Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Mayor wants removal of charge
Finances in the city are beginning to look good, Mayor Melfi said.
GIRARD City residents may see a reduction in monthly sewer bills beginning in November 2007.
Mayor James Melfi told city council Monday that he would like to eliminate the minimum sewer billing beginning in November. The minimum monthly charge for sewer is $13.14, so in effect every homeowner would see a $13.14 reduction in their bill each month.
The minimum sewage charge generates about $53,000 a month for the city.
According to Melfi, the city constructed a secondary sewage treatment plant in 1987 with an annual payment of $450,000 for 20 years. The city owes one more payment of $225,000 on the loan.
The money saved on the loan payment, Melfi said, would be used to offset the reduction in income to the city with the eliminationof the sewage minimum billing.
"This is just a way to give back to the community. This is something that does not happen everyday," he said.
The mayor suggested that money saved from not making loan payments, minus the sewage bill reductions, should put aside for future projects.
"It is very important to put those dollars away for capital improvements to our sewer infrastructure," he said.
According to Melfi, the city will be in a better position to obtain grants for future sewer improvements if it has matching funds on hand. The annual savings from the loan payments would make up those matching funds, he said.
Melfi also told council that the city, which has been in fiscal emergency since 2001, is looking financially sound enough to increase the number of police officers patrolling the streets. Several officers were laid off in late 2001 shortly after the city entered fiscal emergency.
Melfi told council he plans to add two officers to the department in January. He said the officers will be brought on at a lower pay rate than current full-time officers. He also said Police Chief Frank Bigowsky has a plan to reduce overtime in the department with the addition of two officers.
Auditor Sam Zirafi said the two new officers will be paid 75 percent of current officers' salaries with total benefits for a complete package of about $55,000 each.
Bigowsky, who has repeatedly asked for more officers, said he hopes the additional officers is the start to rebuilding the department.
"I would like to thank the mayor for his commitment to hire two new patrolmen. I hope this is a new era and we will restore the police department to the level it once was," he said.
Bigowsky also urged council to ask the Girard school board to continue paying $15,000 annually for a school officer. He said the money from the school board and a grant from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program could help add another officer to the department.
Bigowsky and Fire Chief Ken Bornemiss also asked council to consider a wage adjustment to the police and fire chief positions.