Niles Mayor Scarnecchia Announces Retirement

NILES, Ohio – After serving 2 1/2 years as mayor of Niles, Tom Scarnecchia announced his retirement Monday.

“He decided that it was the right time to step away and retire,” said Niles City Council Presdient Barry Steffey Jr. “He walked out of our meeting with his head held high. He did the best job he could.”

Steffey said that over the weekend, Scarnecchia had shared with him that he was considering retirement, adding that the former mayor gave him no specific reason for his retirement.

“I left it better than I found it,” Steffey says Scarnecchia told him.

Steffey will serve as acting mayor until the central committee of the Niles Democratic Party names a replacement.

“Ohio Revised Code states that in the event that a city mayor leaves office that the city council president will serve as acting mayor until replaced,” said Terry Swauger, Niles city law director.

The interim mayor said he has no interest in serving as mayor permanently and has not yet been contacted by anyone showing interest in the position.

“I will be serving every day without interruption until replaced,” said Steffey.

Scarnecchia served as safety director for the city during the 1970s, councilman for nine years and then as mayor.

After taking office, Scarnecchia drafted a five-year plan to deal with the cities fiscal emergency. The plan included increases in license plate fees, eliminating the city’s income tax department and a refund from the Mahoning Valley sanitary district.

“We will continue to work on the recovery plan during the transition,” said Steffey. “We are looking at what’s working and what’s not.”

Under the leadership of Scarnecchia the city implemented purchasing and hiring policies, improved the budget and complied with Ohio’s sunshine laws for transparency in public records and meetings.

Steffey said he would be continuing to attend the fiscal committee meeting until he is told that it would not be held. He added that a replacement for the city’s water department building would be on the agenda and that an architect for the project has been named.

The acting mayor said that Polivka informed him that the commission expects to have a replacement named within 20 to 45 days.

“The law requires a five day waiting period before naming a replacement,” said Swauger. “The replacement must also be named within 45 days.”

Swauger said that Polivka is the county Democratic Party chairman in charge of scheduling the meeting for the precinct committee.

“Once he has the opportunity to schedule a meeting based on their availability, then they can decide,” he said.

Scarnecchia resigned with 18 months left on his term of office as mayor. He first came into office in December 2015 after defeating former mayor Ralph Infante, who in May was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption.

Swauger said that Scarnecchia’s retirement is standard and that he will have no severance package.

“I wish to thank you, City Council, and the residents of Niles for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime,” Scarnecchia said in a letter to city council announcing his retirement. “The residents elected me to leave this city better than when I came into office; I believe I have done that.”

Pictured: Niles City Council President Barry Steffey Jr., left, will serve as acting mayor of Niles until a replacement is found. Joining him at the announcement of Tom Scarnecchia’s retirement was law director Terry Swauger.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.