GIRARD City faces new levy or layoffs

Plans to open a game room in the city have been canceled, the mayor said.
GIRARD -- The only way the city can avoid layoffs next year is to pass a levy, an auditor says.
Auditor Sam Zirafi told council during Monday's regular meeting that without any new revenue sources, the general fund will "go negative next year."
"The administration and city council must be prepared to alter and reduce services provided by the general fund, prior to entering next year," Zirafi said.
The general fund is primarily made up of the city's safety forces.
Mayor James Melfi noted that council is considering placing a levy on the November ballot for the police department. If a police levy passes, the general fund will be in much better shape, Melfi said.
Zirafi also warned council that if they don't act quickly on four ordinances to transfer money to the general fund, the city will have to make 17 layoffs in mid-June. The general fund is facing a $1.6 million deficit.
The auditor recommended that the city transfer money from the fire department to the police department, rescind a contract with SBC on 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.
Council approved three of the ordinances but only gave first reading on the motion to transfer money from the fire department to the police department. That ordinance must pass two more readings before it takes effect.
Zirafi noted that if the judge does not rule in the city's favor on transferring the money, then layoffs could still take place this year.
No game room
In other matters, the mayor said plans by local businessmen to open a game room in the city have been canceled. The businessmen have decided to look at other communities, Melfi said.
Business owners Tony Bruno and Don Fleck had wanted to open a Treasure Island game room in the city and asked to speak to council before Monday's meeting. The two recently opened a similar game room in Boardman Township.
"They decided to look somewhere else and they said one of the reasons was our ordinances on game rooms," Melfi said. "We charge an annual permit fee of $40 per machine."
The video arcade game room would reward winners of games of skill with cash prizes. Under Ohio law money can be given to winners of games of skill, but video games with cash payouts based on luck are illegal.

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