Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz charted a path for Toledo’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – assisted by a number of new and existing programs, along with unprecedented economic growth – highlighted the victories of 2020, promised an unparalleled residential road repaving program to begin this spring, and bestowed the Key to the City to all Toledo-area healthcare heroes during the 2021 State of the City address delivered tonight from the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle Theater.
“Despite all of the adversity and the challenges we faced in 2020, Toledo was able to build on its momentum, deliver core city services, and position itself for even bigger accomplishments in 2021” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “Toledo is resilient, we fight back, so it is no surprise to me that we took everything 2020 threw at us and we are still standing.”
Toledo Councilwoman Dr. Tiffany M. Preston Whitman delivered the opening remarks for the State of the City. Kristin Moncrief, owner of “Optician on Wheels,” introduced the mayor.
Despite the economic and social challenges of the pandemic, Toledo has remained fiscally strong through the implementation of cutbacks in early 2020, the passage of a strong 2021 budget, and multiple economic development success stories. City services remained largely unaffected in 2020, despite those cutbacks, the mayor said.
“The story of 2020 is not all the bad things that happened to us – it is how we persevered,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “Despite everything that happened to us, one year into the pandemic, Toledo boasts relatively low unemployment, a number of impressive economic development victories, and a plan to improve our neighborhoods and fix our residential roads.”
Toledo’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average and it is also lower than that of destination cities like Orlando, Houston, and Los Angeles.
“Because of the hard work we did in 2018 and 2019 to get our financial house in order, we were able to better withstand the downturn of 2020,” the mayor said. “We have a $70 million rainy day fund today, when ten years ago we had a negative rainy day fund. A year from today, after two years of COVID-19 challenging us, we will still have 10 times more in our rainy day fund than we had five years ago, before the pandemic began.”
In late March 2020, an analysis by the Brookings Institution identified several Ohio cities that were likely to feel the fiscal shock of the pandemic the worst. The study showed cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo – all of which rely heavily on income tax for general fund revenue – would be among the hardest hit in the entire nation.
The 2020 revenue losses on Toledo’s general fund due to COVID-19 totaled $12,764,520, which included a $9.9 million drop in expected income taxes. The city responded with a number of cuts, the mayor said.
2020 Expenditure Impact: General Fund and CIP Budget Cuts Due to COVID-19
|Type of Reduction||Budget Cut|
|Delayed Police and Fire Classes and Reduced Police Class Size||$1,800,000|
|Eliminated Vacant Positions||$4,200,000|
|Furloughs, Temporary Emergency Leave, and Layoffs||$1,400,000|
|Reduced Materials, Service, and Supply Purchases||$3,600,000|
|Eliminated Capital Projects*||$4,300,000|
Additionally, the local economy was drastically affected. For example, the cancelation of the Walleye and Mud Hens seasons resulted in a loss of more than $52 million for the local economy, the mayor said.
Toledo will repave 42.04 miles of residential roads this year, up from 1.64 in 2019 and 2.88 in 2020. The average mileage of residential roads repaved from 2009 to 2020 was 13 miles. The Kapszukiewicz administration is able to make the badly needed investment in roads because of the passage of Issue 4 in November.
“For the first time ever, thanks to the passage of Issue 4, the city has dedicated money exclusively for streets,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “Finally, after decades of kicking the can down the road, we will be able to properly fix the residential streets of our city.”
Major roadway construction projects in 2020 included 2.85 lane miles of Douglas Road reconstruction from Alexis Road to Laskey Road and 7.37 lane miles of Alexis Road resurfacing from the western city limits to Jackman Road. The major roadway construction projects planned for 2021 include 9.5 lane miles street resurfacing of Dorr Street from Reynolds Road to Byrne Road; 2.50 lanes miles reconstruction of Bennett Road from Laskey Road to Alexis Road, and 3.6 lane miles resurfacing of Jefferson Avenue from Collingwood Boulevard to Summit Street.
Key to the City
In the days leading up to the State of the City, Mayor Kapszukiewicz presented the Key to the City to healthcare workers during small ceremonies at Mercy Health, Neighborhood Health Association, ProMedica, The Toledo Clinic, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, and the University of Toledo Medical Center.
“We would not have gotten as far as we have without the leadership of these men and women,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “No one deserves the Key to the City more than these healthcare heroes.”
- At Mercy Health, the key was accepted by Taylor Pendergast, an intensive care unit nurse in the system’s COVID-19 ICU, and multiple other Mercy Health employees, including Bob Baxter, the system’s president.
