Youngstown mayor hires retired CPA to help with city’s finances


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown hired a retired certified public accountant as an “executive on loan” who will help with a variety of finance department issues.

Michael Abouserhal of the Cleveland area was selected Thursday for the job. He’ll start next week and be paid $150 an hour up to $25,000 and work for the city through April 30.

The appointment came at the recommendation of the state auditor’s office, Brown said.

Abouserhal will assess the city’s financial condition, evaluate the proposed 2018 budget, review the long-term budgetary forecast and help find a finance director.

“I’ll mostly be assisting from an independent perspective to help the mayor grasp the true financial condition of the city,” he said. “It’s somebody independent from the city doing an evaluation. I’ll work with the city to adopt a budget for 2018 and look long term. I’ll also ultimately help the city recruit a permanent finance director.”

Abouserhal retired in July as vice president of finance and business services at Cuyahoga Community College and previously worked as chief financial officer for Cleveland Public Power, executive director of the Ohio Lottery Commission, a senior deputy state auditor, and as assistant director of finance and controller for the city of Cleveland.

“When I was looking for a finance director I spoke to him, but he wasn’t interested in working full-time,” Brown said.

Brown said he doesn’t plan to fill the position of finance director until after the city adopts a budget. The deadline to do so is March 31.

Brown sought applications for finance director but received none. Instead, Brown named Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek interim finance director on Jan. 2.

Brown said he planned to conduct a national search before no one applied for finance director because of the city’s financial problems, and hire an executive on loan to evaluate the city’s financial situation.

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

Brown had said numerous times he had no interest in keeping David Bozanich as finance director. Bozanich is the unnamed city official mentioned in an indictment against downtown property developer Dominic Marchionda as alleged to have taken a $25,000 bribe, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. Bozanich hasn’t been charged.

Abouserhal worked at Cuyahoga Community College from November 2008 until his retirement in July. He served as the college’s executive director of accounting and financial operations from November 2008 to January 2012 and the rest of his time there as vice president of finance and business services. He was CFO of Cleveland Financial Power from May 2007 to November 2008, and Ohio Lottery Commission executive director from August 2006 to May 2007.

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