funds from DC? Then what?

Council and the mayor will justify this expenditure by saying it's from the water fund, not the general fund, so the budget deficit is not impacted. What they fail to understand is that it's their philosophy of spending that's the problem.

First, the water fund is supposed to be solely for the water system and service. How, exactly, does a solar field fall under that limited use? It could only be by a good stretch of imagination, or perhaps a 'willing suspension of disbelief.'

Second, what did the $65,000 study buy us? Where is the report from the expenditure of those funds? Why hasn't that been released for all to see PRIOR to spending more money? Where is the analysis of the return on investment for this project? Where is the detailed listing of available funds to go forward, if that decision were to be made? Why would we spend more money for a study if we don't have the money to build it when the study is done?

And third, if this is such a fantastic idea, why don't they put their own money toward the project? Let them 'invest' their dollars, rather than our tax dollars. What, you say, they wouldn't do such a thing? It must not be such a good idea, then, is it?

Our Toledo politicians have bigger problems than funding a study of a solar field on a dump. But they don't seem to want to address those. They'd rather keep spending - and getting nice headlines from a local paper who loves the idea.

For last year's deficit, they took money out of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) fund and moved it into the General Fund in order to balance 2008. This year, the number of CIP projects are reduced as a result.

They've voted to put a temporary change to the distribution of the 3/4% payroll income tax on the ballot so they can, again, move money from the CIP to cover their general fund expenditures, including a police class.

Carty is still pushing for an increase in the trash tax. Though that was supposed to be for garbage service, it's being used as a general tax to supplement general fund activities, an action likely to cause them to lose their lawsuit over the issue. And there has been no public discussion among council members on the impact of losing that lawsuit and the potential cost to the city to reimburse residents for the money collected.

Additionally, Carty is still pushing for the end of 100% reciprocity for Toledo residents who work in other jurisdictions - basically, a tax increase on citizens who live in Toledo but work in areas like Sylvania, Maumee or Oregon. Council has rejected this in the past, but we still have a deficit, so who knows?

The problem is that they have no idea how to live within their means - our means, actually. They're too busy promoting their own pet projects and programs and expecting that they'll just get the money from somewhere, though that 'somewhere' ends up being from us - and we're completely tapped out.

I don't care how good of an idea you think it is, we just don't have the money.




Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


Is it any wonder why Chicago sends their young politicians on field trips to Toledo; to see how corrupt politics is REALLY played?

"Professor" Finkbeiner has a bright and profitable future ahead of him on the lecture circuit...

Thomas said...

Why not spend money for Tetra Tech? I remember that when I was doing some research for a column on what unions gave to Carty, Tetra Tech was a big donor for his '05 mayoral campaign.

Not sure how much TT has contributed to Council, but TT is getting their money's worth.

Your welcome, Tetra Tech.

skeeter1107 said...

Maggie lighten up!

You just don't understand how this works. Let's review all the successes there have been in this City that have involved studies just like this one.

1. Erie Street Market
2. Commodore Perry
3. Hillcrest Hotel
4. Steam Plant
5. Marina District

And that's just to name a few. To paraphrase our Vice President. "We have to spend this money, otherwise we would go bankrupt."

So you see Maggie, once you're able to get your mind around this and truly understand the logic, you too will see that the political idea dejour is the way to go. Go Green Maggie!

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