Tempers flare again between Fuda, Polivka at commissioners meeting

Published: Thu, March 22, 2018 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Ed Runyan



Tension between Trumbull County commissioners Frank Fuda and Dan Polivka flared up again Wednesday during a vote on whether to create a new position in the county Building Inspection Department.

A current department worker would be moved to the new position and an additional person would be hired to replace him. The job would be to handle code enforcement, a job shared by several people now as part of other duties.

Fuda asked for the vote to be tabled for a week so he could discuss the issue further with Mike Sliwinski, chief building official.

“I have several questions and some concerns here, so I’d like to meet with Mr. Sliwinski this week and go over those concerns, those questions and make sure we have everybody in the right place before we hire someone for this position,” Fuda said.

At the end of the discussion, Polivka and Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa voted yes for the new position. Though Fuda voted no, it was approved.

Fuda questioned Sliwinski as to whether the position will pay for the additional $60,000 per year in wages and benefits for an additional person.

“I guarantee you it will make a difference,” Sliwinski said, adding the current staff can’t do building inspections and also give the energy needed for code enforcement.

Fuda said the legislation related to the new position doesn’t have benchmarks for performance.

Polivka interjected the issue of increasing fees in the building department arose months ago and was recommended by a citizens panel last year.

But then Polivka changed course, saying “as recently as two weeks ago, Mr. Fuda, you tried to tell me and Commissioner Mauro in the back we need to impose a sales tax.”

“That is a total lie, Mr. Polivka,” Fuda replied, which produced three hard raps with the gavel from Polivka, who is the commissioners’ chairman this year.

“Don’t lie at this meeting,” Fuda said.

“I’m tired of the hypocrisy, and it’s stopping today,” Polivka said, adding that “It is evident that you don’t want to try anything but put a tax on,” and has opposed any “revenue-generating positions.”

That led to another back and forth about Fuda having supported a sales tax a few years ago, the same argument the two have had multiple times at public meetings in recent years.

Cantalamessa said the building-inspection department has become increasingly self-sustaining since 2014.

He said he trusts Sliwinski and wants to “empower my department head because I’m not in the department every day. He is.”

Sliwinski said, “There is no reason for that department [in] a jurisdiction this size should lose money,” he said.

He said the department needs to do a better job of making sure people who are building in the county are obtaining a building permit.

“People don’t want to get permits,” Sliwinski said. “Right now, people are saying, ‘Don’t go down there. They’re not going to catch you. Do what you’re going to do, and if they catch you, then so be it.’”

“I want a guy saying, ‘They’ve got a guy out there looking. Go get your permit or you’re going to get fined,’” he added.

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