The City of Niles is moving forward and is no longer in fiscal emergency. On Monday, city leaders celebrated all the hard work it took to get everything back in financial order.
Monday afternoon’s meeting of the Niles Fiscal Commission was, in many ways, much like all of the others over the past four-and-a-half years.
There were numbers being thrown around and budget projections for the various funds. The big difference came at the end when the commission voted to disband and release Niles from fiscal emergency.
Tim Litner and Nita Hendryx, with the Ohio Auditor’s Office, laid out the financial situation in Niles in a very positive way.
Keith Faber, the new state auditor, was there to congratulate Niles.
“This is near a record turnaround,” he said. “The work that was done by this community was really strong and it was really important.”
What started in October of 2014 with a deficit of over half a million dollars ended Monday with Faber presenting Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz with a document, releasing the city of fiscal emergency.
“It’s a feeling of pride and the community, the Niles community, should be very proud of their elected officials,” Mientkiewicz said.
“To all of you, I’m going to start a big round of applause because you have just done an amazing job,” Hendryx said.
Former Mayor Tom Scarnecchia played a big part in getting Niles out of these problems.
“I’m very proud. Very, very proud to see this day come because many, many people worked hard and the people in Niles worked hard, too. We had to pass some taxes,” he said.
The city raised the income tax to support police and fire, raised water and sewer rates, saved money on health insurance, raised the license fee and brought in RITA to collect taxes.
“Of course, RITA, which was one of our biggest salvations, and I was fought by quite a few people,” Scarnecchia said.
“We’re happy to report that the city has completed all of those items. None are left hanging. They’ve all been taken care of,” Hendryx said.
Resident John Davis, a member of the fiscal commission from day one, was happy with the outcome.
“It’s a feeling of joy. I thought four-and-a-half years ago, we may never get to this and as I said during the meeting, the community responded,” he said.
The city had only been in fiscal emergency for four-and-a-half years. The auditor’s office said that’s a quick time for a city or municipality to get out of it.
“It’s a great day for the City of Niles. There’s been a lot of hard work put into this entire process and there’s a lot of people to thank,” said Niles Auditor Giovanne Merlo.
Now the state auditor and officials with the Ohio Department of Education will turn its attention to the Niles City School District, which was placed in fiscal emergency two weeks ago. A fiscal commission for the schools is expected to be named this week and the first commissioners meeting should be held later this month.