Finkbeiner's remarks to council on March budget proposal

Last week, Thomas Friedman wrote in The New York Times, "We're in a once-a-century financial crisis."

A long time ago, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "Governments...have to keep going in good times and bad."

Those two statements by two wise men, highlight Toledo's financial circumstances today.  And, we have no options - WE MUST KEEP ON GOING AND WE MUST PUT OUR PLAN IN ACTION SOON - THIS WEEK.  The sooner we act. The more money we save - or bring in.

In the 4th quarter of 2008 and continuing in 2009, the15% decline in our tax collections have dramatically changed our revenues for 2009.  This dramatic decline dictates we make immediate structural changes to the 2009 Budget.

Today, I present to City Council amendments to the 2009 Budget that provide structural changes to both our 2009 Revenue Estimate and Budget that will allow the City to live within its now diminished means.

The plan will rely heavily on cost reductions.  In fact 66 cents on a dollar in this plan comes from these Budget Cuts.  But the cruel fact is when you sustain such a huge immediate decline in revenues, it is not realistic, based on both the composition of our workforce and our ongoing permanent commitments, to expect a course of corrective action based entirely on budget cuts.  The $39 million in budget cuts we have been forced to make the last 27 months, has left us few options, other than public safety reductions and revenue enhancements.  As a result, I am proposing modest revenue enhancements in this emergency situation.

This is a very realistic appraisal of where we are and should expect to be in the foreseeable future.  I believe that the best evidence of this is that there are things in this plan nobody will like.  And in these difficult times that is how it should be.  To paraphrase President Obama, the best evidence it is a good plan is that we will all "have skin in the game."  It is a plan of shared sacrifice by all Toledoans, both the city workforce and those who pay them, that will allow us to get through these difficult times.

Our City's welfare is our only concern.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, "Politics is a profession - a serious, complicated, and in its true sense, a noble one."  Nobility is required of us at this quite serious moment in our City's history.  I am confident we will meet this moment with our finest effort.

John Sherburne and John Bibish will present both the COST REDUCTIONS and the REVENUE ENHANCEMENTS.  One without the other will not balance - even come close to balancing - the budget. Only implementing both will stabilize this good ship Toledo.  The sooner we act the better.