YOUNGSTOWN -- Talks about merging the United Way agencies in Trumbull and Mahoning counties are ongoing, with 12 primary proposals under consideration, according to agency sources.
United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Executive Director Bob Hannon confirmed last week that both agencies have been working together very closely.
"I'm pleased with the progress," Hannon said.
The idea of a merger had been under discussion in 2010 when several major donors who give to both organizations asked that a merger be studied.
At the time, Trumbull officials were against the idea of a merger.
Hannon said both agencies have been talking for awhile about a possible merger.
"The conversation's been positive,'' Hannon said. ''We're beginning to work together.''
Donald Emerson, head of the board of the Trumbull County United Way, last week referred calls to a consultant hired by Trumbull County, Laurie Reuben of the Cheshire Group in Laurel, Md.
Reuben also said the conversations have been positive and one thing that needs to be worked out is how to deal with the different structures the boards in Trumbull and Mahoning counties have.
There are 12 primary proposals for working together between the two agencies and 16 secondary recommendations, Reuben said, adding that they are all being reviewed and discussed by Trumbull officials. She did not elaborate on details of the proposals, but said she is hopeful a formal announcement can be made soon about what type of arrangement will be planned.
The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley provides funding to programs at 27 local non-profit agencies. The United Way of Trumbull County provides funding to programs at 22 local non-profit agencies. Both are non-profits.
Previous attempts at a merger between the two agencies had been met with resistance, mostly from Trumbull United Way officials.
Hannon said in 2010 that he had previously approached then-Trumbull County United Way president Tom Krysiek about the merger idea, but Krysiek ''didn't want to hear it.''
Hannon said when Donald Emerson Jr. became board chairman of the Trumbull County United Way, he again broached the subject, sending Emerson a letter asking him to consider the merger idea. Hannon said Emerson at first appeared willing to discuss it but later changed his mind.
''United Way Worldwide is pushing mergers nationwide to reduce the number of local affiliates and maximize donor dollars. I think it would be better for us to merge on our own right now than be told several years from now we have to do it but with no say in how it is done,'' Hannon said at the time.
Tribune Chronicle archives indicate the two agencies also had explored the merger idea about 13 years ago. At that time they had split the cost of a $30,000 study that took eight months to complete. The Trumbull County United Way board of directors voted against a merger at that time, but said they would use the report as a strategic planning tool.