AUSTINTOWN Trustee suggests moving court
The other two trustees noted that they would welcome the court's move.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Township Trustee Lisa Oles is working to have Mahoning County Court No. 4 moved from Austintown Plaza to the township's Westchester Drive building.
Oles recently gave Judge David D'Apolito a brief tour of the Westchester building, which has 19,000 square feet of vacant space. Judge D'Apolito stressed that talks about a possible move were "very preliminary."
"There's a lot that would have to happen" before the court would move, he said. "I have not made any commitments to her at all."
County Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo said the judge has the final say on the location of the court. The county commissioners approve the court's lease, and money for the lease comes out of the clerk of court's budget, Vivo said.
The county pays B & amp;I Management $6,518.75 each month to rent space in the plaza, on Mahoning Avenue. Its lease expires in November.
Oles said if the court is moved into the Westchester building, it could provide the township with as much as $80,000 in revenue each year. Both Oles and township Clerk Michael Kurish noted that the money could be used to repay the township for constructing the $550,000 Austintown Fitness Center in 1999.
The township used general fund money, instead of money from a loan, to build the fitness center so it wouldn't have to pay interest, Kurish said. Since 1999, about $435,000 in rent collected from the Westchester building has been put in the general fund to cover the cost of the fitness center, Kurish said.
"If we were to get a major tenant in there, it would certainly allow us to generate the revenue need to replenish the general fund," Kurish said.
Building was donated
Developer Walter Terlecky donated the building to the township in 1997, with the stipulation that any rent collected be used to pay for township recreation activities. Kurish said after the general fund is repaid for the construction of the fitness center, rent collected from the court would pay for recreation.
The general fund ended the past two years with a deficit.
Both Oles and D'Apolito noted that before the court could be moved, the ceiling would have to be raised to accommodate the height of the judge's bench. The ceiling is 8 feet high; Oles said it would need to be raised to 10 feet.
Other trustees agree
Trustee Bo Pritchard and David Ditzler, who have not always seen eye-to-eye with Oles, noted that they would welcome the court's move.
"I think it's a viable way of getting dollars into the township," Pritchard said. Ditzler added, "Any opportunity to bring a renter into the building would be welcomed with open arms."
Oles also has proposed raising revenue for the township by having Lane LifeTRANS Paramedics pay the township to store ambulances at Fire Station No. 3 on South Raccoon Road. She said she hopes to vote on a contract with Lane at Monday's trustees' meeting.