Thursday, April 02, 2009

Deficit? What deficit? Let's have an Easter Egg hunt!

Seriously - you can't make this stuff up!

The City of Toledo is facing a $27.7 million deficit. The mayor is talking about laying off police officers, cutting salaries by 10% and voiding all labor contracts.

But we've somehow got enough money for an Easter Egg Hunt????

Thursday, April 2, 2009

City of Toledo Sponsors Two Saturday Events

The City of Toledo's 2009 EGG XTRAVAGANZA will be held this Saturday, April 4 from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Liz Person Open Air Shelter at Ottawa Park (2200 Kenwood Blvd.). This free, family-oriented event will feature an Easter egg hunt, face painting, arts & crafts, and a special visit from the Easter Bunny. EGG XTRAVAGANZA is sponsored by the City of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods, Division of Recreation. For more information, call 419-936-2700.

Now I realize that the money saved by not doing the Egg Xtravaganza (notice we didn't use the religious term of 'Easter') is not going to solve the deficit problem, but this is indicative of the lack of proper priorities for city spending.

Each program like this that 'only' costs a small amount, adds up to huge expenses over the years and contributes to the financial condition Toledo now faces. Spending on these items in spite of the looming catastrophe that is the General Fund is part of the problem.

And don't even get me started on 'quality of life.' No one's overall quality of life is going to be negatively impacted if a small number of kids don't have a city-sponsored egg to find. In fact, quality of life for all Toledoans would be greatly enhanced if the city spending priorities were directed toward the necessities of government, rather than these feel-good distractions.

The 2009 approved budget for the Recreation Department is $999,395.32 (pages 127-129). Given a choice, I'd pick police officers over 'recreation' any day.

So when council and the mayor tell us they've got nowhere else to cut and then we see these kinds of expenditures, we know they are lying through their teeth.


Carol said...

If this event is truly an 'inexpensive' event, then why doesn't Kroger and Meijer step up and donate hundreds of dozens of eggs to the community so they can 1)color and hide them and 2)then make egg salad out of them? At least there would be a two-fold benefit there.

And, in the grand scheme, it would avoid the overtime to city employees who have to be in attendance to monitor the event and pose for the cameras.

These were exactly the types of actions and attitudes that made our decision to leave the sinking ship (The Toledo) and head to an area that, while not without problems, addresses those problems head on and takes the necessary steps to fix the problem.

Sometimes it's not about the problem. It's not about the area. It IS about how the local governments deal with those problems. And Toledo's administration is in shambles because of the twisted mind-sets of the current powers that be.

Just the opinion of an abdicator from the Kingdom of Carty.

Norma said...

Ours is run by the civic association, and imo it's still a waste of money. I've linked to yours.

Jay Ott said...

The "Hunt" the city needs to conduct is to find where it has wasted its resources (which it won't admit to). The city needs to engage in a "hunt" for the businesses it has chased away due to its policies and lack of priorities.

The problems we have are not because citizens don't feel good enough or have enough "pride" or haven't "cheered enough" or haven't twisted enough arms, it's because the city is doing everything except what needs to be done to solve the problems that it has created.

Lisa Renee said...

I don't think that amount budgeted for recreation is going to remain, it's unfortunate that it's very difficult to be able to see what has been changed in the budget since that's not been updated.

However, back in December, the Toledo Journal wrote about this event in relation to some of the budget cuts that took place, the story isn't live online except through google cache.

On a brighter note, Ms. Bond told council members that the recreation division has no plans to eliminate or scale back several special annual events, such as the Egg Xtravaganza, Kids’ Fishing Rodeo and Pumpkinarama. Those and other events will take place because of volunteer help from city employees and citizens, she said.
''We work together, which has been that way for several years,'' Ms. Bond said.

I was not able to discover how much was planned on being spent versus donated.

When I attended the Council Retreat cutting the over 475,000 for athletics was discussed, as well as cutting the remaining amount of a little over 119,000 from the Youth Commission, it was stated that the remaining money budgeted from YC was for contractual purposes.

I don't however disagree with you that when it comes to the situation the City is now in that it's hard to justify any recreation programs/spending if the decision is police & fire versus that. Unfortunately it appears now that even when/if those programs are cut, it's not going to be enough.

Maggie Thurber said...

Lisa - good points...and I agree that cutting out any of the city funds for this event (and the others you mentioned) wouldn't solve the budget problem. But here is where I'm going to agree with many on the left about symbolism...but I consider it more of the mixed message that is being sent.

To bemoan the lack of funds for necessities while spending on luxuries sends several messages to the citizens and taxpayers: we do have money that can be cut despite saying we don't; we're really not serious about making cuts; we don't know where we're spending the money if we think we've cut everything and are still funding these expenses; egg hunts are more important than police officers; egg hunts will distract you from the serious financial problems; etc...

As for the budget, I wrote Jerry Dendinger, the Clerk of Council, to ask about the approved budget as passed by city council versus the budget submitted by the Mayor. He told me that only three amendments were made to the budget (none having to do with recreation) and that council passed the budget and the three amendments. He sent me the copies of the amendments, but told me that all other items in the budget were approved as submitted.

I did note that the Youth Commission line item has been zeroed out in the budget that is downloadable from the city website. The submitted budget still had funding in that line item.

However, it is VERY frustrating to not know for sure whether the budget you're seeing on line is the final approved version with amendments.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

$27.7 million deficit

Sell the parking garages.

Transfer the cash balance to the general fund

That would be a big start

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