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Council delays $650K ARP expense

Self-insurance reimbursement request tabled

YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider two smaller uses of its federal American Rescue Plan funds Wednesday, but will postpone a request from the administration to reimburse the city’s self-insurance plan $649,912 for COVID-19-related employee medical expenses.

Council’s finance committee decided at a Monday meeting not to move the self-insurance request to the full legislative body.

“Would it make sense to sit on this now?” said Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward. “We should wait.”

Finance Director Kyle Miasek said the ARP transfer can be postponed.

“We can set it aside and let it wait,” he said in response to McNally.

Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th Ward, said to keep the ordinance in the finance committee.

“We can wait on it because there’s no deadline,” he said.

The $649,912 is for employee medical expenses directly connected to COVID-19 in 2021, Miasek said. The biggest expenses were for hospital and doctor costs for city employees who got COVID-19 with smaller amounts for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, Miasek said.

Councilwoman Samantha Turner, D-3rd, said: “We have the ability to reimburse ourselves, but I don’t want to lose sight” that the $82,773,370 the city was awarded from ARP is for the community.

She added, “It’s starting to feel, I don’t want to say padding our budget, but it seems like we are.”

The finance committee recommended two smaller ARP uses for council to consider Wednesday.

One is a $23,710 expense to advertise for the April 23 police civil service exam and the other is to increase by $22,500 an original $1,236,989 purchase, also using ARP money, to buy 100 police body cameras, 155 stun devices as well as a place to store them and the needed computer equipment.

The additional money for the latter is to purchase licensing software.

Besides the body cameras and stun devices, city council also has authorized $8 million from its ARP fund to demolish at least 500 of the city’s worst vacant homes, $7 million to be used by city council — $1 million for each of the seven wards — for projects that comply with the federal ARP guidelines and $86,475 to buy 50 automated external defibrillators.

WATER DAMAGE

Council also will consider Wednesday two pieces of legislation to pay a total of $136,000 related to a December waterline break on the fourth floor of the police department that caused extensive damage to parts of the first through fourth floors.

The damage was discovered Dec. 13 after water was estimated to have leaked for between six and 10 hours. The leak caused damage to the drop ceiling, walls and the floor, Miasek said.

Council will vote Wednesday on an ordinance to allow the board of control to pay up to $96,000 to SERVPRO of East Mahoning County, a Youngstown company, for the emergency water remediation at the building and $40,000 to Daniel A. Terreri & Sons, also of Youngstown, for the emergency restoration at the location.

To date, the city’s insurance company has given Youngstown $35,000 for the remediation and $20,000 for the restoration, Miasek said.

“The hope is we get full reimbursement,” he said.

A significant portion of the repair work is done, but the walls still need work.

The police patrol officers union filed a separate grievance Jan. 31 about the “hazardous” condition and the “structural problems” of the police station.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said a day later that a preliminary inspection “found the building integrity to be sound and secure.”

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