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Y’town government’s future bleak unless officials act fast

Published: Sun, September 23, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

If we were to sum up the findings of the independent review of Youngstown city government conducted by The PFM Group, it would be this: There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — and, in fact, there isn’t much of a rainbow.

In presenting the report to city officials Thursday, David Eichenthal, director of management and budget consulting, was blunt in his assessment of what lies ahead for the shrinking city if steps aren’t taken to change the way government operates. The immediate effect of clinging to the status quo would be a $5.5 million operating budget deficit by the end of 2013. In five years, the city would be facing a $28 million deficit. That isn’t chump change.

Indeed, even before the findings of the study were made public, Mayor Charles Sammarone, who sought the top-to-bottom review of city government, had warned of a loss of income tax revenue as a result of the construction phase of the V&M Star projects coming to an end, and the expected closing of the distribution center at the U.S. Post Office downtown.

The study is part of Youngstown’s participation in the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, which is designed to give struggling communities the resources to spur economic growth and operational efficiency.

“We want to put the city on the road to recovery,” Eichenthal said. “We believe our proposals will put the city in a better position.” There are 50 recommendations; many of them can be found in previous studies conducted by independent organizations and even state agencies.

The problem is that the decision-makers in City Hall have been unwilling to make the tough decisions. Myriad reasons explain this lack of progress, with job preservation topping the list.

Vacant judgeship

A glaring example is the battle being waged by the adherents of the status quo against the elimination of the vacant judgeship in the municipal court. Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. has retired, and the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O’Connor, has urged Gov. John Kasich not to fill the vacancy. The governor says the Legislature should eliminate the position. And that means the area’s legislative delegation must sponsor the legislation. But local special interests have launched an all-out campaign to not only kill the bill, but to persuade the governor to fill the seat.

The PFM Group study calls for the consolidation of the courts below the Common Pleas level in Mahoning County, but failing that it is recommending the elimination of two of the three judgeships in the Youngstown Municipal Court.

The Supreme Court’s caseload data of municipal courts throughout the state shows that Youngstown certainly cannot justify three judges, and would be hard-pressed to make the case for two.

Sammarone, who has railed city government waste, now has a blueprint for change. He should make the adoption of the recommendations a priority.


1jupiter(116 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The Vindy telling Ytown that it faces extinction is akin to the T-rex telling the wooly mammoth that its days are numbered. Newspapers, especially sophomoric attempts at "journalism" like the Vindy, are vestiges of the broken down past. And the Vindy, unlike Ytown, doesn't have any options to change its fate.
"The Jambar" is more representative of true journalistic effort than is on display here.
Oh, and Vindy? Since you advocate "consolidation" so much, surly you won't protest THE CITY exercising its rights as upheld in the 2006 Ohio State Supreme Court Case "Bakies v. Perrysburg."
-Grab a glass of water while you read,some of it may be hard to swallow.


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2UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

@Thinker, it is refreshing to read another mind that knows the real facts of what ails Youngstown. For several years, many of us felt alone and isolated in truth of the Valley, until GoMarcellusshale.com busted out in the blog world. We stood strong against the receipient class on the local message boards as they spewed mud and halftruths.
However, as can be read on the large Gomarcellusshale.com , the taxpaying landowners throughout the shale region are now solidified, educated and united. We all now see the urban centers as the stronghold of waste and corruption in America.
The solution that you must now bring forth is rallying the taxpayers of America who mostly populate the rural and suburban areas to withhold funds until the urban centers capitulate. And mandate local government reorganization to better the lives of all citizens without one class continuing to redistribute the workers wages to the subsidized.

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3UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

YBR, you still do not have a clue do you? Infact most of you hipster types are now wallowing in your beer. Several years ago your type created your MVOC, YNDC and other nonprofits to show Youngstown how the next generation will change the City. You all were uplifted at the same time when one like you became the president , which reinforced your ideology that "yes we can." You proclaimed your successes by showing off the Rossetta Stone, the urban gardens, new apartments, TShirt shops, the incubator..they're all subsidized. Then recently you all fell for the ruse that the City finally wanted your ilk to advise them with changes to their power.
Now you all see the paradox. You, the hipsters, politicians and the occupiers are really one and the same. What a mind blower isn't it? You all are part of the problem...the subsidized, the public sector, all slopping at the same trough and now fighting for the crumbs.
Man, I really am laughing because the whole scene is funny and the joke was on you guys. Your Nirvanna was a mirage...kind of like the Matrix.
What do you do now, that many of you gave years of the prime of your lives to the cause? Time to get a real job and learn the hard way how to be a producer and taxpayer.
Youngstown will change and probably soon and not because of your experiment with socialism but as with the USSR, insolvency...the taxpayers are out of money now. Keep your chin up, the private sector is now returning to the Steel Valley with billions, but you now have to get in line and learn to work like the rest of us...it will be like your grandfathers who knew how to sweat....in the mill.

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I thought the evangelist at the Youngstown Business Incubator had solved the jobs crisis in Ytown, Didn't Turning Tech turn Youngstown around with its publicly fianced, rent free building?

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5UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Again, Thinker see's the light and calls it like it is. Wean the industrialist must be rolling over in his grave knowing what his legacy is doing with the morphed ACORN locally. Correct.... the YNDC is a morph from the MVOC which is begat by ACORN. They blew into town when community organizing was sweeping a no name into the White house. Their whole purpose is to organize an enslaved voting block to broker power.
The ranks of the insignificant Defend Youngstown movement tried to rally a generation into falling for this ruse and even it morphed into TShirt slogan sales in preparation for the next occupier protest. Yes, these nonprofits waste tons of money while rewarding top salaries to the bosses. The local volunteers soon saw through the game and refused to projectize resulting for instance in the private landscapers building the urban gardens that they showcased as a facade.
Look into the salaries of the bosses of the MVOC and YNDC and they are in par with other subsidized pork jobs in the City. The MVOC was an advocate of the new County Landbank which is another morph job from Lien Forward. With the suction of $2.1 Million in seven years, the amount of acreage Lien Forward cleared and placed on the tax rosters did not justify the pork devoured (a drop in the bucket). At present while the energy companies are at the gates to inject revenue into 15000 abandoned parcels creating millions in funding; Yemma and Flora sit on their hands which maybe the reason why the only billion dollar energy company leasing in Youngstown exited.
The taxpayers of the Valley need to rise up and denounce the same old receipent leader class. The only way for change and progress with the wet gas under Youngstown is to DEMAND that the commisioners enforce true free enterprise and utilize the new Landbank to clean up all non taxpaying parcels by the thousands. Obviously this will open the floodgates to revenue for the citizens of the Valley.

BTW, YBR, got your panties all bunched up? You even forgot the subject here. I hope Sweetwood reads your tantrum here and throws you off this site, he has done a good job in cleaning up the walking dead zombies here. As you hipsters would say: "I'm ROTFLMAO!"

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6republicanRick(1251 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Not accepting millions and millions of dollars for the good citizens of Youngstown would be a terrible injustice by Youngstown City Council.

City Council could tear down almost all blighted structures in the City and begin the rebirth of a once great city. Here's hoping they do the right thing to help their neighbors improve their, and their children's, lives.

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