No matter how vehemently Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams denies that his city would use water as a weapon for annexation, the people of Austintown and Boardman believe that's exactly what Youngstown has in mind and they're preparing for a major battle.
Indeed, both townships are looking to hire a lawyer with expertise in annexation issues so they're ready for when the results of a Youngstown study on water is made public. The city supplies drinking water to Austintown and half of Boardman.
Last week, at a meeting of the Austintown Democratic Club, trustees Lisa Oles and David Ditzler made it clear that they do not trust Williams or his finance director, David Bozanich, and that they're not going to be bullied by them.
Listening to Oles and Ditzler, and also to the trustees in Boardman talk about Youngstown, one gets the distinct impression that they view the city as nothing more than the mouse that roars. Youngstown's population and business losses have left a gaping hole in water department revenues. Future growth of the city is bleak, at best. Thus, the Williams administration must look elsewhere to bolster water and income tax revenues.
But if the mayor and his finance director think they can ride roughshod over the comparatively strong neighboring communities, they're in for a surprise.
Youngstown no longer is the 800 pound gorilla on issues that once scared the daylights out of Boardman and Austintown.
If Mayor Williams wants to have a working relationship with the neighboring townships he would do well to let them take the lead on an issue that would benefit everyone creation of Joint Economic Development Districts.