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Youngstown council questions lights, jazz fest, neighborhood proposals in budget



Published: Wed, March 26, 2014 @ 12:09 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

With the city’s $171.5 million budget proposal finally in their hands, members of city council asked questions about increasing funding for more Christmas lights, the downtown jazz festival and improving neighborhoods.

Council members met with department heads at budget hearings that ended March 4 to discuss funding and project priorities.

But council members had those meetings without the $171.5 million budget proposed by the administration.

It wasn’t until last Thursday that all members of council had that budget proposal, and they met Tuesday to discuss it.

Finance Director David Bozanich and Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek discussed potential new employees at Tuesday’s meeting. That was in response to a request last week from Councilman T.J. Rodgers, D-2nd.

There are 18 positions — 16 unfilled and two new ones — in the city’s budget.

Not all of them will be filled as that’s the call of Mayor John A. McNally, Bozanich said.

“In general, it’s a pretty good document with funding for programs, local matches [for grants], equipment and internal demolition work,” Bozanich said. “Although not a perfect budget, it’s a pretty good budget.”

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, said more money should be used for downtown Christmas decorations. Gillam and Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, also said there should be enough money for the downtown jazz festival.

Most council members at Tuesday’s hourlong meeting to discuss the budget said they were satisfied with the spending package and would vote in favor of it.

The city must approve a budget by Monday, according to city statutes.

Council will meet at 4:45 p.m. Thursday to vote on passing the city’s $171.5 million budget. That will be the only item on the meeting’s agenda.

That meeting shouldn’t take long, members said, as a council safety committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. that day.

The budget proposal includes $4.8 million in capital-improvement projects and equipment purchases.

About $2.6 million from the business-development fund will be used as matching local funding for projects that receive state and federal grants.

Tarpley said she was “really concerned about [providing] help in the neighborhoods.”

Bozanich said the equipment purchases and money for street improvements will help the neighborhoods.

“We significantly cut economic development to do more in the neighborhoods,” he said.

The business-development budget is going from $12 million last year to $7.7 million this year.

But that cut is largely because the fund was used to allocate local, state and federal dollars for Vallourec Star’s $1.1 billion expansion project.

The city budget calls for spending $3.7 million more this year than in 2013.

One reason for the larger budget — it was $167.8 million last year — is $4.5 million the city receives in tax-increment financing for Vallourec Star’s expansion, Bozanich said.

Vallourec makes property-tax payments and then has 75 percent of it refunded with the other 25 percent going to the Girard school district.

The facility is in Youngstown with most of the land originally in Girard, and the latter city’s school district receives property taxes.

That $4.5 million is treated as revenue and an expenditure, which increases the city budget, Bozanich said.


Comments

1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

"Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, said more money should be used for downtown Christmas decorations. Gillam and Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, also said there should be enough money for the downtown jazz festival."

Of course,the priority of these two items should certainly supercede vital police/fire/street department funding.

"Tarpley said she was “really concerned about [providing] help in the neighborhoods.”"

Unfortunately, a "help" line item usually does not appear in an annual budget.

Once again, apparently some Youngstown council members demonstrate their inability to interpret and effectively manage the financial limitations of a dying city.

Suggest removal:

2zz3(931 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Jazz fest, downtown decorations!! Holy crap what morons and how their not afraid to prove it!!!!

Suggest removal:

3Ianacek(908 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The City of Youngstown should be broken up and absorbed into new & existing local authorities . It's the only way for neighborhoods to get good services, retain property values & redevelop vacant land .

Suggest removal:

4handymandave(474 comments)posted 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Better use some of that money to either buy Bozanich a calculator that works or replace him as finance director. His screw ups are becoming well known. His work product has left much to be desired.

Suggest removal:


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