Council passes $244 million budget - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Council passes $244 million budget

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Toledo City Council passed a budget for 2013.  Unlike in years past, the process was smooth but there's one lingering issue lawmakers must address.

Tuesday's vote was unanimous; all 12 members voted to approve the mayor's 2013 budget.

And just like last year, the budget was passed with two-months to spare.

Mayor Mike Bell (I) says that will save taxpayers money. "We'll be able to get these contract out," he told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann.  "We'll get better rates by putting them out early as compared to waiting so this is a great, great day."

Saving money is the key to any budget.  This year, Toledo's general fund is $244 million.  That money will be spent on hiring new fire and police classes and tens of millions will be spent on fixing area roads and for general operation of government.

But councilman George Sarantou (R), who's worked on his 12th and final budget, says the city still needs to address upgrading its infrastructure and becoming more computerized.  He told 13abc, "We will get there at some point.  The police department uses paper and pencil for reports.  That's abhorrent in this day and age."

The city expects it will collect $163-million in income taxes-- 14-percent more than during the first year of the Bell administration.

But in balancing this year's budget, council once again approved transferring capital improvement money-- $14 million worth -- something it's had to do because Ohio has reduced it's local contribution by almost that much.

City Finance Director, Patrick McLean admits raiding CIP is a problem, especially when it's $14 million dollars.  "That is a tough amount of money to make up.  Had that not happened (loss of state revenue), we wouldn't have to be dipping into the CIP."

But the budget is balanced; now the challenge is meeting the target numbers.

One other challenge:  figuring out a way of paying to upgrade to the water facility.  That could mean a hike in fees to taxpayers.  The mayor says he'll propose a plan in about 6-weeks.

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