GIRARD FINANCES Panel grants extension to mayor

The oversight commission chairman called on Girard to follow the state auditor's recommendations.
GIRARD -- The city's fiscal oversight commission has given Mayor James Melfi two added months to put together his financial recovery plan.
The financial planning and supervision commission agreed on the extension Thursday at the urging of Joe Gray, the group's chairman and representative of the state's Office of Management and Budget.
Melfi was supposed to have the plan submitted by today.
Using recommendations: Gray explained that the extension will give the mayor time to incorporate the recommendations contained in a state auditor's performance audit, which has not been released to the public.
It also gives city council time to approve the plan, he added.
The commission was named after the state auditor placed the city under a fiscal emergency because of its deep debt.
Gray said if the city accepts the recommendations in the audit in the areas of increasing revenue and employment levels, Girard could dig itself out of the emergency in three years.
The less cooperation among the branches of government and city unions, the longer the process will take, he added.
Melfi, who is a commission member, said the audit recommends returning to full staffing in some departments, but he would not say in which departments.
The mayor laid off 23 city workers, including three in the police department and 12 full-time firefighters.
Concessions made: Gray said Judge Michael Bernard of Girard Municipal Court has made some concessions as a result of the audit.
Melfi and Judge Bernard have been at odds over the cost of the justice center and operating finances.
Commission member Robert Delisio asked the mayor to deal with the city-owned Girard Lakes in his recovery plan -- the proposal is to sell the surrounding land, lakes or both -- because of the financial drain on the city.
Council President Lou Adovasio told the commission that he will decide by Monday to which council committee the issue will be assigned.
Adovasio said he doesn't want the city to move too quickly in dealing with the lakes because council was criticized for acting too quickly when they were purchased.
The council president said he believes the lakes are a valuable resource and should be retained.

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