Depth of city's budget woes still unknown

By Rob Wiercinski - email | bio

(WTOL) - The City of Toledo may soon be faced with another budget crisis. Even though council has approved this year's budget, the final budget numbers from last year are still unknown.

Last week, Toledo City Council approved a $557 million budget for this year. One might think that move would put the budget problems of 2008 in the past. Not so.

The final numbers for the 2008 budget have yet to be determined and News 11 has learned there's potential for a multi-million dollar close-out gap.

If that gap runs into the millions, it would force city leaders to make more tough decisions.

"In making up that large sum of money, the only thing I could think of are layoffs. It's a word nobody likes to hear. It means a further reduction in services," says Council Member Tom Waniewski.

Council Member Mike Collins says a considerable close-out would throw the recently approved 2009 budget completely into chaos. "My greatest fear is we're going to be looking at the end of 2009 with another serious, if not more serious, deficit than we did at the end of 2008."

One option would be to dip further into the city's rainy day fund, which currently stands at $4.2 million. "What it would do if in fact the numbers are large, it puts the city in a position of 'How do we make up such a large amount of money in order to even things out?'" says Waniewski.

For Toledo City Council, it would be another round of setting budget priorities to determine which city services are most important.

Collins adds, "We may have to compromise those quality-of-life services that we have in order to maintain our core services."