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City leaders say they’re open to legal action for Summit Street project money

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 8:23 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s administration is looking at ways the city could recover the roughly $1 million it took to move Buckeye Broadband utilities as part of its Summit Street beautification project.

“We are exploring different options,” City spokesman Ignazio Messina said Thursday. “The administration supports efforts by, and intends to partner with, Councilman (Rob) Ludeman in exploring strategies, including litigation, that would help recover costs owed to the City of Toledo.”

This is the same project the I-Team was first to tell you about that’s under FBI scrutiny. Now we’re getting a look at the taxpayer dollars that were almost used to pay for more utility work.

When cities normally have a project like this, the utility must pay to move their own lines when it’s a reconstruction project. When it’s an aesthetic change, that’s up to the city. But as the I-Team has reported, the city gave one deal to one organization while the others paid out of pocket.

The I-Team has received a large number of documents from a recent public records request into the Summit Street project. We’ve uncovered an email from September of last year, talking about legislation for $600,0000 for relocation of utilities.

An accompanying spreadsheet then listed the more than $972,000 the city already spent from its capital budget to move the Buckeye Broadband lines. The chart doesn’t mention any other payments to move other lines, but it does lay out totals those companies paid to move their own lines.

The spreadsheet says it cost $587,000 to relocate Columbia Gas, AT&T, Charter, and a company called Zayo’s fiber lines. All this is accompanied by the legislation asking for $600,000 from the capital improvement fund.

Here’s part of that email from Doug Stephens, the deputy director for the Department of Public Utilities. He says to city staff: “I am going to have Law/22 {that’s the floor of the Mayor’s Administration at One Government Center} put the bullet points together. Honestly, I don’t think DPU should present this legislation so hopefully they will and we will be support.” Stephens went on to say “as for the spreadsheet that is for our information only. Do not forward it beyond this email.”

The legislation for the $600,000 never made it to the city council. Members never got a chance to consider it.

Zayo reps confirmed to 13abc that they paid for their own utility work. Columbia Gas and Charter wouldn’t comment but sources have told 13abc all those utilities paid their own.

Monday, we asked a city spokesman why that legislation for the $600,000 never made it to the council. We haven’t gotten an answer yet.

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