New Niles mayor hopes to re-establish trust in government

Tom Scarnecchia is sworn in as Niles mayor.

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – For the first time in 24 years, there’s a new mayor in the city of Niles.

Mayor-elect Tom Scarnecchia was sworn in on Saturday morning, and says he’s ready to get to work for the city. He has a number of goals already in mind.

“[To be] financially sound, have opportunities for our young people and just continue making it a good place, like it used to be.”

Niles is currently in fiscal emergency and is in danger of not being able to pay the bills.

Scandals and employee theft have left voters wary of their government. New leaders are already taking steps to change that.

“There’s a lot of uneasy people in the city of Niles, and one of the things we’ve done is we’ve put our check run on our website,” Auditor Giovanne Merlo said.

That means every check the city writes will get posted online. It’s all part of a new push to keep citizens informed.

“Transparency. We’ll be very transparent so the people of Niles know where their money is being spent,” Merlo said.

The city is currently looking at massive changes in the police department. To save money, the state recommended closing the dispatch center and cutting back on police officers.

On Saturday, Scarnecchia said the city needs to pass a new safety tax levy and avoid those cuts.

The dispatchers’ union president, Jill Montevideo, says she’s hopeful about the future.

“They want to be involved. They want to be accountable. A mayor that wants to open his books to everybody. A great new auditor. We have a whole new administration,” Montevideo said. “The people voted. They wanted new, they got new and I think we just need to give them a chance.”

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