2013-05-08 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2013

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m.

Silent Meditation and Pledge of Allegiance:  A silent moment was taken followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:  Bast-present; Mope-present; Mundie-present; Schadder-present; Perry-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings:  The minutes of the April 24, 2013 were approved unanimously.

At this point, Perry stated that an executive session was held prior to the meeting regarding potential litigation.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolutions 2013-49, 2013-50, and 2013-51. She said she owns property near the train tracks, and when the train comes through, the building shakes and the whistle blows very loudly. She also said that there are power lines located where this structure is to be located. Deakos was concerned that this may not be a sound structure. She commented that it would be easier just to use Wyoming Street.

Zachary Lee, 884 State Court, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2013-51. He commented that this should be the railroad company’s responsibility. Lee said that the City should be working with the railroad company to erect this structure. Perry said the City will not be incurring any costs regarding this matter. The Hazleton Development Company will be paying for the entire project.

Mark Grabo, First Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2013-55 regarding the Hangar Space Lease. He said the Airport is receiving no funding, therefore, no authorization for this should be given. Grabo said the Airport barely breaks even, and it should be sold.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2013-51. He stated that he would like to know how this foot bridge will be constructed. He was concerned that gang members will be throwing rocks at people using the foot bridge, and protection should be made available to anyone using the foot bridge. Rodriguez then commented on Resolution 2013-52. He said Fermin is qualified for the position as Director of Community Development. He said he spoke with her at length, and he believes she will do a great job in this capacity.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton asked if the City took possession of the Hazleton Parking Authority yet. Slusser said no, it has not been finalized yet.

Peter Echon, Berner Avenue, Hazleton asked where he could find all of the City’s laws and ordinances. Perry said he would have to contact the City Clerk’s office and put in a right-to-know request for that information.

Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton asked if the bridge is costing the taxpayers any money. Perry replied no, grant money is being used. Yurcho said the Mayor’s proposal for a $4.8 million robotic garage should be put up for a vote by the City’s taxpayers. She said she has spoken to a lot of people and no one wants it. She asked how much has been spent so far to acquire the Greco property. Perry said grant money is being used, but it needs to be used for what it was originally applied for. Slusser said some portions of the money are being used for the Greco property, but he did not have an exact amount. Yurcho said the rest of the grant money should be given back, and the City should look into grant programs to help homeowners and to fix the streets instead. Mope said that would probably be a community development grant. Slusser said that if the grant money is returned, the City will not get it back when they need it. Yurcho commented that the elected officials work for the taxpayers, and they should keep that in mind when making decisions.

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2013-3 Amending Ordinance 2012-36 Providing for Assessment Levy, and Collection of a Tax for General Municipal Purposes and Imposing Additional Tax for the Sole Purpose of Funding Required Benefits to be Paid to or on Behalf of Pension Recipients Pursuant to Act 205, known as the Municipal Pension Plan Funding Standard and Recovery Act, which is Directly Related to the Pension Plan of the City of Hazleton (2nd Reading) (TABLED 4/24/13)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

Roll Call (on Motion to Remove from Table):  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Perry made a motion to amend the Ordinance as follows:

SECTION 2 – Imposition of Tax

A. That the following annual taxes are hereby imposed for general municipal purposes: One (1%) Percent on earned income and net profits of Residents, and One (1%) Percent on earned income and net profits of Non-Residents, on and after July 1, 2013; and

B. That the following annual taxes are hereby imposed for the sole purpose of defraying the additional costs required to be paid pursuant to the Municipal Pension Plan Funding Standard and Recovery Act, which is directly related to the Pension Plan of the City of Hazleton: Thirty-Five Hundredths (0.35%) Percent on earned income and net profits of Residents, and Eighty-Five Hundredths (0.85%) Percent on earned income and net profits of Non-Residents, on and after July 1, 2013.

Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES 3-2 – ORDINANCE AMENDED

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

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Ordinance 2013-4 Amending Ordinance 2012-35 Imposing the Real Estate Tax, Earned Income Tax, Per Capita Tax, and Resident Tax, Respectively for the Period January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 (2nd Reading) (TABLED 4/24/13)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

Roll Call (on Motion to Remove from Table):  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Perry made a motion to amend the Ordinance as follows:

SECTION 1 – Ordinances enacted under the Local Tax Enabling Act  (53 P.S. § 6924.101 et seq.) be and hereby are to continue in force and effect for the period July 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013, as follows, to wit:   Ordinance 1932 – Earned Income Tax – at a rate of one and Thirty-Five Hundredths (1.35%) Percent on earned income and net profits of Residents of the City of Hazleton, and One and Eighty-Five Hundredths (1.85%) Percent for Non-Residents of the City of Hazleton comprised of first, the maximum rate authorized under Section 311(3) of the Local Tax Enabling Act of One (1%) Percent on earned income and net profits of  Residents and Non-Residents of the City of Hazleton for general fund purposes; and second, the additional rate authorized under Section 607(f) of the Municipal Pension Plan Funding Standard and Recovery Act (53 P.S. § 895.101 et seq.) of Thirty-Five Hundredths (0.35%) Percent on earned income and net profits for Residents, and Eighty-Five Hundredths (0.85%) Percent on earned income and net profits for Non-Residents of the City of Hazleton to defray the additional costs required to be paid pursuant to the Municipal Pension Plan Funding Standard and Recovery Act for the City of Hazleton Municipal Pension and Retirement Benefits.

Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES 3-2 – ORDINANCE AMENDED

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTIONS

None.

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.   

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-49 Approving Easement Agreement Allowing the Downtown Hazleton Development Company to Connect to the Mine Street Parking Garage

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

George Leitner, Vice President of Operations for the Downtown Hazleton Development Company, came to the podium to answer questions regarding this matter. Leitner stated that the Downtown Hazleton Development Company received state grant money for this project, and $750,000 has to be matched with private funds. This was already passed by the Hazleton Parking Authority, and now needs to be passed by Council, so that all the required documents may be turned into the state. Bast asked if the bridge will be 23 feet above street level, and Leitner said yes. The City and PennDOT require at least 13 feet above street level, and Norfolk Southern requires 23 feet. He gave an artist’s rendering of the completed project to the members of Council. Mope asked if there is going to be two bridges, and Leitner responded yes. They will be across Wyoming Street and Mine Street. Perry asked about the suspension of the bridge. Leitner replied that the supports will be erected right before the parking garage, and the bridge will be covered. Mope said the property owned by the Hazleton Parking Authority has not been acquired by the City yet. She said the Mayor was supposed to transfer some of the grant money to be used to refurbish the existing parking garage, but that has not been approved by DCED yet. She said the parking garage needs major improvements. Mope questioned who will refurbish the garage if this money is not approved for transfer by DCED. She added that she was told changing the scope of a project is very hard to do. Leitner said that is not up to him; that would be up to the DeAngelo Brothers. Leitner said he was here to move the process forward, and he needs the Resolution from Council to continue. Perry asked if this has been approved by the Hazleton Parking Authority, and Slusser responded yes. Bast stated that this will allow the Hazleton Development Company (HDC) to put pylons on City property and construct supports. Perry asked if this would improve the ingress and egress from the building, and Leitner replied yes. He said there are currently 160 employees at the Markle Building, and the DeAngelo Brothers have a 15-year lease there as its world headquarters. Leitner added that the Hazleton Development Company is working with the partners and Norfolk Southern on this matter. Mope said she does not want the taxpayers footing the bill for this project. Leitner said that HDC received a grant from the state, and they were more than happy to give it to them. Perry asked when the world headquarters are expected to be moved, and Leitner said around this time next year. Mope stated that this project is not necessary for the employment of the individuals who work there. She said it is a nice gesture, but is unnecessary. She questioned whether there will be any money available to refurbish the garage. Mope said the third floor of the parking garage is not usable, and the area over the firehouse station has been deemed unusable. Schadder asked if Leitner worked with the City on this project. Leitner said he received a resolution from the City to apply for the grant. Schadder asked if HDC will continue with this project if the parking garage is not remodeled. Leitner said he believes the partners and employees would like to see it remodeled, because it has been neglected for about 20 years. He said there is salt damaging the paint jobs on cars. The garage is a mess and needs works. Perry asked if the HDC will work with the City with regarding to the remodeling. Leitner said yes. He added that if this project is not started by a certain time as per the state’s timeline, they will lose the grant money. Mundie commented that this is similar to the Markle design done about 20 years ago. Leitner said it is very similar because it is just natural for it to go that way. Mundie said he is glad that the building was saved. Yannuzzi suggested there may be some problem with the description in the Resolution, and consulted with Leitner. Slusser asked if there was a problem with the description of the project in the Resolution, and Leitner said no.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2013-50 Approving Easement Agreement Allowing the Downtown Hazleton Development Company to Create New Structural Supports on Hazleton Parking Authority/City of Hazleton Property to Construct New Overhead Bridge Connection

