Youngstown finance director’s resignation of no consequence

Youngstown Mayor-elect Jamael Tito Brown made it crystal clear during and after the campaign that city Finance Director David Bozanich wouldn’t be retained in his administration.

Crystal clear with no wiggle room.

So it was laughable when Bozanich submitted his letter of resignation to outgoing Mayor John A. McNally earlier this week.

The effective date of the resignation is Dec. 31, the day before Brown would have essentially fired Bozanich.

I don’t know if Bozanich’s move was to save face, but it doesn’t.

Bozanich is the unnamed city official mentioned in the indictment against downtown property developer Dominic Marchionda and his affiliated businesses alleged to have taken a $25,000 bribe, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Bozanich hasn’t been charged.

But to quote a recent statement from the state auditor’s office, which is leading the investigation into Marchionda: “More indictments are expected in the case, according to Auditor Dave Yost.”

Also, Brown had said all existing department heads, except Bozanich, were invited to apply for their jobs.

When Brown sought applicants for nine department heads, the only position that received no interest was finance director.

Brown said he and his transition team had already planned a national search for the job because of the city’s financial problems.

The city is projected to have a deficit of $2.5 million to $3 million in its general fund by the end of 2018.

While a national search is the best solution to finding Bozanich’s successor, it could end up being a struggle to replace him.

As I mentioned, the city is facing a deficit and while city officials don’t like to discuss it, layoffs are on the table.

Anyone coming into the job is inheriting numerous challenges and faces a huge task to get the city’s finances back in order.

That means making extremely difficult decisions, such as what deep cuts need to be made and how many people need to be laid off.

It’s a mess that Brown and his incoming administration are inheriting.

Rather than address the situation now, the McNally administration had a few meetings during the last month or so with city council to discuss the problem. But no concrete solutions – or even vague ones for that matter – have been considered.

Instead, the lame-duck administration has kicked the can down the road leaving the problem in the lap of Brown.

That’s the situation an incoming finance director will inherit.

Good luck finding a highly qualified person to take that job.

Brown received a number of applicants for eight other department-head positions: law director, fire chief, police chief, buildings and grounds commissioner, public works deputy director, city prosecutor, water commissioner, and parks and recreation director.

Brown said he has “a great group of applicants” in which to choose members of his incoming cabinet.

Brown wants as many department heads selected by the time he takes office Jan. 1, but won’t make any quick decisions to have people in place when he takes over.

Brown’s transition team began interviews with candidates this week and when it’s done its members will provide a list of recommended finalists to the mayor-elect. Brown will conduct final interviews and hire the department heads.

Almost all of the existing department heads applied to retain their positions.

Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr., who’s held that position for 20 years, didn’t apply because he plans to retire next September or October.

The building and grounds commissioner position has been vacant since April when Sean McKinney resigned to run as an independent for mayor. He lost to Brown, a Democrat, by 201 votes.

McKinney filed a court complaint Dec. 7 demanding a new election, saying there was widespread “election fraud with many irregularities.”

One educated guess is John Jeffrey Limbian will be selected as law director.

Limbian is a close friend of Brown and has extensive experience as a former law director and city prosecutor.

There are also other positions Brown will seek to fill such as director of downtown events, director of community planning and economic development and a number of attorneys in the law department – all of whom have unclassified jobs and are appointed by the mayor.

A note: I’ll be on vacation next week so there won’t be a column next Friday.

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