Potential drop in garbage collection money could slow demolition of vacant houses in Youngstown

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City council is considering collecting more money for the water department by taking money from the sanitation department

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Council was talking budget again Tuesday evening — this time focusing on the water and sanitation departments. The water department needs more money and the plan is to take it from the department that collects garbage, which would mean fewer demolitions.

Since a law change in 2016, Youngstown has given more money to the environmental sanitation fund and less to water. The environmental sanitation fund has made as much as $2.5 million more a year.

“This is not a sustainable financial situation for the water fund,” said Michael Abouserhal, CPA.

The proposal is to change the law — $10 more for water, $10 less for sanitation.

“There’s no impact to citizens within the City of Youngstown, assuming they get both water and garbage collection services,” Abouserhal said.

However, this change will impact the money for the demolition program. After 2021, there is no plan for how much money will go into that program, which is mainly used to tear down vacant houses.

“Right now, we’re doing about — contract demolition — about 100 houses a year. I’m guessing that number is going to drop significantly,” said Michael Durkin, superintendent of code enforcement.

Mayor Tito Brown said they can get the money elsewhere.

“We will continue to be aggressive in demoing properties and making sure we’ll go after all the federal and state dollars that are available.”

Another area of concern for council is having to buy a garbage truck every year, which costs around $350,000 per truck.

“A garbage truck is pretty much one of the most abused vehicles on the road,” said Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works. “It’s a constant start and stop. That arm moves thousands of times a week. They’re always loaded up, full.”

When the city started its own garbage collection, it bought all of the trucks at once.

“We could be in the situation where all of a sudden, all of our trucks are inoperable and we don’t want to get into a situation where we have to buy nine or ten new trucks again,” Shasho said.

If council decides to change the way fees are collected, it would go into effect July 1 of this year.

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