Official pleased with Campbell’s progress

Official pleased with Campbell’s progress

By jeanne starmack


What a difference six weeks can make.

The chairwoman of Campbell’s state fiscal oversight commission says she’s pleased with the progress city leaders have made toward gaining release from fiscal emergency.

At the commission’s Dec. 19 meeting, Sharon Hanrahan said the city was not showing how it planned to make that progress, and she told Mayor Bill VanSuch that there was no way the city would be able to ask for release then.

It will have to wait another year before it can do so. Hanrahan wanted a schedule of when the city planned to have deficiencies in policies and accounting corrected and a schedule of when a backlog of unreconciled monthly bank statements would be done.

At Monday’s meeting, those schedules were ready. The bank-statement reconciliations, which were backlogged to May 2010, are expected to be finished by July 31.

As for uncorrected deficiencies in accounting and policies, which were noted by state auditors in 2007, only five remain not implemented, VanSuch pointed out. “We’ve made a lot of headway,” he said.

VanSuch said that of 45 deficiencies that remained uncorrected, 25 are corrected, 15 are in the process of being corrected and five remain because the city needs information from a firm that is evaluating its assets.

Tim Lintner, a financial supervisor on the oversight commission, said that city council President George Levendis and clerk of council Dina Hamilton wrote many policies and gave them to the city law director to approve.

“Dina spent a lot of time, and she didn’t have to,” Levendis said, adding that the work was not part of her job duties.

The city’s new finance director, Michael Evanson, also is going to bring in policies and procedures from his previous job as treasurer of the Struthers schools, Lintner said.

“A lot of work has been done and I’m very happy with the way things are going,” Lintner said.

In other business, the commission talked about a proposal to use a grant to hire two more firefighters.

The city’s financial recovery plan, which it must have and must follow while in fiscal emergency, calls for a gradual transition to a volunteer fire department.

City-council member Robert Yankle said the grant would mean the city could get two firefighters for free for two years.

Levendis said a requirement to get the grant is retaining the same amount of staff in the department. Retirees would have to be replaced, which would thwart the plan to transition to volunteers. He also said the city would have to pay for overtime.

“I believe the city would incur more costs,” he said .

“The more I hear about the grant, the less I like it for the city,” Hanrahan said. She said obtaining the grant and hiring two more firefighters would put the city at risk of not getting out of fiscal emergency unless it could offset the costs.

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