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Austintown officials aren’t surprised by Youngstown’s inaction, Oles says



Published: Tue, February 23, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

The city acknowledged not seeking grants or federal aid for water-infrastructure replacement.

By Elise Franco

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Austintown Trustee David Ditzler

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Austintown Trustee Lisa Oles

AUSTINTOWN — Trustee Lisa Oles said township officials aren’t surprised by Youngstown’s response to a recent public-records request.

Oles said during Monday’s trustees meeting that Youngstown’s Deputy Law Director Dan Fribich responded Thursday to the township’s request for the following information regarding February’s increase in water rates:

  • Information that provides reasons or justification for the water-rate increase.

  • Information about any strategic plan to replace, repair or maintain water infrastructure.

  • An explanation of expenditures for the past three years of surcharge revenue from noncity customers.

  • Details on all grants applied for in the past three years for replacement, repair or maintenance of water-system infrastructure.

Youngstown officials announced Dec. 31 that its residential and commercial customers would see an 8.75 percent increase in water rates each year for the next five years to cover the cost of the city’s capital-improvement plan.

Oles said the letter Fribach sent back to the township states that “no public record exists that meets the request” for information about the surcharge.

She also said the city acknowledged never applying for grants or federal funding to help pay for the water-infrastructure replacement.

“I find it not surprising,” she said. “I was always under the assumption that surcharge money was spent to maintain the waterlines. ... The city can’t account for what they’ve done with that money.”

Trustee David Ditzler called the city’s response “almost humorous.”

“The response they gave, it’s amazing they actually put into writing to us that they did nothing, really,” he said.

Oles said the trustees were provided with a basic overview of what the city plans to do with the money raised from the rate increase.

“They did give us a plan, but I’m not so sure it’s a strategic plan,” she said.

The plan lists priority projects from 2010 through 2016, which include repainting four water tanks within the city and replacing several waterlines, valves and meters, though it doesn’t specify which ones. The projects total nearly $33.5 million.

“They gave no specifics,” Oles said. “Anyone could take a sheet of paper and do this in five minutes.”

She said she takes issue with Youngstown’s not applying for grant money.

“I think it’s very disappointing that there’s so much stimulus money available, and they have not taken the initiative to apply for any grants in the last three years,” Oles said. “They haven’t exhausted all opportunities, and they’ve put it on the backs of consumers.”

In other business at their meeting Monday, trustees approved putting a crosswalk between Frank Ohl Intermediate School and the Idaho Road Alliance Church.

Mal Culp, superintendent of operations and facilities for Austintown schools, said the crosswalk is needed because of increased foot traffic immediately after school.

Ditzler also said road- department workers have begun filling potholes with cold patch, but most of the work will be done with hot patch materials as soon as the weather is warm and dry enough.

efranco@vindy.com


Comments

1Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Your remark about Trustee Oles is offensive. You oviously do not live in the township with that comment. It is refreshing to have an elected official actually questioning where the money is being spent. Historically the water department has been a place for political friends to find a job.

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2rloh330(43 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Freeloading suburban crybabies,especially the ones in Boardman at least Austintown residents seem to be decent people.

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3GetReal1006(9 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

rioh330 - freeloading suburban crybabies? You better sit down and do your math and realize the number of suburbanites who work in the city of Youngstown and therefore pay one of the highest city income taxes in the state, if not the country. And then realize it is taxation without representation. And then on top of that, these suburbanites pay a surcharge for their water from the City of Youngstown. If the suburban communities are successful in creating their own water district, where do you think Youngstown Water will be then? And who will be the crybabies when that happens?

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4dd933(235 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The water bills for the residents of Youngstown will go up also - we just had our sewer rates increase dramatically also.

The townships had a chance to reduce or even eliminate the surcharge and scoffed, ridiculed, and laughed at the idea.

Youngstown's problems of poverty, crime and poor schools are a result of concentrated poverty that developed when the middle class left the city in the 60s & 70s (80s & 90s). Now the townships - which grew from this migration - want to blame the city for their problems.

The sad thing is that Youngstown & Girard have just proven that cooperation among local governments results in positive development. A well known fact, outside this valley, is that regional cooperation results in economic success.

Ms. Oles is still contentious. If Mr. Ditzler really wants a laugh - just propose to his constituents that they pay to incorporate, become a city, and pay for their own water department - Ms. Oles could write a grant proposal to buy the water lines from Youngstown. Then pay for a law department, health department, waste water department, & they'll need to elect a mayor and city council. (Then hire Ms. Oles to write grant proposals for everything so they can get the rest of us to keep on paying for their existence.)

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5metz87(884 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Why pay such a high rate if the money is not going to improve anything? If that is the case Youngstown can go to hell and take their money scheming ways with them! let the people in yYungstown who don't seem to care that they are being ripped off pay for this, not everyone else in the county who gets nothing in return.

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6ps(4 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I was told that at one time, Youngstown refused to anex the suburbs. This happen when the steel mills were going good. Now that the Jobs have migrated and the people have also, the city is looking to recoup their losses by forcing the subburbs to pay for the city's problems.

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7Conservatism_Will_Prospers(91 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This goes back to the root cause of the issue's, when money is used by most of the government entities, they often find ways to abuse our tax-payer accrued funds. Every tax dollar should be tracked from the time it leaves our paychecks, mortgage payment, grocery bill, until the point it is used for any reason. Weather that reason is for Medicaid, public transit, or to pay our elected officials, every single dollar should be publicly tracked!!

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8Silence_Dogood(1356 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

To Lisa Oles
Keep up the good fight, remember Public utilities funds and General funds are not to commingle , and this is what Jay Williams is HIDING from the public in Austintown and Boardman.

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9mcluvin(72 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I am an Aust. resident. Youngstown would have removed the surcharge but atown leaders laughed at the JEDD. So now instead of everyone paying less for water we all have to pay more. Good job guys! Idiots!! Ill remember this at election time. The poster above made a good point. A lot of us including me pay Ytown income tax already.
Should have went for the JEDD they warned us. Oh and check the state website Youngstown has received more than 26 million in stimulus funds.

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10Tigerlily(491 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Wah wah wah

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