NILES OEPA questions remain
The state recommended that the city's plant chief do the job.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- It remains unclear how the city will meet Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requirements at its sewage treatment plant.
An OEPA environmental engineer wrote a letter to the city last month saying the discharge permit requires an operator with a Class IV certification to be in charge of the plant.
OEPA's Division of Drinking and Ground Waters in Columbus didn't approve Dennis Donadio, the plant's chief operator, for proceeding with application procedures for certification to the position, citing a lack of time in an assistant superintendent position.
That's why Ohio EPA considers the city in violation of that part of its permit.
OEPA recommended Randy Fabrizio, the water and wastewater superintendent, who holds the required certification, become the resident supervisor.
That would require him to spend time at the Summit Street plant. His office is in city hall.
Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr. suggested Fabrizio be paid $200 more each month for six months for the additional work. After that time, the plant's operator may have the proper certification. Fabrizio now earns about $3,562 monthly.
Infante said it's cheaper than hiring someone.
More questions: At a finance committee meeting Wednesday, Councilman Thomas Scarnecchia, D-at large, said he still has questions for OEPA.
He wants to know what the city's options are and how other cities are dealing with the operator certification requirement.
Scarnecchia, finance committee chairman, also said that when a similar issue of increasing the pay for the director of environmental health's pay for more work arose, some council members objected.
He's concerned those issues of increasing one department head's pay will arise again.
Infante said Donadio has reapplied to get the required certification. He said OEPA didn't consider some hours Donadio worked as assistant superintendent while others were on vacation.
"There are a lot of options," Infante said. "I'm not going to sit here and argue about $1,200."
Fabrizio said Warren got a similar letter, but hasn't changed its facility. Other communities aren't in compliance, but haven't been fined, he said.
Niles could follow suit, but it would be subject to liability if there is a problem at the plant.
"... each and every one of you is responsible because you were aware of the problem and chose to turn your back on it," Fabrizio said.
Councilman Robert Marino Jr., D-at large, suggested an ordinance be presented at council's meeting next week, to start paying Fabrizio the additional money for the additional work after council and the administration's questions have been answered. The money could be rescinded and would not continue beyond six months.
Councilman Frank Fuda, D-1st, agreed, but Scarnecchia said he can't support that legislation. Scarnecchia can't be at next week's meeting and will call in his vote.