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No V&M deal: Melfi

Published: Tue, October 6, 2009 @ 12:05 a.m.


Girard Mayor James Melfi


Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams

The Girard mayor said his city ‘won’t be rushed’ into an unsatisfactory deal.

By David Skolnick

YOUNGSTOWN — Girard Mayor James Melfi said “there’s no progress” — and no deal in sight — between his city and Youngstown over the transfer of 191 acres needed by V&M Star Steel for its potential $970 million project.

“Until we get the language that is satisfactory to us, we won’t sign a deal,” he said. “We won’t get rushed. They aren’t going to push us into a corner.”

A major obstacle to getting a deal done between the cities, Melfi said, is a provision to equally share a 2.75 percent corporate-profit tax from a proposed new V&M facility.

The problem is figuring out the average annual profit tax paid to Youngstown by V&M for its Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard facility in that city — to determine how much additional profit-tax revenue would be shared between the two cities if a new plant is built, Melfi said.

V&M officials are insistent that a potential expansion be on property in Youngstown. That requires 191 acres in Girard, largely the footprint for an expansion, to be transferred to Youngstown. Melfi says that concerns him because the city is giving up a lot of its property without a guarantee that Girard would receive its fair share of tax revenue from the potential expansion.

V&M’s Youngstown plant had very profitable years, but with the declining economy, it hasn’t done well this year and in 2008, according to Youngstown and Girard officials.

Youngstown doesn’t want to include the recent down years in calculating the average annual profit tax, Melfi said.

That would reduce Girard’s share of a potential new plant’s profit tax by about $50,000 a year, Melfi said.

“They want to take my land and do this project, and I have to fight like hell to make it a fair and equitable agreement,” he said. Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said the goal from the beginning has been a “50-50 fair and equitable split. That remains the goal. No one’s trying to rush or push anyone into a corner.”

V&M Star officials have repeatedly declined to make public comments on the potential plant and the negotiations between the two cities. V&M is expected to decide by December or January whether it will move forward with the expansion project here. The company would employ about 400 new workers.

Youngstown and Girard city officials said V&M wanted this deal to be finished a while ago.

“We believe the company is being tolerant, and we’re treating it as though the deadline has already passed,” said Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich. “We’re working hard to get it done, and we’ll accomplish it in the end. The deal is too valuable for the community to allow for relatively small issues to negatively impact it. We need to welcome these people, not offend them.”

Melfi is less concerned.

“There’s a bunch of deadlines, and we haven’t made any of them” — and V&M is still interested, he said.

“We have a company interested in a nearly $1 billion project that’s beneficial to the entire Mahoning Valley,” Williams said. “If anyone does not think deadlines are important, they don’t understand economic development.”

Williams added that the two cities “can’t take the casual approach that when it gets done, it gets done. The company has said to everyone involved to get this done. ... It’s not in anyone’s interest to think that it’s OK to go six months without an agreement.”

Meanwhile, the Youngstown Board of Control is having a special meeting today to approve borrowing up to $2,626,090 to pay for a portion of an improvement project to 110 acres needed by V&M for the potential expansion.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, overseeing this improvement project, will open proposals Thursday from companies for work on the 110 acres. That work includes expanding railroad lines, site excavation, site grading and construction of storm sewers.

The project is estimated to cost $8 million and is to be done no later than March 2010. The city is paying $2,626,090 if the proposal comes in at its estimate.

If the estimated cost is lower, the city’s share would be less, and it wouldn’t have to borrow as much money, said Charles T. Shasho, Youngstown’s deputy director of public works.

The state would reimburse the money to the city, up to the amount Youngstown is borrowing, for other projects, such as the Hazel Street extension, improvements to the lower portion of Market Street and bridge replacements, Shasho said.

The state received $20 million in federal stimulus funds for the V&M project.

A recent re-evaluation of the project reduced that amount to about $17.4 million.

Expenses for retention ponds, waterlines and wastewater extensions aren’t covered under this stimulus grant, Shasho said.



1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melfi's name will only be remembered by history as the man who let this deal fall apart.

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2aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melfi is a selfish and arrogant man.

The longer he prolongs this, the longer V&M employees and contractors will be out of work.

Thanks, James Melfi, for further contributing to the high unemployment rates of the Mahoning Valley! I'm glad YOU at least still have a job.

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3Attis(1128 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

so, all these reports about making progress and being close to closure were all lies. The truth is that a moron blocks the way and 500 jobs and a billion dollar investment are about to go somewhere else. Time for a citizen's arrest of the moron.

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4boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

I stand behind Melfi and think that he has a fight ahead of him if he thinks Crazazy Jay Williams is going to give up a single dime. I say let it fall apart if Mayor Jay wont split it even. Then be sure to let the taxpayers and voters know every single detail about the deal and why The Mayor of Youngstown screwed the whole thing up. The Mayor was quoted as saying it should be an even split, So it should be. Anything otherwise and I wouldn't agree either.

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5redvert(2238 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

A lot of people are looking at the aspect of immediate jobs and that is understandable but you have to consider the "what if's." and the long term.

