Mayor Michael Bell buys unauthorized vehicles

City Councilman D. Michael Collins is called the watch-dog of the city.

A title he readily embraces and lives up to.

Collins is calling discrepancies that he found in the city's finances borderline criminal.

"This would have never been uncovered, frankly, if I hadn't done what I did," says Collins, who surprised everyone when he brought the issues up at the end of a finance meeting .

He is referring to two vehicles purchased and used by Toledo Mayor Michael Bell that were never authorized by the Council.

He says, "I tracked down the funding source for all these and I found that, in my opinion, these purchases occurred from monies that were supposed to be going to streets, harbor and bridges under public service for replacement vehicles."

He goes on to say, "We did not authorize the Mayor to buy vehicles for his personal fleet. As a matter of fact, I don't think we've ever had a mayor with a personal fleet."

One vehicle is a 2011 GMC terrain. It was bought in 2010 for over $26,000 dollars.

The second vehicle is a 2013 GMC Tahoe with $3,500 in upgrades like 18 inch rims and a luxury package. The grand total for that one is about $42,000.

Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat spoke to a reporter Thursday after the meaning and said that the SUV's were bought to transport visiting dignitaries, and added, "We don't want to take them around in a 2002 Jeep Liberty."

Collins took offense to Herwat's comment saying, "To come out and say that a Jeep product isn't good enough, when we have that plant right here. And those employees pay taxes to this city. And so the fruits of their labor aren't worth the mayor's ability to travel about town. I believe that is the height of all insults."

When WNWO asked him if he thought the Mayor himself was responsible, he said, "Did the Mayor have an active role in all this? My suspicions are he did. And the evidence sort of points in that direction."

The Mayor's office has failed to return our phone calls for a response.

If the purchases are found to be unauthorized, it may very well be an unlawful act.

The city council would have to retroactively pass a bill authorizing the purchase of the vehicles which are already in use.