Leaders react to MVSD refunds

NILES — An unexpected refund from the city’s water supplier may help the city repair its hydrants or water towers.

The Mahoning Valley Sanitary District unanimously passed the resolution to refund its surplus fund of $5 million to the cities of Youngstown and Niles and the village of McDonald. Youngstown will receive $3.7 million, Niles will receive $1.2 million and McDonald will receive $100,000.

Money will be distributed in three increments of $2 million on June 30, $2 million on Sept. 30 and $1 million on Dec. 31.

Although Youngstown, Niles and McDonald have only been notified of the refund for a couple days, plans are already being considered as to how the money can be used to improve their water infrastructure.

In Niles, the money could be especially useful due to the city’s financial crisis against the many improvements needed to the city’s water facilities, officials said.

However, before anything concrete can be planned, the resolution will go through Niles’ law director to determine exactly what projects could qualify for use by the funds, Service Director Ed Stredney said.

“Fire hydrants are a concern. We’re getting quotes for water meters, and the city is ready to enter into agreement to repair the water towers,” Stredney said. “This will be a great asset for Niles.”

Stredney said he and Water Superintendent Andy Catanzarite will make a list of water department projects which could use the funds and present the list to the law director. Once the resolution is approved by the court of jurisdiction, the potential projects will be submitted to city council.

In Youngstown, Mayor John McNally likewise said the resolution would be discussed between Youngstown’s law staff and water department to resolve any potential questions toward the application of the funds. By the middle of next week, McNally said he expects to have a discussion with Youngstown’s water commissioner once the resolution has been reviewed.

“We know there’s things to work on, so we’ll figure out how to best spend the money and go from there,” McNally said.

In McDonald, Administrator Thomas Domitrovich said he plans on reaching out to the MVSD to get a full understanding why the surplus funds were returned to the communities.

“I didn’t have any idea this was in the works,” Domitrovich said.

However, Domitrovich added he would advise village council on where the money could be spent, though he said the decision is solely for the mayor and council to give him direction. Due to the council being in summer recess, Domitrovich suggested village council may handle the matter at their first meeting in July or possibly call for an emergency meeting.

As for what the money could be spent on, Domitrovich said the village had some concerns with orange water which is caused when the inside of steel pipes get old and reacts with the water. He said that was only a minor concern and stressed it was too early to tell what the funds could be used for.