By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- C. William Burgess will continue as the city's representative on the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District's board of directors.
Council members voted 5-1 at a meeting Wednesday to reappoint Burgess to the post he's occupied on the four-member board since 1998. Councilman Frank Fuda, D-1st, voted against the motion, and Councilman Reginald Giancola Jr., D-3rd, was absent.
Fuda said he thinks Burgess has done a good job during his tenure.
"I just don't feel that it's fair to the other applicants," he said. "They were under the impression they would have the opportunity to be interviewed."
Burgess, a retired Niles utilities superintendent, was pleased with the news.
"If I can do any good, I'd like to keep being on the board," he said.
Applicants: James Sylvester, a retired teacher from the Trumbull Career and Technical Center, and Nick Bernard Sr., a Niles school board member and former city councilman, also applied for the MVSD spot.
"It comes as a surprise to me," Sylvester said when contacted after the council meeting. "I wasn't even aware they were going to vote at this time. There were supposed to be interviews."
"I thought they were going to make some kind of a change," Bernard said. "I guess they decided not to."
Schools involvement: Because Bernard is a school board member and three council members -- Michael Lastic, D-2nd, and Thomas Scarnecchia and Robert Marino Jr., both D-at large -- work for the schools in administrative capacities, council's utilities committee, of which Fuda is chairman, asked J. Terrence Dull, law director, for a legal opinion on potential conflict of interest.
"I believe that the administrators from the school district should not vote on anything that's affecting a school board member," Dull said.
Councilman Stephen Papalas, D-at large, made a motion to reappoint Burgess, citing low water rates and smooth operations compared to problems of the past.
Councilman Paul Hogan, D-4th, seconded the motion, and Hogan, Papalas, Marino, Lastic and Scarnecchia voted in favor of it.
Abatement: In other business, Mayor Ralph Infante Jr. said a Cleveland-based company has brought a portion of its operation to the city and wants a 75 percent, 10-year tax abatement.
The H-M Steel Co. bought a vacant building on Hunter Street and now employs 12 to 15 employees, he said.
"They're going to redo the whole building," Infante said.
The company plans to hire 41 full-time and eight part-time workers within the next couple of years and expects a roughly $900,000 payroll, the mayor said. A public hearing on the company's request will be June 6.