Teamwork Toledo Budget Press Conference -updated statement

WHO: Teamwork Toledo

WHAT: Major City Budget Proposal

WHEN: Thursday, June 4, 2009
3 p.m.

WHERE: Walbridge Park Shelterhouse

WHY: Multi-Million Dollar Budget Solution

Teamwork Toledo will make a major announcement concerning the council candidate coalition’s first proposal to help solve Toledo’s continuing budget deficit. The at-large candidates will reveal the proposal on Thursday, June 4, 2009, 3 p.m., at the Walbridge Park Shelterhouse.

“Our city cannot afford to wait until January for us to get involved because of the lack of leadership being shown by many of the professional politicians responsible for balancing the budget,” stated Kevin Milliken.

“Teamwork Toledo continues to comb through the budget, looking for bold, outside-the-box ideas—and we’ve come up with a proposal that merits discussion and serious consideration.”

The proposal has the potential to solve the city’s park maintenance problems, reduce firefighter overtime costs, and put laid-off police officers back on the beat—and it won’t cost Toledo taxpayers an additional dime.

Teamwork Toledo consists of six first-time candidates: 30 and 40-something professionals and small business owners, like-minded individuals who want to reclaim city government on behalf of its citizens. Teamwork Toledo is a group of fiscal conservatives with a social conscience.

Teamwork Toledo stands for three basic principles: no new taxes, back-to-basics government, and a business-friendly community. Teamwork Toledo seeks to restore a common-sense approach to city government.

The six candidates who comprise Teamwork Toledo are John Adams, Jr., Ty Daniels, Tricia Lyons, Kevin Milliken, David Washington, and Michael Watson.

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(KEVIN MILLIKEN)
GOOD AFTERNOON…

WELCOME TO WALBRIDGE PARK, ONE OF TOLEDO’ S MOST POPULAR SUMMERTIME DESTINATIONS FOR FAMILIES-- FOR PICNICS, PLAYGROUNDS, AND PATHWAYS.

BUT CITY PARKS LIKE THIS FINE FACILITY ARE SUFFERING FROM A LACK OF MAINTENANCE DUE TO LAYOFFS AND BUDGET CUTS.

WHILE OUR MAYOR IS CUTTING THE GRASS ON OCCASION FOR THE CAMERAS, OTHER PARKS ONLY GET MOWED SO OFTEN—THE RUNNING JOKE IS THAT SMALL CHILDREN CAN GET LOST IN HIGH WEEDS AND GRASS.

OUR MAYOR IS PULLING POLITICAL AND PUBLICITY STUNTS AND CALLS IT LEADERSHIP.

TEAMWORK TOLEDO INSTEAD TOOK A LOOK AT THE PARKS BUDGET AND FOUND A WAY TO SAVE MONEY, RESTRUCTURE GOVERNMENT, AND MAINTAIN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE. THAT’S TRUE LEADERSHIP.

OUR PROPOSAL IS THIS: MERGE THE CITY’S NEIGHBORHOOD AND RECREATIONAL PARKS INTO THE METROPARKS OF THE TOLEDO AREA.

AN ORDERLY, NEGOTIATED, AND STRUCTURED TRANSITION WOULD SAVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT A CRUCIAL TIME WHEN THERE IS A DUPLICATION OF SERVICES.

THE METROPARKS ALREADY HAS THE MANAGERS, MOWERS, AND MAINTENANCE STAFF IN GREATER TOLEDO. THERE ARE EFFICIENCIES TO BE FOUND HERE.

FOR EXAMPLE…THE MIDDLEGROUNDS METROPARK WILL BE ESTABLISHED ALONG THE MAUMEE RIVER FROM THE HIGH LEVEL BRIDGE, BEHIND MLK PLAZA…AND EXTEND A RIVERWALK HERE TO WALBRIDGE PARK.

IT MAKES NO SENSE TO SEPARATE THE MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF THOSE PARKS WHEN THEY’RE GOING TO BE PHYSICALLY CONNECTED ANYWAY.

