MAHONING CO. Traficanti accepts additional job role

The county hasn't had an administrator since 2003.
YOUNGSTOWN -- In an attempt to save Mahoning County some money, Commissioner Anthony Traficanti will try his hand at serving as county administrator and commissioner.
"I am going to step into that role for now," said Traficanti, who is president of commissioners. "By law, I can step in for the county administrator until we appoint a full-fledged, full-time administrator."
Traficanti said at last week's commissioners' meeting that he was going to take the lead to help turn county government away from the "old way" of doing things, implying that petty politics was in part responsible for the financial problems in which the county now finds itself.
He has repeatedly said the outgoing commissioners left the new board with immense budgetary problems.
Commissioners are spending this week attempting to pare $57 million in general fund budget requests to around $34 or $35 million.
Unfilled position
The county administrator's position has gone unfilled since Gary Kubic resigned in December 2003 to become administrator of Beaufort County, S.C.
The board at that time named Joseph Caruso, director of special projects, to serve as assistant county administrator.
With wages and benefits, Kubic made about $100,000, Traficanti said.
He admits taking on the administrator's job won't be easy, but said he believes he is qualified to handle the job and looks forward to working more closely with the department heads and officeholders.
"There is a learning curve, however," Traficanti said.
Commenting on Traficanti's plan, Commissioner John McNally IV said he and Traficanti, who took office little more than a month ago, are still trying to find out how things work as commissioners.
"We're still trying to sort out the duties within the office," McNally said.
Commissioner David Ludt was unavailable to comment on Traficanti assuming the administrator's position. He, Traficanti and McNally were working late Tuesday preparing the final 2005 budget.
State law says commissioners may appoint an administrator, who serves as the county's administrative head under the direction and supervision of the board.
The law adds that in the event the county administrator is absent for reason of illness, death, resignation or removal, "The chairman of the board or a qualified person designated by the board shall serve and perform all duties of such office."
The duties include assisting in the administration, enforcement and execution of the commissioners' policies and resolutions and supervising and directing the activities of the affairs of the divisions of county government under the commissioners' jurisdiction.
Traficanti said Caruso will return to his former position as director of special projects. He added he has asked Caruso to help him with his new duties.
The director of special projects oversees the county's Community Development Block Grant programs, works on economic development projects, and facilitates grant-writing projects for the county and its political subdivisions.
The director also looks for ways to increase state and federal resources to come into the county.