GIRARD Panel considers extension for mayor's recovery plan

Three branches of government attended the closed-door meeting.
GIRARD -- Mayor James Melfi may have a little more time to submit his financial recovery plan to state authorities.
Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, chairwoman of city council's finance committee, said the 30-day extension may be granted today by the city's fiscal oversight commission.
Sauline said representatives of state Auditor Jim Petro told city officials Wednesday during a three-hour meeting that they assume the mayor will receive the extension.
The commission was appointed after Petro placed the city under fiscal emergency Aug. 8. The mayor originally had until Friday to come up with a recovery plan.
Closed meeting: The meeting with state auditor's representatives to discuss the long-awaited performance audit was closed to the public.
The audit is expected to be released by Petro next Thursday morning.
Melfi, city council members and Judge Michael Bernard of Girard Municipal Court attended the session.
Sauline said she was glad all branches of city government attended.
She explained that the state auditor's office provides recommendations to not only get the city out of fiscal emergency but also explain what will occur if the city doesn't implement the recommendations.
"Everyone is getting the same information. To me, that seems like a benefit," Sauline added.
About the audit: The comprehensive audit looks at all aspects of city government and makes recommendations to get the city out of the red. The document contains nearly 300 pages.
Sauline said council is likely to approve this year's budget during council's Feb. 11 meeting.
After a few work sessions, lawmakers still have a $565,000 deficit to cut from the budget.
Melfi had laid off 23 full- and part-time city workers. One has died and another returned to work after filing a union grievance.
Firefighters have accepted a wage and clothing-allowance freeze, while Frank Rich, safety and human resources director, said police have presented cost-cutting measures.
Rich said he hasn't heard from other employees that are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

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