NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – Two of the three laid-off Niles policemen are in the application process with stations in North and South Carolina, and there is growing concern that the city won’t be able to bring them back this year.
An already depleted general fund for the city took another hit this week. Council took $89,000 from the fund to pay a retired cemetery worker.
A review of the 2014 audit shows that Niles’ Light Department originally paid for the employee. In total, the city lost $204,000 due to misappropriated funds from the 2014 administration.
“Every time we feel we hit bottom, the bottom goes a little lower,” said Councilman Barry Steffey.
The general fund helps finance the Niles Police and Fire stations.
During the March election, a .5 percent income tax increase passed, which will support police and fire. That tax does not begin until July, and there’s already discussion if Niles can afford to bring back the laid-off first responders.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, some said it may be realistic to bring just one officer back in 2016 but when that would happen is up in the air.
“We have been in discussion with city administration but right now, there’s not a definitive answer,” said Captain John Marshall.
The recent losses to the budget could play a factor too.
“It definitely could effect the timeliness of bringing back a police officer and a fireman,” Steffey said.
Marshall says if the officers do eventually leave, it will be more than a loss to just the department.
“Them having to pursue another employment option as a means for survival would actually be a loss for the city because they are both outstanding officers.”
If they leave, Niles would have to replace them with rookie officers. That would mean more time for the city without officers on the road, and more money invested to have them trained.
The book is closed on the 2014 audit, so council will not have to lose any more money from that year. Steffey says those losses are working against them in their effort to help Niles stand tall again.