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      Mayor's 'Plan B': Toledo city worker layoffs

      The City of Toledo issued over 130 layoff notices to city workers on Monday in an effort to present a balanced budget by month's end.

      The layoffs, which include the elimination of 125 police officers and 32.5 non-essential general fund positions, are in addition to other cuts and revenue enhancements proposed by Toledo Mayor Mike Bell for approval by City Council.

      City workers received notices Monday that their positions would be eliminated, as of April 15, 2010, due to the city's current budget crisis and a lack of funding. Mayor Bell told residents during his State of the City address, on March 1, that he could not "in good conscience" resort to further cuts in Toledo's police and fire departments. He said the city cannot afford longer response times due to another reduction in public officers. The Mayor's office said Monday that the cuts become unavoidable as a March 31 deadline approaches. The city is required to pass a balanced budget by that date, or face declaring "fiscal emergency" in which the State of Ohio would have to take over.

      Non-essential positions being eliminated include those in the divisions of Recreation, Neighborhoods, Human Resources, Plan Commission, Foresty, and Affirmative Action.

      The proposed cuts come as City Council deliberates $28 million in other reductions and initiatives proposed by Bell in order to balance the city's current budget deficit. The 137.5 layoffs of both currently filled and vacant positions are deemed the city's "Plan B" to be set in action while City Council considers the Mayor's proposal and in order to meet a March 31 deadline.

      The Mayor has proposed approximately $28 million in other initiatives that would balance the remaining deficit without layoffs, but the impending deadline requires "Plan B" to be set in action while council continues to deliberate on those proposals.

      Mayor Bell has asked City Council to approve a fee that would tack $15 onto residents' refuse service charge, regardless of whether the resident recycles or not. The proposal would allow for the establishment of an enterprise fund that covers the cost of picking up and disposing of refuse. Bell is also asking for the elimination of the income tax credit for anyone who lives in Toledo but works outside the city. He cites the fact that these individuals use police, fire and other services provided by the city without contributing tax dollars to support them. Council has also been asked to approve an 8% ticket tax on professional sports, concerts, and entertainment venues.