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Financial records sought on Oakhill



Published: Wed, May 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The audit committee could meet in the next week, its chairman says.

By DEBORA SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally IV wants the county's audit committee to assess the financial condition of Oakhill Renaissance Place while other commissioners push to acquire the property.

In a letter McNally sent Tuesday to county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino, McNally says he'll ask Southside Community Development Corporation, which owns Oakhill, to turn over various financial records that haven't previously been available to commissioners. Those include five years' worth of federal income tax returns; profit and loss statements; copies of all leases and rent schedules for existing and former tenants; utility statements; property tax assessments; verification of capital expenditures; and copies of existing management contracts.

Sharing information

McNally says he'll share those documents with the audit committee, of which Sciortino is chairman.

"I hope that the audit committee will be able to recommend a course of action to [commissioners] that stresses fiscal responsibility and an acceptance of the financial realities in deciding whether to move forward with this proposed project," McNally wrote.

Sciortino said the audit committee could be convened in the next week, depending on the schedules of its members.

McNally was on the losing side of a 2-1 vote by commissioners last Thursday to accept responsibility for a $450,000 state development loan issued to SCDC, which filed bankruptcy May 3. The vote was taken to show the county's interest in eventually taking title to Oakhill, which Commissioners Anthony Traficanti and David Ludt want for consolidation of county offices.

Unknowns

There are too many unknowns about Oakhill's revenues and expenses to rush into acquiring the building, McNally said.

McNally noted that SCDC had offered to donate the building to the county two years ago and chip in $500,000 for renovations.

"One wonders what has changed between August 2004 and the present to make this idea now a financially feasible alternative for Mahoning County?" McNally wrote to Sciortino.

McNally also cited past Vindicator editorials that urged previous commissioners to appoint a building commission to assess the building's mechanical and structural condition. "I think the same thing applies to the financial condition of the building," he said.

Audit committee members are Sciortino; Traficanti; county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains; Larry Fauver, vice president of Mahoning-Trumbull AFL/CIO; Frank Hierro, regional president of Sky Bank; Betty Jo Licata, dean of Youngstown State University's college of business; and Atty. Lance Morrison.

The audit committee's role is to provide input and oversight on the county's financial picture, including annual audits and budgets.

"Committee members are very conscientious and care a great deal about the community," Sciortino said. "I assume they have no problem in taking a look at this information and rendering input."

The audit committee could complement a building committee's efforts, Sciortino said.

Traficanti could not be reached to comment.




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