- At Neighborhood Health Association, the key was accepted by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Khalida Durrani and Chief Executive Officer Doni Miller.
- At ProMedica, the key was accepted by Kathleen Packard, environmental services; Uhunoma Aguebor, an intensive care unit nurse; John Reid, a respiratory therapist, and Dr. Brian Kaminski, emergency medicine physician.
- At The Toledo Clinic, the key was accepted by Dr. Moshir Jacob, chief medical officer, and Dr. Henry Naddaf, president.
- At the health department, the key was accepted by Dr. Eric Zgodzinski, health commissioner; Dave Welch, director of environmental health; Eileen Thompson, community and disaster response planner; Lauren Wagener, epidemiologist; Shannon Lands, director of health promotion and policy integration; Tanika Carter, epidemiologist; Jennifer Gottachalk, environmental health supervisor, and Jodi Vaughn, food safety division supervisor.
- At UTMC, the key was accepted by Dr. Michael Ellis, chief medical officer; Rick Swaine, chief executive officer; Pierre Maldonado, a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit, and Dr. Stephanie Pannell, associate chief medical officer.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toledo joined a coordinated partnership with Lucas County, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, and the VProject, the mayor said.
The Kapszukiewicz administration, beginning in early 2020, also did the following in response to the pandemic:
- Distributed more than 150,000 free masks to the community
- Sponsored drive-through mask distribution sites at multiple city parks
- Distributed masks at local Stop & Shop stores and Seaway Marketplace
- Distributed masks to community centers and neighborhood groups
- Coordinated expansion of outdoor eating areas, with newly purchased tables, for Toledo restaurants
- Established regular community Zoom meetings to update constituent groups, businesses, educational leaders, and suburban officials on the response to the COVID-19 vaccine and other matters
To help promote vaccine awareness and acceptance, the mayor’s mother, Karan Kapszukiewicz, received her second dose of the vaccine, live on stage at the Peristyle during the speech.
“I wanted to get the shot myself right now on live television to promote the vaccine, but it is not my turn yet,” the mayor said, noting that he will not cut in front of others in the community who need the vaccine more desperately than he does. “I found someone who is eligible to get the shot. So, to promote the importance of getting the vaccine, my mom, who is old enough, is getting her shot tonight… Obviously, we all must get vaccinated, so when it is your turn, please get the vaccine.”
Toledo mourned the loss of Toledo Police Officer Brandon Stalker on Jan. 18, 2021 and Officer Anthony Dia on July 4, 2020. Both officers were killed in the line of duty.
“Our hearts continue to be heavy as we mourn their loss,” the mayor said.
“When I ran for mayor four years ago, I promised that I would grow the size of the police force,” the mayor said, noting that there were 599 officers shortly after he took office and 618 today. “I am proud to say that I have kept that promise.”
The number of Toledo Police officers continues to increase under the Kapszukiewicz administration, including the expected graduation of 24 additional police recruits this year. Thirty-one additional new police recruits will begin the police academy in October and there will also be 50 new firefighters hired this year, the mayor said.
The mayor also said he was proud of the reform that took place after the murder of George Floyd.
In June, Toledo police discontinued use of camouflage uniforms and moved its internal affairs out of the Safety Building so residents would not feel intimidated if they chose to file complaints against officers. Additionally, all Toledo Police officers will be equipped this year with body-worn cameras.
The mayor tonight announced the expansion of the ShotSpotter program to include an area roughly four miles, covering the Monroe Street corridor and Junction neighborhood. The northwest border is in the area of Douglas Road and Monroe Street, and the southeast corner is Collingwood Boulevard and Nebraska Avenue.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz on Feb. 17 announced the hiring of a program manager who will be responsible for working with residents, community partners, and law enforcement to develop the city’s strategy to reduce gun violence.
“Even though last year’s increase in violence was part of a national trend caused by COVID-19, we know that we need to do more to keep our neighborhoods safe,” the mayor said.
The pandemic provided challenges in public safety, including the lack of jury trials, he said.
The mayor tonight announced multiple improvements to Toledo’s parks, including the installation of new signage at 106 locations to replace dilapidated and unsightly signs across the city; new playgrounds at Smith Park, Macelwane Park, Casey Jones Park, Feeback Park, and Goodwin Park; basketball court resurfacing at Goodwin Park, Pickford Park, and Clover Lane Park, and tennis court resurfacing Pine Glen Park and Crossgates Park.
