Niles consolidates court positions

NILES – Two city employee positions were melded into one, and another full-time job is a step closer to dropping to part-time after City Council met in special session Wednesday.

One ordinance, passed 6-0 as an emergency, combines the jobs of bailiff and probation officer in Niles Municipal Court for the rest of year. Bailiff Robert Chicone is retiring.

Municipal Judge Thomas W. Townley requested that the probation officer also assume the duties of bailiff for at least for the remainder of the year.

The other ordinance, which would turn the full-time director of the Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center into a part-time position, passed the second of a required three readings 6-0. Council members said there still were some parts of the job description that needed worked out before a final vote.

Councilman Stephen Papalas said Wellness Director Scott MacMillan said he would be willing to move to a part-time role.

Mayor Ralph Infante said the new part-time position would be as events coordinator. The remaining duties of the Wellness Director not covered by the new part-time position would be spread out across other city department heads.

Cutting the director to a part-time job was one of 35 items on Infante’s plan for rescuing Niles from fiscal emergency.

The savings from this will be a partial savings of $25,000 in 2015 and then $50,000 a year in salary and benefits going forward, according to the mayor’s plan.

Another of the 35 points was adopted Monday when Niles completed the merging of the city’s health department into the Trumbull County Health Department.

The outsourcing of the city’s health department will save $131,000 through the rest of this year and $262,000 per year going forward, he said.

One of the four city health department workers retired and was not replaced, two positions were transitioned into the county health department, and one employee stayed on the city’s payroll.

Ohio placed the city in a state of fiscal emergency in October after it was learned that Niles was facing a more than $2 million deficit in the water department, which affected the general fund as well. The Niles Financial Planning and Supervision Commission began meeting in January to correct problems.

The 35-point plan also included such items as raising the city income tax 0.25 percent, which would take it to 1.75 percent and bring in an additional $900,000 a year, and increasing permits for rental properties in Niles to gain $69,000 annually.

Infante said adopting all 35 points would save the city $715,458 through the rest of this year and $2.11 million a year by 2019.