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Letters to the Editor

Win-win situation for Monessen

| Saturday, March 1, 2008

To the Editor:

The municipal building saga has been looming over the city for a few years and is an issue that needs to be resolved.

Everyone is aware that the building is old and is plagued with mounting problems. To continue to fix the problems at the present building would be a foolish use of the taxpayers' money. The city was forced to put on a new roof two years ago when council members Dale Simpson, Wayne Doptis and Jeff Gagatko voted against a move to the Eastgate 11 building. Mary Jo Smith and I voted for the move. When computer equipment was damaged from water leaking, the new roof was inevitable.

Other problems such as mold and asbestos are also an issue. Council borrowed $60,000 for these immediate problems. This is where we stand now.

Let's now address the move to the Eastgate 11 building, not the health center. The Mon Valley Health and Welfare Authority board maintains two buildings, the health center building itself and the building across the street, which is the Eastgate 11 Annex.

The Health and Welfare Authority board has never asked the city for any monies since its inception. They have given the city $45,000 over the last four years for health and welfare purposes. The city gives monies to many organizations and boards such as the library, civic center and fire departments No. 1 and No. 2, all well deserving. However, the Mon Valley Health and Welfare Authority is self sufficient.

Since the move of SPHS, the authority is having trouble finding renters. This is where the city can help them as well as helping us. Whatever the price that would be settled on, the utilities will also be included.

To maintain Eastgate 11 with utilities and insurance may cost the city $20,000 a year after five years. To maintain our current building costs $100,000 a year. With the move, we would save $80,000 a year on utilities and maintenance of the building after the five years.

Due to the fact that Eastgate 11 is now for sale makes negotiations a little tougher, but we must make it work. It is the best for everyone to complete this move.

We must also remodel the building and equip it for the police department and other offices. If the Health and Welfare Authority board helps with remodeling, this would be another benefit for the city and the city may be willing to pay more per year for the price of the building. After five years or possibly sooner, the city will own the building, realizing huge savings.

The question everyone always asks is why not dissolve the authority and take over the two buildings. If the city does that, we would be facing close to $200,000 to $300,000 worth of utilities, upkeep and employee payroll. Right now we are paying $100,000 to maintain our current building.

We would be losing money every year and we are not in the business of being landlords. It does not make sense to dissolve the authority. The authority board has employees and seven renters at both buildings. If no renters are attracted to the buildings, we would then put the buildings up for sale and only get a fraction of what they are worth.

The state owns 28 percent of the buildings, so the state would get their percent of the sale and the rest would have to be used for health and welfare purposes and not used for eliminating debt or paving roads.

The icing on the cake would be the loss of the remaining jobs at the health center and the seven renters would have to find new space and might have to move out of Monessen. This translates to more job loss and loss of tax that is $52 per employee every year. If the buildings didn't sell, then the city would be stuck with the hot potato. It makes sense for everyone to work together. Let's help the Authority to survive and bring in more jobs for the city.

This can be done by the city owning Eastgate 11, moving those renters over to the main health center building and buying time for the authority to survive so that new renters can move into the health center and create new jobs for the city. The city will work with Fire Department No. 1 to find the best solution for them. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Come on city council, let's pull together and get this done.

Anthony Petaccia

Mayor of Monessen

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