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GIRARD Melfi: Police layoffs possible



Published: Wed, June 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city needs a plan in place that shows when the city can get out of fiscal emergency.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- City officials may have to lay off police officers soon, the mayor says.

During Tuesday's meeting with the state oversight commission, Mayor James Melfi said layoffs are part of a plan to get the city out of fiscal emergency.

The layoffs would come from the police department because it is receives money from the general fund, Melfi said.

"This is something we will be discussing at great length," Melfi said, adding that he does not know how many people would be furloughed or when layoffs may take place.

"It could be before the levy is on the ballot in November," the mayor said.

The city is placing a one-quarter percent income tax increase on the ballot in November. That tax would be for the operation of the police department and would generate about $375,000 a year, the mayor said.

The city is $1.4 million in debt and has been in fiscal emergency for the past three years.

Other plans

The mayor also told the committee that the city is also planning to transfer money from the fire department to the police department, rescind a contract with SBC for the removal of telephone poles, and ask a Trumbull County Common Pleas Court judge to approve transferring money given to the water department for the sale of timber and mineral rights to the general fund. He said these actions will help increase revenue to the general fund.

Paul D. Marshall, from the state Office of Budget and Management, who chairs the committee, told the mayor he wants a plan in place that shows when the city can get out of fiscal emergency.

"I appreciate the update but what we wanted is a new plan," Marshall said. "We need to have an end date in mind and a specific plan or we will wander forever."

The plan would also have to have council approval, Marshall said. He told the mayor he would like to have the plan by the committee's next meeting June 22.

Marshall also suggested that council consider passing the plan as an emergency measure.

"I feel a sense of urgency," Marshall said. "It's as if we are putting a Band-Aid on a gaping hole."

The mayor, however, disagreed saying he believes the city has been able to reduce the debt each year.

"The operation of the city rests with me and we don't have a gaping wound, we have concerns," Melfi said. "We are moving forward. We have made cuts. We have to maintain services."

Melfi noted that the city is also considering closing its dispatching center and joining forces with Liberty Township.

"We will look at everything we can to save money," Melfi said.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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