YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Oak Hill Renaissance Center has been owned by Mahoning County since 2006. It was a source of disagreement before the purchase and has been since.
Auditor Ralph Meachum released the numbers he’s compiled about Oak Hill since 2016 when he did his first analysis on the property. It shows Oak Hill is bleeding money.
“The trends we saw in 2016 concerning Oak Hill Renaissance Center are continuing now,” he said.
The most recent totals from when it was acquired through last year show Oak Hill had $21,811,301 in revenue. $27,409,424 in expenses. And the loss has been $5,598,132. The county still owes $11 million on the building.
“The commissioners, I think, are doing many, many positive things here, but I think this is a large asset for us. And I think every once in a while stop, take a look, and make a decision on it. Buy, sell or improve and move on,” Meachum said.
Meachum believes the continuing pattern is a problem. In the last four years, the bottom line is in red, with an occupancy rate of around 52%.
“If you’ve ever been in the unoccupied parts of that building, they’re still very rough. It still looks like an old hospital building, which it is,” Meachum said.
The cost of upgrades would be high, and Meachum is not sure if the rent could make it valuable to get the payback. He believes commissioners should look at modifying Oak Hill, maybe demolishing some of it, even looking at alternative sites for some of the facilities.
“You really have to put pencil to paper and see what is the best solution long term for the taxpayers,” he said.
Adding interest and capital expenditures, Oak Hill’s loss has been$24,729,789.
Commissioners plan to give a response during Thursday’s regular meeting. Trumbull County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said Oak Hill generates income, it’s a good home to general fund departments and is a one stop shop for many important services including the only AIDS clinic within 70 miles.
First News will be at Thursday’s meeting for the response from commissioners.