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Council approves legislation



Published: Thu, June 21, 2012 @ 12:03 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

During its last regularly scheduled meeting until Sept. 19, city council approved several pieces of legislation.

The ordinances approved Wednesday include taking the initial step for a new fire station, agreeing to resurface a portion of Salt Springs Road, and giving $70,000 to a law firm to move to the City Centre One Building.

All are subject to approval by the board of control.

On Wednesday, council also agreed to give the board of control authority to have Mahoning County inspect buildings in the city.

But if the price increases from $60 to $100 per inspection — which it would under the county’s proposal — Mayor Charles Sammarone said the board, of which he is chairman, won’t sign the contract.

City officials said they were pleased with the county’s work handling inspections of new construction and building improvement projects for three months on a trial basis.

The officials, including Sammarone, want a one-year extension and to negotiate with the county to take over the city’s building department.

But with the city receiving notice from the county Monday about the cost increase, the deal will not continue if the price goes to $100, Sammarone said.

County commissioners will meet today to discuss the price.

Commissioner John McNally IV has said the fee isn’t an issue. What is needed is for the city to decide if it wants the county to take over Youngstown’s building department responsibilities, he said.

Also Wednesday, council members heard from three people urging them to ban or place a moratorium on fracking, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks deep underground to unlock natural gas and oil. The three contend fracking adds toxic chemicals to drinking water and leads to serious health problems.

Fracking regulations and oversight is a state and federal issue, said Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, and it’s the job of city officials to keep the “pressure” on the state and the feds to keep water and air safe.

Council also voted to let the board of control hire a company to design plans for a new fire station to replace the No. 9 station on the corner of Midlothian Boulevard and Sheridan Road. The design work is estimated to cost $49,000. A new fire station would cost about $600,000 to $700,000, said Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr.

Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, a retired firefighter who spent 10 years based at the No. 9 station, said a new building “is like a dream come true to me.”

The current station, about 90 years old, has structural, pest control and mold problems, O’Neill said.

Also Wednesday, council authorized the board of control to:

Accept a $250,000 state grant and spend about $50,000 in city funds for a road improvement project on Salt Springs Road between Meridian Avenue and Exal Court. The work includes paving, new traffic signals and curb work.

Give $70,000 to the law firm of Green Haines Sgambati Co., which is consolidating its offices at Westchester Square in Austintown and the former PNC Bank Building in downtown Youngstown to City Centre One at 100 E. Federal St. downtown.

The money would pay most of the $115,000 cost the firm says is needed for the consolidation and relocation.

While Wednesday was the last regularly scheduled council meeting for the next three months, it usually has one to three special meetings during the summer.


Comments

1ytownsteelman(616 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Why is the city giving lawyers money to move downtown? This is crony capitalism at its best!

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2PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

I have to agree. I attended the committee meeting last night and I was disappointed that no one asked any questions about what the details of the law firm's retention / relocation grants included. $50K of tax payer money for relocation? What exactly does site improvement detail (for $20K) include as well (the city doesn't own the building)? Does the city do this for other businesses? How much income tax does the city stand to gain from the retention / new employee income vs. what the city is spending?

Perhaps it's nothing...but it's troubling when money is spent like this and no one even bothers to ask simple questions about the details of how and why this type of money is being spent.

It appears, sometimes, that the city caves when it's threatened with anything adversely impacting economic development. And I wonder if that sends a messages to others to simply see if they can play the city for essentially free money with threats.

I think the city should consider stepping up its negotiation game...especially regarding deals in the central business district which is on its way to creating its own demand / self-sufficiency.

$70K can go a long way in Youngstown: $40K pays CCA for their annual contract to cleanup downtown every morning. That's 12-15 more vacant homes that can be brought down. That's half of the grass cutting contract money for a year. That's that much more money that could be put into the 'Youngstown Initiative' for other economic development projects. The list goes on.

I don't know. Again, maybe I'm making too much of such things.

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3peggygurney(391 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

No Phil you are not making too much of it. I see this as a waste of money that could, and should, be better spent in other areas of our city, i.e. house demos, paving streets that they SAY they have no money to pave, Clean up the entrances to downtown on both the Market Street and South Ave corridors, etc.

But nooooooooo.... they're going to pay a LAW FIRM to move downtown?? This is assanine, at best.

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4One_Who_Stayed(236 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

And when exactly are they going to be addressing the 17 Recommendations for the City Charter changes? If they're taking 3 months off, it seems to me there will be little time for that to be addresses before the November election after they get back. . .

Should we start circulating the petitions to get the revisions on the ballot now? From listening to their public comments, they are in no hurry to see this happen. We need to take the initiative here.

If they do nothing - we loose.

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5gwin330(3 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

The lawfirm probably has more money than the city...... I'm just sayin.

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