Council questions use of taxpayer money to buy Youngstown mayor new car

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Tito Brown has been Youngstown’s mayor not quite two months and has already decided he needs a brand new personal vehicle paid for by the city. Some city council members have a problem with that, especially since they’re dealing with a million-dollar year-end deficit.

Mayor Brown sat quietly at Wednesday night’s Youngstown City Council meeting, letting Law Director Jeff Limbian answer questions about the $28,000 city-owned 2018 Ford Explorer that he’ll soon be driving.

“I think it’s so crucial that the mayor have a vehicle that he can use to get to Columbus, and get to Washington and get around the city without any difficulty, that it will pay dividends in the long run,” Limbian said.

The vehicle’s being bought with water department money, which means it can only be used for water department purposes.

“I question the legality of purchasing something from the water fund that’s not going to solely be used for the water department,” Councilwoman Lauren McNally said.

At an earlier committee meeting, Limbian questioned it, too, saying that over the next year, they’ll monitor how the vehicle is being used.

“We expect that the general fund will ultimately be responsible for at least 50 percent of that vehicle purchase,” he said.

“We are asking everyone to make cuts,” Councilwoman Anita Davis said.

She said no one should be buying anything until they decide how to eliminate the deficit.

Last week, the mayor asked council members to cut their discretionary funds — money which Davis said helps the city.

“I just can’t see giving up any of my discretionary funds, or any other councilperson, in order for somebody else to have a car,” she said.

“We on city council just want to make sure it’s done appropriately,” Councilman Julius Oliver said.

Oliver wants everything legal, but he’s also okay with the mayor having a car.

“That’s the representation of the city. You got to do the most work, you’re running around, you’re meeting with people in and out of town,” he said.

Previous Mayor John McNally said except for a couple of trips to D.C., he used his own car and paid for his own gas.

Mayor Jay Williams was provided a city car for his use. He was the last mayor to have one.