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Official: Mahoning County may have to borrow $3.5M

Published: Thu, August 11, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Sean Barron



Mahoning County bought Oakhill Renaissance Place on the city’s South Side in 2006 for about $75,000, but by year’s end, the building could incur close to $11.5 million in debt, a county official said.

Carol McFall, chief deputy auditor, noted during a special bond-counsel meeting Wednesday with commissioners and other officials that Mahoning County will likely have to borrow about $3.5 million in October for a variety of improvement projects to the former Southside Medical Center complex on Oak Hill Avenue.

The main purpose of the two-hour session was to discuss the county’s borrowing needs, including funds for Oakhill, and assess its debts, McFall said.

The $3.5 million would go toward making repairs to more than 40,000 square feet of roof, upgrading fire alarms, refurbishing restrooms, repairing a parking deck and other work.

That’s in addition to the original $5 million the county borrowed to make renovations to Oakhill, along with an estimated $2.9 million to buy chillers for the building’s air-conditioning system.

Also, the Mahoning County Building Commission awarded a $3.03 million contract to Youngstown-based Prout Boiler, Heating and Welding Inc. to install a new heating system at Oakhill. More than $2.6 million in federal stimulus dollars is going toward the work, but the county doesn’t have the money in hand to pay for the rest of the contract and for the cost of buying the boilers, McFall said.

McFall has said that the $8 million borrowed for the improvements has been nearly exhausted and that the additional $3.5 million was vital to finish necessary work.

Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti questioned the higher cost of the boilers, noting that the original grant was for about $2.6 million, yet the bid came close to $3.4 million.

Nevertheless, he said, the new system of 13 boilers in six locations will save the county thousands of dollars in the long run over relying on steam, Oakhill’s primary heating source.

Traficanti also said he wondered where the county will come up with the $12 million needed to make major repairs to the 100-year-old Mahoning County Courthouse. The commissioner added that he was perplexed by the $12 million figure after having been told the work would be between $5.5 million and $6 million.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Make Traficanti, Ludt, Tablack, members of the building commission, Gains and all the companies that have been awarded taxpayer money for this boondoggle ante up!

And it's going to get worse at the NEW black hole.

Time for the SPINdicator editorial writers and Bill Kelly at Clear Channel to demans another sales tax hike to pay for Oakhill.

McGuffey Plaza was a pigsty, but it didn't cost this much money.

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

You better support SB5 in November or your county taxes are gonna go sky high to support this commissioner mistake on the southside of Youngstown.

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3AtownAugie(891 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

A change of name is called for: "Oakhill Moneypit Place" works.

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4BigJim2234(57 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Everyone has the answers now. I can't even remember who ran for commissioner in 07 when this was bought. Did anyone think it was iffy back then. The Vindicator did its homework and thought it was a grand idea, so it can't be as bad as they are making it out to be - Unless Tablack was shell playing money games?

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5northsideperson(366 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

UF: what has SB5 got to do with Oak Hill Renaissance?

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6mishmash(333 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Did we forget to add the cost of the PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT ?

The GAINS GANG had to spend a ton of $$$$ from the County's coffers to attempt to coverup the misdeeds & mistakes of King George TABLACK.

Let us not forget that it was TABLACK who insisted the project (priorly owned by his big contributor) was a "great deal"


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7VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

That elephant running loose is not white, it is a pink elephant running loose from the imaginations of all the boozing idiots who spend tax dollars on projects they have no idea how to manage.

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8VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Oak Hill is similar to the Ameritrust building fiasco in Cleveland, where the Cuyahoga County Commissioners purchased an outdated, crumbling high-rise office tower for pennies on the dollar and now face a huge financial burdeon taxpayers cannot afford to pay for. The idiot commissioners are all long gone and one is under indictment, but the structure continues to stand as a crumbling monument to arrogance, waste and stupidity in government.

Why we keep voting these idiots into office generation after generation is far beyond me, but again, I feel voters continue looking for their savior in one political party, while ignoring others who have more business sense.

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9crimelander(122 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I've love to see a complete cost breakdown of Oakhill.

I see 10 million + just mentioned in this piece. I know there is more money swirling in the Oak Hill toilet bowl.

What a costly mistake by leadership that can described as nothing other than incompetent.

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10Julie1(34 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

There were officials who opposed Oakhill but Gains went after them. Traficanti and Tablack are the ones who ought to be indicted. It was criminally stupid to buy that old hospital without any due diligence.

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11Harley_Guy(146 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

SB5 has nothing to do with this - Vote YES!

@ lanacek - I agree with you! I am tired of having to live within my budget all the while our county and and local governments just keep spending and asking for more money. Boardman just announced they would put another levy on the ballot for 3mils - jeez people ... stop already!!!!!

