Examine building merger

Officials from Warren, Niles and Trumbull County should spend some time in Youngstown to see how that city closed its building department and turned the duties over to Mahoning County.

Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone said that operating a building department would cost the city between $450,000 and $500,000 annually. For about $235,000 less than that, the county will handle the duties.

Warren has found itself in a financial tailspin for most of the past decade. Its police department is dozens of officers below its authorized strength while violent crime appears to be escalating. Dozens of Warren firefighters would be out of their jobs if not for a federal grant.

Considering Warren is about half the size of Youngstown, it’s unlikely to save $235,000 by paying Trumbull County to take over building department duties. However, the city might be able to save enough to put a couple more officers on the street.

The layoff bug has not hit Niles yet, but last week several city officials declared that a dire financial situation looms. Sounds like it’s time for some proactive efficiency measures, such as closing its building department.

Warren and Niles have worked well with other local governments in the past. Both cities use the Trumbull County Jail, for example. Niles also has cooperative arrangements with Weathersfield.

Many more opportunities exist for Trumbull County’s two largest cities.