Youngstown City government should make it through the year without any financial issues, but next year there could be problems.
That was the conclusion of a two-hour city council meeting Tuesday night that included a proposal by the firefighter’s union to make the city more money.
The numbers presented to Youngstown City Council by Finance Director Kyle Miasek showed the city should be fine this year.
“I know I can say it’s not perfect. It’s not perfect. Everybody looks like they’re on track to hit, to be within their budget. Close.” said T.J. Rodgers, Youngstown city councilman.
But money at Youngstown City Hall is tight. Miasek says next year the city will be without the income tax revenue from Northside Hospital and then there are the union contracts — four of which have pay raises already negotiated.
“If those unions don’t want to participate and cooperate we may have to, when we start looking at next year’s budget, look at other avenues of finding savings,” Miasek said.
Councilwoman Lauren McNally wanted to know if next year’s budget would include cuts in other departments, like the ones made this year in the fire department — where stations were closed on a rotating basis, a truck was removed from service, and captains and lieutenants eliminated.
“It’s not easy to do this. It’s difficult, and it requires sacrifice. But you can’t ask some of the small departments to sacrifice where they don’t have it,” Miasek said.
Increasing revenue was discussed with Chris Weaver of the firefighters union, with the support of fire chief Barry Finley, even proposing a plan.
Implement inspection fees immediately and not next year, along with the addition of five percent safety taxes to all city hotels and all tickets sold at the Covelli Centre. Plus, charge every YSU student a public safety fee of $75 per semester, for the 300 calls a year made to the university.
“And 99.9 percent of the time it’s there, they get there and there’s nothing,” Finley said.
“If the city’s in dire straights why aren’t we doing this stuff now? This stuff should be enacted. You should be looking at legislation right now on getting this passed,” Weaver said.
A few city council members said after the meeting that the firefighter’s recommendations are worth exploring — though one said they need to continue forward with the chief recommendations.
A study released in may showed Youngstown facing a $16 million deficit over the next five years.