Park revitalization efforts continue in the second year of a five-year plan, replacing benches, picnic tables, and grills, and resurfacing or rebuilding pathways and parking lots.
“There will be a nearly 500 percent increase in spending on youth and recreation programs for children this year versus what was budgeted for 2020,” MayorKapszukiewicz said.
During his speech, the mayor again thanked Pete Kadens for his efforts on The HOPE Toledo Promise, a program to help students bridge the gap from high school to community colleges, universities, or trade schools.
“We should pause to recognize the incredible, life-changing program that is HOPE Toledo,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that there are 64 students in college right now who would not have been there otherwise.”
New Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program
The mayor tonight announced the planned launch of a new Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program to provide assistance to 150 low- to moderate-income households in the city. A launch date has not been set. Eligibility requirements and more information on the program, including pre-application workshop dates, will be found at toledo.oh.gov/mortgage.
“The pandemic has impacted everyone in our community and we are pleased to leverage federal funding to assist homeowners continue to recover in 2021,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said.
The program, which will be operated by the Toledo Department of Neighborhoods, is funded by $1,526,505 of Community Development Block Grant-CV funding. $1,226,505 will be provided as direct assistance and $300,000 will be used for planning and administration costs. Mortgage assistance will cover up to six consecutive months, including forbearance, past due balances, late fees, and penalties. Taxes and insurance may be paid if included in the regular mortgage payment. Residents may submit one application per property. Gross household income of applicants must not exceed 80 percent AMI.
The mayor tonight also announced the creation of “PS 419,” a new collaboration of Toledo Police, Toledo Fire & Rescue, Toledo Public Schools, and Owens Community College to encourage careers with Toledo’s outstanding police and fire departments.
“This is an exciting new initiative. We are going to provide a vocational program in our Toledo Public Schools for those who want to enter the public safety field,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said.
Mayor Kapszukiewicz tonight announced a new city-wide initiative called “Clean Toledo” to eliminate blight from neighborhoods, a move that will increase safety, property values, and livability.
The Clean Toledo Crew, working out of the Streets, Bridges, and Harbor division, has already been clearing away illegal dumping on Toledo streets and in alleys. The team will be responding to complaints, but they are also proactively looking for debris dumped in areas where illegal activity occurs.
“In the past our approach to blight was reactive,” the mayor said. “Clean Toledo is proactive. We will have crews going out and addressing blight proactively.”
Other COVID-19 Assistance Programs
The mayor tonight highlighted a number of programs launched in 2020 to help Toledoans during the pandemic:
- The Emergency Rental Assistance Fund assisted approximately 700 eligible households with up to three months of rent payments.
- The Home at Last Program, a down payment assistance program for eligible first-time home buyers. It helps income-eligible first-time home buyers with up to $7,500 to use toward the purchase of a home and up to $9,500 in target neighborhoods.
- The Emergency Microenterprise Recovery Grant, designed to assist for-profit microenterprises maintain or restart operations and retain jobs by providing up to $5,000 for eligible operating expenses.
- The Lead Safety Compliance Early Bird Matching Grant, a recently-announced grant program to help property owners become compliant with the city’s Residential Rental Properties and Lead Safety Compliance law.
- Two rental assistance programs for homeless Toledo Public Schools students, which are partnerships of the city, the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board, Toledo Public Schools, Lutheran Social Services of Northwest Ohio, and financial opportunity centers.
LED Street Lights
The city’s 27,000 street lights will be fully converted on time by the end of 2021 from conventional high-pressure sodium bulbs to energy-efficient LED fixtures. The switch will save $580,000 annually on energy costs. That will cover the cost of the infrastructure upgrades. There is a 10-year or better return on investment for the conversion.
Every streetlight will be converted to LED by the end of 2021, following through with a promise to make all Toledo streets safer, more illuminated, and do so less expensively over the long run, the mayor said.
The Historic South End experienced a 57 percent reduction in major crimes since installation of LED streetlights.
In January 2021, The Arts Commission, with funding from the City of Toledo and Lucas County, distributed approximately $425,000 in grants to local artists and small arts organizations through the City of Toledo and Lucas County Arts Relief Grants program. This economic relief funding was aimed at supporting artists and organizations whose ability to earn income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, Mayor Kapszukiewicz recounted multiple recent economic development successes.
Over the past several years, the city has worked with its partners to return more than 600 acres of vacant commercial and industrial land back to productive use. Those projects have created more than 2,500 permanent jobs, more than 500 new residential units, and two new world-class Metroparks in the center of the city.
