This is NOT the full text of the speech. The full text could not be found on the Web. These are the talking points from the speech found at the ToledoBlade.com.
2010 State of the City
Mayor Michael P. Bell
February 24, 2010
Welcome to the 2010 State of the City Address.
Thank you to the University of Toledo for hosting us this
evening and to Larry Burns for his remarks.
I’d also like to recognize the members of Toledo City Council
who are able to be here this evening, along with some of their
I appreciate the spirit of teamwork and cooperation that you and the
council staff have embraced in working with my administration these first
While we don’t always agree, I appreciate that we remain respectful of
each other throughout the process.
I consider you a partner and look forward to working in a productive
manner over the next four years.
Also joined by members of my transition team and our citizen
task force for the budget.
Have volunteered their time, talent and professional expertise for the City
and for my administration during what is a very challenging time in our
They have offered many unique perspectives on the resources,
opportunities and challenges of the city and suggestions for how we can
continue to improve.
Their groundwork will be important as we move forward over the next four
As a fire chief I learned to do a situation analysis when arriving
on the scene of a fire.
After 2 months as Mayor, I can tell you Toledo’s situation analysis is dire.
$48 million deficit.
Declining revenue and population.
Little to no REGIONAL economic development outreach
Need to maintain services.
We have taken several steps to address the budget already.
Citizen task force has been meeting to discuss options, look for new
“The Board” – a list of 60 items that have been suggested by our CSI to:
o reduce costs,
o find efficiencies, and
o generate revenue without increasing taxes on our residents.
o Here alone we have identified $25 million in initiatives.
This task force includes business and finance professionals, current and
former professors, and leadership from our biggest unions.
They have challenged us to examine the budget one expenditure at a time
and questions why we spend what we spent, can we spend less or can we
They have asked us to find alternate ways of providing services that would
cost less for the taxpayers.
And they have challenged us to examine what services we must provide
and what can we eliminate since our situation is so dire.
This group is committed to our city’s future, and they have suggested
ongoing meetings over the next several years to check in and make sure
we stay on course.
I will take them up on that offer and look forward to their ongoing guidance
Our fiscal status is an emergency and the survival of our city is
at risk. We are battling a 3-alarm fire.
Until we begin to address the source of the blaze, new flames will continue
We must change the way we manage our operations.
Private businesses around the country have been addressing these issues
for years, but government seems to be the last to change.
We can no longer afford to pursue the bad business deals of the past.
The City of Toledo is not a residential landlord or a commercial developer.
Each year we spend a million dollars of general fund money for debt on
the Hillcrest, Commordore Perry and Museum Place apartment buildings.
This debt continues until 2028 and represents approximate $14 million of
funding that should be spent on city services.
We have an empty marina district on the east side of the river that has
utilized $21 million in CIP funding – yet there is no business located on
that land to generate revenue back to our community.
Our obligation is to present assets that are ideal for private investment and
to work with our partners to package the competitive tools that will attract
those private businesses to invest in Toledo.
While the economic decline has been more rapid and drastic than we
could have imagined, it is a reality and we must address it.
We must come together as a community to combat this problem.
Simply closing pools, laying off workers or raising taxes will not eliminate a
$48 million deficit.
This problem must be address on all fronts and it will take all of us working
together to resolve the issues.
I’ve heard from people that they don’t want higher taxes, they want pools
open, they don’t want automated trash collection, and they don’t want to
pay red light tickets.
At the end of the day, we must make changes that are going to reduce our
costs and maximize our revenue.
I need to know what you are willing to do to ensure the long-term health of
We have asked our unions to contribute a greater portion of their health
care and pension and will have their response to that request tomorrow.
I know they understand the gravity of the situation we are facing and want
to contribute to the solution.
We’ve have worked with directors to reduce non-personnel costs in every
general fund department.
This unfortunately means reduced resources for our police and fire
services and making outdated technology last a few years longer.
We’ve also worked with the municipal court system to find savings in their
o They too realize the gravity of the financial situation we face and
have stepped up to the plate to reduce costs by over 10% already.
o I thank Judge Kuhlman and Clerk of Courts Bowman English for
their participation in this process.
Now let me be clear.
Our workforce is among the leanest and hardest working among Municipal
workforces around the state.
Toledo has an average of 1.8 police officers for every 1,000 citizens.
By comparison, Akron – the next leanest city – has an average of 2.12
police officers for every 1,000 citizens.
Toledo has an average of 1.55 firefighters per 1,000 citizens – again, the
lowest of the six major urban areas in the State of Ohio.
We have in the budget a fire class which began this January as well as a
police class scheduled to begin in September.
Both of these classes are at risk if we cannot get control of this budget.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges our workforce faces each day in
performing their jobs, I am asking for your direct participation in
addressing this crisis.