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2013-51 Approving Easement Agreement Allowing the Downtown Hazleton Development Company to Construct an Overhead Pedestrian Bridge Over Mine Street and Wyoming Street

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2013-52 Appointment of the Director of Community Development – Fallon Fermin

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Mundie asked Fallon Fermin to come to the podium. He asked her if her Bachelor’s Degree was in English, and Fermin replied yes. Mundie was concerned about the fact that the job requires working heavily with numbers, and he felt an English degree was not enough. Fermin stated there are two components to the job, numbers and communication. She said communication and writing skills are just as important because she will be dealing with people, working on various projects, and working on grants. Mundie asked if she knew anything about the different types of corporations, and Fermin said not yet. She said she is training with Annetta Williams, and Williams will be staying on part-time after retirement. Mundie commented that the City needs someone who knows the financial aspect of the job. Bast said he knows three people who write and administer grants for a living, who make double or triple what Fermin is receiving, and all three have a bachelor’s degree in English. Perry said the City will be saving money between Fermin salary and Williams’ part-time status. Perry asked Fermin if she feels overwhelmed, and Fermin replied no. She is getting help from Williams and Karen Parrish. Perry stated that he feels Fermin is very capable of handling this position. Mope asked how long Fermin is in Community Development, and Fermin replied two months. Mope felt that Community Development was using too much money for grant writing. She added that her opinions are no reflection on Fermin, but she would prefer someone with more experience. Mope also commented that Williams may not be able to collect a pension and also work here part time, but she is still checking into that. Mundie said it may be an issue if Williams is not able to work here part time. Bast asked who pays Fermin’s salary, and Hahn replied Community Development. Schadder asked Fermin why she feels she is the best person for the job. Fermin said she knows the City and its projects from working in the Mayor’s office. She said that she does not know everything, but she is learning, and has learned a lot in the past two months. She said she has been learning about grants, etc. Fermin commented that she hopes to help keep the City running at its best. Schadder commented that there should have been some type of interview process for this position, even though it is an executive appointment. Mope said the Police Chief is also an executive appointment, but there was still an application and interview process. Schadder said that the Mayor may also do an executive order, if the appointment is not approved by Council. Mope asked Slusser how long someone can stay in an acting executive position. Slusser said those individuals can be in an acting position for quite a while, but it is not meant to be a permanent replacement. Bast read aloud an email from Mundie, and asked Slusser if that communication is a violation of the Sunshine Act. He added that even though no one responded to it, he feels it still may be a violation. Slusser responded that although it is not unusual for officials to communicate this way, emails are still subject to the Sunshine Act. He added that although no one responded, it was still sent to the other Council members for deliberation. Perry said that Karen Parrish recommended Fermin very highly. He added that the Water and Sewer Authority members handle millions of dollars more than Community Development, yet no requirements or qualifications exist for those members. Mope read the job description for Director of Community Development, and said two months on the job does not really qualify Fermin for the position. Slusser said that this is a personnel matter, and should be discussed in executive session.   Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-2

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Resolution 2013-53 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refunds to 2012 City Property Records

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Perry asked why is this being done, and Hahn said this is a result of an appeal to the Luzerne County Board of Assessments.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-54 Approving the Hazleton Municipal Airport Volunteer Application Form and Volunteer Waiver and Release

