2013-06-19 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 5:30 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 May 22, 2013 were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

             

At this point, Perry made a motion to suspend the rules to remove several ordinances and resolutions from the agenda.

Motion to Suspend the Rules:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

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

MOTION TO SUSPEND THE RULES PASSES

……………………………………………..

Perry made a motion to remove Resolutions 2013-66, 2013-76, 2013-78, and 2013-79, and Ordinances 2013-11 and 2013-13 from the agenda because Council did not receive enough information in advance to review them. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Resolutions 2013-66, 2013-76, 2013-78, and 2013-79, and Ordinances 2013-11 and 2013-13 from the Agenda:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mundie.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE RESOLUTIONS 2013-66, 2013-76, 2013-78, AND 2013-79, AND ORDINANCES 2013-11 AND 2013-13 FROM THE AGENDA FAILS 3-2

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At this point, Schadder said he would prefer to vote on the removal of certain items on the agenda individually. Schadder made a motion to remove Resolution 2013-66 from the agenda. Bast seconded the motion.

  Motion to Remove Resolution 2013-66 from the Agenda:

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE RESOLUTION 2013-66 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES

……………………………………………..

Schadder made a motion to remove Ordinance 2013-11 from the agenda. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Ordinance 2013-11 from the Agenda:

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Mundie.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE ORDINANCE 2013-11 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES

……………………………………………..

Schadder made a motion to remove Ordinance 2013-13 from the agenda. Perry seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Ordinance 2013-13 from the Agenda:

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Perry.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE ORDINANCE 2013-13 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES

……………………………………………..

Bast made a motion to remove Resolution 2013-76 from the agenda. Perry seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Resolution 2013-76 from the Agenda:

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE RESOLUTION 2013-76 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES

……………………………………………..

Mope made a motion to remove Resolution 2013-78 from the agenda. Perry seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Resolution 2013-78 from the Agenda:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Perry.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE RESOLUTION 2013-78 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES 3-2 ……………………………………………..

Bast made a motion to remove Resolution 2013-79 from the agenda. Perry seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove Resolution 2013-79 from the Agenda:

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE RESOLUTION 2013-79 FROM THE AGENDA PASSES

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Perry made a motion to accept the agenda as amended. Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Accept the Agenda as Amended:

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

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

MOTION TO ACCEPT THE AGENDA AS AMENDED PASSES

             

Courtesy of the Floor:  Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton, commented on Ordinance 2013-10. She said parking spaces for various businesses were already approved by Council. Some of these businesses have more than one space. Cuozzo commented that the City should verify where these spaces are before proceeding with this Ordinance. Cuozzo also commented on Resolution 2013-74. She said all streets should have been named many years ago as per HUD’s requirements. Cuozzo said Hazleton did not accept Birch Knoll’s streets because it did not meet HUD’s requirements. She asked Council to research this before proceeding any further.

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton, commented on Ordinance 2013-12. She said she lives near Alter Street and the noise on 5th and Alter Streets is unbearable. She commented that something needs to be done about this. Thomas also stated that vehicles keep running the stop sign at 5th and Alter Streets. She asked that the Police Department look into this.

Mark Rabo, First Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2013-71. He asked if the Airport is being maintained by taxpayer funds. Rabo also commented on Ordinance 2013-12. He said the Ordinance does not mention unlicensed, uninsured, and unregistered contractors, and someone should look into this.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton, commented on Resolution 2103-70. She asked if the Acting City Administrator is allowed to accept grants being that his title is only “acting.” Deakos also commented on Ordinance 2013-12. She asked if the Quality of Life Ordinance will apply to businesses that have junk vehicles parked on their property without proper fencing.

George Yenchko, no address given, Hazleton, said there is no quality of life in Hazleton anymore. He blames the elected officials for not doing anything about it. Yenchko said the Streets Department is not doing its job, and all the potholes in the City should be fixed right now. He said there is garbage everywhere, and a lot of it is falling off the garbage trucks. He said J. P. Mascaro lets the garbage fall off the trucks, and they do not bother to pick it up. Yenchko pointed to Council and said “you need to clean up your act.” He commented that Mayor needs to be removed from office immediately. He said we need to stop paying him because he does not do anything anyway. Yenchko stated that the Chief of Police needs to get more officers out on the streets to do more ticketing.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton, commented on Ordinance 2013-12. He asked Council to walk down Wyoming Street and see all the garbage on the street. He commented that the City government needs to get out there and see what is going on. Rodriguez commented that some City officials and employees are only here to collect a paycheck, and they are not doing anything to improve the City. He commented that all Council does is argue and fight, and they do not do anything productive.

Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton, commented that she is fed up with what is going on throughout the City. She said Wech is not out there enforcing the City codes. She does not agree with having the Police Chief supervising Code Enforcement. She said the Quality of Life Ordinance says the Police will enforce the laws and write citations, yet crime is still very high, and there is only a 17% conviction rate. Yurcho commented that the City needs to hire more Code Enforcement Officers. She said that garbage falls off of the garbage trucks, and no one stops to pick it up. The garbage then blows everywhere. Yurcho said she loves this town and wants to stay here. She said the City should hire the best people, and do the best job for Hazleton.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2013-10 An Ordinance Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading  Zone, and Any Other Related Signs; Providing for Application Review and Procedures for Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading  Zone, and Any Other Related Signs; and Renewal of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading  Zone, and Any Other Related Signs in the City of Hazleton (1st Reading)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Schadder said he feels all departments involved in enforcing this Ordinance need to look at it first, and give their input. He said he would also like to see handicapped parking addressed in this Ordinance as well. Schadder made a motion to table the Ordinance, but there was no second. Motion to table fails.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Schadder. No Second.

MOTION TO TABLE FAILS

Back on the Question:

Mope said she felt the rate of $150.00 was too high. She said businesses are struggling and she does not want to create a hardship for them. Mope commented that the parking space is only worth it if there is business at that establishment. She also said she would like to know how this will be enacted and how it will be enforced. Bast said a lot of businesses want this. He said it is about 41¢ per day and it is purely voluntary. Bast said he is hoping by doing this it will encourage business. He said right now there is no recourse for those that already have a sign because it cannot be enforced by any City department. Mope said she is not against it, but she believes the cost is too high. Schadder said he received a list of businesses that have requested a sign. He spoke with the owners of the businesses and they desperately want this. Schadder said he discussed the fees with them, and they are willing to pay anything. He said some of the business owners said they are getting into fights with their neighbors over the parking situation. Perry asked Mope what fee she would be happy with, and she said maybe $100.00. She said the City charges $80.00 for handicapped parking signs, and she could not understand why these signs would cost more. Bast said handicapped signs are not exclusive to the person who pays for it. Anyone who has a handicapped placard or license plate may park there in accordance with federal law. Bast said that is why we cannot compare this type of signage to handicapped parking signs. Mundie asked if Mope would be happy with changing it to $125.00, and she agreed. Mope then made a motion to amend the fee for erection of the sign to $125.00, and Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES 4-1

Back on the Question:

Schadder said that he did some research, and he believes the City can see a revenue of up to $600.00 from the use of parking meter in front of a business. Therefore, he can understand why the rate would be higher that it is for handicapped parking. Mope said that only applies if that business is doing well.

Roll Call (As Amended):  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

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Ordinance 2013-12 An Ordinance Adopting the Quality of Life and Violations Ticket Process in the City of Hazleton and Rescinding Ordinance 2012-7 (1st Reading)

