HUBBARD Slow economy causes officials to rethink new police station

City auditors says revenue is just meeting expenses.
HUBBARD -- Leaders say a sluggish economy may force a proposal to build a new police station to the back burner.
City Auditor Michael Villano told lawmakers at Monday night's city council caucus that because of the economic downturn, the city isn't earning the interest it once did.
The city administration and lawmakers have been discussing for about 18 months whether they want to remodel the aged structure, build a new facility, or buy a structure and remodel it.
The city has a $1.1 million low-interest loan available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, plus a $20,000 grant.
Drop in rates: Villano told council that in the past two years, the interest rates on city investments have decreased from 6.25 percent to 1.95 percent.
And, the auditor explained, revenues are equaling expenditures. If the city is to finance the project, Villano said, it will have to come from funds other than the general fund.
"If there's no dollars for the project, then we can't afford it," said Robert Paterniti, city safety director.
The discussion about the police station surfaced when Councilman Richard Keenan, D-4th, chairman of council's safety committee, asked Paterniti if he had hired any companies to appraise the vacant Carano's IGA grocery store on East Liberty Street.
Paterniti said he hadn't but had contacted appraisers to do the work.
Keenan said council had not authorized the appraisals, to which Paterniti responded that he was trying to speed the process.
The safety director explained an inspection had been completed on the Carano building, but he has not received the report.
Mayor George Praznik said city has not made a proposal to buy the Carano property.
Also on agenda: In other business, Time Warner Cable has informed the city that it will no longer pay the city for cable modem services such as Road Runner.
Time Warner said in a letter to Praznik that the Federal Communications Commission ruled that cable modem services are an interstate information service and not a cable service.
Time Warner said it has been paying the city a franchise based on revenue from both services.
During the meeting, Praznik announced that Chief Robert Hogg Jr. of the Hubbard Volunteer Fire Department has retired. He served on the department that serves the city and Hubbard Township for 26 years.
A fire district committee will select Hogg's replacement.

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