$500K private loan aids Munhall
Relationships matter in Munhall. At least to Joe Leonello, they do.
“The people I grew up with, to this day, after 30 or 40 years, we're still friends,” said Leonello, 45, who grew up in West Homestead and lives in Harrison City.
Those relationships are why Leonello, his brother Frank and local business owner Christian Stein loaned $500,000 at a 5.25 percent interest rate to the borough's government this week. Munhall failed to file financial audits with the state in 2011 and 2012, and the ramifications hit the budget hard.
Missing audits meant Munhall could not receive state-appropriated Regional Asset District funds, losing out on as much as $360,000 a year. It also could not secure a tax anticipation note from a traditional lender this year, leaving it unable to meet payroll.
Leonello said his lifelong friend, Munhall police Chief Pat Campbell, “must've called him 50 times” while the borough was seeking private loans to avoid layoffs.
“He looked at me and said, ‘We have to lay off 10 policemen. I can't do it as the chief of police. These are my guys,' ” Leonello said.
Leonello and borough officials are hopeful the loan will bridge the gap between the cash-flow problem and completing audits to get the borough back on track.
The reason the audits are missing is a mystery, but some Munhall council members and Mayor Raymond Bodnar have said they blame former manager Matt Galla for the borough's financial woes.
Galla, who resigned abruptly in June, was borough manager when the audits were missed. Borough officials soon turned over a computer to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala when they discovered payroll irregularities.
Spokesman Mike Manko could not say what materials the office is reviewing. He said it was “premature” to say an investigation is under way.
Galla has released multiple online statements on a local news blog, defending himself and saying he would talk with investigators.
“If, as they claim, they were so concerned about the borough's general annual audits, why didn't any of them — seven councilors and a mayor, along with other officials — ever ask to see one?” Galla wrote.
Munhall, a 2.4-square-mile borough along the Monongahela River, has about 11,380 residents, census figures show.
Bodnar has been Munhall's mayor for 28 years.
“We never had anything like this,” he said.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced on Thursday that his office soon will begin audits of the borough's two pension funds. Previous audits show the borough failed to make $200,000 in payments to the police pension plan from 2010 through 2012. The plan for non-uniformed employees was underpaid about $10,000 in state aid as a result of understated payroll, DePasquale's office said.
The audit will look to ensure compliance in those areas, among others, he said.
Councilman Robert Falce said he welcomes the audit.
“If there's something that's not going right, they're going to let us know,” he said.
The borough sent out tax bills last week ahead of schedule and offered a 3 percent discount on bills paid before Feb. 28. Falce said hundreds of taxpayers have taken advantage of the discount.
Leonello said he's confident he, his brother and Stein would be repaid within the six-month term.
“We gave them the bridge to get to that point that now they'll be able to get back on their own and solve the matter, and I believe it,” Leonello said. “They'll be back on their feet.”
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412- 380-8511 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State awards six Western Pennsylvania schools mentoring grants
- Unprepared law firms vulnerable to hackers
- Unprepared law firms vulnerable to hackers
- Wheel separation incidents can prove deadly; NTSB doesn’t track them
- New Pittsburgh police chief gets familiar with surroundings on first day
- Man shot outside his home in Penn Hills
- Mt. Lebanon business district, drivers both profit from free, new parking app
- Kent State provocation with ‘blood’ sweatshirt denied
- Latest flu vaccines offer protection from 4 influenza strains instead of traditional 3
- Hill District woman killed in crash on Birmingham Bridge
- Pennsylvania death row inmate asks federal judge for stay of execution