GIRARD Council OKs financial plan

All full-time firefighters must be returned to duty before part-timers, the union president says.
GIRARD -- City council has given thumbs up to Mayor James Melfi's five-year fiscal recovery plan.
Lawmakers unanimously approved the plan Monday, although Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, chairwoman of the finance committee, said there are still questions the mayor needs to answer.
The plan is required by law because the city is under a state-imposed fiscal emergency.
It outlines what the city must do to increase revenue and cut expenses and parallels the recommendations made by the state auditor's office in its performance audit of city operations.
Sauline said she and other council members have questions. They include the need for benchmarks for estimated revenue and expenses and the names of the people who will be responsible for implementing each part of the plan.
The resolution adopting the plan will include the lawmakers' questions and the mayor's responses.
Firefighters: Council President Louis Adovasio said the city will have some money this year to bring back some of the 14 part-time firefighters who were laid off last year.
Phil Cretella Jr., president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1220, said the union won't discuss the return of any part-timers until the department has a full complement of 16 full-time firefighters.
The department has 14 full-time employees on duty, with one vacancy and one firefighter out with injuries. The department gave up its pay raise and uniform allowance this year to prevent a layoff.
Joseph Christopher, D-at-large, said he favors bringing back two or three part-time firefighters to offset overtime costs.
Melfi said after the meeting he favors a full complement in the fire department, but cautioned the city must move slowly.
Police Chief Anthony Ross objected to part-timers being brought back to work because they have full-time jobs elsewhere and his department staffing is low.
Block grant: In other business, Melfi proposed three projects for the $56,600 the city will receive from the Community Development Block Grant program.
They are the replacement of an old waterline along Louis Avenue because of breaks, sidewalk replacement on some streets in the West End that qualify because of low and moderate incomes, and restoration of the historic Barnhisel House.
Melfi and Sauline agreed the city should send a letter to the Trumbull County Planning Commission asking why the commission raised its administrative fee on CDBGs from 10 percent to 15 percent.

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