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Mingo fires its village administrator

November 28, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council unanimously voted to terminate the contract of Charley Bowman as village administrator Tuesday, just seven weeks after he was hired.

Council members said Bowman wasn't willing to work with council.

Bowman was officially hired by council on Oct. 9 under a contract paying $30,000 a year.

Bowman had been working with Clerk John Angelica to prepare a budget for the village, which Bowman said was facing fiscal emergency come 2014. Councilmembers said council will work with Angelica to prepare the budget, which will be 40 percent less than the current budget.

Councilman John Bracone, who made the motion to terminate the contract, said Bowman didn't want to work with council and "was going behind our back."

Councilman Jack Brettell said Bowman was trying to override everything council wanted to do. He said Bowman tried to reprimand a village employee without first coming to council.

Councilman Chuck Dickey said, "I don't feel he wants to work with us. He wasn't keeping us informed. He just goes off and does it. He should have been keeping us apprised, instead of us finding out about it on the street."

Councilman Michael Herrick said he believed Bowman would have been good for the village, but he didn't want to work with council. Herrick said Bowman was invited to come into the executive session to explain his side but refused. Bowman left the building prior to council making the decision.

Councilman John Fabian said Mayor Ron DiCarlo has a couple of people in mind to replace Bowman, and council will look at the proposed applicants.

Councilman James Morrocco said council can terminate the village administrator without cause with at least five councilmembers agreeing.

"We needed someone to work hand in glove with council. That wasn't happening, and we had to take action," he said.

DiCarlo said it was council's decision to terminate Bowman's contract. He said he wasn't in favor of getting rid of Bowman at this time with the village facing tough financial decisions.

"The timing was bad," he said.

Bowman at a finance meeting on Monday made several proposals to balance the budget, including laying off village workers, including police officers and firefighters. He also proposed increasing water and sewer rates every year during the next decade to finance capital improvements and generate enough money to cover the bond for the water plant.

Council prior to the meeting held a workshop session with a representative of the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Partnership, which provides technical help to communities on water and sewer department operations and obtaining financing for projects.

The RCAP representative said communities need to implement a water and sewer rate increase every year to fund improvements to the water and sewer systems and cover increasing costs.

DiCarlo told residents at the beginning of the meeting council has a lot of decisions to make and nothing has been finalized.

"We are trying to keep the operations we have. We are here to protect and serve (the community). Without the revenue, we'll see how far that goes," he said.

DiCarlo said there is a steelmaker interested in establishing a steel plant in one of five locations across the country, with one being in Mingo Junction. He said Frontier Industrial Corp., which purchased the former RG Steel plant, has confirmed the news.

One of the cost-savings ideas council has been considering is the $72,000 spent annually on streetlights and other lights in the village.

Herrick, who chairs the streetlight committee, said there are two options, with a third he presented to council on Tuesday. One is to turn off all of the 579 lights in town. The second is to keep about 60 lights on only at intersections. The third option Herrick presented is to charge residents on the water and sewer bills for the streetlights.

Herrick said if each house is charged $4 a month, based on 1,500 water customers, that would generate the $72,000 needed.

He said Rayland and Bellaire are considering similar legislation to charge residents for streetlights.

Herrick said council will discuss the matter further at a finance committee meeting at 2 p.m. on Monday.

"I'm not in favor of shutting off all the lights," he said.

Bracone said he favors turning off the lights, especially if water and sewer rate hikes are imposed. Dickey said he believes the majority of residents would rather have the lights turned off.

Herrick said a public meeting should be held for the public to voice input.

Residents could still pay about $11 a month to AEP for lights to be installed on poles outside homes.

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