WE BELIEVE THAT IF THERE IS THE POLITICAL WILL TO EXPLORE THIS IDEA…MULTI-MILLION DOLLARS IN SAVINGS CAN BE FOUND THAT WOULD HAVE A POSITIVE RIPPLE EFFECT ON PUBLIC SAFETY.

THAT COULD, IN TURN, BE USED TO HIRE A NEW FIRE CLASS BIG ENOUGH TO SOLVE THE CITY’S FIRE OVERTIME PROBLEM.

THOSE MULTI-MILLION DOLLARS IN SAVINGS THEN COULD BE USED TO REHIRE 75 LAID OFF TOLEDO POLICE OFFICERS…AND MAKE OUR HOMES, PARKS, AND STREETS SAFE AGAIN FOR THE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES WHO MAY HESITATE TO USE FACILITIES SUCH AS WALBRIDGE PARK.

CONTROVERSIAL? PERHAPS.

COMPLICATED? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE.

CRITICIZED? WE’RE WAITING TO HEAR BETTER SOLUTIONS.

CAN DO? YOU BET.

IT’S AN IDEA THAT’S BOLD, INNOVATIVE, AND OUTSIDE-THE-BOX. BUT TEAMWORK TOLEDO BELIEVES IT DESERVES SERIOUS CONSIDERATION AND DISCUSSION. SO WE WANT TO START THAT CONVERSATION RIGHT AWAY.

BUT WE’RE NOT HEARING BOLD STROKES FROM OUR CURRENT CITY COUNCIL…OUR MAYOR’S RESPONSE IS TO INCREASE THE TRASH FEE BY A BIGGER AMOUNT. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO WAIT UNTIL JANUARY TO SEEK SOLUTIONS.

THE TIME IS NOW, THE TIME IS RIGHT, AND THE TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

(TY DANIELS)

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

TOLEDO CITY GOVERNMENT SPENDS MORE THAN FOUR MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR ON ITS PARKS AND RECREATION.

THE METROPARKS OF GREATER TOLEDO COLLECTS TWO LEVIES—14 MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR FOR MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS, ANOTHER TWO-POINT-THREE MILLION DOLLARS FOR LAND ACQUISITION.

ADDED TOGETHER, THAT’S TWO SEPARATE BUREAUCRACIES, 20 MILLION TAXPAYER DOLLARS PER YEAR TO OPERATE AND MAINTAIN 144 CITY PARKS AND A DOZEN METROPARKS.

THERE ARE BOTH SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO THIS PROPOSAL…AND TEAMWORK TOLEDO HOPES THE IDEA WILL BE CONSIDERED FULLY, DISCUSSED OPENLY, AND ACTION TAKEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

WE HAVE SENT A LETTER, ASKING THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL PARKS AND REC COMMITTEE CHAIR LINDSAY WEBB TO START THAT CONVERSATION FROM THE CITY SIDE.

TEAMWORK TOLEDO ALSO HAS REQUESTED THE METROPARKS JOIN THE DISCUSSIONS…THROUGH A LETTER SENT TO BOARD MEMBER FRITZ BYERS.

IT IS OUR HOPE THAT A PUBLIC HEARING WILL HAPPEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO HEAR FROM ALL SIDES, ALL STAKEHOLDERS.

THAT HEARING WOULD DISCUSS THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE—A MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT, A GRADUAL TRANSITION, OR A POSSIBLE MERGER. THERE ARE A LOT OF POSSIBILITIES HERE.

(TRICIA LYONS)

THERE’S A VIRTUAL TOP TEN LIST OF REASONS TO DO THIS:

WE HAVE ALREADY MENTIONED SOME OF THE BIGGEST—MAJOR COST SAVINGS, A DUPLICATION OF SERVICES, AND PROXIMITY..

HERE ARE SOME OTHERS:

THERE IS AN EXISTING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CITY AND THE METROPARKS.

