Trouble in Paradise

THE CITY of St. Clairsville is in a fiscal emergency.

The situation has not arisen from a lack of money; rather it is due to the absence of someone to directly handle the city’s finances.

That void was created when St. Clairsville City Council reaffirmed, by a razor-thin margin, not to renew Jill Lucidi as the city’s finance director, a post she has held for 17 years.

Tuesday’s vote resulted in the same 4-3 margin as was cast at the previous council meeting, severing ties with Lucidi. Some of the reasons for her ouster were aired Tuesday.

Regardless of why those four council members — Terry Pugh, Perry Jones, Frank Sabatino and Libby Heintzelman — voted against Lucidi, their action has left St. Clairsville in possible dire straits.

Lucidi drew heavy praise from a host of individuals attending Tuesday’s meeting, including Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede and City Police Officer Jeff Henry.

Lucidi’s exodus has spawned a special council session tonight to look for a resolution to the vacancy. Time is of obvious essence.

The city’s next payroll surfaces at the beginning of February. Moreover, the deadline for W-2 tax forms for employees is just days away. Those are just two of the tasks previously executed by Lucidi.

Longtime Mayor Bob Vincenzo was an ardent Lucidi supporter. He, better than anyone, realizes the problems that come with Lucidi’s dismissal.

“It’s council’s obligation to help right this ship, because there are a lot of unanswered things that going to have to be,” he said.

Vincenzo is right on.

Lucidi brought among other things consistency, continuity and experience to the position. Now a state of flux and uncertainty exists.

Many of those at Tuesday’s meeting stated that Lucidi’s dismissal had a political vendetta attached to it. Whether that is the case or not, St. C. council has placed itself in a position in which it must act quickly and expertly in locating Lucidi’s successor.

St. Clairsville’s finances have been under the microscope with the inception of the city income tax. That microscope will now broaden its spectrum and include the new finance director.