TOLEDO, Ohio — Growing the Toledo police force, demolishing blighted buildings and fixing sidewalks are among the items on the city of Toledo's proposed budget for 2023, mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said Wednesday.
Kapszukiewicz presented the proposal the day prior to city council. He shared it with the public at the monthly Wednesdays with Wade, which was held at the downtown Toledo Public Library.
He said he's making some momentous changes for the betterment of the city.
"For the first time in 20 years, we're growing the size of the police force," Kapszukiewicz said. "We're going to fix over 1,200 sidewalks. We're going to demolish over 1,000 of the worst vacant blighted structures in our city. We're going to fix a record-setting amount of roads. We're going to do all of these things while still maintaining a rainy day fund, 10 times larger than what we had even seven years ago."
Attendees heard many of his plans, from revenue to sustainability to public safety.
Twenty-two Toledo fire stations are also up for improvements, per the budget.
"I can almost describe it as a desperate need to make physical improvements to our fire stations," Kapszukiewicz said.
Toledoan Ray Johnston, who served on the charter review committee for the failed Issue 21 at election polls in November asked about how roads will be affected after 30,262 -- 53% -- voters shot down the ballot measure. The mayor was quick to answer, saying that the road improvements thrown in with 12 other unrelated amendments may have been an issue.
"I think the charter review committee, which Ray is on, is going to meet next week," Kapszukiewicz said. "I would think that maybe ... the problem was bunching them together. Maybe the committee recommends that as a stand alone issue."
Other changes on the failed charter amendment included increasing the number of terms a mayor can serve and increasing the amount of money city officials could spend without city council approval.
Critics of Issue 21 complained in the weeks leading up to Nov. 8 that the all-or-nothing vote on a list of issues that voters would prefer to consider individually is not a good way to manage charter changes. Voters WTOL 11 spoke with prior to voting said they agreed with most of the provisions, save for expanded term limits for the mayor.
Kapszukiewicz retroactively added to his response to Johnston that how Issue 21 was presented to voters was not his doing and that he had no voice in what issues were grouped together.
Johnston agreed that grouping the charter changes played a role in the issue's failure.
"I think that's what we're going to be discussing, maybe we can present it as bundling it a little different, going to council," Johnston said.
Johnston said he didn't have many issues with the proposed budget, aside from one major flaw.
"The biggest item on there, they're fighting a losing battle, is the violence in the city," Johnston said.
For those who missed the more than hour-long budget presentation, it's available to view on the City of Toledo's Facebook page.
Toledo City Council has until March 31, 2023, to approve the mayor's budget.