Mayor Mike Bell compared Toledo's current situation to "fighting a fire" during his first State of the City address on Wednesday evening.
Bell touched on topics ranging from taxes to jobs. He said the city could no longer afford to pursue bad business deals as it tries to fill a $48 million budget deficit.
The mayor told residents gathered at UT's Nitschke Auditorium that the city must come together as a community to combat Toledo's economic problem. He made several cost-cutting suggestions including the possibility of "reaching out to Detroit" and forming a regional economic zone. "Imagine a concept of us reaching out to Detroit and creating a larger economic zone with Detroit attached to Toledo," Bell said.
He said a citizen task force has been meeting to discuss options including reducing costs, finding efficiencies, and generating revenue without increasing taxes on residents. Already, Bell said the task force has identified $25 million in initiatives.
Bell said the city could no longer afford to spend $1 million of general fund money a year for debt on the Hillcrest, Commodore Perry, and Museum Place apartment buildings.
On the issue of employment in the region, Bell was strong in his statement that the City of Toledo can attract jobs. He said the city must first transform itself into an attraction location and be competitive with communities outside of the region. He said the city is receiving calls from businesses hoping to move into the area, and will continue to reach out to employers and partners in the region to work on attracting even more businesses.
Bell ended the night's address by telling residents the challenges the city faces are not easy, but they are being addressed. He asked for patience as he deals with the problems affecting all of us. "It will take time, but we can turn the City of Toledo around and get moving in the right direction, " Bell said.