YOUNGSTOWN Council panel OKs rehab of quarters

Ciy council's clerks will experience fewer disruptions and better productivity.
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council's buildings and grounds committee has given the green light for the first phase of the renovation of council's quarters.
The first phase, which will cost $121,477, covers renovation of council's offices and caucus room.
Besides using $84,040 in the fund designated for the project, the committee asked Carmen S. Conglose Jr., deputy director of public works, to take the additional $37,437 from a fund designated for a new police department elevator.
The elevator fund, which totals $70,000, is to be replenished with money that becomes available later this year from projects that either aren't done or are performed below budget, said Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, committee chairman.
"Every year, we always have funds that were earmarked for various projects, and those projects, for whatever reason, do not happen," he said, suggesting that city departments be polled concerning planned projects they might not do this year.
Conglose said he expects a city parking lot renovation project to come in $20,000 to $25,000 under budget, allowing the elevator fund to be replenished in part with that money.
Productivity: "It'll be more efficient. We will be able to serve the public better," Hudson said of the council office renovations after Wednesday's committee session. The office renovations will include a public entrance vestibule and give council's clerks an enclosed work environment that will minimize disruptions and improve their privacy and productivity, he added.
"I am lacking in filing and storage space in my current office. I can't keep my desk or the file cabinets in there secure," said Arlene D. Thompson, city clerk, adding that she eagerly awaits the renovations.
Hudson said he hopes the second phase of the project, a $170,257 renovation of council chambers, can be started by the end of the year with other funding sources that can be identified later this year.
"I don't want to wait another year until June to do those renovations," he said, adding that council can meet elsewhere, if necessary, while the project is under way.
Deficit: Had council known earlier about the city's potential deficit of up to $400,000 this year, which the administration announced this summer, Hudson said the city could have deferred some of the purchases it made and avoided the predicament over funding the council renovations.
The administration had projected the deficit might occur due to a shortfall in city income tax collections due to the closings of Tartan Textiles and Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the departure of Merrill Lynch, and the Forum Health nurses' strike.

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