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12Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Did I miss something here???
We are installing 13 new boilers at a cost of $3,4 million so we can save "thousands of dollars in the long run "

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13mrblue(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

There are some real idiots running things in the Mahoning Valley. When are the voters going to learn. The building is nothing more than a Money Pit and in my opinion, our tax dollars are being wasted. Starting with the commissioners, all elected officials in the valley need to be replaced. It probably won't happen, but that is what needs to be done. Tax and spend is all these idiots seem to know.

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14Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

People dont look at how anyone stands on an issue or how they have voted on anything pertaining to the area all they look for is (D) or (R). Then they vote for the Democrat.

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15VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

And look where voting Democrat year after year has gotten us...

My parents and my in-laws were that way. They always voted Democrat...across the board. No Indepentents, no Republicans, only Democrats. My dad told me he has to vote democrat because that is what the union wants him to do. And he had our mother vote Democrat as well. Meanwhile, my in-laws were the same. My father-in-law was a teamster. He had his illiterate wife vote with the names of Democrats taped to her wrist. When his children came of age to vote, he had them vote Democrat as well. My ex-wife said she resented it, but had to do what her dad said. My present wife of over 20 years also lived in a Democratic household. Her mother was a union rep. at her plant and spent all of her awake time selling her Democratic party to others. The stories and embellishments were absolutely astounding, but people believed her and her system appeared to be working.

My wife and I consider ourselves liberated. We vote for the person who we feel offers the best solutions for the issues at hand. Ronald Reagan was the first Republican I ever voted for. There have been others since, but there were Democrats who drew our interests as well. And still do. Neither of us voted for Obama and we are waiting for someone to appear during the primaries that we can approve of to replace him.

We need a leader for our country, not a speaker or a community organizer hell bent on spending us to death and then asking for more money. We want someone powerful enough to work with Congress and intelligent enough not to fight with them.

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16author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Push for a new 'Super Sales Tax' that will be dedicated to repairing a 200 year old hospital needs over and over and over again.

PS - the only worse place for a government building was the pig sty known as McGuffey Plaza.

As most others have noted - a new place should have been built closer to the new State Bldg, 7th District Court pf Appeals and Children Services Bldg.

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17AtownAugie(891 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Sequel to the old Tom Hanks movie: "The Oakhill Moneypit" -- A Traficanti Production, with (forced) financial backing provided by the taxpayers of Mahoning County.

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18wksb50(32 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Better off at Garland Ave. for Jobs and Family Services. At least the agency still had money left each year and did not have to lay workers off. Its a shame where the money went. Call the damn people back to work so the work gets done and the phones get answered. dhs.

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19bratwoman(24 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

WKSB, some of the layoffs you spoke of occured in the Customer Services unit of the DHS. The remaining employees there do their BEST to answer the phones. Garland Avenue SUCKED pond water, do you see anyone ELSE that has moved in there since DHS left??? I don't think so. No one was dumb or naive enough to work in a building that not only made its tenants ill, but was run by a slumlord like Cafaro who did not give a flying f*** about anything but lining his pockets, Maybe Oak Hill is a money pit but agencies are moving IN, not out.

Are you always this stupid, or was the day of your post a special occasion?

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20wksb50(32 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

bratwoman or man don't be so testy, it is just my opinion. the county is bleeding everyone dry and i can comment anyway I please because this is the way i feel, and it wasn't a special occasion and I am not stupid. Maybe you are a commissioner or another person who had something to do with that move and it does not make you right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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21Askmeificare(1226 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Keep going.

I imagine we'll dance to this tune a few more times before all is said and done.

All in all, it's better at Oak Hill.

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22bratwoman(24 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

@ wksb, yes you are entitled to your opinion, as am i!!!

what sex i am or where i work is no one's business. if i am someone who had something to do with the move then i am grateful to be able to continue working, so that my tax dollars will continue to support the almighty welfare system.

@ askmeificare: you are so correct.

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23wksb50(32 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

who cares!!!! surely not me. just made a comment that irritated you. your about the first person I met that wants to work to support the almighty welfare system. God Bless You Bratwoman!!!!!!!

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24wksb50(32 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

by the way I don't care where you work or if you work bratwoman!!! Can tell you have a little grudge about something....

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25bratwoman(24 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

A comment was posted in another, relevant article comparing the two buildings: Garland was owned by a slumlord to whom the county paid monthly rent, and was part of a crumbling plaza built in the early 1900's.
Oakhill was built between 1910 and 1972, and rent is paid by tenants to the county. They have done more for the former Southside Hospital in four years than Cafaro ever did in nineteen years. While at Garland, the employees were overcrowded, subjected to long-term illness from faulty air ducts, noxious fumes from roofing materials, bugs and other problems. I am a public employee, damn proud of it, and glad to be working in a building owned by an entity willing to make it a safe and comfortable environment for all.

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