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Mundie asked why this is being done now. Dominic Yannuzzi said that he cannot answer that question. Some ideas were tossed around, and he was asked to prepare this by the Mayor’s office. It was also reviewed by Slusser. Perry asked if this is being done just “to cover our bases.” Slusser said it is being done for safety reasons. Yannuzzi said this is just for volunteers working at the Airport. Mundie asked if this will help the Airport, and Yannuzzi responded yes. The volunteers cut grass, plow snow, etc. Yannuzzi said it is a good idea to keep records on who is volunteering at the Airport. He added that background checks on volunteers will also be done. Mope asked if the volunteers are covered by insurance. Yannuzzi said they will be covered by the City’s liability insurance company. After this application is signed by the volunteer, it will be forwarded to the insurance company, and be placed on the insurance policy. Mope asked if anyone is using the loader. Yannuzzi said no, only one is using the snow plow. Mope was concerned with any damage done by the volunteers. Yannuzzi said copies of their driver’s licenses will be kept on file with City Hall and the insurance company. Any damage done by them will be covered by the insurance. He added that there will be an extensive amount of training given before anyone is allowed to operate the equipment. Mope asked if anyone is receiving compensation for this, and Yannuzzi said no, they are strictly volunteers. Mundie asked if other airports are doing this, and Yannuzzi said he did not know. Schadder asked who determines what volunteers will be doing. Yannuzzi said it is up to the Airport Manager, as well as Frank Vito. Mope asked if there will be a problem with the City workers who have been working at the Airport, such as layoffs, etc. Yannuzzi said they will still come up from time to time, but it would mostly be done by the volunteers. Mope said she does not want to see anyone out of work.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-55 Approving the Hazleton Municipal Airport Hangar Space Lease

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Mope said the City owns the land at the Airport, so any improvements made will be taxed. She said Koro Aviation is not listed as an owner. Mundie commented that this is just a form lease that is being approved, and is not specific to anyone in particular. Slusser agreed and said this is not an unusual situation. He said he researched the Koro matter, and they are the current owner of the hangar. Slusser said that the paperwork just needs to be corrected, and they are in the process of doing that. Mope stated that she just does not want there to be any problems. Mundie asked if this is a completely new lease. Yannuzzi said yes. Any individual renting space in any hangar of the City of Hazleton will need to sign this lease. He stated that the City does not yet own the Koro Aviation hangar. Mope asked how it is determined what to charge, and Yannuzzi said it is based on the size of the plane. Mundie asked how many planes can fit into a hangar at the Airport. Yannuzzi said either two jets or five single engine planes would fit in there. Mope asked what the cost is to lease the space. Yannuzzi said it is $2,000-$2,500 per month for a jet, and $175-$300/per month for a single engine plane. It depends on the size. Mundie asked where this Lease originated. Yannuzzi said he used the Tie-Down Lease as a template when preparing this Lease. It was then reviewed by Slusser, and he made revisions. Slusser said he did not know where it originated. Mope asked if this is a yearly lease. Yannuzzi said yes. He believes it is a fair lease for both the City and the tenants. Yannuzzi said we are asking people to commit to one year and then have renewals thereafter. He added that penalties will be added for nonpayment of the monthly fee. Mundie asked how long Yannuzzi worked on this, and Yannuzzi replied about one hour. Mundie asked Slusser how long he worked on this, and Slusser responded that he does not know yet. He worked with an associate on this as well. Mundie said he looked at the bills for Yannuzzi and Slusser, and more and more is being charged by them. He commented that what we pay to Slusser and Yannuzzi could be used to hire someone to work in the City.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-56 Approval of Agreement with Northeast Revenue Service, LLC for Billing and Collection of Rental Registration and Stormwater Management Fees