Melfi has to look out for the best interests of Girard. If he signs a so-so agreement and it falls through down the road then he takes all the blame even though the tunnel vision folks are pushing for a quick deal. As he states, the wording has to be right. As the cliche goes, Jay "has a plan" Williams wants to push something thru so he can say he finally did something for Youngstown.

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6leaveusalone(103 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey everybody - let's back off and stop blaming Mayor Melfi for everything. First of all, there is NO evidence that V & M is really going to go through with this project anyway!!! Go to their main corporate website and read their corporate earnings reports. The economy is very bad for their product line. I would like to see this project go through, just as much as anyone else - but right now, I sense that Melfi is being set up as a possible scapegoat for Mayor Jay's plan falling apart - when, in fact, the plan largely depends on what V & M's corporate outloook is. If this plan does go through, Mayor Melfi would be shirking his responsibility if he didn't get the absolute best deal for his city.

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7dd933(310 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

The property in question is a worthless brownfield producing no revenue for a long time and none in the future if this deal doesn't happen. Youngstown is willing to spend the money to clean it up and still split the tax revenue from it. V&M is a real company that does business and employs people in this valley - most of whom do not live in Youngstown. Does Mayor Melfi think that a commuter aircraft manufacturing plant will appear and want to locate on this site in Girard? or a dirigible plant? or a federal payroll office?

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8dal211(2 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Despite which side of this story you support, the bottom line is that this is an embarrassment to the Mahoning Valley. The proposed expansion is a great opportunity for our valley and our so called "leaders" are proving once again that this area is a very difficult place to do business. It’s a shame that they can't work together and come to a win - win situation for both cities and simply just meet the deadlines. Who do you think you are? Play by the rules! There are great people in this valley who desperately need the jobs that V&M will offer. They depend on our "leaders". It's time to put your egos to side and do what’s right for the people of our valley.

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9jmpt37(43 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melphi needs to be impeached hes an arrogant and selfish< not thinking about anyone but himself. hes wasting everyones time. this area needs these jobs and needs that income yet melfi would rather see it go somewhere else. yet hell be the first one to cry as to why the economy isnt getting better in the area and y there are no jobs. get your thumb out of your rear end and sign a deal. ytown should just eminant domaine that property and get something done

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10boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Seeing as though Mayor Jay has a degree in finance, you would think he could get the wording right on his deal for money to Girard. Mayor Jay is a hack and is trying to sneak every penny he can from Girard, and Mefi has a point. He wants Girards Fair share, and if Jay won't give it up[ he can go screw. Way to go Melfi.

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11boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Sorry for the typos above, I was rushed.

I did want to add this though,
JMPT37, Mayors can't be impeached, they can be recalled. If you can figure out the procedure, start the process if you think the voters of Girard are willing to vote him out of office for getting them their fair share.

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12ytownbar(13 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Here is my question:

Melfi is concerned about a fair amout of revenue collected from the tax of the steel company, but how much will the tax of 500 new employees generate if the deal goes through? Even if those people do not live in girard or youngstown they still have to go to those places to work which means increased revenue for the local cities.
I don't care what you say about the man, to ignore a deadline as Melfi seems to be doing is totally irresponsible and shows a lot for how little caracter he has. I would not want him representing me.

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13AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Melfi. His responsibility is to get the best deal for his city, not Youngstown.

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14Union_Bred_Union_Fed(2 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Maybe V&M should think about organizing thier facility with the USW. With the support of this organization maybe this project could move forward. Secondly, maybe Melf should go ahead and make a deal and include into it that the majority of these so-called jobs be given to the residents of Girard. God knows that city needs the employment.

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15Vqueen21(8 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melfi should be concerned...
He will be the reason V&M will choose to expand somewhere else.
Another embarrassment for our valley.

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16Attis(1128 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

500 jobs and $1,000,000,000 vs. one mayoral major moron and his moronic minions. One of these antagonists will leave. Too bad it's not the morons.

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17kzrazy900(4 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

The plain truth is that land was worth nothing. Girard had no plans to do anything with it. This proposal would bring almost 500 jobs to the area, not just good for the immediate area, but the surrounding cities and countys as well.

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18yourdestiny40(1 comment)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

well lets see Mahoning Valley may have lost the Mcdonalds distribution center project, now V&M project what else can we loose?

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19DirtForce_1(40 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Sure...get a union involved-that will blow the deal up REAL fast. Should be Union bred and BS fed!!!

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20jmpt37(43 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago


impeached recalled who cares. hes still gonna be known as the guy who screwed the V&M deal hes worried about a percentage point. y doesnt he worry about 400 new jobs for those in this area that need jobs. 400 new jobs that would boost our local economy. no hes too greedy and its gonna be his fault when V&M decides to move elsewhere cuz hes sitting with his thumb in his rear crying over a percentage point. i agree with vqueen21 another embarrasmant for this valley.

did i write everything to you standards this time does it pass your inspection?

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21jmpt37(43 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

oh yes please get the union involved that way the deal will collapse faster than if it was just melfi

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22boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

I still disagree with you that Melfi should be held responsible when all Crazazy Jay needs to do is concede and make the split 50/50. Melfi has said what he expects, why won't Crazazy Jay give it up? All he has to do is adjust the number and Melfi will sign off. That's all. Sounds to me like Jaybird is the one who has the next move, and it's a done deal. He just won't get his hand out of Girard's pocket.

