Jun 16, 2015 - Toledo Blade - Likely mayoral hopefuls roll out ideas to fix roads - "Stop raiding capital improvements, some say; tax raise called last resort"
For politicians, "last resort" means implementing first, as soon as possible, even if the newly-raised money is not used for road repair.
From the Blade story:
[Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson] does not envision ending the practice
of transferring money from the city’s capital improvements fund into the general fund anytime soon.
In 2010, the city took $7 million from the capital improvement fund created with revenue from the 0.75-percent temporary income tax that was originally earmarked for capital improvements to maintain city services.
From 2011 through 2014, the city took $14 million from the fund and this year, the borrowing from the capital budget is planned at $11 million.
PH2 is the only honest person, regarding the issue of transferring some money from the capital improvements fund to the general fund. The practice will not end. Remember, voters gave the city permission to raid the CIP.
... 2010, when Toledo voters agreed to allow one-third of the revenue from the 0.75-percent temporary income tax, which was previously earmarked for capital improvements, to be used for daily operations.
The voters spoke. From my April 2014 comment
Toledo city government transfers money
from the "capital-improvements budget to balance general-fund operations like police and fire."
By the way, it's not "stealing" from the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). It's called "reallocation," which is permitted because Toledo voters approved Issue 5 in May 2010.
If the practice of raiding the CIP ends, then the general fund has a financial hole, which will mean taxes, fees, and/or assessments will increase. But the politicians can say that they did not raise taxes to fix roads. They will have to raise taxes to fix their other incompetent areas.
Carty's thoughs in the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story:
Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner had a two-pronged prescription: no capital improvements dollars for anything but road improvements starting as soon as 2016, and instituting a regional metropolitan government that would allow the county or region to help share the costs.
Czarty uses a two-pronged "prescription" to jab people.
Outlying communities should be worried whenever someone like Czarty suggests an idea related to regionalism/unigov and sharing costs. It simply means that Czarty wants other communities to pay for Toledo projects. Instead of raiding the CIP, it's better to raid other towns. Valid reasons exist why outlying communities do not trust Toledo officials. Maybe this is Czarty's way of getting back at the Suburban Cabal that caused Czarty not to seek re-election in 2009.
In the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story, Czarty said:
“We will repave 40 street miles annually."
Nearly 10 years ago, on Jun 30, 2005, Czarty announced that he was running for mayor, and during his announcement speech, he listed his campaign promises, which included:
18. Commit to prioritize city Capital Improvement dollars to resurface city streets, with a target of 40 miles per year.
Did Czarty kept that promise during his last term? He didn't brag about the number of miles resurfaced in his state of the city speeches.
This 2003 Blade story states :
The Finkbeiner administration resurfaced more than 40 miles annually for three straight years during the late 1990s.
Here's a January 2010 "Thurber's Thoughts" blog post about Carty keeping his 2005 campaign promises:
SUCCESS: He made the resurfacing a priority in the CIP budget and did achieve his targeted 40 miles.
The paving Czar is clearly Czarty.
In that same Jun 16, 2015 Blade story, Czarty said:
"I’m going to ask a team of businessmen, bean-counter types, to take a look at the city budget immediately upon election night results and ask them to have in my possession as quickly as they can, but not later than 90 days, recommendations as to how and where the city budget is capable of being reduced."
And during his last term, did Czarty reduce Toledo's budget? No context was provided to the story. Officials make great claims now, but what did they do in the past?
More from the January 2010 Thurber's Thoughts post:
And this doesn't even get into the huge budget deficit [Carty] leaves, the zero balance in the city's rainy day fund, or the increased taxes we're all paying thanks to his 'leadership.'
Rob Crudeman "knows" what went wrong with Toledo's roads:
[Councilman Rob Ludeman] said the problem was caused by “the worst economy in my lifetime,” two harsh winters in a row, and the state slashing local government funds.
Dear Ludeman, to hell with your excuses.
Ludeman failed to mention a legitimate reason why Toledo's problems exist: years of massive incompetence and probable malfeasance by Toledo officials, such as Ludeman, who unfortunately have been involved in Toledo government for 20 years or more.