TOLEDO, IN RECENT YEARS, HAS ALREADY TRANSFERRD ITS FORMER WORKHOUSE PROPERTY NEAR WHITEHOUSE, WHICH IS BECOMING THE BLUE CREEK CONSERVATION AREA. THE METROPARKS ALSO NOW MANAGES THE TOLEDO BOTANICAL GARDENS, A FORMER CITY PROPERTY.

THIS PROPOSAL OFFERS MORE ACCOUNTABLILITY.

BY TRANSFERRING THE FUNCTIONS AND FUNDING TO AN AGENCY THAT IS ALREADY AN EXPERT IN OPERATING PARKS AND PROGRAMS. PEOPLE WILL KNOW DIRECTLY WHERE THEIR TAX DOLLARS ARE GOING…AND VOTE ON THAT FUNDING EVERY FEW YEARS.

THIS PROPOSAL TAKES THE POLITICS OUT OF DECISIONMAKING.

THE THREE-MEMBER METROPARKS BOARD IS APPOINTED, NOT ELECTED. THEY ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS VOLUNTEERING TO SERVE THEIR COMMUNITY AND DO WHAT IS IN ITS BEST INTERESTS.

THIS PROPOSAL TAKES ADVANTAGE OF EXISTING PARTNERSHIPS AND OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND THOSE RELATIONSHIPS.

THE METROPARKS SYSTEM IS SUPPORTED BY A NUMBER OF NON-PROFIT AND VOLUNTEER GROUPS, SUCH AS THE FRIENDS OF THE METROPARKS. THOSE PARTNERSHIPS COULD BE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE YOUTH SPORTS ASSOCIATIONS AND OTHER GROUPS TO MANAGE FIELD SCHEDULING, RECREATIONAL LEAGUES, OUTDOOR PROGRAMS, AND VOLUNTEER PATROLS.

THIS PROPOSAL ALSO PRESERVES COMMUNITY GREENSPACE, A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT TO MAKING TOLEDO A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE, WORK, PLAY, AND DO BUSINESS.

(DAVID “PREZ” WASHINGTON)

THE TIMING IS RIGHT TO EXPLORE AND DISCUSS THIS PROPOSAL.

THERE IS NEW LEADERSHIP AT THE METROPARKS.

THE AGENCY’S THREE BOARD MEMBERS HAVE ALL BEEN APPOINTED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS—SCOTT SAVAGE, FRITZ BYERS, AND LERA DONEGHY.

THE METROPARKS HAS A NEW DIRECTOR…DON RETTIG, JUNIOR—JUST NAMED TWO WEEKS AGO. HE’S A FORMER ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS THERE…SO HE KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THIS WORK

ALSO…THE METROPARKS ARE MOVING MORE AND MORE INTO TOLEDO—KEVIN MENTIONED THE MIDDLEGROUNDS. THE METROPARKS ALSO RECENTLY PURCHASED THE FORMER KEIL FARM PROPERTY IN SOUTH TOLEDO…WITH THE HELP OF A FEDERAL GRANT AND LEVY FUNDING.

SWAN CREEK AND WILDWOOD ALREADY ARE POPULAR DESTINATIONS.

IN THIS TIME OF ECONOMIC CRISIS, WE NEED TO EXPLORE WAYS TO STREAMLINE CITY GOVERNMENT, AND PUT CITY ASSETS INTO THE HANDS OF PARTNERS WHO CAN OPERATE THEM MORE EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY THAN IS HAPPENING NOW.

SOME MAY ARGUE THE METROPARKS AND CITY PARKS HAVE SEPARATE MISSIONS—ONE FOCUSED ON PRESERVATION AND EDUCATION, THE OTHER ON OPERATING RECREATIONAL PROGRAMS AND NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS.

WE BELIEVE THERE’S MORE IN COMMON AND CROSSOVER TO WHAT CITY AND REGIONAL PARK DISTRICTS DO.…AND IT MAY BE TIME TO MERGE THOSE MISSIONS.

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