Niles ratifies new deal with city’s 26 patrolmen

Andrew Hacker, 22, a Hubbard High School graduate and Youngstown State University Police Academy graduate, was sworn in Wednesday as the newest member of the Niles Police Department, bringing the department to full staff at 36 employees. Swearing in Hacker is Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz, left. Photo by Bob Coupland

NILES — City council on Wednesday ratified a new three-year agreement with the police department’s 26 patrolmen that includes pay raises over the next three years.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the three-year agreement takes effect today and runs through June 2022. It includes raises of 3 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second year and 1 percent the third year.

Also, patrolmen will contribute 5 percent in 2019, 7 percent in 2020 and 10 percent in 2021 toward their health care costs. Auditor Giovanne Merlo said the new contract will cost the city $170,000 over three years.

Mientkiewicz said the local FOP Lodge 27 also ratified the agreement.

“It was good negotiations from both parties, with both sides happy,” he said.

The contract will cover an additional employee as new officer Andrew Hacker was sworn in Wednesday. Hacker, 22, is a graduate of Hubbard High School and the Youngstown State University Police Academy.

Wednesday’s council meeting was moved to the Niles Wellness Center because of a waterpipe break at the safety service complex where meetings are usually held. Renovation work is taking place at the building.

In other business, the city will be working with the Regional Income Tax Agency to collect half a million in delinquent income tax dollars owed to the city.

“It has always been a problem that we have all this money owed to us in income tax but we were unable to get the delinquent taxes. RITA will be going after this half a million owed to the city as soon as possible,” Mientkiewicz said.

Niles Treasurer Steve Telego said RITA can go back for the past four years in delinquent taxes because they are connected to the Internal Revenue Service, which allows them to compare records. He said RITA has compiled a list of about 4,000 delinquent taxpayers, who will have letters sent to them on Monday. They will be given until Aug. 19 to respond, Telego said.

If a resident does not respond, they will be issued a subpoena to come to the wellness center Sept. 16 to 18 to address the situation. If it is not resolved then, it will go to court, Telego said.

Council also approved an agreement with YSU for grant-writing services at $10,500 with Mientkiewicz — who will be the point person — working with university representatives to seek specialty grants for the city other than those for public infrastructure,

He said the city would like to get a grant for improvements at Stevens Park and a technology and security grant.

“YSU is ready to go on this and so are we,” Mientkiewicz said.

Council also passed legislation that property owners are responsible for the waterline from the curbbox back to the house and for the sewer line from the tap-in back to the house if repairs are needed.

“That is the policy and what other cities do. The city cannot afford to take on more of this. The ordinance is in place to protect the city,” Mientkiewicz said.

The new ordinance states the property owner is responsible for the lateral tie-in repair and maintenance regardless if the city was involved in the original tie-in or if the actual repair of the line takes place on city property.