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Sean Shamany, Northeast Revenue Service, LLC, came to the podium. Mundie asked how this came about. Shamany said he presented his proposal to Hahn regarding this matter. Mundie asked if the Mayor was present during this presentation, and Hahn said no. Shamany said he had a brief meeting with the Mayor after his meeting with Hahn. Mundie asked why this was not put out for bid. Mundie said the Water Authority can put this on their bill for free. Hahn said we would still need to provide things such as insurance, etc. Hahn said he was never contacted by the Water Authority about this. He added that when he was employed by Butler Township about a year and half ago, he spoke with Randy Cahalan and Larry Patton from the Water Authority, and they said they could not do such a thing. Hahn said he has no reason to contact anyone from the Water Authority on a daily basis. He said he did not receive any information since the last meeting. Mundie commented that this should be explored further. He asked why no Ordinance has been prepared regarding the stormwater management fee. Hahn said Slusser is currently working on it. Mundie asked what happens if the Stormwater Management Ordinance does not pass. Hahn said the agreement would have to be modified. He added that the stormwater fee will be different for everyone based on pervious surface, lot size, if the land is paved, if it is grassy, etc. Mundie said it is not fair that people are paying different amounts for the same thing. Mundie asked who keeps the $5.00 fee on page seven of the agreement. Shamany said that is all for Northeast Revenue. Hahn said the Ordinance will provide the fees and penalties, and the City will be attaching additional fees by Ordinance. Mope commented that Council just received this agreement, and they have not had time to review it. Hahn said Slusser had the agreement and he has already reviewed it. Mope asked where the City is listed on the insurance. Shamany replied that information is on page nine, paragraph 12 of the agreement. There is also a $150,000 bond included. Perry asked what fees have they collected in the past, and Shamany said they have collected municipal fees, such as garbage, sewer, etc. Mundie asked Hahn how much revenue he expects to generate, and Hahn replied about $42,000. Mope asked how we are going to locate all of the renters in the City. Hahn said there is a list of who is billed, which totals about 1,700. Mundie asked how much Northeast Revenue charges, and Shamany said $2.50 per bill. Mundie commented that we should look into other avenues to try and lower the costs, such as checking with the Water Authority. Perry said this is just for collection purposes. Hahn said the Water Authority can shut off someone’s water for nonpayment, but we cannot do that. It is more difficult for us to collect these fees. Shamany said municipal fees are collected differently than real estate taxes. Mope felt no money could be collected until a decision is made by the Courts. Hahn said we can do what we want right now because no injunction has been filed yet. Mundie asked if Berkheimer was approached to collect these fees. Hahn said he did not talk to them about this. Perry asked what Berkheimer charges, and Hahn said they charge a percentage of each bill for the earned income tax, and they are receiving about 50% of what was sent out so far. Mope asked why this is coming before Council now, and Hahn said the rental registration billing should have been done already. Mundie asked why we are rushing to do the stormwater fee when the Ordinance is not even in place yet. Slusser said the Administration thought this was necessary at this time. Hahn said the spring and summer is a good time to start inspections. Schadder made a motion to amend the Resolution to remove any reference to the stormwater management fee, until the Ordinance regarding this matter is passed. Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES 3-2

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-2 AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2013-57 Approval of Lease Agreement for Storage Space at the Hazleton Municipal Airport Between the City of Hazleton and the Hazleton Area School District

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Bast asked Yannuzzi if this is the same garage where he and Schadder visited earlier this year. Yannuzzi said yes. He said the school district is renting space at the Airport to store education materials and furniture. Mundie asked how big the garage is, and Yannuzzi replied 1,200 square feet. Schadder asked if this is the garage that housed the lawn tractor, and Yannuzzi said yes. Perry asked if this is a one-year lease, and Yannuzzi said yes. Mundie asked if this was approved by the school district and Yannuzzi said yes. He believes it was approved sometime in February. Schadder asked about the cost of the hangar, and Yannuzzi said the City is losing about $6,000 in revenue, as well as a few hundred dollars a month in rent. Schadder commented that this effectively pays for the hangar, and Yannuzzi replied yes.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-2             

Comments from the Audience:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on the volunteers at the Airport. She said she was told previously that volunteers cannot be used because of insurance reasons, and now the City is using volunteers. She said people have volunteered in the past for the Code Enforcement Department and were told no. She believes there is no difference between volunteering to help in Code Enforcement and volunteering to use heavy equipment at the Airport.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on the volunteers at the Airport. She said this is putting the City in a situation with the unions. Perry said we already had the volunteers for quite some time, and this is just a formality. Bast said that the Highway Department workers may now be free to do other things that they currently do not do. Shawn Delmonico of the Highway Department said they were out at the Airport today cleaning out a hangar. They have been cutting the grass up there for the past two years. He feels this may be an issue to take up with the union.

