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Youngstown plans to reduce its residential garbage fee



Published: Thu, October 3, 2013 @ 12:07 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The cost to city residents for garbage fees will drop by at least $1 by the beginning of the year.

“I don’t think we’ve ever reduced any fees,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone. “I’ve been in city government for 30 years, and this is a first.”

Sammarone said Wednesday that he would have a proposal at city council’s next meeting, Oct. 16, to reduce the fee, which is currently $15.75 a month. It’s been that amount since 2011.

The proposal would be for a monthly reduction of at least $1 a month or possibly more, he said. A $1 reduction would equal a 6.3 percent savings for residential garbage customers in the city.

The reduction results from an increase in the number of city residents paying the trash fee and better collection of that money by the water department, said Sammarone and city Finance Director David Bozanich.

The cost for residential- garbage removal is included on monthly water bills sent to city customers. The city has about 20,000 residential garbage customers, Bozanich said.

“We’re giving back to the taxpayers,” Sammarone said. “They’ve been good with paying on time so we’re going to reduce their bills.”

Sammarone and Bozanich couldn’t provide specifics Wednesday about the increased percentage of collections or how much of a surplus there is in the sanitation fund.

But Bozanich said reducing the fee by $1 a month equals about $240,000, and the fund would have no problem absorbing that loss.

The city’s residential garbage collection contract is with Ohio Valley Waste Service, located on Mahoning Avenue on the West Side.

Also, Sammarone said city council will be asked Oct. 16 to consider a proposal related to the demolition of the Kress Building, a long-vacant downtown structure owned by the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., a nonprofit property agency run by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

The Vindicator reported Sept. 17 that CIC officials were talking to city administrators about the property.

The CIC doesn’t have the money to demolish it. There is no cost estimate, but it’s expected to be six figures, a CIC official said a few weeks ago.

The CIC has requested financial help from the city to demolish Kress, Sammarone said, and the “city has a responsibility to maintain [CIC-owned] buildings.”

Demolition would be handled by the CIC, he said, but the city “will likely have to pay for it.”

Under consideration is a swap of downtown properties after the Kress is demolished, Sammarone and Bozanich said.

The city could lease the recently demolished Paramount Theatre site at West Federal and Hazel streets to the CIC to use as a parking lot with the city purchasing the Kress location on West Federal Street, next door to the 7th District Court of Appeals, they said.

The city would use the Kress location as a parking lot for those needing to do business at city hall, which is the current plan for the Paramount site, Bozanich said.

The Kress location is closer to city hall, particularly the rear of it.


Comments

1johnyoung(241 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The inappropriate use of sanitation revenues has been an ongoing issue in Youngstown city government for years. They collect revenues in excess of the actual cost of the service, and then divert the excess funds for other purposes, contrary to state law. In the State Auditor's 2010 audit of city finances, the following finding was cited:

FINDING NUMBER 2010-02
Noncompliance and Significant Deficiency
"Ohio Revised Code § 5705.09(F) requires that a special fund for each class of revenues derived from a source other than the general property tax, which the law requires to be used for a particular purpose be established.
During our audit we noted sanitation revenues were being accounted for in the general fund. An analysis showed that sanitation receipts were greater than the expenditures relating to sanitation,
i.e., total sanitation revenue for 2010 was $4,054,028 and total expenditures relating to sanitation were $2,785,997 for an excess of $1,268,031 which indicates that sanitation revenues are subsidizing general fund operations. Financial monitoring performed by the City did not identify excesses of revenues over expenditures related to sanitation activity in the general fund. To enhance internal accounting control, we recommend the City establish an enterprise fund to account
for the revenues and expenses of the sanitation activity".

So they've been collecting $1.2 million in excess revenue per year, and now Sammarone wants to give $240,000 back to the payers. What a deal!!!

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2Ianacek(909 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The 2010 audit report & financial disclosures are all here
http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/audits...
In the report , the Finance Director was to have investigated overcharging back to 1991 & have that exercise completed by March 2013 . What was the outcome ? What was the outcome of all 7 of the Auditor's Findings ?
Also , the City's 2010 report took almost 24 months to complete audit & the 2011 report still hasn't completed audit after 21 months . 9 months is normally accepted as satisfactory & delays beyond that normally indicate weaknesses on the part of the auditee .
The City very likely owes its water customers millions . We can only guess as to how much the overcharging has contributed to the City's blight . More importantly , the City owes the community an accountability for its financial (mis)management .

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3Not_Gilligans_Ginger(129 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Gees, can they spare it? In 25 years time, my water bill is at 600% of what it used to be and the same amount of water is used.

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