Mingo Junction Deserves Help

Mingo Junction is in a fiscal meltdown. Village Council members are considering laying off all municipal employees. They are even thinking of turning off street lights.

How it came to this is well known. The town has been tightening its belt for years, as revenue continued to decrease. But the straw that broke the village’s back was the bankruptcy of RG Steel earlier this year.

Because of the collapse of revenue from RG Steel and its employees, Mingo Junction officials estimate they will have just $208,000 in the village general fund to pay employees next year. Layoffs are virtually inevitable.

Sending out layoff notices to all municipal employees was suggested by village Clerk John Angelica during a meeting on Tuesday. He explained the action could save the town about $30,000 in vacation pay for which it would be obligated to workers on the payroll as of Jan. 1.

Meetings among council members and representatives of two employee unions are scheduled for today. Council members are hoping against hope members of the work force can suggest ideas to cut spending.

It is possible some good ideas will come out of the meetings. Employee unions in Steubenville, also facing a budget crunch, but one not as severe, have made money-saving proposals there.

But there simply is no way Mingo Junction employees can come up with the gigantic savings the village needs to avoid layoffs and major cutbacks in service. The problem is too big.

Unfortunately, Mingo Junction is far from the only Ohio community coping with severe fiscal challenges. Many others are having trouble – though, again, few are in the deep, hot water plaguing Mingo Junction.

Gov. John Kasich and other state officials must keep a tight rein on spending, too. But if there is some sort of contingency fund available to help communities such as Mingo Junction, in deep trouble through absolutely no fault of village residents or officials, help ought to be extended to the town.

During the past few years, hundreds of municipalities, counties, school systems and states throughout the country have received “bail-outs” from the federal government. Many had done little or nothing to control their own spending. In that context, allowing Mingo Junction to founder would be, quite simply, wrong.