VINDY EXCLUSIVE | Salary could impact search for finance director, mayor says


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

It will be at least September before the city hires a finance director, with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown saying the salary for the position and the expense of national outreach could impact the search.

“We’re looking at public finance groups and organizations that can put [the job] on their websites” for free, he said. “But we can’t afford to pay $20,000 to a headhunter for a national search.”

Brown had said in January that he planned to do a national search. This is a scaled-back version of that plan.

Also, Brown said the job, which pays about $84,000 annually under the city charter, may make it “difficult” to find candidates “because people in the private sector make $30,000 to $40,000 more [a year] with less responsibilities.”

But Brown said he is focused on hiring a finance director with the job posted next month and a committee recommending up to three candidates to him by September from which he’d choose one.

“I want someone to come in who has economic-development background, some real- estate background and a sense of planning and reduction-in-revenue experience,” he said. “I want the person to be well-rounded. It doesn’t need to be a CPA, but that is helpful.”

During last year’s mayoral campaign and the transition period after the November 2017 general election, Brown 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.

On Jan. 2, Brown named Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek to head the finance department on an interim basis. Miasek was instrumental in reducing an anticipated $2.5 million deficit this year in the general fund to a projected $12,000 surplus.

Miasek has said he’s not interested in serving in the post on a permanent basis.

A financial consultant hired by the city said in May that if the city didn’t make changes to its financial situation, it would face a $16 million deficit by 2023.

The recommendations made by Michael Abouserhal, the consultant and a former Ohio Lottery Commission executive director, include asking employees to forgo salary increases for 2019 and 2020 – for most, that’s 1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively – to save about $700,000 annually as well as implementing mandatory furlough days, increasing the employees’ contribution to health insurance premiums from 10 percent to 20 percent to save about $900,000 annually, reducing overtime, eliminating pension pick-up for newly hired employees and reducing it for existing workers, possibly selling or closing the Henry Stambaugh Golf Course, potentially reducing external consulting services provided to the city’s engineering department, and cutting staff – particularly in the fire department and the clerk of courts/municipal courts, where as many as 20 and 30 employees, respectively, could be eliminated.

Brown said the city has a committee of union members and management actively looking at health insurance, particularly increasing the employee’s contributions toward premiums.

“The easiest way [to reduce city health-care costs] is to increase the monthly contribution,” he said. “Does it go to 12 or 15 percent? I don’t know what it looks like. But it’s one of the most straightforward solutions.”

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