Niles navigating funding logjams to pay police and fire

Niles fire generic

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – More money problems for the city of Niles. City leaders are trying to figure out how to move money from other sources into the general fund to pay police officers and firefighters.

Mayor Ralph Infante says a majority of the problem is overtime costs. In those two departments alone, it’s more than $190,000 through the end of August. That money was not allocated in the budget.

Mayor Infante says, “We’ve been trying to cut in other departments to save money in general fund departments to keep the police and fire working so we can transfer that money over.”

At the fire department, they say their overtime costs are high because they’re working with a minimum staff. Plus, a few people were on sick leave for an extended period of time.

Mayor Infante says he reached out to the police and fire unions to see if they could come up with a compromise. “Asking them to talk to the membership, get back to me this week. See if we can eliminate some of the sell-back of vacations and the overtime and defer minimum manning at least for the rest of this year.”

Quentin Porter with the Niles Planning Supervision Commission says that firefighters are going to be paid, however there are longer term fiscal issues in Niles that need to be resolved. That resolution could come at the ballot box in November. Says Mayor Infante, “The key… is we have to have a quarter percent increase in our general fund income tax, there’s no doubt about it.”

The city has been making cuts, reducing the initial estimated $1.3 million deficit to around $980,000.

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