The following article is a rebuttal to allegations contained in a re-call effort by certain Toledo residents who seek to recall Mayor Billie Joe Smith, and City Councilors Terri Strom and Deanne Dunlap. The Mayor’s comments contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or observations of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff and management, nor its advertisers.
Response #2 to Toledo Recall Petition Claims
The recall petition that is being circulated for signatures in Toledo makes 5 claims against Mayor Billie Jo Smith, and 4 against City Council President Terri Strom and Councilor Deanne Dunlap. Some of the claims are completely untrue. All are misleading and are the opinions of the individuals leading the recall.
The petitions against Terri Strom and Deanne Dunlap repeat the claims against the Mayor, and accuse them of supporting the Mayor. In fact, the Mayor and Councilors have been acting on the decisions of the City Council.
To respond to all of the claims in one article would make it too much to print and read. Also, some of the claims have several parts. To make this easier for readers, we will respond to only one of the claims at a time. This is the second of five in this series of responses. This claim is divided into two sections for the responses.
Recall Petition Claim:
* Fiscally irresponsible: Mayor Smith has obligated the City to spend vital reserve funds to subsidize a new pool district after working to create it.
* The City could no longer afford the ongoing costs of operating and maintaining the pool.
* The Council voted to set a date for closing the pool unless citizens developed a viable plan for continuing its operation.
* The Mayor and most of the Council did not want our community to lose this important asset.
* THE PEOPLE OF TOLEDO WANTED THE POOL. Hundreds worked to support the pool, and voters passed the measures creating and funding the Greater Toledo Pool Recreation District in May of 2017.
* YES, the Mayor, as an elected official, did all she could to help save the pool – and she had every right to do so.
* The City is now saving approximately $250,000 every year which can be carried forward to future budgetary needs.
* The Mayor was not on the committee that developed the Memorandum of Agreement and the Intergovernmental Agreement with the Pool District. These documents were approved by the entire City Council and provided for the transitioning of the pool to be operated by the District. The Council wants the Pool District to be successful and the start-up is vital to that success.
* The City had a long time reserve fund that was specifically designated for pool renovations. The transfer of this reserve fund to the Pool District was part of the Intergovernmental Agreement, which was approved by the entire Council. This is the best way for these funds to be used appropriately.
Recall Petition Claim:
City spent vital reserve funds to purchase and renovate an unsuitable bank building squandering reserve funds needed for public safety, vital public works facilities, and planned building improvements, putting the community’s safety and financial security in jeopardy.
* The former bank building meets the location, space, and many of the design requirements for our new Police and Public Safety Building.
* Some remodeling will be needed, but the overall cost will be much less than the land and construction costs for a new building.
* The purchase of the bank building is in the City’s adopted Capital Improvement Plan, which also recognized the need to move the Police Department and Emergency Dispatch out of the current overcrowded building, which is in the flood zone.
* The purchase was a “great deal” and an excellent investment for the City. We had the funds for the purchase, and paid only $200,000 for a 10,000 square foot building that is in good condition and on land appraised at $800,000.
* The City expects to fund most of the renovations through grants and possible sales of other city assets – so does not plan to ask taxpayers for additional funding.
* This move will enhance public safety!
* Our City does have vital public works infrastructure needs. However, they are addressed through water, sewer and street enterprise funds, which are separate from the General Fund accounts. The City is seeking state and federal grants and loans for financing these projects.
Mayor Billie Jo Smith
City of Toledo
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