David Sosar, 338 West 2nd Street, Hazleton said the Hazleton City Authority (HCA) is capable of printing messages on its bills, and can also put in two inserts per year. He strongly urged the City to look into this matter further with the HCA. He said the new software can do almost anything, and this should not be very difficult. Mundie asked how much the HCA spent on computer equipment and software this year. Sosar said $200,000 to $300,000. He said they have collected about 98% of the water fees, and 92% to 93% on the garbage fees. Sosar commented that all it takes is a phone call to get the ball rolling. Hahn said he had previously met with Cahalan and Patton from the HCA and this action is not being promoted by them. He has never received a letter or phone call from either of them. Hahn said he would be happy to call them and speak to them about this. Mope commented that Council is the last ones to know about anything that goes on in the City. She asked that an email be sent to Council regarding this matter as soon as possible. Hahn said he has repeatedly asked for a shutoff list from the HCA. He has only received it twice, and he is supposed to be receiving that information on a weekly basis. Perry asked Hahn to check on that. Sosar said he is not trying to “bad mouth” anybody. He said the taxpayers deserve the best deal they can get. Sosar said he took this suggestion to the HCA meeting as soon as it was brought up. He asked that Council do its due diligence first before voting on anything like this. Sosar commented that the problem is on the City’s side and not on the HCA. Hahn asked Sosar that if an RFP is put out with regard to this matter, would the HCA respond. Sosar said the HCA would definitely reply. He added that the HCA is here to help out all of the local municipalities in any way it can.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton commented that crime is a serious problem in Hazleton. He thanked Schadder for preparing the Noise Ordinance. He said fines are now being given out. Rodriguez said the City needs an Ordinance for people hanging around store fronts. They are blocking paths and preventing people from patronizing local businesses. Mope said there is a loitering ordinance in place. Rodriguez suggested putting up signs in the problem areas. Mope said store owners may put up their own signs regarding this matter. Rodriguez said the biggest problem with this is on Alter Street and Wyoming Street.

Mark Grabo, First Street, Hazleton thanked City Council for showing up at the last town hall meeting. Mundie commented that the Mayor was not there. Grabo commented that the Mayor was not at the town hall meeting because he was on television with Hahn explaining why he no longer attends Council meetings. Grabo said that we need to stop outsourcing and start drawing business into the City. He said the City needs to work with the Chamber of Commerce on bringing in business, and not just industrial parks. Grabo commented that when properties are sold, they should have quality of life conditions in place before they are inhabited.

Larry Birch, General Manager of Valmont New Mark, said this business was purchased from Summit and the company has invested $10 million into the building. They have received work from PPL and have increased the workforce to 292. Half of the people employed there live in the City of Hazleton. Birch said the factory runs seven days a week. He has received complaints of excessive noise by some of the local residents. The company has replaced the windows, and has installed insulated steel siding to help alleviate the noise. Birch said that the use of the lift truck’s backup alarm has been restricted, and the alarm system has been lowered as far as it can, so that it can stay within OSHA’s requirements. He said they are also looking into planting shrubbery to help with the noise. Mundie asked about the complaints. Birch said calls were received from neighbors regarding the loud truck alarms when backing out. Mundie mentioned a three-minute rule for the use of equipment. Schadder said that the three-minute rule was in the old ordinance, and it is not in the new one. Schadder said that he and several other neighbors have called the company about the noise, but no one ever called them back. Some of the concerns have been about using the equipment between the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., etc. Schadder said even residents of Birch Knoll have complained about the noise as well. There has been a lot of noise at midnight and 1:00 a.m. Schadder stated that when the garage doors are opened, there is a lot of noise coming from inside the plant. He said arborvitaes were supposed to be planted but were not, and there should be some type of sound barrier there because the plant is very close to a residential neighborhood. Schadder said the plant is in violation of the City Code. The City has been very lenient with them. They have been repeatedly asked to keep down the noise, but everyone is just “brushed off.” Schadder said that several of the neighbors have been “cussed out” by employees of the plant, when asked to keep down the noise. Schadder said he has lived there all his life and never had a problem like this before. Schadder asked to speak to Birch personally after the meeting, and Birch agreed to that. Mope commented that the use of sound barriers is clearly listed in the City Code Book. She asked if they were ever in to speak to Zoning before moving in, and Birch responded yes. Perry commented that the problem is that the plant runs on 24-hour shifts. Mundie asked if Zoning ever put any requirements on them. Schadder said that when a building is vacant for a certain length of time, it reverts back to its previous use, which was industrial. Mope commented that the individuals working at the plant, as well as the management, need to cooperate with the residents in that area.

Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton commented that the money that is being spent is taxpayer money, and bidding should be done for all project, big or small. She said that all open jobs should be advertised in order to get the best person to fill the position. She said City officials need to be more careful with the money that is being spent. Taxes went up for everyone, the roads are awful, and crime is terrible in the City. Hahn said that as of April 30, 2013, the current expenses are $2,771,862 and current revenues are $5,667,016. Gould said that $192,000 was spent on leases for new police cars, but the City should have looked into purchasing them instead. She said the police should be “walking the beat” to deter crime. Gould said that elected officials are supposed to represent the citizens of Hazleton, and they need to be accountable for what is being spent.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator:  None.

Comments from Council:  Mope thanked everyone for coming and submitting their input. She said crime is a major concern, as well as the condition of the streets. Mope said the condition of the streets is not the Highway Department’s fault. We need to have the ability to get them what they need to do their job. Asphalt is desperately needed in order to address the potholes. She asked the Hazleton residents not to “pick on the highway workers.”

Schadder commented on the street sweeping. He said the Heights streets were swept yesterday. Schadder asked everyone to be patient because there is limited manpower working on the streets. He thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.

Mundie said he asked for the letter from the IRS. He said this should have been given to Council when it was received, and Council should have been made aware of what was going on. Hahn said the IRS was only asking for information, and he did not feel it was necessary at that time to inform Council. Hahn said that if the IRS would have said there was a potential problem, he would have notified Council immediately. Mundie asked if it was the Mayor’s idea not to inform Council, and Hahn said the federal government is broke, and they are just looking for some way to raise some money. Hahn said Council needs to define what they want from Administration. He said that the information Mundie requested from the Police and Fire Departments cannot be given to him because those documents are sealed by the Civil Service Commission.

Bast asked if the Mayor is taking any action on Council’s request to put out a Request for Proposals for the third party inspections. Hahn said he does not believe any action is being taken because the City has a contract with the current third party inspection company. Bast asked about the stormwater fee, and Hahn said he received a proposal from a computer company about software to collect the stormwater fee. Bast said asked if anyone is looking into getting more funds to perform the pothole patching. Hahn said there is $70,000 available in the budget, and there is also some in liquid fuels and state aid. Bast said he spoke with Vito, and he was told that it costs about $20,000 to pave 800 square feet of street, so the money does not go very far.

Perry said some great ideas have been received from everyone. He said miscommunication is a big problem, which he mentioned to the Mayor and DeAndrea. Perry said Council does not want to get involved in the “Administration end’ of the things, but Council and the public should be made aware of certain things. Perry said everyone in the City is trying to save money, and he gave some examples. Hahn said that every withdrawal made from the $5.6 million borrowing was approved by Landmark Bank and Boyle at the Pennsylvania Economy League. He added that Dave Bulzoni from Landmark Bank is available to talk to Council if they have any questions. Perry said Council does not want to create havoc. They are just trying to help alleviate some of the City’s problems.

Adjournment:  Perry motioned to adjourn the meeting with Bast seconding the motion. Meeting adjourned.