Niles leadership still to blame

DEAR EDITOR:

The city of Niles’ futile attempt to recover from its financial problems has been well publicized. When one looks at the management leadership, it is clear why this recovery is not happening.

The current mayor “flip flops” on decisions without any knowledge of either side of the debate. The income tax outsourcing is a perfect example. He went from keeping it in house to contracting it to the outside. I know because I did the original comparison in 2016. The comparison clearly shows that outsourcing to an outside agency will negatively impact the general fund in its first year. I have asked continually for a plan that will allow this transition to RITA. He is clueless.

If one were to look at his past personal bankruptcy filings (public record), it would be evident why he can’t manage the fiscal emergency that the city is burdened with, and make the correct alternative decisions.

The decision to outsource tax collection was made by the current Niles service director with erroneous conclusions on increased revenue from tax collection by outsourcing. This again shouldn’t be a surprise. The service director was on council from 2008 to 2015, when the general fund balance declined from $13.8 million to effectively zero. Having a financial decision made by the service director is like the fox guarding the hen house.

At a July 12 public meeting, when asked what if outsourcing doesn’t work, the mayor responded, “We will give it a year, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to in-house. Does he think that this is like changing a light bulb? If it doesn’t work the current staff will have moved on, and new people will need trained. Turning back will be cost prohibitive!

Regarding staffing, he said, “No one will lose their job.” This will only increase the labor cost burden in the city. Will the state allow that?

The members who voted to outsource tax collection are the same elected officials that were complicit in allowing the decline from 2008 to 2015. They would include council members Michael Lastic, Steve Papalas, Ed Stredney and Robert Marino, although Marino didn’t participate in the current outsourcing vote, and Stredney is now service director who authored the plan. Why should they be allowed to make financial decisions when they are part of the reason the city is in fiscal emergency?

At council meetings, each time a member of council or the community asks a question of the mayor, he defers to the service director. He has no knowledge on the workings of city government. That is why I continually ask for his resignation.

John H. Davis

Member of Niles Fiscal Commission

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