Outline of Toledo State of the City AddressWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is the prepared outline for the remarks Mayor Michael P. Bell made at the 2011 State of the City Address:
2011 State of the City
Michael P. Bell, Mayor
January 27, 2011
Good evening and welcome. Thank you for being here this evening.
Thanks also to the University of Toledo for hosting us this evening at Nitschke Auditorium.
I’d like to take a minute to recognize some of our leaders who have come out tonight.
- Recognize Council and other dignitaries.
Since we were here last February, all of these leaders have helped Toledo come through some difficult times. But I believe we are stronger in 2011 because of the difficult decisions we have worked together to make.
When I began my term last January, and delivered my first State of the City in February, Toledo was facing a $48 million deficit.
I believe I assessed the situation as a 3-alarm fire.
- no rainy day fund
- $48 million deficit
- carry over of nearly $13 million from 2009
- staggering labor contracts that we were not able to afford
By working together, we were able to balance the budget. We have nearly eliminated the $48 million deficit. This was only possible through the work of an entire team.
- Union concessions played a major part in setting the City on the right course for 2010.
- Appreciate them stepping up to the table. It’s not easy, but it was necessary.
- Temporarily raised some fees. Those have been reduced, as we promised they would be. The tax reciprocity was reinstated for those who work outside of city limits and the refuse fee was reduced.
- This was possible because voters passed the measure allowing us to transfer money from the CIP fund back to the general fund.
- Our law and finance departments have also been aggressive in pursuing those who have evaded their tax liabilities.
- Our delinquent income tax collections are up nearly $4 million as a result of their efforts.
- Our challenges are not over.
- Water system faces eminent danger; need for rate increase.
- Broken pipe at home – call a plumber. He tells you it will cost $400 to fix the problem. You tell him you’ll pay $200. Plumber will leave and your basement will flood.
- Fix it properly, or do nothing. Only providing half of the funding to maintain the system will not fix the problems and will only serve to upset rate payers without actually achieving results.
Despite the difficult budget situation we faced, we were able to maintain the services that our citizens depend on.
- Our crime statistics show an overall 9% decrease over 2009 and Toledo’s homicide rate was the lowest of any major Ohio city.
- Our fire and police department worked together to make 35 arrests following investigation of a wave of arsons in the city.
- We swore in a fire class and police class and continue training these new recruits who will graduate this spring.
- And we continue recruiting for future classes to ensure our safety forces are adequately staffed.
- The Department of Neighborhoods demolished 352 units that were blighted and bringing our neighborhoods down – a record in recent history for the city.
- The department also provided assistance through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization program to repair or renovate 621 homes across Toledo to strengthen our neighborhoods.
- They further assisted another 442 clients through homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing to ensure Toledoans could stay in their homes during this difficult economy.
- Much of this would not have been possible without the nearly $15 million in federal funds our city was awarded through the Department of Neighborhoods.
- Despite transferring funds from the CIP to general fund, we still constructed 44 lane miles of roadway throughout the city in addition to the many state funded projects you see around Toledo.
- Our Division of Engineering Services has secured nearly $12 million in grant funding to design and construct road projects to upgrade the streets of the city.
- We’ve also worked to replace and upgrade our sewers and improve our ditches to remove homes from the costly designation of flood plains.
- We purchased 60 new police vehicles – replacing some that had nearly 200,000 miles on them.
- In addition, we continued to trim trees, maintain our parks, cemeteries and public lands, collect leaves, and clear and salt the streets.
- I have to recognize our workforce for maintaining the excellent level of service for our citizens – I’ve received letters, phone calls, emails and man-on-the-street comments about how pleased residents are to see that the basic things are being done – I can’t take all of the credit because it’s our workforce who make it happen.
We also worked this year to build relationships around the region.
Toledo was also approached by the Village of Ottawa Hills about coordinated fire and rescue services.
- It previously cost Ottawa Hills nearly one million dollars annually to operate an independent fire department that employed ten full time and eight part time firefighters.
- Toledo was facing staggering overtime in our fire department, which we only anticipated would grow as we see more retirements that outpace our ability to hire and train.
- There was an opportunity for us to help each other deliver services and save money through the merging of our fire departments.
