Mayor Bell releases operating budget showing modest recovery

TOLEDO, OH (TOLEDO NEWS NOW) - The mayor of Toledo released the city's proposed operating budget and made clear that 2013 will pose fiscal challenges, but acknowledged the city remains on a slow and steady path to economic recovery.

The mayor's office says while 2013 will be a "less challenging year" compared to 2010, (Mayor Bell's first year in office), the expectation is the city will only see a modest economic recovery next year.

Toledo Mayor Michael Bell released the city operating budget Monday afternoon at a news conference.

The 2013 proposed budget continued a commitment to public safety with additional police and fire classes. There currently is a police class training and a fire class will start training Dec. 3. Both classes will graduate next year before the proposed new classes will start.

The administration also maintained a commitment to quality of life issues affecting residents. Despite the rejection of a levy to support parks and recreation, the city will allocate approximately $175,000 more in the 2013 budget to support recreation activities for Toledo residents. The increase of 14 percent will support programs and staffing will remain steady.

The finance department is forecasting approximately 3.4 percent growth in income tax revenue over 2012. The budget anticipates nearly $163.9 million in revenue from income taxes supporting total general fun revenues of $243.5 million. However, the city will be negatively impacted by the loss of local government funds and estate taxes shared from the state of Ohio, as well as a significant decrease in property taxes paid to the city, following the countywide re-evaluation issued by the county auditor.

If the levels for the Local Government Fund, property taxes, and estate tax were the same as in 2011, a CIP transfer would not be necessary. The lost revenues represent approximately $14.7 million. The administration expects to transfer approximately $13.96 million from CIP to the general fund.

Despite the need for CIP transfer, the mayor's office is expected to present a capital improvement budget in December, recommending $32 million in major street and residential road construction and resurfacing. The 2012 CIP budget allocated $28 million for streets.

Funding will additionally be allocated for renovation of the existing Fire Station No. 3 as well as for building a new Fire Station No. 12, in order to address a gap in coverage of northern Toledo. A request for proposals has been issued for the design of the two fire station projects.

"When I took office in 2010, the city faced a deficit of $48 million," said Bell. "We faced the unthinkable prospect of having to lay off police officers and firefighters. This budget presents a far different story. We've continued to hire police and fire, held the line on taxes and fees, are providing the quality of life services our citizens deserve and have re-established our rainy day fund."

Bell also recognized Toledo City Council for its diligence in passing the 2012 budget by the end of January. He asked the administration again to work together and move quickly to solicit community input, hold committee hearings, and pass the 2013 budget in January to provide department directors greater opportunity to monitor their budgets early in the year.

The city of Toledo Charter requires the mayor present to City Council a proposed budget by Nov. 15 each year. Also by charter, council has until March 31 to pass the operating budget.

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