City Council passes operating, CIP budgetsWritten by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo City Council passed the 2015 operating budget and the 2015-19 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget at a special meeting March 19.
All combined, the budget is for more than $600 million. The operating budget was approved by a 10-1 vote, with Councilman Mike Craig providing the lone dissenting vote. Councilman Jack Ford was absent. The CIP budget was approved 9-2, with Councilmen Craig and Tyrone Riley voting against the budget.
After the meeting, Council president Steve Steel said there was no room in the operating budget for pool operations, but noted Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson is committed to finding private sponsors to fund city pools.
Little was discussed at the meeting, although Councilwoman Lindsay Webb did address concerns she had in a line item for the public utilities department.
“I have been working as hard as I possibly can on righting the ship for the public utilities department,” she said. “One of the problems we’ve had is we’ve had more directors in that department over the last eight years than I can count on two hands over three administrations. I’d like to see some stability returned to that department. I’d like to see that department have a strategic plan, have an open and transparent process with this Council, and I believe those things are possible with this administration.”
She asked Chief of Staff Bob Reinbolt, Director of Public Utilities Edward Moore and Abby Arnold, commissioner of utilities administration, to come to the microphone.
“One of the things I’m really concerned about is the safety of our workforce,” Webb said. “I want to make sure the workers we have are safe, and that we have a culture of safety in the department of public utilities. Families’ lives depend on that culture. … Tell me specifically, if I agree to the $350,000 cut, what positions you are prepared to hire,” Webb said.
Arnold said that would allow the department to hire a safety trainer and fill two vacancies in both the billing and customer service units.
Webb asked if hiring the four positions in billing and customer service would get the department closer to making online billing possible.
“Yes, we’re very close to launching online billing,” Arnold said.
Webb said she would then support the $350,000 commitment for personnel to the utilities administration fund.