Girard Municipal Court will not pay more than its fair share of justice center
In recent articles in the press, Girard Mayor Melfi labeled the Girard Justice Center "a financial albatross." To such statement this court takes exception to the extent that it applies to the court's operation.
Councilman Reynold Paolone, chairman of the financial committee, recently represented to a Vindicator reporter the city set aside the sum of $186,000 to satisfy its share of the justice center debt.
Reynold Paolone failed to inform the Vindicator reporter that the city planned to finance the balance of the justice center debt by issuing 30-year bonds. At the current rate of interest, this would require the city to pay $171,143 per year and it would require the court to pay $95,103 per year for a total yearly payment of $266,246. This was the agreement between the city and the court.
Now, Reynold Paolone is representing that the court agreed to pay the city 50 percent of the total project costs. This is false, and Mr. Paolone knows it. How do you prove this? Just look at the numbers.
Half of $226,246 is $133,123. According to Mr. Paolone, the court agreed to pay $133,123 and the city agreed to pay $133,123. If Reynold Paolone is telling the truth, then why did the city set aside $186,000 to satisfy a $133,123 debt?
The truth is that city council's finance committee with the assistance of its finance officers (Melfi and Lamancusa) determined that the city would have to pay a larger percentage of the building because the size of the project had increased. How did this happen?
The city unanimously agreed with the court that the old building was not suitable for the court or the police department. No one objected. The city unanimously wanted a basement. The court objected. Nonetheless, the city proceeded with the basement.
The city unanimously wanted the justice center attached to the old building. The court objected. Nonetheless, the city proceeded with attaching the new building to the old building.
The city unanimously wanted to renovate the mayor's suite. The court objected. Nonetheless, the city proceeded to renovate the mayor's suite.
Melfi, as one of the finance officers, participated in all the foregoing decisions and never voiced a concern over whether there was inadequate money for the project. In fact, he vouched for its feasibility and indicated to all that with the rising income tax receipts there was in fact adequate money to undertake the project. And why wouldn't he? He got a luxury suite which cost the taxpayer approximately $1,000,000.
As judge, I am responsible for the court, and I will in no way shirk my responsibilities. The court occupies 35.72 percent of the Girard Justice Center. This number was verified by the architects who designed the justice center, MS Consultants, Inc. The calculation is a mathematical certainty and is not subject to negotiations.
The court will continue to help the city satisfy its debt to the extent of 35.72 percent even though it has no legal obligation to do so. At this rate and coupled with the court's prior payments, no taxpayer's funds are needed to support the cost of the court. To require the court to pay more would turn the court into a taxing agency of the city. As long as I am judge, this won't happen.
Since Mayor Melfi has produced no evidence, law or credible argument to support the city of Girard's position, this decision is final.
MICHAEL A. BERNARD, Judge
Girard Municipal Court
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