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Coping With Mingo Finances

October 29, 2012
The Intelligencer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

As Mingo Junction Councilman John Bracone put it during a meeting last week, "It is a fact of life" that village government is going to have to tighten its belt. The sooner that can be done, the better.

By a 3-2 vote, village council agreed last week to transfer $250,000 from the community complex fund to the municipal general fund. For that to happen, both the state auditor and a Jefferson County Common Pleas Court judge will have to agree.

Though the money had been earmarked for a community complex, it is highly unlikely one ever will be constructed, in view of the fiscal calamity facing municipal government. Making the $250,000 available to get the village through a severe crunch is a good idea.

But so is reevaluating village spending and agreeing to cutbacks as soon as possible, as Bracone suggested.

Several council members seem to agree control over spending needs to be tightened. One example is overtime pay for village employees. Thus far this year, municipal workers have put in 1,222 hours of overtime, village Administrator Charley Bowman reported.

"We're going to address that issue," Mayor Ron DiCarlo pledged during last week's meeting. But, he added, "we have to negotiate with the employee unions."

If there are union contract work rules that make it unnecessarily difficult for Mingo Junction officials to control overtime worked by employees, the unions should agree immediately to suspend them. The village is flat broke. Some layoffs will have to occur - but flexibility by the unions could postpone or perhaps even eliminate a few.

Mingo Junction is in severe financial trouble. Clearly, village officials and employees need to work together to keep the municipality's finances from going into the red and precipitating appointment of a state commission to devise a recovery plan. Such cooperation probably would be much less painful for all concerned than operating under a state mandate.

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