Local leaders must work together and make tough choices to beat the economic downturn was Toledo Mayor Mike Bell’s message today when he spoke at the monthly meeting of the Perrysburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
He also took a moment to answer questions about hot issues, such as the idea of a hotel at the Hollywood Casino Toledo and the transit debate in Perrysburg.
Mr. Bell acknowledged during the question and answer portion of the meeting that there are ongoing discussions between Toledo and casino executives about building a hotel at the casino site. The $320 million casino opened in May on East Toledo’s Maumee riverfront.
“It’s still an open dialogue,” the mayor said about building a new hotel. “We need to figure out the pros and cons.”
The mayor also said Toledo has no plans to leave the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, or TARTA.
For years, Perrysburg city officials had argued they were overpaying for TARTA compared to the level of transit service they received in return. Voters approved exiting the regional transit authority in March.
“Right now, for us, it’s still working,” said Mr. Bell, who is more than halfway through his first term.
As to Perrysburg’s decision to leave TARTA and attempt to start its own city-run system, the mayor said he did not have an opinion on the issue since he doesn’t live in Perrysburg.
“I understand the politics and what was done here,” he said to the group of about 50 Perrysburg business leaders and government officials.
For the bulk of his speech, Mr. Bell recounted how he dealt with the city of Toledo’s $48 million deficit when he first took office.
“Making hard calls is really where this country is at right now. There are no simple solutions,” he said.
One key is working together, he said, citing the fire services merger between Toledo and Ottawa Hills. The agreement meant Toledo hired Ottawa Hills firefighters under a 20-year contract, and in exchange, the city took over fire service in the village in 2011.
The merger, a once highly controversial decision, has resulted in cost-savings for both communities, the mayor said.
“We look at this region as the Titanic… If this boat goes down, we all go down,” Mr. Bell said. “It all encompasses us working together.”
Perrysburg City Councilman Joe Lawless praised Mr. Bell’s emphasis on regionalization.
“It’s been very refreshing for Perrysburg, and the county and everybody else,” Mr. Lawless said.
Contact Gabrielle Russon at email@example.com , 419-351-0361 or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson.