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Youngstown leaders struggle to trim budget



Published: Wed, March 23, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

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Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams

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Youngstown finance director David Bozanich

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Youngstown Deputy Director of Finance Kyle L. Miasek

Loss of $377K in state funds forces changes

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

With the governor’s proposed state budget including a $377,000 cut to Youngstown this year, city officials are looking for ways to make up that shortfall.

As of Tuesday, officials didn’t have any solutions — and they’re running out of time.

City council will meet next Wednesday to approve the city’s budget. By state law, Youngstown must have its 2011 budget approved no later than March 31.

Other meetings to discuss the budget will start today with a closed-door session with Mayor Jay Williams, Finance Director David Bozanich and Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek.

Administrators also will attend a budget hearing on Friday or Monday with city council to discuss proposed changes to the city’s financial package.

The city budget proposal from the administration includes a surplus of about $200,000, including about $50,000 in the general fund.

But that was before Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal came out March 15 that includes cuts to the state’s Local Government Fund.

Youngstown was to receive $3.02 million from the fund this year. Kasich’s proposal, likely to be adopted by the state Legislature, would reduce that amount by $377,000.

Council members also want to hire a chief planner and a park and recreation director. The total cost for those positions is about $160,000 to $180,000 in salary and benefits.

Council members at Tuesday’s budget hearings had mixed opinions about finding ways to fund those two positions.

Filling the jobs on a permanent basis “has benefits, but we’ll have to look at people internally to pick up some of those duties,” said Councilman Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd and chairman of the finance committee.

Jason Whitehead, the mayor’s chief of staff, has served as interim park and recreation director for nearly four years and said he’s willing to continue handling that job.

The city’s been without a chief planner for two years. Bill D’Avignon, the community development agency director, has filled in since then, but says he can’t do the job effectively because of other responsibilities.

Brown suggested the city seek assistance for planning from Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies.

Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd and vice chairman of the finance committee, said he is still optimistic money can be found for those two jobs.

Both Brown and Kitchen said the city needs to reduce the number of professional service contracts it has with outside consultants working on behalf of Youngstown.

With the expected LGF cut, Councilman Mike Ray said, “We definitely need to re-evaluate” funding the two jobs. “We have been getting by without them. Personally, I’d love to see the planner position filled. If not, we’ll have to make adjustments.”

Also, some council members have discussed adding $165,000 for more street paving this year.

The city’s 2011 budget includes $280,000 from a Cafaro Co. subsidiary as part of a deal to relocate a scrap-metal supplier to V&M Star from that company’s location off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the Ross Industrial Park on the city’s East Side. The Cafaro subsidiary owns Ross.

Council postponed a vote on the proposal March 2 to get more information before deciding. Some members are concerned about zoning and aesthetics.

The $280,000 hasn’t been paid to the city, but it’s included in the 2011 budget.

While 2011 is going to be a challenging budget year, it’s not going to get any easier next year, Miasek said.

Youngstown would lose $1.23 million in LGF money in 2012 under Kasich’s proposal.

Also, the city is going to have to borrow money next year to start paying toward the $11.9 million it spent in 2005 as its share of Covelli Centre construction costs.

Since 2005, the city has borrowed money — between $600,000 and $800,000 annually — to pay the interest on the $11.9 million.

To comply with law, the city must start paying toward the principal of that loan six to 12 months after it borrows money in August or September for just the interest, Miasek said.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

John Kasich and the GOP Legislature is giving cities the best tool to deal with their budget problems - SB5! Use it to tear up the insane union public employee contracts and balance your budget Youngstown.

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2Richmond(15 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

$76K for a golf pro at Stambaugh is a start to making an effort to balancing the City's Budget.

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3PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Here’s a question for Youngstown to ponder: With a city population now nearly ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE LESS than its peak population in 1930, do we still really need EIGHT city council persons being paid $28,000+ plus full benefits in PART-TIME capacities to make decisions for the city?

It is estimated that is will take $160,000 to fund the positions of Planner and Park Director. Anyone who is involved (professionally) with urban affairs knows these are important positions for cities…positions that can yield a significant return on investment above and beyond their annual salaries (if qualified / experienced people are hired). City Council is right to advocate on behalf of filling these positions. However, every City Council members has – in addition to their council positions - a full-time job or is retired and receives a pension. The council salaries are supplemental incomes. So, I think a lot of people in this community would like to see City Council put its money where its mouth is, take a pay cut and put the remainder towards these positions that benefit the city as a whole. New council salaries would be $8,000K plus benefits (close to what they used to get paid around 15 years ago). $20,000K would then be directed toward funding these two important positions (8 positions x $20,000K = $160,000K).

If we want real change, it’s going to REAL sacrifice BY ALL. Otherwise, stop pretending we are willing to do what it takes to turn this place around. Mayor Williams: time to organize a charter review commission. Reality is pounding on the door.

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4BackToYtown(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The amount of waste in any city or federal government is staggering. I can see why the city would want a golf pro. Maybe to look like its a good area, a high class area. Let's face the facts. I like Ytown. I moved back here from Cbus after growing up in this area. Prioritize! Fluff positions like golf pros may be important in cities than can afford them, but ytown cant. Ytown cant support 8 city council members with so few citizens. With all the complaining about SB5, school levies, and "union busting" when all I hear are layoff, new taxes o, why aren't any of these people willing to just go with less. Take less in salary, pay more towards your benefits. Public jobs are here to serve the public!

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5Silence_Dogood(1341 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The ten billion ton elephant in the room.

"Also, the city is going to have to borrow money next year to start paying toward the $11.9 million it spent in 2005 as its share of Covelli Centre construction costs.

Since 2005, the city has borrowed money — between $600,000 and $800,000 annually — to pay the interest on the $11.9 million.

To comply with law, the city must start paying toward the principal of that loan six to 12 months after it borrows money in August or September for just the interest, Miasek said."

If you think the City is in over its head now wait till this monster starts to knock on the door.

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