Commissioners consider dissolving port authority

Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport

VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – Commissioners from Mahoning and Trumbull counties met behind closed doors Friday to discuss dissolving the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The group met in executive session for over an hour. No action was taken, but they said they are not happy with the way things are being run.

“We have a dysfunctional port authority right now,” said Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

Heltzel said they are looking at dissolving the board and creating a new one. The discussion comes after a series of problems involving the move of the Mahoning County Dog Pound, as well as not hiring an executive director since Rose Ann Deleon was relieved of her duties in March.

“It is a combination of personalities. The inability to get along and push the Port Authority forward productively,” said Heltzel.

Board member Don Hanni said Commissioners are targeting him in their assessment, but Hanni said he is not the problem.

“If the commissioners want to condone people on the board breaking the law and making money at the taxpayer’s expense, well maybe they do want to change the board,” said Hanni. “Bottom line, I got eight months left and I am going to continue to be the watchdog for the public.”

Hanni pointed out board member Scott Lewis, who recently received a public reprimand from the Ohio Ethics Commission after violating Ohio law by earning nearly $100,000 on a 2009 real estate deal tied to his role as a port authority member.

Commissioners plan to meet with their legal counsel in the prosecutor’s office to determine if the move is feasible. Commissioners could take action when they reconvene in two to four weeks.

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