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Warren mayoral candidates debate rationale for building one-stop facility



Published: Tue, April 12, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.
  Warren Mayoral Debate

Warren Mayoral Debate

Warren Mayoral Debate

photo

Doug Franklin

photo

Jim Graham

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

A recently unveiled proposal to borrow money to pay for construction of a one-stop facility to consolidate city offices has jumped to the top of topics on the minds of Warren’s two mayoral candidates.

Warren Safety-Service Director Doug Franklin said he and Mayor Michael O’Brien have narrowed the focus to two locations — one on High Street and one on Franklin Street — where a services building would be constructed.

The idea behind a one-stop facility is that it would enable people to transact business for several departments in one place, such as pay income taxes or the water bill.

The city would make use of low interest rates, the city’s improved bond rating and its relatively small amount of debt to issue bonds for the $7 million facility.

Franklin and his opponent in the May Democratic primary, United Auto Workers Local 1112 president Jim Graham, squared off in a debate Monday night in Warren, but earlier Monday they met with the editors of The Vindicator to discuss some of the same issues.

Franklin said the new building would house departments that are now spread throughout the city including water, health, finance, building inspection, community development and engineering.

The construction also would allow the city and Trumbull County to share a facility, because the county needs space for its county planning commission, Franklin said.

“We can rearrange our work processes to increase our efficiency,” Franklin said of the one-stop, adding that a new building also would reduce utility costs.

The mayor’s and service director’s offices would remain in the historic Perkins mansion on Mahoning Avenue.

Paul Heltzel, Trumbull County commissioner, said county commissioners will need to move the planning commission and building-inspection department at some point because of the high cost of operating the building they use now on North Park Avenue. The commissioners have looked at existing buildings but are open to new construction if the price to the county is right.

Graham, meanwhile, says he questions why O’Brien and Franklin chose now — “one month before the election” — to unveil their one-stop proposal when Auditor David Griffing told city officials that it was time to refinance the city’s debt in September.

“What’s the sense of spending $7 million and building a Taj Mahal in the city of Warren when the roads are so bad,” Graham said.

Graham said he also thinks it would be “prudent” to let the new mayor decide on whether to go into that kind of debt rather than for O’Brien to make such a decision in the months before he leaves office.

Graham said he does agree that it would be good to work with the county to share such a building.

Graham has been critical of the condition of the city under O’Brien, pointing to drug dealing, prostitution and blight. Graham says Ohio law gives so much responsibility to the safety-service director, he could be called the “CEO of the city.”

Franklin, who has been safety-service director under O’Brien for 71/2 years, said the administration has done “pretty well under the circumstances” — such as losing millions of income tax dollars per year through the closing of the Delphi Packard plants on Dana Street.

The safety-service director also is “pretty much hired help” for the mayor and doesn’t make most of the key decisions, Franklin said.


Comments

1steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

This is a senseless debate with certainly nothing rational about it.
How or why would anyone dream of spending seven million dollars on a one stop center while Warren's infrastructure is in such desperate condition ?

You and I are suppose to be greatful for the convenience of only having to make one stop to pay our taxes and the water bill while we break axels,blow out tires and cause expensive damage to our vehicles all for the wonderful privilege and giant convenience of making just one stop ??

Just imagine folks,this complete waste of seven million dollars will be so fast and convenient we'll have plenty of time to have our cars towed to the repair shops of our choice !!!
Sure can't beat that with a stick !!!!

I've heard both of these fine gentelmen say they have a plan to bring much needed business and new jobs to our city.
It would seem that Mr.Graham realizes that blowing seven million borrowed dollars to build a Taj Maghetto is not the way to attract anything but more decline,waste and population flight.

That leaves one to wonder if Mr.Franklin honestly believes a new one stop facility will bring jobs and prosperity to our battered and long suffering city.
Maybe I suffer under the illusion and flawed thinking that potential future business and commercial growth isn't really to concerned just how convenient it may or may not be for you and me to get that pesky water bill paid.

I don't know about anyone else here but ease and convenience might be something along the avenues of paying my city bills by stepping out on the porch and dropping a check in the mailbox,perhaps paying online or by phone ?

I'm reasonably sure that it's not convenient tearing the undercarriage out from beneath the car getting to the brand new one stop building to pay up.
I think most would agree that seven million dollars would be money well spent if the city would repair our roadways and bridges properly so they last more than a few years.

I most sincerely hope that both Mr.Franklin and Mr.Graham do have some realistic goals and plans to help draw new business and jobs to Warren as well as plans to help existing business remain,expand and prosper in the city.

However before we can begin to revitalize our city and have any hope of bringing in new employers who can create the jobs we need the city must be condusive to such development and more attractive to business and industry at every level.

The most vital and important element to that plan must be the repair and renewal of the infrastructure we all depend upon!!

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2lee(544 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Duh when you don't have any money you don't buy new buildings you use what you have.

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3Miki(89 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

It seems that Mr. Graham relates taxes to union due; you can always raise them. Not a clue!

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4faith(200 comments)posted 3 years, 3 months ago

Jim Graham is a true leader, Franklin is a political scab. I live in Youngstown but hope Jim wins this thing for the Valley.

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5db(280 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Warren's broke, the city is in ruins, the current clueless mayor is leaving, and he wants to build a $7,000,000 city building as his legacy drowning the taxpayers?? Whoa... a mental exam is in order here.

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