Member Highlight: City of Toledo
While TMACOG members come from six counties in Ohio and one in Michigan, and include cities, villages, and townships, the City of Toledo is the largest single member in terms of population. In the 2000 census, the city had a population of 313,619 and was the 57th largest city in the United States.
The City of Toledo was a founding member of TMACOG in 1968 and city officials have participated on TMACOG councils and committees since that time. Toledo currently has representatives on the Transportation Council and the Environmental Council, as well as on various committees. Over time, TMACOG and the City of Toledo have worked on a variety of projects. In 2010, Mayor Mike Bell asked TMACOG to facilitate a regional discussion on water supply.
Mayor Bell said, "TMACOG was instrumental in bringing together communities in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan this year when Toledo began to look at developing a regional water program. We all need, use and benefit from the Great Lakes and we need to examine how to share this resource in an equitable way. As mayor, I looked to TMACOG for help in starting that discussion." This discussion is on-going.
Like other jurisdictions in the region, the City of Toledo is struggling with the expense of water treatment and sewer systems. (See other articles in this newsletter about the cost of water system mandates.) The city’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) says that half of the pipes and sewers in the city were built before World War II and many are in desperate need of repair. According to reports by city staff, there are about 450 significant water main breaks per year. Fixing these daily emergency problems is in addition to undertaking a $521 million sanitary sewer Consent Decree project with the Federal Government through 2020 to almost eliminate combined sewer overflows into our local waterways that can happen during storms.
For the next four years, the city has proposed relatively large, but essential rate increases of 9.0 percent for water, 12.5 percent for sanitary sewer and 9.9 percent for stormwater. Once these rate increases are approved by city council, DPU will have the ability to make much needed improvements to its three utility systems, construct the Consent Degree projects and restore funding into its emergency Replacement Funds which have been drawn down to inadequate levels over the past several years to make emergency repairs.
There is continuing effort to work on the positive in the region. People in Toledo and the rest of the region have begun a new branding campaign called the Toledo Region story. This campaign describes the Toledo region as the heart of the new manufacturing economy and plans to capitalize on a trained workforce, manufacturing experience, university research, and natural resources.