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Youngstown council agrees to 67 percent hike for call center shuttle



Published: Thu, February 7, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By David Skolnick

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Over the complaints of some members that they were being rushed into a last-minute decision to increase the cost by 67 percent to shuttle employees at a downtown business by bus to and from the Covelli Centre parking lot, city council approved the deal.

The new $125,000 fee, an increase from $75,000 paid last year, will go to Community Bus Services to transport employees at VXI Global Solutions, a call center at the city-owned 20 Federal Place office building, to and from the center’s parking lot — a walk of about a quarter-mile.

Council approved the deal Wednesday 5-2 with the new deal taking effect 30 days later.

As part of a lease agreement with VXI, the city guarantees free parking for company workers.

While the contract doesn’t require transportation to and from the parking areas, the city has provided it since it had VXI workers park at the center, starting in November 2011, after a deal with the owner of the Plaza Parking Deck, which is closer to VXI, collapsed.

Community Bus Services raised its annual rate by $50,000 this year because it’s transporting more VXI workers, said Sean T. McKinney, the city’s buildings and grounds commissioner.

The company employed 500 at the downtown building in 2011 and increased that number to 900 last year, McKinney said. VXI is looking at another expansion of about 300 to 400 workers and is considering Youngstown among other Ohio cities for those jobs, he said.

Councilmen John R. Swierz, D-7th; Mike Ray, D-4th; and Paul Drennen, D-5th, had concerns about the increased fee as it was given to them less than three hours before Wednesday’s meeting, without explanation from the administration.

Swierz said he wasn’t “prepared to vote on this” Wednesday requesting the city take a couple of weeks to look for a better deal.

Ray called the $125,000 figure “substantial.”

“You’re putting us in a bad situation,” Drennen said to city administrators. “You could have come to us on Monday or a week ago.”

Other council members said they should have been told about negotiations on a new deal — the old one expired Dec. 31 — before Wednesday’s meeting.

Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department to whom McKinney reports, took the blame for not telling council sooner.

McKinney said without council’s approval Wednesday, the risk exists that VXI could move out of its downtown location because the city would be in violation of the contract.

City Finance Director David Bozanich suggested council pay Community Bus Services the higher rate for 90 days while a search is done for other options.

Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, wanted the information earlier, but said she could support it because VXI employs a lot of city residents who, without a job there, would “be out busting heads” instead.

The issue was put to the floor for a vote. Only Swierz voted against suspending the rules of council to have it considered at Wednesday’s meeting. If another council member had joined Swierz, a Wednesday vote on the contract wouldn’t have had enough support.

Drennen changed his mind and supported the contract. Ray voted to suspend the rules of council and then voted against the deal.

That means the contract is approved and will go into effect 30 days after Wednesday.

McKinney said he’ll likely meet today with Community Bus Services officials to discuss the 30-day delay. The company was paid $6,250 last month under the expired deal that had it receive $75,000 annually.

“Hopefully they’ll be OK with this” 30-day delay, McKinney said.


Comments

1georgejeanie(793 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

No wonder we have an obesity problem in this country. These people can not walk a quarter mile, wow a place. What kind of people is this company hiring, if the people they hire would "be out busting heads", if they did not have this job? Makes me feel like relocating to Youngstown,not.

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2Sumpintasay(55 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

What kind of people do they have working there, you ask?? Well lemme tellya. Bottom of the barrell people. Yes, they are fat. Yes, they stand right outside the doors and smoke like fiends. Yes, they are rude, nasty, inconsiderate, lowlife trash. They are the reason people stereotype and now downtown is full of them. Those stupid buses park RIGHT smack dab in front of the doors so that the precious VXI people don't have to walk 4 extra steps to board the bus but everyone else who works in the building has to walk around the bus and poke their head around it to see if any vehicles are coming before crossing the street to WALK to their cars.
I'm not exactly sure why VXI people are so important. What about the rest of the downtown workers? I pay high taxes to work in downtown (higher than my state taxes!) and am not at all pleased that any of my money is going to pay for these lazy slobs to ride 4/10 of a mile to work instead of walking it. The city said free PARKING! They didn't say free parking and a free ride bus ride. Children who live less than a mile from school have to walk so why do these grown adults get to ride a bus for such a very short distance? Im an old fat granny and I could jog that!
Come on downtown and look at all the pretty butt mulch we have! Come smell the fresh smokey air and listen to the loud women talkin bout they baby daddies and that hoe gonna get smacked. It's disgusting.

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3123goz(559 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Sumpin, tell us how you really feel, don't sugarcoat it like that.
Wow, I used to work at a place that had employee parking on it's own lot, and it was about a 1/4 mile walk to the building.
Walmart employees park at the far end of the lot and walk.
I suppose these people can walk too.

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4123goz(559 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

"VXI employs a lot of city residents who, without a job there, would “be out busting heads” instead."
In theory this is correct. They still have alot of free time though. Sounds like we are paying 'protection' money.

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5Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Talk about being LAZY! No wonder this Country is getting obese.

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6anothercityresident(12 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I worked downtown for a number of years, had to pay for parking, and had to walk several blocks to my job. This whole discussion should be unbelievable, but unfortunately I can believe it.

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7Sumpintasay(55 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

Rufus says Tarpley and others would lose votes.
I highly doubt any of these VXI people even know where the voting booths are. Bottom of the barrell.... serious.

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8peggygurney(392 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

UNbelievable.

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9Knightcap(695 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I needed a good laugh today. This story's good. Almost makes me want to go down there and watch them get on the bus. By the time the herd gets loaded and shipped I probably would get there first by walking and still have time to catch a smoke.

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10Ianacek(901 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

This proposal was possibly deliberately brought to the Council meeting for approval at the last minute to avoid the public knowing about it first. Its a ridiculous argument by a Council member that delaying a decision risked seeing VXI employees rampant "busting heads".

Youngstown Council still conducts much of its business effectively in secret ; in violation of the Ohio Open Meetings Act .
Council President should be the public's advocate & ensure Council members meet these obligations .
http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload...

Modern cities place these items on their publicly available Meeting Agendas & put those Agendas ( including attachments ) timely on their websites.

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