The money was paid to Buckeye after it moved its fiber optic cables as part of the reconstruction. In a press release on May 21, representatives of the city said that the decision was weighed heavily and guided by “legal interpretations of state and municipal law.” On July 20, 2020, Law Director Dale Emch said that because the project involved aesthetic improvements, the city was responsible for the expense. However, other utilities combined to spend as much as $570,000 of their own money to move their equipment. Utilities are responsible for the bill if a project is a “reasonably necessary” reconstruction.
“We are exploring different options,” Messina said. “The administration supports efforts by, and intends to partner with, Councilman Ludeman in exploring strategies, including litigation, that would help recover costs owed to the City of Toledo.” City spokesman Ignazio Messina said the administration supports the effort.
Previously, Toledo city leaders acknowledged an FBI investigation into the project, stating that while the decision may be “unpopular among some people, it does not mean it was unlawful or inappropriate.” Toledo council member Rob Ludeman is finalizing legislation this morning that will empower the administration to go after the money.
On Wednesday, a group led by former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent Emch a letter of intent to sue if the administration does not initiate legal action to recoup the money by noon on Friday. Other members of the group include Alfonso Narvaez, Harold Moseley, Toni Moore, Mike Ferner, Julian Mack, and Harry Johnston.
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He said the reimbursement took place after the project was already approved by council in May 2020. He said it sets a “terrible precedent” for future road reconstruction projects. On Wednesday, Ludeman told WTOL 11 that he fears that those utilities will now ask to be reimbursed. Councilman Nick Komives said that the reimbursement to Buckeye was improper because it is clearly reconstruction and not aesthetic.
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