YOUNGSTOWN City panel suggests school board get some fee waivers

Fee waivers will allow more money for beneficial features.
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council's buildings and grounds committee has recommended that council initially give the school board some, but not all, of the building permit and tap-in fee waivers the board wants for its $180 million construction and renovation project.
School officials sought the committee's support for waiving $812,505 in estimated total fees, but the committee agreed Wednesday to support waivers initially only on the first three buildings in the six-year project -- the new Taft, Harding and West elementary schools.
Lock Beachum, school board president, asked for the fee waivers, which council has approved for other projects, because he said the construction jobs and new buildings will be of benefit both to the city and the school district.
The less the school district pays in fees to the city, "the more we can put inside the buildings for the benefit of the kids," he said.
What was agreed upon: Michael Rapovy, D-5th, suggested, and his colleagues, Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, committee chairman, and Ron Sefcik, D-4th, agreed, on granting waivers only on the first three buildings in the project. By doing so, council has leverage to ensure that minority, female and city resident hiring objectives are met, Rapovy said.
The school board has set goals of 20-percent minority, 20-percent female and 50-percent city resident participation in the project work force.
Citing the city's financial predicament, Hudson suggested during the discussion the possibility of waiving the $62,505 difference between the $750,000 the school board says the city owes it in long-overdue school demolition funds and the $812,505 in fee waivers the board wants.
Schools Superintendent Benjamin McGee said some $250,000 in interest has accumulated over the last few years on top of that $750,000 figure. The committee agreed to revisit this issue at 5 p.m. May 8.
Also on agenda: In other action, the committee urged finance director Barbara Burtner to make every effort to find the $27,428 needed to restore the elaborate and colorful ceiling of council chambers to its original 1914-vintage grandeur and accommodate the room's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning needs.
Architect Ronald Cornell Faniro said council, which has been meeting in the law department and a municipal courtroom during the renovation, will again be able to meet in its chambers this fall.
Faniro said council chambers, which retains most of its original furnishings, "represents excellence in local civic architecture'' and is comparable to the Mahoning County Courthouse and Powers and Stambaugh auditoriums.

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