Warren citizens committee reports

DEAR EDITOR:

The Warren Citizens Committee was formed to provide independent oversight of the financial condition of the city of Warren and to report to the community the administration’s progress towards accomplishing the goals they set for using the proceeds of the income tax increase passed November 2016.

The committee has complete access to the city’s financial records and meets quarterly with the administration to discuss these issues. We met recently with Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa, Auditor Vince Flask and City Council Finance Committee Chairman Eddie Colbert. This is our report to the city:

The general financial condition of the city is much improved from its position two years ago. This is not to say we are sitting “fat and happy,” but the city has adequate cash flow and cash reserves to conduct its business in a prudent and timely fashion. This is a result of the 0.5 percent tax increase having produced the expected additional revenue, combined with a judicious use of those funds.

As to the specific promises made, the city has made good progress. All of the additional 15 firefighters the city promised to hire have been brought on board, and all three city firehouses are now open full-time.

In 2017, the city made good on its promise to spend $500,000 on city street repaving, and they are on course to do the same in 2018. Mr. Cantalamessa assured the committee that the target will be met again this year.

The one unmet goal is bringing the Warren Police Department up to full authorization of 70 officers; the department is currently six officers short of that target. Our committee has had numerous conversations with the administration about the lack of progress; however, the problem has not yet been solved due to a lack of qualified applicants, each of whom must possess certain training certificates, pass a civil service test and pass extensive drug and background testing.

The administration has added civil service testing dates and increased advertising for them. The city now has the largest group of qualified candidates in the recent past and is hopeful it will achieve the goal this calendar year.

The citizens committee will keep a careful eye on the progress towards bringing Warren Police Department up to full strength, as well as the other issues it is charged with overseeing. We will also continue to report back to the city at least twice per year, and will be happy to answer any questions put to us by citizens.

DENNIS BLANK

Warren Citizens Committee

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