The collapse of the local network of RG Steel plants in the Ohio Valley this summer has placed the finances of some East Ohio communities in a vise. Tight control over spending will be even more essential than it was before RG Steel's bankruptcy resulted in the sell-off of plants and other assets.
Among towns hit hardest has been Mingo Junction - where errors in handling construction of a recreational facility for children make it clear more attention needs to be paid to spending taxpayers' money frugally.
In November 2010, when Village Council agreed to spend $250,000 to install a "splash pad" for children at Aracoma Park, RG Steel's bankruptcy was not foreseen, of course. But nearly two years after that decision was made, the splash pad has not been approved for use by the state and costs for it already have reached $280,000. It is likely more will have to be spent to finish the project and obtain state approval of it.
Former village Councilwoman Judy Ruckman told a reporter this week she is not certain how the cost increased past the initial estimate. "Where the ball got dropped, I don't know," Ruckman added.
Clearly, the ball was dropped on both cost and state approval of the splash pad. Given the heightened importance of spending village funds carefully, it may be important to learn just how that ball was dropped.