NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – You are expected to pay your utility bills on time or face the possibility of shutoff, but 27 Investigates found some Niles city workers are more than four months behind on their bills.
On Friday, July 18, 27 Investigates put in a public records request for a list of all city employees and then asked for a list of those employees who are delinquent in their bills. Thursday, Mayor Ralph Infante turned over a list showing 13 employees had past due amounts. Most of them work in the parks, water, police and maintenance departments. In total, they owed nearly $7,500.
“I think they should be shut off immediately,” said Infante. “They are no different than any other citizen.”
According to city records, all but two on the list either paid their delinquent bill in full or made a large payment since 27 Investigates made a public records request.
Ed Santangelo, a city mechanic, is more than four months behind.
Records show he owed more than $2,000, but made a payment earlier this week. He is now on an installment plan to pay down his $1,600 balance.
Ron Fike in the water department still owes $775 after he paid $140 Thursday. He is also on the payment plan.
The only city leader who made the list was Law Director Terry Dull. Dull owed $651 in late utility bills until Wednesday when he paid off the whole amount.
But it is not just city workers who are behind. According to records, businessman Edward Fabian owes more than $11,000 in delinquent utilities for his buildings which include a senior center on Youngstown Road.
The Niles school system owes more than $2,500. Those businesses have not been shut off, but resident Amanda Masula has. She owes nearly $3,000.
Mayor Ralph Infante said the city is cracking down and shutoff notices are going out.
“We shut off every day, and we are getting more aggressive this year and in the winter time you can’t shut off,” Infante said. “That is what really puts us behind.”
Councilman Steve Pappalas said council requested the same list 27 Investigates obtained. In the past, council members were told it was not public information. Pappalas said he was shocked at the some of the names 27 Investigates discovered on the list and wants council to take action.