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GIRARD FISCAL COMMISSION Officials offer 5 for state panel



Published: Thu, August 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The full oversight commission will have seven members.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- The mayor and city council president have submitted the names of five men to serve on a state commission to dig the city out of its financial hole.

Gov. Bob Taft can select three of the five to serve on the seven-member fiscal planning and supervision commission or reject them all and name his own representatives.

The appointment of the oversight commission is the result of state Auditor Jim Petro's declaring Aug. 8 that the city was in a state fiscal emergency.

Tom Prendergast, an auditor's spokesman, said it will take until the second week in September to name the entire commission.

On the list: Those recommended to the governor by Melfi and council president Leo Grimes are retired businessman Charles W. Syak, businessmen Atty. John J. Masternick and Robert L. Delisio, banker Carl D. Culp and Frank Rich, city's director of safety and human resources.

Melfi said he and Grimes picked the five from a total of eight people they either sought out or who volunteered to serve on the commission.

The mayor added that he personally pointed out to the governor Syak's age and that Masternick is Grimes' brother-in-law.

Melfi said he will serve on the commission and Grimes said he hasn't decided if he will serve or appoint a representative.

Unhappy with choices: The nominations of Rich and Masternick did not sit well with Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd. She said they're a conflict of interest because the commission might want to consider abolishing Rich's job and Masternick has a business relationship with Grimes.

Sauline asserted the all-men selection doesn't represent the community because of the lack of businesswomen.

Eyeing spending cuts: Meanwhile, Melfi said his administration attempts to look for ways of reducing spending.

Melfi met with representatives of the city's four unions Tuesday to get their input.

At the same time, Melfi said, he was able to share with the union members a financial report prepared by city Auditor Sam Zirafi that covered 1995 through 2000.

The unions are the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and International Association of Firefighters.

"They were able to see firsthand what we've been fighting and telling people" about the city's "grave" financial problem, Melfi said.

"We never misled anybody," he added. "Long-term debt was nonexistent from 1995 to 1999."

In the report: The report shows the city was $611,818 in the red in 1999. Melfi, who took office in 2000, said he didn't know of the red ink in 1999 until Monday.

In 1999, according to the report, the city's total revenue was $10,275,000. In 2000, it dropped to $10,222,000 but the debt was $301,100 even with a 3.5-percent pay raise for its 108 employees.

From 1999 to 2000, Melfi said, court expenses were up 16 percent and fire department costs up 0.8 percent.

Melfi said that under his spending plan in his first year in office, police costs were down 3.2 percent; street department, down 21.4 percent; water department, down 17.4 percent; sewage treatment dipped 26.3 percent; and cemetery costs were down 32.8 percent.

yovich@vindy.com




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