“Toledo mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz went on the offensive Tuesday lambasting his two opponents for their handling of city finances and its budget while promising a “taxpayer bill of rights” that included transparency and accountability.
“Is the city broke or does it have some unexpected money?” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said during a morning news conference on Regina Parkway.
“What about that mysterious $8.2 million that city hall lost track off and sat unused for at least five years,” he said, referring to money that was in the city’s general obligation debt service fund from about 2011 to 2016. “Can it be used for capital projects or not? The taxpayers deserve answers.”
Several Toledo councilmen last week wanted answers about city finances — specifically the status of more than $8.2 million that sat unused in that fund and how much money is in the city’s capital improvement fund. But Larry Sykes, chairman of the committee, denied several requests from councilmen to talk about the issues during a public hearing.
“Everybody has been saying something, nobody knows nothing,” Mr. Sykes said to councilmen.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz referred to Mr. Sykes’ comment.
“The chairman of the city council’s finance committee said that, when it comes to city’s budget mess, ‘nobody knows nothing.’ Unfortunately, he is right.”
Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, who could not be immediately reached Tuesday, announced last week former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas will act as a mediator between city Finance Director George Sarantou and city Auditor Jake Jaksetic, who have given councilmen contradicting reports on that fund.
Records obtained by The Blade showed the city’s “general obligation debt service fund” had $8.2 million beginning in at least 2011. That money carried over year-to-year until about December, 2016, when it was wiped out to zero. Peter Rancatore, the city’s commissioner of accounts, previously told The Blade the money is tax-increment financing district money that was not accounted for. But former Mayor Mike Bell said the money was placed there as a hedge to pay back city debt in case the temporary 0.75-percent income tax was not renewed.
Mr. Sarantou refused to talk about the issue last week until the city completes its 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is due Friday.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz criticized the mayor for delegating decision-making on tough issues and promised he would make tough choices as mayor.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz’s “Toledo Taxpayer Bill of Rights” also included “professional and responsible accounting of city money,” “outside review from accountants and community stakeholders,” and “priority based budgeting.”
Toledo Councilman Tom Waniewski, vice chairman of council’s finance committee, also could not be immediately reached for comment.”