Frenchko is looking to hire a former clerk as an assistant at $31.45 an hour | News, Sports, Jobs


WARREN — Commissioners Frank Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa failed to act Wednesday on a point to hire former county clerk Paulette Godfrey as Commissioner Niki Frenchko’s personal administrative assistant.

Frenchko wanted to hire Godfrey at $31.45 an hour for 32 hours a week beginning in mid-October. Frenchko pointed to a section of the revised Ohio code that allows “four clerical and administrative support staff for each board of county commissioners and one such staff for each county commissioner.”

Godfrey served from 2005 to 2021. She left the position after rejecting a $4.50 an hour raise that would have come with a demand that she publicly apologize to Fuda. Earlier this year, Godfrey filed a civil suit against Fuda, claiming he harassed her at work.

Frenchko after Wednesday’s meeting said she wanted to hire Godfrey because “there is absolutely no one else in Trumbull County with the amount of knowledge she has of (Trumbull’s) county government.”

Referring to the complaint, she said she believed hiring Godfrey would also be “help mitigate potential damage.”

When asked why she didn’t solicit applications for the job instead of selecting Godfrey directly, Frenchko replied that it was her personal assistant – not a county government employee – and that the selection of a person for the position was at their discretion, as stated by the ORC. She said she wouldn’t trust anyone else to do the job but Godfrey.

Also Wednesday, Frenchko and Cantalamessa squared off over the next step for a Mercy Health campus and the currently undesignated education highway in Champion.

Frenchko wanted to obtain statements of qualifications from legal counsel familiar with the preparation of Joint Economic Development Districts, or JEDDs, and Tax Incremental Financing, or TIFs.

Cantalamessa agreed the board could seek legal advice, but only to deal with the statutory assignment of the Education Highway, also known as Highway 1321, which has been in limbo for months.

He said JEDDs are formed between municipalities and townships and do not involve the county. Frenchko argued that a JEDD in this area could include the county as it could involve county departments. The two also disagreed on the relevance of TIFs.

“I’m trying to save the board from themselves because they don’t seem to know what’s going on here,” said Frenchko.

Cantalamessa and Fuda approved the request for qualifications for legal counsel specifically “In order to move this project forward and what are our next steps in the statutory commitment of the education highway.”

Frenchko, who thought that specification would mean the county would potentially have to hire a second attorney to handle other economic development issues, voted no.

Earlier this month, commissioners unanimously approved the hiring of law firm Nader & Nader at $150 an hour to provide advice to the county engineer’s office regarding the state of the education highway. The county attorney’s office generally advised the engineer’s office, but felt a conflict of interest.

A letter from Nader & Nader to the commissioners, dated August 29, mentions that Champion and Warren have agreed to discuss a JEDD. The letter, signed by Thomas C. Nader, goes on to say that while the discussion would primarily be between the township and the city, some land involved in the potential JEDD belongs to the county — and Nader & Nader only represents the office of the township. ‘engineer. , not the Commissioners, who own the land.

“Depending on the course of the JEDD discussions, Trumbull County, as the owner of the property and as a utility provider, may become involved in the JEDD,” specify the letter.

The same letter says construction officials at Mercy Health have instructed surveyors to prepare a flat for the Education Highway, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks and presented to commissioners, establishing the road’s legal status. The road should need improvements to “Support the use of a new hospital” and the Township of Champion and Mercy Health want to gauge the county’s willingness to fund some of the upgrades.

On Wednesday, commissioners did not discuss the possibility of helping with funding.

Due to the Labor Day holiday Monday, next week’s regular commissioners’ meeting will be pushed back one day, to 10:30 a.m. on September 8.

Representatives from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber will present their annual report and consider a new contract with the Commissioners prior to the meeting at 9:30 a.m. on September 8 in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room on the fifth floor of the Trumbull County Administration Building, 160 High St.

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