Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz charted a course for Toledo in 2020 and beyond by promoting needed investments in the city’s roads and other vital infrastructure during the 2020 State of the City address, which was delivered in the Great Hall at the Toledo Zoo today.
The mayor announced what roads would be repaved or reconstructed in 2020 and 2021 if voters approve Issue 1 on the March 17 ballot. The city will be able to repave or reconstruct 391 roads in 2020 and 2021 totaling nearly 170 miles. Without passage of Issue 1, the city will be able to repave or reconstruct 28 roads in 2020 and 2021 totaling 55.2 miles.
Both lists of roads can be found at this link: toledo.oh.gov/roads.
“It really comes down to this simple question: Are we going to be content with baby steps of improvement or are we going to fix our problems once and for all?” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said.
The mayor stressed that Toledo is improving, and highlighted a number of accomplishments achieved during the past year. Those accomplishments include a historic regional water deal; declines in crime; completion of a new Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation multi-sport field; the 2019 pothole blitz; reduced use of capital improvement money for general fund operations; an increasing “rainy day fund,” and strides in economic development that include accolades from Site Selection Magazine and Kempler Industries, and job growth with new businesses like Topia and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
“There’s no doubt Toledo is improving, but yet we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “In too many ways, we’re still failing.”
“The majority of our children are still unprepared for kindergarten; the city’s police department staffing level is still below what the U.S. Department of Justice recommends; Toledo has the worst bond rating of any big city in Ohio; there are not enough sports and recreation opportunities for kids, and the roads are still in poor condition,” the mayor said.
“Are we improving? Yes. But we can do more!” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “We shouldn’t be afraid to compete. We should want to be the best, and we can do it. But as we start this work, we need to see where we stack up with other cities.”
Toledo spends less per capita than any other big city in Ohio, including less per capita on police, fire, parks, roads, and infrastructure, the mayor said. For example: Toledo spends $41 per capita on parks, which is half of what is spent in Columbus and in Cleveland, and one-fifth of what is spent in Cincinnati. Even worse, 83 percent of Toledo’s general fund parks budget is spent on mowing grass.
“Successful cities invest in themselves and there is an issue on the ballot in 47 days – Issue 1 – to do just that,” the mayor said. “In 2009, in the worst of the Great Recession, Columbus voters were presented with a plan identical to Issue 1 – and they passed it.”
Columbus is now one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, the mayor said.
Issue 1 will do the following, the mayor said:
- Allow Toledo to spend $40 million a year on residential road repair, which is four times more than what was spent in the record-high repaving year of 2018 and ten times the typical annual funding. Toledo will be able to repave 45 times more roads – from 1.6 miles in 2019 to 72 miles per year, every year, for ten years.
- Fund $20 million a year for police and fire vehicles, and non-road related capital projects, such as badly-needed improvements at the city’s parks, ball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts, shelter houses, and senior centers.
- Invest in Police by adding 100 new police officers to Toledo streets over a five-year period, increasing the department’s sworn officer ranks from 600 in January 2018 to 700 by 2023. That will be the highest level of police staffing since 2003.
- Invest in neighborhoods by fighting blight and funding incentives to fight lead.
- Invest in youth and recreation activities six times more that what is currently funded, allowing every child in Toledo to participate in a sports league or other activity.
- Keep pools open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Provide universal access to prekindergarten with a private sector match.
Toledo Councilwoman Dr. Cecelia Adams started the event with opening remarks.
“I have lived in Toledo my entire life,” Dr. Adams said. “I have seen a lot – the ups and the downs. Tonight, as we conclude the first month of a new decade, I am more confident than ever that we are moving in the right direction! At the same time, we are at a crossroads and the time to make decisions about our future is now.”
Tierney Sturgeon, a senior at Notre Dame Academy High School, introduced the mayor.
“Each new generation looks back to the one before it while simultaneously looking forward to what is possible,” Miss Sturgeon said. “I am looking forward.… I invest my time in things I care about – my family, putting an end to gun violence and equality for members of the LGBTQ community. I invest my time and energy to get the results I want to see. The same is true for all of my friends. We care about Toledo, as well. We see what you see and we know that without the investment of time, money, passion and planning today, the Toledo of tomorrow will not be what it could.”