Mingo discusses police, salt status

MINGO JUNCTION – Village Council on Tuesday discussed the status of a police officer hired through a federal grant and the salt used this winter.

Steve Maguschak, police chief and village administrator, said the village received a Community Oriented Policing Services grant through the federal justice department two years ago in the amount of $125,000. The grant pays for 75 percent of the officer’s wage and benefits for a three-year period.

The department hired an officer but he resigned to take another job. It took the village four years to get the grant.

Maguschak said the village has accepted applications and completed testing. The next step is the interview process. But the village may not have the money to pay for the officer and is facing paying the federal government back $28,000 for wages paid under the grant if it can’t hire the officer.

Maguschak said the village could hire an office on a probationary status for one year. He said the maximum amount the village would have to pay for the salary and benefits would be $12,375 for the first year. The officer’s salary would increase after the probationary period.

But village Clerk John Angelica said there isn’t enough money in this year’s budget for the salary and wages of the officer under the federal grant. Council members said the village also doesn’t have $28,000 to repay the federal government under the grant.

Angelica said additional money was placed in the police department budget this year to restore concessions officers made last year because of the village’s financial problems.

Councilman Chuck Dickey is concerned an officer may be hired, get some experience and then leave for a better paying job.

Councilman George Irvin Jr. said council has to find a way to hire the officer.

“(The grant) is too good to let it go by the wayside,” he said.

Council has to make a determination prior to the final budget for the year being adopted.

Maguschak said the village had 400 tons of salt going into the winter but only has 100 tons remaining. He said another 200 tons has been ordered. Based on the budget, the village will only be able to buy an additional 100 tons of salt for the remainder of the year.

Maguschak noted snow plow truck drivers are conserving salt.

Mayor John Fabian commended the service department for its work during the snowfall over the weekend.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Municipal Building on a proposal to increase the capital improvement fee on sewer bills from $2 a month to $8 to generate enough money to pay the loan on the state-mandated Lincoln Avenue sewer separation project. Council last summer entered into a contract for the $2.5 million sewer separation project as mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The project will separate wastewater and storm water into different pipes.

Angelica said the village has to make the first loan payment in July totaling $135,000. The increase in the capital improvement fee on sewer bills will generate $153,000 a year. He said the additional $18,000 will be put aside for other sewer projects.

Maguschak said he is getting prices on replacing 90 feet of insulated pipe under the Lincoln Avenue bridge, which crosses over state Route 7. A section of the pipe burst several weeks ago and a temporary repair was made. Maguschak said he got an estimate of $46,000 for the repair but will get other estimates. He said that kind of money is not available in the water department budget.

Council also approved an ordinance establishing a table of organization for the water, sewer and service departments, including licensing requirements.

Council’s finance committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 to work on the budget, followed by a water board meeting.