Toledo City Councilwoman Cathy Molin said long-term programs are being paid for with short-term money, creating a situation that could hurt Toledo down the road.
TOLEDO, OH – the city of ToledoThe 2023 budget raises concerns about long-term financial stability, Councilwoman Kathy Molin said.
Moline, a certified public accountant, said she has been talking to Toledo’s finance department since the new year and has come away from the talks with a host of issues.
The most troubling part of the budget, she said, is that the city set aside at least $20 million from the American Rescue Plan to offset the general fund. But the city pulled zero dollars of that money from its special Budget Recovery Fund.
The money is not properly earmarked, creating an unbalanced budget that is against the city charter, Mullin said.
In addition, the budget’s use of federal funds, capital funds and rainy day money to balance the books leaves the city dependent on money that it either won’t have in a few years, can’t be budgeted for, or has a limited supply.
In total, Moline is concerned about $47 million.
Molin said the spending has created a structural deficit: The city of Toledo is frivolously spending more money than it actually has on long-term programs without adjusting financial projections for inflation, causing even higher cost prices than anticipated.
This problem was observed recently when improvement of residential roads the project increased by 12.5% more than forecast for the year due to increased construction and supply after the budget review was completed.
Molin said these budget problems are serious mistakes. If Toledo’s finance department doesn’t make some tough decisions and stop spending now, it will be forced to make some sad cuts in the years to come.
“I don’t want us, as a city, as a city council, as citizens of Toledo, to be put in a position where we have to make incredibly difficult choices when we’re considering whether to lay off the fire department or the police department,” she said she. “We need to be careful now so that we don’t have these painful, painful discussions down the line.”
So what is the best preventative measure for this? City finance officials must rewrite the 2023 budget, Molin said. If they don’t, she will follow up.
Molin said that if the city’s finance authority does not make major adjustments to this year’s budget soon, she will urge the council to reject the budget and request a resubmission of a balanced, revised budget by March 31.
In response to Moline, a city representative gave WTOL 11 the following statement:
“ARPA dollars are used for their intended purpose – to invest in what our city needs and what our residents want.
A long-term investment strategy will continue to build a city where residents want to live, work and play. As of 2018, the city does not expect to transfer CIP money, with the exception of 2020 related to COVID.”