NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN First News Reporter Jeff Levkulich uncovered last month that several city employees were behind on their utility payments. He also uncovered several outstanding bills from the community.
But that is not the only problem that is plaguing the city.
After our story about unpaid utility bills aired, Niles Councilmen Steve Papalas and Robert Marino said they were not happy with what they saw. But they also said the issue brings to light a bigger problem the city is facing.
“We have various problems with our billing,” Papalas said.
Those problems include software issues that have plagued the city for the last five years, resulting in processing errors affecting just about everyone, including members of city council. That, along with the high number of delinquencies, has taken a toll on the city’s budget.
“We have an IT person in place, so we are hoping we can fix this, and we have to fix it. This is no way to run a business, and that operation upstairs is a business,” Marino said.
Marino said they never had problems before the software was installed, calling the whole thing poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly monitored.
“The committee is working hard with getting the software up and running, and we feel confident that once implemented, many of the issues associated with folks utility bills will get addressed because it is frustrating for folks who pay their bill on time,” Marino said.
That new software should be fully functioning by the end of the year.
We also checked up on some of those outstanding bills we told you about. The Niles School District began an investigation into their finances after our story originally aired. It was discovered that their check was actually at the billing department but had not been processed yet.
Businessman Edward Fabian, who owed more than $11,000 in delinquent utilities. paid his bill in full after our story aired.
And City Mechanic Ed Santangelo made another $259 payment recently, bringing his bill down to $1,384.