Thursday, January 29, 2009


Government always lags behind private industry and so Toledo has lagged in the contracts with the city employees. In the 1980’s when the US was experiencing growth and a great economy, business was generous with benefit packages and pay. So likewise, governments passed on these generous packages. However, over the past decades, businesses pulled away from the benefit packages requiring employees to pay portions of their medical plans, co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions and eliminating retirement plans. Additionally, pay increases dropped to the point they did not even cover the increased liabilities of the employees.

As employees in the private section lost benefits, pay increases and were required to pay more into their medical programs, it became increasingly difficult to pay more in taxes. It is an unpleasant task to require concessions from employees whether in the private sector or public office; but as the private sector has made such demands, it is now time for Toledo to do the same. We can no longer sustain the contracts in place and must work to adjust them within the limits of the City budget.

One of the most common phrases repeated by candidates for office is that we must become more “business friendly”. However, there are few suggestions on how to reach that goal. Even in speaking to small business owners, it is difficult to reach a consensus other than the complaints about the number of regulations, inspections and fees, which must be paid. If we are more “business friendly”, it can be expected we would draw more business.

We also need to be "citizen friendly". Over the past four years, we have witnessed numerous punitive programs, which affects Toledoans. Rather than improve the sequencing of traffic lights to improve safety, red light cameras were install to increase revenue. Rather than focus on the essentials of the budget, a "refuse fee" was imposed to increase revenue and fines imposed against residents who put the trash out too soon. Now there is talk of a plastic bag tax to increase revenue. It is time to eliminate these and other punitive fees, cut the 3/4% temporary tax and focus on the essential services required in the Municipal Code. Eventually the economy will improve and if we work to improve our "friendliness", we will be in a position to take advantage of the improved economy.

The following suggestions are offered as a way to bring the budget into alignment to revenue, to become more business and citizen friendly and move forward for the future of Toledo:
·Business: Less regulations
·Business: Less frequent inspections
·Business: Have one office for all permits required to start a business
·Business: Make it easier to schedule inspections
·Business: Lower permit and inspection fees, eliminate unnecessary inspections
·Business: Allow more “cart” vendors along the streets approaching 5/3 Field before and after games.
·Business: Encourage more oversized signs downtown (such as in Times Square)
·Budget: Eliminate fees to generate income such as red light cameras.
·Budget: Privatize refuse collection
·Budget: End the 3/4% income tax
·Budget: Wean the Toledo Zoo off public funding, they should become self sustaining
·Budget: Stop development studies of Southwyck, the city can do nothing, it is privately owned.
·Budget: Decrease City employee benefits
o Have employees pay towards their medical benefits
o Have employees pay a co-pay for doctor visits and prescriptions
o Reduce the number of paid holidays
o Stop paying the 10% employee portion of PERZ (some progress has been made in the most recent contract negotiations, a start, but not enough)
o Reduce required City portion of PERZ payment from 14% to 10%
·Budget: Put the budget in spreadsheet form on the internet for easy analysis and review
·Budget: Hold a “fire” sale of all abandoned property
o When the home is repaired or torn down, give a $500 incentive
o Reduce permits and fees needed to demolish the building
·Budget: Bid out to the private sector the demolition of buildings
·Budget: Don’t put the name of the Mayor on Toledo signs
·Budget: Invest in a Waste to Energy form of trash disposal
·Budget: Establish and adhere to a baseline % of expenditure for the different segments of the budget
·Fire: Reevaluate the number of fireman per shift
·Fire: Eliminate the ambulance service, put it back to the private sector
·Fire: Eliminate the EMS service, put it back to the private sector
·Police: Put a cap on Command officers in the police department
·Police: Hire police from the Owens Tech police degree program
·Safety: Improve the traffic light sequencing to prevent intersection crashes
·Safety: Reinstate the Gang taskforce.
·Safety: Increase the number of speed limit signs along the highway.
·Streets: Put a list of all roads scheduled for repair on the Internet
o List estimated repair dates
o Date request was made
o Estimate cost of repair
o Show date of completion
· Streets: Have a form on the Internet that can be filled out for potholes
o Put the data on line to lessen duplication of requests
o Prioritize the repair schedule on the internet
·Streets: Study more durable construction material for roads and potholes.
·Region: Focus on 2 industries a month and work to bring them into the region.
·Region: Create an office of regional planning where businesses can communicate their needs and get assistance in finding the optimum location for their needs.
·Beautification: Ask organizations to work on the flower beds
·Beautification: Have contests with the Greenhouses in Toledo to beautify the Gateways
·Beautification: Organize youth by area to help clean their neighborhood streets.
·Government: Be customer friendly at One Government Center.

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