City leaders discuss the future of TAWA

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Discussions are continuing this week after there are still many question marks when it comes to regional water.

Toledo City leaders and suburban leaders involved in the regional water discussions got a look at  Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz's new plan last week, the Toledo Regional Water Commission.

All of the members of the original TAWA, or Toledo Area Water Authority plan met on Friday to discuss Kapszukiewicz's proposal.

Suburban leaders decided they wanted to continue with TAWA, but add an amendment saying Toledo would be leasing the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant instead of giving up ownership.

However, the Mayor, and the Protect Our Water group are still advocating for the new plan.

Throughout the TAWA discussions, the Protect Our Water group has been speaking out against the plan, including former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner as a member.

This group worked with current Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz on his new plan, and say they were under the impression TAWA was dead.

Protect Our Water Coalition leaders said that they support this because Toledo maintains complete ownership of the plant and city leaders can set rates for bigger entities like Jeep and area schools, continuing the discounts.

They also support the veto power it would give Toledo City Council on everyone's water rates.

POW members said an amendment to TAWA would put them in back at a stalemate, and they couldn't embrace it, even with the possibility of an amendment.

Former Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner and POW member said he believes the mayor's plan is a compromise.

He had a message for suburban leaders.

"If they can't see that, I would simply say you find water someplace else that is cheaper and better quality, but then tell your residents how much more they're going to have to pay for that water than they are presently paying the city of Toledo," said Finkbeiner.

Steve Kowalik, another member says he believes the suburbs don't really want a regional system, they just want to control Toledo's water.

"We went into this in the last month or so believing that TAWA was dead and that is how it should stay," said Kowalik.

But, there are still questions that remain for the two on the Mayor's Regional Water Commission plan.

Finkbeiner said he wants to know what the exact rates would be for Toledoans and for the suburban customers.

He also wants clarification on how exactly the veto power of city council will work.

Finkbeiner believes the future of Toledo is looking good after hard work the last few years.

"Suburban mayors will not undercut that progress that Toledo has going for it now in a self-centered way. They need to see the art of compromise at work with what Wade has proposed," said Finkbeiner.

Ultimately, whatever plan is decided on will need approval from Toledo City Council to be put on the ballot in November in front of taxpayers.

Tuesday is the first time council members met as a whole since the Mayor's plan was released.

Council member Tyrone Riley introduced new legislation asking for $30,000 for city council to hire a  lawyer to look into the regional water discussion.

Riley's argument is that the city's law department ultimately works for the Mayor, and cannot give an objective opinion.

He says city council needs independent information on regional water, whatever form it may take in the coming weeks.

Many city council members say they are still looking through the Mayor's proposal, and don't have a new TAWA plan in front of them yet.

Riley said that they're getting information second hand and they need to be proactive.

"I don't think that we want to put anything on the ballot unless we are satisfied, completely satisfied that this is the issue or the information contained in the referendum or in the ballot is the right information that people should be voting on, so we need to be able to scrutinize that," said Riley.

Council member Komives is asking to wait on this money because they don't even know what the exact plan is moving forward.

City Council will decide what's next for this money next Tuesday, possibly sending it to committee.

The Protect Our Water Coalition is holding a public meeting to talk about all of this tomorrow night from 6 to 7 at the Point Place Branch Library.

Then, in less than 2 weeks those suburban leaders are getting back together to talk on June 11.

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