The Western Reserve Port Authority meets this week to decide whether to allow Executive Director Rose Ann DeLeon's three-year contract to renew automatically.
It should not.
But perhaps a greater concern has arisen - that Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel is content to let Port Authority appointments do what they want with taxpayer dollars.
DeLeon has been on the job for nearly three years and has little to show for her $155,000 annual salary plus benefits and expenses. Some Port Authority board members give her credit for bringing BJ Allan Fireworks to former Delphi automotive property on North River Road. But that did little more than move the company's headquarters from Mahoning County to Trumbull County. DeLeon is supposed to represent both counties.
The entities that provided enough money to fund the executive director position for three years are not providing more funds. In fact, most of them echo Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka's sentiments that DeLeon must go. Unfortunately, commissioners in both counties raised taxes to pay for the position henceforth.
DeLeon's contract expires Dec. 7. The contract automatically renews unless the Port Authority board informs her otherwise 30 days in advance. Friday is the board's last scheduled meeting before the Nov. 7 deadline.
Polivka said the Port Authority board should not let her contract automatically renew. He wants the board to advertise for a new director.
That elicited a sharp response from Heltzel.
''... At some point, we start to meddle in the port authority's responsibilities,'' Heltzel said. ''They are the ones that have the day-to-day responsibilities, they have the meetings, the most information.''
When Heltzel first campaigned for office he promised, and delivered, just the opposite. He and Commissioner Frank Fuda replaced former commissioners who rubber-stamped everything from invoices to new hires. The lack of oversight contributed to a purchasing scandal that resulted in arrests, convictions and a substantial loss of taxpayer money.
The commissioners have since held those who spend tax dollars under a stronger microscope. However, according to Heltzel, the Port Authority, which spends millions of dollars a year, owns one of the most precious pieces of public property and is entrusted with one of the most important responsibilities in local government, is off limits.
Polivka has it right. Commissioners send taxpayer money to the Port Authority. That money must have strings attached. Commissioners must hold the Port Authority board accountable.
Or they are not doing their jobs.