Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Same old, same old on Toledo's budget

Toledo is facing a budget deficit. That's nothing new.

City Council has to pass a balanced budget by the end of March and, counting today, there are only three days left and still no budget. That's nothing new, either.

Council is debating 'privatizing' garbage service and, though the recent incarnation of the idea has some twists to it, even that is nothing new.

They're even considering - again - taking money from the Capital Improvements Fund to balance the General Fund. So we have a 'rob Peter to pay Paul' solution which, as well, is nothing new.

And they are discussing 'raising' the revenue estimates to cover the spending estimates, though our recent record is that we don't reach the increased targets for revenue, though we often exceed the targets for spending. Again, nothing new.

Toledo will pass a balanced budget by the end of the month - of that I am sure, though what form it will take is still any one's guess. I don't agree with all the individual line items, but I do applaud Mayor Mike Bell and members of city council for a more 'amicable and open' discussion than what has existed in the past. So while the tone is 'new' - the issues aren't.

Will we spend up to $60,000 a year in order to hire a lobbyist to represent us in Columbus? Will doing so be an implicit admission that our state reps are failing to do their jobs? Will voters even care - about the expenditure or the implications of the council thinking they *need* a lobbyist?

Will we turn over our garbage collection to the county which will then contract out to a private company who will then charge us roughly the same as what we are currently paying? If we do so, where will all the employees who were doing that job go since the city, by contract, has to find jobs for them within the city??? Will we really *save* any money when we'll be paying for the old garbage collectors as well as the ones employed by the new contractor?

Will we be able to eliminate the garbage tax? Or is it exactly what people claimed all along - just another tax council was able to pass off as a fee to fund their continued overspending?

Strangely, I could substitute any number of minor spending items for the lobbyist and have published this exact post several times in the past.

Perhaps I'm just cynical today, but we seem to be having the same discussions over and over again. Some of the names and the spending items are different, but too many of them are the same - the same old, same old that just demoralizes the taxpayers and voters of this city.

No wonder we're losing population and businesses. Who is 'stuck on stupid' now?

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