It's the priorities, stupid...
With the huge budget deficit for 2009 (anywhere between $22-27.7 million depending on which day it is and which city administrator is speaking), and with the Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) fund raided to balance the 2008 budget, it should come as no surprise that funds for capital projects are limited.
But the mayor's CIP budget recommends nothing for the repaving of residential streets.
(SIDENOTE: The Blade obtained the CIP budget before it had been shared with members of council. This will certainly NOT be well-received by council members.)
The primary excuse for not funding these basic city services is that limited CIP funds have to be use for matching the state and federal dollars for road paving - and those dollars are not allowed to be used for residential streets.
What we don't know is what other projects have been recommended for funding. Are there funds for new bike paths? Sadly, many of us expect that there are, despite the city's financial condition. And perhaps those of us who expect that bike paths are funded in the CIP are being cynical - but we have learned from previous years.
The city does not have its priorities straight. They are threatening to lay off police officers, but plan to open a pool. The mayor has asked for all but one union contract to be suspended and for employees to take an across-the-board 10% pay cut, but is still hosting an Easter Egg Hunt today. They tell us they have no where else to cut the budget, so 'sacrifices' need to be made, but then we see these things.
The CIP is depleted because they raided it to pay for the general operating fund deficit. They spent our tax dollars on unnecessary items and are now finding no funds for pay for the essentials.
Now, with limited dollars for residential streets, we'll see the Balkanization of Toledo as the individual district representatives fight for their specific neighborhoods - pitting one area of the city against the other in the battle for funds. (And some people think an all district council with district reps and 'super' district reps is the way to go....)
In the end, the CIP budget is just a recommendation from the mayor and council may decide to rearrange the funding to put more money toward residential streets. And they may decide that non-essentials be eliminated, which would be a good thing. However, with council's penchant for raiding this fund in order to cover the daily operations of the city, they may find (sooner rather than later) that there just isn't any money left for the essentials.
And then they'll tell us they have no other options but to raise taxes ... exactly as they're doing now.
Have you had enough yet?