Toledo's City Council has begun its annual process to prepare next year's city budget and it started last week.
On Jan. 7, the city council listened to budget reviews and requests from a handful of city departments and other individuals that are paid by the city. Most groups were quick with their presentation as they just reviewed their 2013-2014 budget and discussed their requests for next year.
Toledo Fire Chief Joe Boll started the night with a short presentation. Boll said the fire department had more calls during the past year, but he isn't requesting any more money as some funds increase, while others are decreasing.
"I think we can handle next year's budget with zero growth, meaning the same as last year," Boll said. "I'm pretty confident we can live with this budget. The wildcard in all of us this whether or not it's going to be another dry year. None of us can say if it's going to be dry or not."
Greg Johnson, Toledo ambulance director, followed Boll with a short presentation. He said he's dropping the repair and maintenance by $1,000 because the department purchased a new truck this year.
However, Johnson said he wanted to increase the operating supplies and materials by $2,000 and medical supplies by $3,000 because they had a 6 percent increase in calls this year.
Jenny Bledsoe, Toledo Library director, and Kathy Holtz, president of the library trustees, followed Boll at the meeting. Holtz did most of the talking for the library and she said the foundation is requesting a small increase for wages.
"We are requesting a 3 percent increase of the funds you gave us last year," Holtz said. "We'd like to give our staff a cost-of-living increase of 3 percent. We're asking for a little more for our director. Jenny (Bledsoe) has done a lot of training and taken a lot of responsibilities of becoming tech-savvy to assist all of the people who use the library. In return, it's helped us, because we don't have to pay tech support to come in as often and that's saved us a lot of money."
Holtz and Bledsoe also said they want to increase the wages of the library custodian. They said she isn't paid enough, in their opinion, and they don't want to lose her, because she does more than her seven hours of work per week, such as clean all of the library windows.
Near the end of their presentation, council member Terry Goodhart asked City Clerk Julie Wilkerson if the council needed to budget roof repairs for the library. Goodhart and Wilkerson said the roof should be evaluated for repairs.
City of Toledo Police Chief Bob Kendall talked to the city council about several issues during his presentation. Kendall said he has budgeted wage increases for some of his officers next year, because they will be moving up a step in the salary scale. He also said he'd like to request more money in the repair and maintenance fund.
"The reason being is I had so many problems with them this year," Kendall said. "I'm not going to budget for another car this year. I'm going to hold off and I think we can get by for another year with what we have."
However, Kendall said the department could decrease its funds that pay City Attorney Nancy Burk. The former police chief budgeted around $7,000 for those fees, but Kendall would like to cut that amount in half.
"We aren't using (Burk) as much," Kendall said. "Every time we take someone to jail, it's written on state charges, no city charges. That saves the city a bunch of money there. I want to cut that in half."
His final budget request was for the operations supplies fund. Kendall said the department needs a new copier/printer. He upgraded his computer to run on Windows 7, but the current copier/printer isn't compatible for Windows 7. However, Kendall said he wants to upgrade the other office computer to Windows 7, because it currently runs on Windows XP, an older system, and he'd like to buy a copier/printer that will work with Windows 7 and both computers.
"I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place," Kendall said. "We could lease one or buy one. If we buy one, it's about $3,500. But if we lease one, it's $99.66 a month, but it's for six years. If you lease one, it does come up lots of stuff, like parts, labor, service, toner, upgrade guarantees and other benefits. But it's for six years."
The city council briefly discussed the printer issue. The council is considering leasing one from the same company that the City of Toledo uses to see if it can get a cheaper deal.
Dwayne and Pam Wood, Director of Public Works Mark Zmolek and Wilkerson also talked about their budget with the council. The city council met again Monday night to further discuss budget requests.