“We need to shift away from using CIP dollars in the general fund and make sure we have those funds for street repaving. We need to be more aggressive in working with the state for grants,” Mr. Ludeman said.
Ludeman has been an at-large councilman since January 2010. In the past couple years, has Rob proposed any ideas to council to end the raiding of the CIP? Yes or no, that info should be included in the story. And if no, then Troy or someone in the media should ask Rob why he hasn't proposed any ideas to end using the CIP.
Other context missing, what was Rob's stance on the idea of raiding the CIP ahead of the 2010 vote? Did Rob support or oppose the idea?
Prior to that May 2010 vote, we know that Rob's fellow republican buddy and then-councilman and financial wizard George Sarantou endorsed a Yes-vote on Issue 5.
The Jun 16, 2015 Blade story mentioned Czarty's opposition to such an idea.
[Carty] opposed an earlier attempt in 2009 to divert money from the capital improvements portion of the temporary tax, predicting “drastic cuts to our streets.”
Mr. Finkbeiner said the necessity for borrowing from the capital budget is largely because of the city’s overtime bill, which he said points to managers not doing their jobs.
Mike Bell's thoughts in the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story:
Former Mayor Mike Bell, who also is undecided about running for mayor again, said the city should have been weaned by now off the diversions from the capital improvement budget that began in his first year as mayor, 2010.
Back in 2010, Mike Bell urged voters to vote Yes on Issue 5. Bell was all for raiding the CIP when he was mayor.
Of course these hucksters have an answer. Things were bad in 2010, so the CIP needed to be raided. But I guess that things are hunky-dory now, therefore we can stop raiding the CIP.
Since things are grand now, then end the illegal trash tax, and stop using the illegal traffic enforcement cameras.
And the financial hole left behind in the general fund when the CIP money is no longer reallocated will not be a problem because Toledo's economy is fine.
Or not. More from the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story:
[Bell] said Toledo needs more revenue
to improve its infrastructure, and that’s a decision only Toledo taxpayers can make.
“There’s no way you can fix that without having more money put into the system,” he said.
Translation: more taxes, fees, and assessments.
Thoughts from Sandy Collins in the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story:
Sandy Drabik Collins, Mr. Collins’ widow who is running for mayor as an independent, said the solution is going to take improved financial management and getting away from using capital improvement funds.
Mrs. Collins said she would retain the goal set by her husband of lowering the city’s reliance on the capital improvements budget to zero by the end of 2017.
During the 2013 mayoral campaign, D. Michael Collins's platform mentioned
Utilize Capital Improvement dollars to restore streets, not for operating expenses
But in his first budget as mayor ... Mar 31, 2014 Blade story
Council voted 11-1 to approve the budget, which Mayor Collins largely inherited from the previous mayor and changed slightly.
The mayor also said the general-fund surplus did not exist because the city has a “structural deficit.” For several years, the city has taken millions each year out of the capital-improvements budget to keep the general fund in the black.
This year , the Collins administration proposed using $14.1 million from that [CIP] fund — which pays for street repairs and other capital improvements. Mayor Collins said that essentially leaves a $13.6 million deficit.
It seems like simple arithmetic.
- If the CIP reallocation continues, then taxes will have to increase to support the CIP.
- If the CIP reallocation ends, then taxes will have to increase to support the general fund.
I guess another option exists: raises taxes to support both funds, regardless of whatever else happens.
Oh, Opal Covey's thoughts in the Jun 16, 2015 Blade story:
Opal Covey said she would turn Toledo into a vacation destination and end corruption.
“I don’t like borrowing. I will pursue grants, plus me building this as the vacation city and getting people in here, it will build up our funds,” Ms. Covey said.
She said her plan for putting an amusement park on Promenade Park, instead of turning it over to ProMedica for a headquarters, would fuel a tourism surge that would generate ample tax revenues.
“We would be able to fix the streets in the first year,” she said. “I am receiving it from God that [Promenade Park] was already taken by God for an amusement park and that the ProMedica thing is going to fall through.”