In 2021, more development is planned, including the former North Towne Square Mall property, the former Champion Spark Plug property, the “Four Corners” downtown, and we also will host the Solheim Cup, Mayor Kapszukiewicz said.
There are approximately $2.2 billion worth of projects currently underway, or recently completed, that are expected to create nearly 3,500 new permanent jobs and 1,079 new residential units, the mayor said. The successes include:
- A $25 million investment by Amazon at the former Southwyck Shopping Center property. The project will create 410 jobs and redevelop a 58 acre site that has sat vacant for more than a decade.
- A $23 million investment by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the sale and redevelopment of the former Textileather and MedCorp properties site. The company will build a 250,000 square foot vehicle customization facility that will create 300 jobs and redevelop 40 acres of previously vacant land.
- Bitwise, a Fresno, Calif.-based software developer, high-tech academy, and workspace host company announced yesterday, Feb. 24, it plans to purchase renovate, and locate in the Jefferson Center, Toledo’s historic former post office that was built in 1911 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 as the Old Central Post Office.
- A $39 million investment by General Motors at its Toledo Transmission Operations facility in North Toledo resulting in the retention of hundreds of jobs. This announcement follows General Motors’ $667 million investment for the nine-speed and ten-speed transmission systems in 2016.
- Libbey Glass LLC announced it will invest nearly $30 million over the next four years to maintain its Toledo operations, add a stemware line, and remain headquartered in the city.
- Brenntag North America, in partnership with Phoenix Investors, completed the renovation of a 225,000 square foot industrial building in the Junction neighborhood. The company also remediated and demolished the adjacent industrial building, which was severely damaged by a chemical fire a few years ago. The $15 million project will create 45 new jobs and return 22-acres of previously vacant land back to productive use.
- Construction completed on Cleveland Cliffs’ $700 million project in East Toledo, and the facility is fully operational. The project creates 130 high-paying jobs and substantially increases shipments to the Port of Toledo.
- A 2.5 megawatt solar array was developed across two sites in Toledo’s Overland Industrial Park. The north site was completed in July 2020 with solar modules provided by the largest American solar technology manufacturer, First Solar, Inc.; inverters provided by Yaskawa Solectria Solar; and design and construction services provided by GEM Energy, JDRM Engineering, Mannik Smith Group and TTL Associates. The installation of solar panels on the south site was completed in August 2020.
- The city sold 50-acres of industrial land within the Triad Business Park to Rolled Alloys. The company will relocate its operations and 200 employees from Michigan to a new $28 million facility at the site. The sale of the property generated more than $1 million in sale proceeds for the city. This property is located in a Joint Economic Development Zone between Toledo, Maumee, and Monclova Township. Toledo collects a portion of the new income tax that is created within the district and will benefit from the new jobs created by this project.
- Encompass Health opened its new $27 million inpatient rehabilitation hospital in West Toledo. The project is expected to create 88 permanent jobs.
- The city attracted J&B Medical Supply to downtown Toledo. The company will open a new office and create 50 permanent jobs.
- The city cut the ribbon at Manhattan Marsh Metropark and Phase 1 of the Glass City Metropark. Both of those projects were made possible through a partnership between the City of Toledo and Metroparks Toledo.
- The city completed renovation of Levis Square Park downtown.
- Imagination Station, in partnership with the city, completed construction on the $12 million KeyBank Discovery Theater.
- Toledo will become home to The Jeep Experience museum, a $40 million project expected to create 25 permanent jobs.
- The city cut the ribbon for Continental Real Estate Co.’s Marina Lofts development in East Toledo, a $44.5 million-dollar project that represents a significant milestone for the city and its efforts to redevelop the long-vacant 115-acre Marina District property.
- A $50 million mixed-use development in the Colony neighborhood by Continental Real Estate Co., which will create 262 apartments, retail space, and a 120-room Home2 Suites hotel by Hilton.
- The Secor Senior Lofts project in West Toledo, a $13 million project that creates 58 affordable units targeted for seniors.
- The Wonder Bread Lofts project in the Vistula neighborhood, a $7.5 million project that will create 33 market-rate apartments on Summit Street.
- A major mixed-use development project on Cherry Street announced by Mercy Health and NAI Harmon Group. The $10 million project will create 80 new residential units and ground floor commercial space.
- Windsor Cos. announced the Village on the Green project that will create 125 units in the UpTown neighborhood.
A brief video highlighting people and places of Toledo – both before and after the start of the pandemic – aired at the conclusion of the mayor’s speech.