I know, I know - it doesn't happen often, but when it does, we need to acknowledge it.
Yesterday, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent a letter to City Council objecting to the transfer of Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds into the general fund to pay for interest on the loan taken out to purchase garbage trucks and cans. (The letter is below.)
I explained yesterday how council had no plan for meeting the obligation they were making and paying for the debt they approved for this purchase, but I did not address the fact of the ballot measure - which is how we got the available funds in the first place.
Hoping to get voter approval to take money out of CIP to pay for police and fire, the council 'set-aside' roughly $3.9 million and did not allocate it any capital improvements. They put the question to the voters as Toledo Issue 1 and called it the 'Safety First' plan.
But the voters said no - and it wasn't even close (54% to 46%).
Carty's letter rightly points out that voters don't want money diverted from the CIP to cover general fund expenditures - and that's what Councilman Joe McNamara's plan for the garbage truck payment would do.
As Carty states, the voters didn't want the city to move those funds around - even for such critical services as police and fire. So why would council even remotely consider moving the money for garbage trucks?
"We are elected by the citizens and work for the citizens. In case of a city-wide vote initiative, Council and the Mayor should respect the voters decision.
I am uncomfortable, at the very least, in going against the will of the voters who spoke to us on September 15."
And he's right. The citizens have instructed their employees on council that CIP funds are not to be transferred - and council needs to follow those instructions.
However, knowing this council, I'm afraid they'll think they know better and will vote to use those CIP funds. This would allow them to avoid making the difficult decisions of cutting government spending. And when given an easy versus a hard choice, they'll take the easy way out.
Just remember, five of these people are up for election. If you expect to have better decisions on city council, you MUST vote for people who don't embrace these perspectives.
Here is the mayor's letter - you can click on it for a larger image:
Letter from John Sherburne to Toledo City Council raising concerns about the city's debt limit, the identified plan for payment of the loan for the garbage trucks and cans and a 'reality check' for the claim that McNamara's plan will somehow help the 2009 deficit - you can click on it for a larger image: