Girard cracking down on $416,000 in delinquent water bills

GIRARD — City officials have spent the past three months cracking down on delinquent water bills, which totaled $416,000 when the year began.

Mayor Mark Zuppo said at Tuesday’s council meeting there have been water shutoffs and contact made with residents who owe money on water bills. He said some residential water bills are as high as $10,000 and are being paid to the city on a payment plan.

“We have been going after the delinquent water bills. We have been doing everything we can. This situation is not pretty and we will not run away from it,” Zuppo said, noting the city will need to raise the water rate at some point.

He said since January, the delinquent amount has been lowered to about $200,000.

Zuppo said he and Safety Service Director Sal Ponzio and Law Director Brian Kren will meet with Niles officials about water rates since Girard gets some of the city’s water from Niles.

At-Large Councilman Sam Zirafi, chairman of the utilities committee, said unless water rates are raised, the utility fund will be in the red by the end of 2025.

Zirafi said the city had previously been in fiscal emergency, so efforts must be made to not let the utility fund go into the red.

He said the city has the authority to raise water rates, and the last increase was in 2017.

He said in 2023, the water fund brought in $4.1 million, but with expenses going up and revenues going down, that amount went down quickly.

Engineer Dennis Meeks is doing a rate study to determine how much of an increase would be needed, and also is looking at rates in surrounding areas to see where Girard’s rates are in comparison.

Zirafi said he understands the current administration inherited the many delinquent water bills from the previous administration.


In other business, fire Chief Jim Petruzzi reported that starting today, the Trumbull County 911 Center will begin dispatching calls for the fire department.

Petruzzi said residents and businesses who have fire and medical alarms need to contact their alarm companies and the county at 330-675-2730 about the change. The city still will dispatch for the police department.

Also, resident Tom Smith said the Friends of the Mahoning River found a large flat rock to have lettering placed on by Blackstone Funeral Home to honor Don Rex who died last year.

He said the Don Rex Memorial will be by the Mahoning River with the large rock costing $1,500 to be put in place. Rex was instrumental in getting a boat launch area set up along the river.

Smith said they also are looking to get the floating boat dock launch detached from a tree on the river. Petruzzi said the fire department plans to help get the dock area off the tree.

“Once the river level returns to a normal level, we should be able to use a chainsaw and remove that tree,” Petruzzi said.

Have an interesting story? Email Bob Coupland at bcoupland@tribtoday.com.


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