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Youngstown council postpones vote to close building unit

Published: Thu, December 20, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick

By David Skolnick



At the request of the mayor, city council postponed legislation to close its building department and give that work to Mahoning County.

Mayor Charles Sammarone said Wednesday that consolidation is still an option.

But he also suggested the city look at increasing staff for that department from one to three or four, stop giving building-permit waivers to companies, and nearly double its permit fees to the amounts charged by the county.

Having a fully staffed city building department would cost about $450,000 to $500,000 annually, Sammarone said.

But more than that could be raised with the changes, he said. The city collects about $215,000 in building- permit fees and gives about $150,000 in waivers yearly, Sammarone said.

Nearly doubling those fees and no longer giving waivers — except to nonprofits — would not only pay to operate the department, but make money for the city, he said.

Council agreed to not vote Wednesday on the proposal. It will be on the agenda of its next meeting, Jan. 2.

The suggestion was a reversal for Sammarone, who sponsored the legislation to consolidate and told The Vindicator on Monday that he supported the move for efficiency and savings.

“These issues surfaced in the last couple of days,” he said. “As soon as we get exact numbers, we’ll make a decision. If we can do everything right and keep it in-house” that would be a good plan.

Sammarone had said Monday the government-consolidation effort could take effect by next month.

The mayor praises the county’s building department for doing a great job with the city’s housing inspections, which it took over in March.

This was to be the second part of that consolidation. Because of the city moving in that direction, the county in June didn’t increase from $60 to $100 for each inspection in Youngstown that is charged to the city as was planned.

If the county took over permitting in the city, it would no longer charge an inspection fee to Youngstown.

The mayor’s statements and council’s decision not to vote took county commissioners by surprise — learning about it when a reporter called after the meeting.

The commissioners will still vote today on the proposed consolidation, said Commissioner John McNally IV, who didn’t seek re-election this year to run for Youngstown mayor in 2013.

“We’ve been working with this city for months” on this, McNally said. “City council has the right to go back and do their due diligence. That’s their prerogative.”

But McNally said if the city decides not to consolidate, county commissioners may consider increasing the building inspection fee to $100 or no longer do inspections for the city.

“I’m not sure why the city did it this way,” McNally said. “We would have appreciated a heads-up.”

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, a former city councilwoman, said, “Yes, they can do it on their own, but in the long run, having the county do it would save the city all that expense. Once they look at the costs and the increases needed, they’ll realize going with the county is the best option. We need to start working together.”


1johnyoung(241 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Although Mr. Sammarone has his good qualities, he has never been known to let the facts get in the way of his opinion and ego.

This is a perfect example of the Mayor's lack of due diligence and his reluctance to listen to others. His change of heart was precipitated by someone who finally did the math and showed him the numbers. Mahoning County was salivating at the thought of the additional revenue city building department operations would generate.

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2dd933(229 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Consolidation of services is ultimately the way to maintain some sustainability in local government but the city would be wise to hold on to this potential revenue source in light of the industrial/commercial building boom associated with the Utica shale activity.

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3zz3(931 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Clark-Brown will have to fly to vegas to get a better insight on this issue right after she gets back from Florida.

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4Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't believe Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti is saying THIS!-

"Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, a former city councilwoman, said, “Yes, they can do it on their own, but in the long run, having the county do it would save the city all that expense. Once they look at the costs and the increases needed, they’ll realize going with the county is the best option. We need to start working together.”

Carol Rimedio-Righetti needs to go.

Read the Vindy article again.

WHY wasn't she saying this when she was a councilwoman?

WHY wasn't she advocating saving money for the Youngstown taxpayer years ago?

WHY now?

Because this woman does not know what she is doing except to get a political pension without making political enemies or creating political waves...

-Forget about YOU, the taxpaying voters because it is NOT about the taxpaying voters.

Isn't that what Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti is saying?

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5Ianacek(909 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Carol Rimedio-Righetti was a loss to the Youngstown Council room. At least she had a businesslike approach , did her homework & wasn't a rubber stamp like most of her ex colleagues appear to be .

Mayor Sammarone appears to be is impulsive & isn't a good policymaker. He should have had detailed costings & have consulted affected parties before asking the City to commit to amalgamation. Also , what the effect on the local economy will be of higher building inspection costs he proposes ?

His introduction of the rental property inspections bylaw is an example. It caused a lot of unnecessary problems & wastage that could have been avoided by consulting landlords & tenants when drawing up the policy.

Communication outside Council is poor , as shown by the failure to notify the County of his change of heart .

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