Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Maybe they're finally getting it!

During a committee hearing yesterday, Toledo City Council President Michael Ashford was not convinced that it was a good idea for the city to purchase a portion of the Southwyck Mall property. And kudos to him for what he said, as quoted in today's Blade!

"The City of Toledo in this deal has become the middleman of buying private property, doing the cleanup, and then turning around and selling it to a private developer," he said. "That's not our role and responsibility."

But that's not the only news that came out of the committee meeting - the actual costs are closer to $2.6 million ... not the $1,095,000 that was originally published. The extra $1.5 million is to pay for the removal of any asbestos in the building, though Councilman Betty Shultz thinks the costs could be higher.

And the city plans to give itself a no interest loan from its revolving loan fund in order to cover the outlay. While city officials say that the purchase price and 80% of the clean-up costs would be repaid by Larry Dillin when he purchases the property from the city, the remaining 20% wouldn't be repaid until Dillin has all his private financing in place and his tenants lined up...and who knows when that could be, considering his other major commitment to the Marina District.

And that $1.5 million loan the city is going to make to itself is money that won't be available for other purposes in the meantime.

The fact that Michael Ashford believes this is not a proper use of public funds is terrific. Hopefully, he'll be able to convince his fellow council members of this(including the Republicans who've lately been more interested in agreeing with Carty than in standing for Republican principles) and the city won't interject itself into what should be a private transaction between the owner(s) of the property and Larry Dillin. Let Dillin purchase the property, clean it up and then develop it as he wants...and let the city focus on its statutory responsibilities.

(If you'd like background on the Southwyck Mall issue, type 'Southwyck' in the Search This Blog box in the left-hand column and you'll find seven other posts on the topic, including what appears to be a now defunct plan to take the mall by eminent domain.)


Tim Higgins said...


You have to ask yourself who taught these people accounting and economics. Borrowing from ourselves with a no interest loan and an indeterminate time frame for payback? Are they kidding us? How can this not be a loser for the city in the end?

At the very least, we will be paying interest on money borrowed or unable to use money for "public" projects because we have used it on a private one (as you have pointed out). What kind of blackmail material does Larry Dillin have on the city to convince them to interject themselves into this potential sink hole?

If this is the way that city government looks at business and finance, we have yet another reason to keep them out of it.

Robin said...

I hope they listen to him, on this. The Southwyck deal is not logical.

kateb said...

I absolutely agree with Ashford. The city should not be the developer or the property managers. They just need to take the steps to make it available for development and stay out of the way.

When the government gets into the private commerce business you have disaster. And the very real possibility for graft on a grand scale.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Hooray for Mike Ashford!

At least somebody gets it.

1 down and 11 to go. . .

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