Mahoning County commissioners unanimously approved a proposed agreement with Youngstown that would merge the city’s building inspection department into that of the county, if the city concurs.
The commissioners took the action Thursday despite the lack of final action on the merger Wednesday evening by Youngstown City Council.
Council gave the measure a first reading, meaning two more readings are required for passage, unless Council declares an emergency.
Until city lawmakers take final action, the county continues to perform building inspections for the city at $60 per inspection.
Mayor Charles Sammarone, who initially sponsored the consolidation legislation before council to achieve efficiency and cost savings, asked council to postpone action on the matter Wednesday while the city studies the economics of continuing to operate a city building-inspection department.
On Thursday, the mayor said he prefers to close the city’s building department and have the county handle permitting.
“Going with the county makes more sense to me than hiring people” for the city’s building department, he said.
Adding two or three employees to the one- person city building department, no longer giving permit waivers to businesses and nearly doubling fees could result in a profit for the city, Sammarone said.
He added, however, that the city’s future financial outlook “doesn’t look good. I don’t want to hire people and then have to lay them off.”
Sammarone said he’ll ask council members to make a decision on the matter by Jan. 2, council’s next scheduled meeting.
John A. McNally IV, chairman of the county commissioners, said the county may hire an additional building inspector if the city approves the agreement, but the county would no longer charge the city for inspections.
In other action, commissioners gave a 60-percent, 10-year real- estate tax abatement for the addition of a 35,000- square-foot warehouse at the National Industrial Lumber Co., 489 Rosemont Road, North Jackson.
The expansion will result in the immediate hiring of five new full-time employees, and the company intends to hire three more employees next year, Randy Riddell, the company’s general manager, told commissioners.
The commissioners also awarded a $1.1 million contract to S.E.T. Excavating of Lowellville for installation of the third and final phase of the East Alliance sanitary sewer in Smith Township.
They also approved spending $130,500 for equipment for digital scanning of county recorder’s office files and a $24,300 payment to Strollo Architects of Youngstown for the design the firm has completed for renovations to the county courthouse basement prisoner-holding area.
County Auditor Michael V. Sciortino announced that the county’s new Intellitech jail-inmate management computer system was launched Sunday morning.