Liberty retire / rehire just makes sense

DEAR EDITOR:

Information contained in your “onion” to Liberty Trustees Stan Nudell and myself, while accurate, do not tell the whole story of the circumstances surrounding the retire / rehire of Administrator Pat Ungaro. This action has been under serious discussion for months and deserves an in-depth look at the issues leading up to this action.

Liberty Township is a Limited Home Rule township and, as such, requires the employment of a law director and administrator. Mr. Ungaro has served admirably in the position of administrator for 15 years following his 14-year term as mayor of Youngstown. He has extensive experience in local government administration for which he was appropriately compensated. He has been an asset to our township in obtaining grants totaling $6 million over the years he has been an administrator. We are fortunate to have been able to employ his services.

Over a year ago, the Ohio Auditor of State placed our township in fiscal caution because expenses exceeded revenues in our general fund. While expenses have not risen, revenues have fallen greatly due to reductions in funding from the state local government fund, personal property taxes and estate taxes. Our township has responded aggressively, reducing headcount, re-allocating human resources and slashing expenses. We have also imposed a lighting district tax on the township to help defer costs associated with our street lighting. We enjoy the tax benefits of new building and home construction. We worked with the police department to allocate to the township funds garnered from our new impound yard and opti-traffic cam. But it’s not enough. As of our last meeting, our balance in the general fund was negative $135,000, albeit greatly improved from the negative $200,000 that we experienced in January.

Mr. Ungaro wants to retire, but he has agreed to stay on in a reduced capacity as our acting administrator at a greatly reduced salary. To hire a new administrator with commensurate experience would cost the township at least $100,000. This would drive the township into fiscal emergency. But this retire / rehire will result in savings that exceed $50,000 annually, a swing of over $100,000! When we are clear of fiscal caution, Mr. Ungaro will help us with the hiring and training of a new “young talent” to lead our administration forward. This is the point that your opinion item fails to mention.

We agree that retire / rehire is not a practice that should be blindly pursued. But there are circumstances where it makes good sense and is the fiscally responsible thing to do for the taxpayers and for our township.

JODI K. STOYAK

Liberty Township trustee

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