We also need the help of the citizens.
o CIP flexibility will become essential over the next couple of years as
we work to dig out of the hole.
o By changing the CIP allocation, we avoid raising income taxes and
can still maintain a capital improvement program by leveraging
grant and stimulus funding.
o This ballot initiative will have a sunset clause ensuring that we do
not resort to this funding beyond 2012.
o Voter approval on this ballot issue will be essential to maintaining
services without tax increases.
You’ve also heard about proposals for eliminating the tax reciprocity or
increasing the garbage fee.
They are just that – proposals.
I am open to other suggestions that will address this deficit in the here and
now – but we can no longer afford to turn down viable proposals without
recommending alternate measures to secure fiscal stability.
Will the economy rebound?
But Toledo cannot sit idly by and hope that it will happen before we make
the changes necessary to preserve our community.
In the meantime these measures become necessary to ensure safety and
services for the City.
While we work to cut costs, we must also work to increase our
tax base – rather than our tax rate.
Toledo has been absent from the regional economic development scene
for too long.
Our Deputy Mayor for External Affairs, Dean Monske, has begun to work
with his team to rejoin the regional conversation with the Economic
Development partners around Northwest Ohio.
Working with the Port Authority, Chamber of Commerce, LCIC, RGP,
NORED, the State of Ohio and the area universities, we can continue to
present a united effort with multiple willing partners to attract jobs to the
greater Toledo area.
We have mended many fences in 45 days and that work continues.
People frequently ask me what am I going to do to create jobs.
Jobs are created by businesses.
The City of Toledo can ATTRACT jobs.
o We must make our self an attractive location and be competitive
with communities outside of this region.
o Have to access the “competitive tool box” that has been assembled
by Toledo and our partners.
o We cannot do this alone – we need to work with others in the
region, and we need to be a good partner bringing skills and assets
to the table.
How we present ourselves is key – we must be collaborative.
As an example, we received a call a few weeks ago from Mark Connor
and Mark Connor Jr. with MAC II Enterprises.
They are here tonight with us.
The Connors own a successful auto supply corporation with major
operations in China and Mexico.
Being native Toledoans, they wanted to bring jobs back to this community.
Based on their experience working with members of our economic
development team, and knowing that we are building relationships with
other development agencies in the area they called us.
We in turn picked up the phone and called our partners to come to the
table and work with the Connor’s to bring an operation to Toledo.
The group met yesterday at MAC II’s new facility and are now working to
bring new jobs to Toledo.
For every example like this we have received 10 other calls and we
continue to reach out to employers and our partners in the region to work
on attracting these businesses to the area.
We’re received half a dozen calls from people who want to come back to
We’re received calls from neighboring communities looking to develop
joint economic development zones around Toledo Express and Metcalf
These relationships are a win-win situation for Toledo and our neighbors
in the region.
And our regionalism extends beyond Lucas County.
We are part of a mega-region that extends beyond northwest Ohio thanks
to relationships built between the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce
and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce.
By working together we can team our assets to sell the region
This initiative is a long-term effort, but it is still important to nurture.
Mega-regional partners can be a source of referral for new business. If
we can’t accommodate the facilities that a new business needs to locate in
the area, but our neighbor can, we will still receive some benefit by
referring them to a nearby regional community where some Toledoans will
ultimately be employed.
We cannot overuse words like partnership and collaboration when talking
about our economic development efforts.
We continue to fine tune our system and we see those efforts making a
Part of making sure we are tapping into all viable resources for
the City includes making sure Toledo gets its fair share of
These are the tax dollars that Toledoans pay and they are tax dollars we
need to make sure come back to our community.
2010 is a Census year, and it is vitally important that our residents are
participating in the Census.
Please MAKE SURE TOLEDO COUNTS – fill out the form and send it
It is one of the shortest Census surveys in recent history – only 10
This survey will ensure that we get money for roads, highways, bridges,
schools, hospitals, job training, childcare and senior centers.
It also determines our representation in Congress – our voice at a national
With the current financial state of our city, Toledo cannot afford NOT to
count in this year’s Census.
All of Northwest Ohio needs to stand up and be counted to ensure we are
receiving our share of federal resources.
As you can see, the challenges we’ve been dealing with are
mounting, but we are dealing with them as they come.
There are solutions out there.
They are not easy, and they are not without pain for all of us.
But we are all affected by these problems.
We will all be positively affected if we all act together.
I’m asking for your patience and your help.
Before we close the program, I want to leave you with a few examples of
the things I see that tell me we’re on the right track.
Our employees are taking initiative to solve problems and provide better
o Ed Moore; snow plows; power wash business.
o Toledo Diocese; automated cans; accessibility program; help
It is the demonstrations of kindness like these, people showing that they
care to make this city better that tell me we can collectively impact our
future for the positive.
It will take time, but we can turn the City of Toledo around and get moving
in the right direction.
Thank you again for being here tonight and thank you for your