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23Progress(58 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melfi has been obstructionist through this whole process. His interest is in political self preservation, he could care less about the people of Girard, except at election time.

His childish attempts to squeeze another nickel from this deal are based upon his desire to be the hero and rescue Girard from the depths of fiscal crisis, thus ensuring his political future.

He claims that this deal should have been exclusively in Girard, but yet did nothing in the 9 years he has been mayor to clean up the properties to promote economic development on those sites.

Which raises the question, what has Melfi done in his reign as King to promote economic development for Girard?

Moreover, Youngstown conceded MORE than a 50/50 split, but Melfi's selfish desires for political self preservation have long overcome his sense of fairness and equity.

His arrogance is blatantly obvious in this article when he refers to the properties in question as "my land". Last time I checked, the properties belonged to the city of Girard.

Melfi.......Begins with ME and ends with I

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24boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

You said it.

"the properties belong(ed) to Girard."

Therefore Melfi can request anything he wants for Girard and it really isn't out of line. The way I see it, he can ask for more than 50 percent if he wants, because he doesn't have to agree to jack. Then y town gets nothing. If Crazazy Jay wants these jobs coming into his city, he will do the right thing and fix the wording. If not.....bye bye birdie

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25Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

You want to know why we cannot get good things here? This is a classic example of two cities failing to work together to figure out a way to resolve this problem. One has to wonder if V&M is taking a better look at things and wondering if this a good idea to get bogged down here given how poorly the political system seems to work. If I was in charge of V&M, I know I'd be taking a good hard look at the circumstances.

Melfi is right to look out for the best interests of his city, but his casual approach to this is what is disturbing, and I'd hate to see that be the primary reason for this deal falling through.

Williams is working in the best interest of his city the best he can, and he ought to keep working towards an even split if that is how things are going supposedly.

End of the day: this benefits both cities and the county, and if this fails, it will be a tough road for either of these men if they have further political aspirations. There is no reason why this deal should not go forward, and for that matter, there are no excuses if this does not work.

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26tookie(64 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Fact is, Girard is broke, still in debt. This V&M project will bring about $500,000 in revenue a year to a city that doesn't have a nickel to put in this project (Youngstown is fronting all the money) and more than $1 million to the school district. Everyone wants Girard to get its fair share and they are, but Mr. Melfi either doesn't want this project or just doesn't know how to seal the deal. There isn't much time left. City council needs to step up and get it done.

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27ringo(12 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

JIm Melfi is a narcissist, plain and simple.

And no one is ever going to change that.

Let's hope for all concerned that in 2 years he is gone and quickly forgotten.

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28boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Jay Williams has a head shaped like a peanut, plain and/or salted.

And no one is ever going to change that.

Let's hope for all concerned that in 2 years he is gone and quickly forgotten.

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29JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

The bigger issue in my opinion is that the whole deal could potentially go away over a potential $50k/year in profit from Girard's end. That would imply that the city is operating from a position of abundance...they are not. This should not be a matter of principle as Melfi suggests, but rather a matter where you consider the cost of doing business and write off certain things. If V&M doesn't use the land who will and when? The answers are no one and never, respectively.

Ridiculous. Cut hours for some of the hangers-on at city hall and recoup that $50k plus all the additional profit from the deal going through. Then make my pizza.

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30DirtForce_1(40 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Give it up foxtrot---get out of the past--Sheet and Tube is no more and your great unions do nothing but bring these companies down. GM's next then you can thank YOUR UAW!! Wake up, leave the bar, and get with the program!!!!

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31dal211(2 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

foxtrot... are you for real?? I think you forgot to get on your school bus this morning. The land in question is WORTHLESS.... just like the other 15 miles of worhtless land that runs through youngstown, struthers, campbell, lowellville, ect. I know, i know, there are countless businesses just dying for an oppurtunity to buy that land that has sat vacant for the past 20+ years, right?? Both cities are entilted to a fair deal, but the sad truth is that they will both lose in the long run so that one side or the other could claim they were "right". The mentality of this area will always hinder it's growth.

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32One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Foxtrot and BoredomNeedsChange - next time you idiots have a thought - let it go - would you. Satan could be negotiating for the city if Girard and you'd still blame any problems with the deal on Jay Williams.

Being next to Youngstown is about the only thing that Girard has going for it. V & M wants to be annexed into the city of Youngstown so they dont have to deal with little Caesar mayors like Melfi and self-righteous knuckleheads like you two.

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33Betterlivingthruchemistry(1 comment)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Melfi is going to screw up this deal, just like he lost the grant money for the Leatherworks cleanup. That property is still an eyesore and a dump. Worthless land just like the land V&M wants. Typical politics in the Mahoning Valley.

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34redvert(2238 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

According to the morning TV news, a agreement has been reached. No details released as of early this morning. Nothing in the Vindy as of 10AM!

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35redvert(2238 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Ok, I was off by 1 minute. Hate when that happens!

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