- By absorbing Ottawa Hills fire department and retaining their full time firefighters, Toledo would save nearly $1 million on overtime.
- While that savings is offset by the salaries and benefits for ten retained firefighters, we receive an additional $430,000 in service fees.
- Ottawa Hills saves a half-million dollars by contracting with Toledo for fire and rescue services and maintains a fully staffed fire station in their community.
- Toledo makes nearly a half-million dollars along with the benefit of a station in an area with a demonstrated need for further service.
- This merge is good policy and an example of regional service sharing that makes sense for both communities.
- I thank Chief Wolever for his leadership in the effort, and I thank Mayor Gilmore and his staff in Ottawa Hills for their patience and trust in the City of Toledo as we worked through groundbreaking public policy for the region and the State.
- This merge has brought up the word Unigov in public discussion once again.
- Let me be clear – I’m NOT looking to develop Unigov for northwest Ohio.
- I AM looking to take advantage of efficiency when it makes sense.
- There are other opportunities for service sharing that I will pursue.
- The proposal to eliminate our refuse operation and contract with the County for this service is one immediate example.
- Toledo cannot, ON ITS OWN, provide Cadillac service on a Pinto budget, but working with our neighbors when it makes sense will enable us to afford our residents the service they expect at a more affordable price.
- If our neighbors are willing to partner with us, I am willing to join in those discussions.
Also exploring the possibility of partnering with the County to provide trash collection.
- Is there a better way to deliver this service at a rate residents can afford? That’s what I’m pursuing.
- I’m not looking to place blame for why the system is in the condition it is… It’s just my job to fix it.
Early in 2010 we approached TMACOG about opening a dialog about water utilities with surrounding communities.
- Toledo provides nearly 26 billion gallons of water to 134,000 customers across the region.
- And for those who live outside of the City, we have varied and staggered rates to sell that water from one community to the next.
- We depend on our water system to continually provide clean, healthy water for Toledo and our surrounding neighbors – and this resource is an asset as we seek development across the region.
- Like any asset, we need to coordinate with our users how we can appropriately utilize, market and distribute that resource.
- We’ve had productive discussions with our neighbors and we continue a dialog to ensure that Toledo’s water system will remain both a resource and an asset, not only for the City, but to add value to the region.
We looked to build relationships internationally.
- You may have heard about a little trip we took in September to China.
- It was mentioned on the news once or twice.
- There has been a lot of discussion about the merits and value of this trip.
- This week we saw what will hopefully be the first of many investments to come to fruition as a result of the relationships we established.
- Toledo is no longer competing in a local economy, a regional economy, a state economy, or event just the national economy.
- Toledo is and must compete in the global economy, and China is a part of that.
- If I travel to Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, or Louisville to recruit a manufacturer to move here I haven’t accomplished much.
- Sure, Toledo may gain 100 jobs, but one of those other cities loses 100 jobs.
- And you’re probably asking yourself why that matters – as long as Toledo is gaining jobs.
- The truth is, it probably doesn’t right now. But we also have to look 10 or 20 years down the road.
- If that company was willing to leave Fort Wayne for a better deal in Toledo, what is to stop them from leaving Toledo for a better deal elsewhere in 10 or 20 years.
- We’ve seen this shell game in our national economy for years – companies moving from one part of the country to another based on who has the best tax incentives, economic development loan funds and other perks.
- If we’re truly going to move the needle on job creation and help to establish growth in our community, we need to recruit new development as opposed to stealing from somewhere else. Because there is nothing to stop someone from stealing it from us down the line.
- Aside from traveling to China, we have sent representatives to Mexico and have received visitors from Turkey, Hungary and China.
- We all know the merits of this region.
- We’re at the intersection of the Maumee River with Lake Erie.
- We have railroads crisscrossing the region, highways traveling north-south and the turnpike crossing east-west.
- There are limitless educational, research and development opportunities, including but not limited to here at the University of Toledo.
- We have rich ethnic heritage, cultural and leisure activities.
- This is a community that is ideal for families, young professionals, and experienced executives alike.
- We all know the merits of this region – and now it’s time that we tell the rest of the world.
- I do plan to travel again as a representative of this city to build relationships with foreign investors and I do expect that doing so will result in jobs for Toledo and northwest Ohio.
