Published: Thursday, June 21, 2007
Funds OK'd for JFS move
Most of the county money spent on the move will be repaid within five years.
By ED RUNYAN
YOUNGSTOWN After several months of planning and coordination, Mahoning County commissioners Wednesday approved spending about $500,000 to move the county's Department of Job and Family Services and Child Support Enforcement Agency into temporary quarters at Oakhill Renaissance Place.
Commissioner Anthony Traficanti took an opportunity at the meeting, which was called to approve the contracts, to express his frustration with the roadblocks that have stalled the move into Oakhill.
The roadblocks came from a lawsuit filed last year by Ohio Valley Mall Co., a subsidiary of the Cafaro Co. that has attempted to block the purchase of the building and the commissioners' plans to use it for county offices.
"I wish they would drop it," Traficanti said of the suit. "I wasn't put in office to sit in court. We can't move forward with this kind of foolishness. This [the move to Oakhill] should have been done a year ago."
OVM is the landlord for the current JFS offices, which are in Garland Plaza, North Garland Avenue, on the city's East Side.
At the meeting, commissioners approved contracts with 12 companies that will carry out a variety of jobs from packing client case files into boxes to checking and repairing the plumbing at Oakhill. Their work can begin as soon as next week, said Mariann O'Halloran, acting JFS director.
The final phase, involving the move of computers and phones, is planned for July 20-22, with the reopening date at the former Forum Health Southside Medical Center set for July 23.
That is also the day the trial is set to begin in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before visiting Judge Richard Markus on OVM's lawsuit.
The two parties reached an agreement in April that allowed the county to move JFS and CSEA into Oakhill temporarily.
The contracts were approved 3-0 by the commissioners, though Commissioner John McNally voted against a contract with Lewis & Michael Moving of Columbus, saying he had asked his fellow commissioners a couple months ago whether Youngstown moving companies could be selected for the job instead. The measure still passed 2-1.
County Administrator George Tablack said he still hopes Lewis & Michael might work out subcontracts with local moving companies to give them some of the work.
JFS to pay for most
O'Halloran said most of the costs of the move will be paid by JFS, but up to $100,000 for carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and $33,616 for a telephone upgrade will come from the county's general fund.
O'Halloran said most of that money will be paid back to the county within five years for the phone system and two years for the other work under routine "charge-back" procedures, which pay the county back for costs that directly benefit the agency.
None of the contracts were bid out competitively, with eight of them being below the $25,000 threshold for competitive bidding. The other five were awarded through the state purchasing program, which eliminates the need for competitive bidding, O'Halloran added.