Youngstown examining proposal to raise sanitation fees to fund demolitions

Youngstown City Council considers raising sanitation fees to support the cost of building demolitions.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The City of Youngstown will soon spend $38,000 to demolish the old Krakusy Hall on South Avenue another $500,000 to get rid of old car dealerships on Wick Avenue.

The city has taken a hit for these pricey demolitions and is now looking for future revenue sources for further tear downs and beautification efforts.

At a special Youngstown City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon, Mayor John McNally proposed increasing the sanitary fee 60 percent over the next seven months, from $14.75 to $24.75 per month. He would also decrease city water fees by 30 percent.

The net gain of $2.6 million would allow the city to demolish an additional 250 properties a year, cutting into the 4,000 vacant structures in the city’s limits.

“I give the administration a lot of credit for coming with alternative ways of funding a major problem in the city,” said Councilman T.J. Rodgers.

Councilman Mike Ray said the city has used creative methods in the past to redevelop steel mills and turn brownfields into productive uses. He would like to see the same in residential areas.

“We need to redevelop our neighborhoods into reproductive places that people want to live,” he said.

Councilwoman Annie Gillam had questions about the decrease in water rates.

“I don’t want people to be surprised in two, three years that their water rates are going to go up. If it does, they need to know it, now,” she said.

Councilwoman Jane Tarpley said there were too many questions with the proposal to make a decision at this point.

“I don’t have enough information to vote yet,” she said.

Mayor McNally told council that an independent Cleveland law firm advised him that increasing the sanitary fee to demolish homes is legal. Some council members, however, wanted the opinion of the city’s law director who was not in attendance at the meeting.

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