We also worked hard to make progress on the development front.
- Last year I told you Toledo had little to no REGIONAL outreach in our development efforts.
- This year, I am happy to report that Toledo has rejoined the roundtable discussion about economic development.
- For so long we have tried to be all things to all people in development, but this prevents us from specializing in anything.
- Working with our partners at the Port Authority, RGP, LCIC, the Chamber and our Universities has helped the City to be a part of the discussion and planning for Toledo and has enabled us to focus where we are needed and can provide the greatest contribution.
- By working with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce we’re helping connect more small business owners and entrepreneurs with the Small Business Development Center.
- Here they can access one-on-one counseling as they develop or grow their business, increasing their chances of success.
- By joining with Lucas County Improvement Corporation we are able to fund two dedicated specialists who call on existing Toledo businesses.
- Most new jobs are created by the expansion of existing businesses, not new businesses moving in with hundreds of new positions to fill.
- While pursuing new companies to locate in Toledo is important, we cannot forget those employers who have for many years made a contribution to our local economy and we need to ensure that they continue to have the tools they need to succeed and thrive locally.
- The City also had the opportunity this year to participate in the Diversified Contractors Accelerator Program managed by the Port Authority. The program allows greater participation by minority and women-owned businesses in publicly bid work – including city projects.
- This is an important step in growing and supporting investment and development in greater Toledo – like all small businesses, these entrepreneurs are simply looking for opportunity so they can in turn make a contribution to northwest Ohio’s economy.
In 2010 we also reinforced a relationship with Penn National Gaming.
- the Hollywood Casino in Toledo was first to break ground in Ohio after a state constitutional amendment passed in 2009.
- The city has worked with Penn to streamline site-plan reviews, permitting, and approvals in a process we hope will be replicated to move forward all major development projects in Toledo.
- I thank our Department of Inspection and the Plan Commission for their expedience in this process.
- This project has made great progress since breaking ground in August, and its being led by our local contractors at Rudolph Libbe.
- Northwest Ohio construction workers have completed nearly forty thousand man hours on this project.
- This has helped move this project along to the state we see today – concrete foundations have been poured, underground utility work completed, stairwell and elevator masonry installed; and just before Christmas, the project went vertical with the installation of steel frames.
- Penn National has become a good faith partner with this community, contributing jobs for our workforce and opportunity for our business owners.
- I look forward to their continued contributions to Toledo and northwest Ohio.
We worked on relationships closer to home as well.
- As I’ve mentioned, we had some very difficult decisions to make last year in balancing our budget and ensuring that we maintain services.
- I will admit I proposed some difficult policy decisions and I asked for Council’s help in accomplishing those goals.
- We may not have always seen eye to eye, but I’ve worked hard to develop a respectful relationship with council.
- We can disagree and be civil about it.
- The hard decisions are not behind us, but I will never ask Council to join me in policies that are detrimental to this City.
- In fact, I believe the hardest decisions we make are the ones that hold the greatest potential for progress in the future.
- Nevertheless, I recognize I can’t make it happen all by myself.
- I hope to continue building on our relationship and I commit to continuing a mutually respectful and civil dialog with you.
I further commit that I will pursue policies that are going to put Toledo ahead, both today and in the future.
- I have seen over the last year that many of the decisions I am faced with will have unpopular results.
- They are difficult choices to make, but that is what I was elected to do.
- I have dedicated my career to making the choices that are in the best interest of the City.
- I will continue to do that as we work to turn the city and the region around.
- We made great strides in 2010 and will continue that momentum in 2011.
I always like to end on a positive note.
- last week I had the opportunity to attend the US Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting.
- This was a chance to network, not only with other Mayors, but representatives of federal agencies, congressional representatives, and even a trip to the White House.
- As I listened to the issues these other Mayors were facing, it took me back a year – when we were overwhelmed, over budgeted, and had limited options to change our own destiny.
- Yet, a year ago, we began making the difficult decisions that have changed our path and today we are in better shape for it.
- Communities across the country are still facing the issues we successfully faced a year ago – yet not all of them have realized the fortitude to make the decisions that will take them down the path of survival and success.
- As a community, we collectively deserve the credit for choosing our own destiny.
- I believe we have made the right choices.
Thank you again for your support and your trust.