Pressure to balance budget has Niles PD worried about layoffs

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – The news out of Niles City Hall keeps getting worse. Layoffs haven’t been decided on yet, but the possibility was discussed at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

Earlier this week, an audit of the city’s 2015 spending concluded that Niles needs to stay committed to containing its cost and adding revenue. With the city still in fiscal emergency, the meeting had its tense moments.

Acting Police Chief Jay Holland spoke up at the meeting Wednesday. He said he was told by Niles’ tax office that the city could face a sudden deficit of $127,000.

“The officers are worried because they feel that we’re right back to where we were last year,” Holland said.

He also said Niles’ first responders had worked hard to lobby for the half-percent income tax increase in March.

Mayor Tom Scarnecchia repeated what he’s been saying since the tax passed.

“I would not layoff police or firemen.”

George Kuriatnyk did not hold back as he addressed Scarnecchia by saying, “This administration has done nothing to move us forward. Nothing. We’re going backwards. I don’t care who says we’re moving forward, because we’re not.”

The pressure is on the mayor to come up with a financial plan for the city within the next month – a point driven home by Council President Bob Marino.

“We are at the bottom of the barrel,” he said. “At this point in time, the ball is in the Mayor’s court but in the same vein, he has to put the plan together.”

Two areas that are still running at a deficit are the water department and the wellness center.

The financial commission said at its last meeting that they are working on correcting those deficits to get Niles out of fiscal emergency.