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Mundie asked who put this on the agenda and why. DeAndrea said he asked that this be put on the agenda. After reviewing the Ordinance, he felt the fines were “convoluted” and confusing. He also said some of the fines that were $25.00 could end up costing someone up to $175.00 with court costs, etc. DeAndrea added that there is no way of knowing if the violation is a first offense, second offense, etc. He said that the time allotted to resolve some of the violations made no sense. He gave an example of a hazardous food violation. That person had 72 hours to resolve the matter, but during that time, they would still be able to serve that food. DeAndrea added that some of the violations allowed the Crimes Code to be broken. Mundie said Slusser originally drafted the Ordinance. DeAndrea said he was not blaming anyone for this, and he is just trying to correct it. He added that it also does not state how long should be between offenses, and there is no magistrate provision in the Ordinance. DeAndrea said that after 30 days the City cannot go after them other than by a collection agency. Nothing happens to those that ignore the citations. He added that other similar Ordinances have a magistrate provision in them. Mundie asked if this would give people more time to go to the magistrate. DeAndrea said it would give them no more time than a parking ticket, except that a warrant can be issued for their arrest if they do not comply. Mundie asked how much is still owed to the City. DeAndrea said about 50%; $29,000 in tickets were written, but only about $15,000 was collected. He added that right now, after 30 days the statute of limitations expires. Mope said she would prefer to leave the Ordinance as it is, and add the stipulation that people may go to the magistrate after the appeal process. Mope said that DeAndrea promoted this Ordinance that it would save people money because they would not have to pay court costs. She added that this Ordinance was supposed eliminate that step. She added that although there were Ordinances already on the books, she was under the impression that this one would be more beneficial. Schadder asked if DeAndrea believes this Ordinance is working. DeAndrea replied that it works because the Police, Code, Health, and Fire Departments are out there enforcing it. Mope again stated that she would prefer just to amend the current Ordinance instead of creating a whole new one. Mundie asked how many Quality of Life tickets have been written out lately. DeAndrea said they have not written any since February because they ran out of tickets. He has been working on this new Ordinance since then, and did not want to order more tickets because they would need to be changed if this Ordinance passed. Schadder said he hears what everyone is saying, but it is just not working the way it is. This town needs to be cleaned up, and the everyone needs to change their attitudes. Mundie asked who made the decision not to write out any more Quality of Life tickets. DeAndrea said he did. He added that they still write out citations for these violations, but not Quality of Life tickets. DeAndrea said he made changes to how the violations were numbered, when the payment was due, and that no additional amounts would be added to the fine after a certain time. He also added the section regarding the magistrate. Bast asked DeAndrea if an officer has to go back to the same place seven times, is the fine still $50.00. DeAndrea said yes. Bast asked if there is anything else that can be done. DeAndrea replied that something will be discussed at the next meeting because of something being taken off of the agenda. He added that they are still able to write out citations for the same violations. Perry asked if the enforcement of the Ordinance has changed in this new version, and DeAndrea replied no. He said the Code, Health, and Fire Departments are still issuing citations. He added that he had to work with Code, Health and the Solicitor first and that is why it took so long to get this on the agenda. DeAndrea said he had to wait for a final legal opinion from the Solicitor. Mope questioned the timeframes involved with regard to the payment schedule. DeAndrea said they have 20 days to pay the ticket, but only 48 hours to abate the violation. He said he ran into a problem because we cannot file a citation with the magistrate after 30 days. Mope asked if we are required to pay any court costs. DeAndrea said no. The Court does not require the City to pay costs for singular, non-traffic citations. He said we would only be required to pay if there were multiple citations for one individual, because there is a lot of work for the office staff to complete. Schadder asked if the City could start up code sweeps again. DeAndrea said yes, and they could also issue letters now. Schadder asked DeAndrea to notify the public prior to do the code sweeps, and DeAndrea said he would do that. He added that after that is completed, he would like put something in the newspaper and on the website about what can and cannot be done. Perry asked if anything regarding junk vehicles was changed in this Ordinance. DeAndrea said no, but he did add that permits must be properly displayed. Mope asked what should be done if someone sees a garbage truck spilling garbage and not picking it up. DeAndrea said that person should call Code Enforcement and report it. He added that they have already issued thousands of dollars in fines to J. P. Mascaro and Waste Management for this reason, because it is scattering of rubbish. This goes to the magistrate. Perry asked said what if someone sees this going on, and DeAndrea replied that they should contact code enforcement immediately. He added that this also needs to be brought the Water Authority’s attention because they are now handling the garbage. Mike Wilfing, Quality of Life Appeals Officer, said that the old Ordinance has a magistrate section in it. He said he has no problem with the fees being changed. Wilfing commented that other similar ordinances have an appeals board. He commented that if it now goes to the magistrate, Code Enforcement Officers will be required to attend hearings, instead of writing out tickets. Wilfing recommended keeping the old ordinance. DeAndrea said he cannot see sending someone to the magistrate for a $25.00 citation, being found guilty, and being fined up to $1,000.00. DeAndrea said he is trying to improve the quality of life in Hazleton, and it is important to him to do so. He said if we keep it the way it is, we will have to have an appeals board for everything. Wilfing said currently UCC Ordinance and the Property Maintenance Ordinance have an appeals process and an appeals board. Schadder said even though there is a Quality of Life Ordinance in place, he continues to see rubbish scattered in yards and on the streets. Mope said Code Enforcement needs to get out there and aggressively start ticketing. She said that maybe the City needs more manpower for this because not everyone is getting cited. She added that there is a big problem with this on the corner of Church and Chapel Streets. Wilfing said that when this first started it worked, but it is no longer working.

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

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Ordinance 2013-14 An Ordinance Approving a Modification to the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2013 (1st Reading)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Bast asked for an explanation regarding this Ordinance. Fallon Fermin, Director of Community Development, said her department originally budgeted $632,000, but when they received a letter from HUD, the allocation amount was stated as $710,000. Therefore, she needs to correct the budget to show the $90,662 increase. Mope asked about the administration costs, and Fermin said HUD allows no more that 20% for administrative costs, and these administrative costs are only for Community Development. Schadder asked if this was used for such things as salaries, computer repairs, rent, etc., and Fermin said yes.

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

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-67 Appointment of City Solicitor

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

  On the Question:

Mundie asked how long this appointment is for, and Slusser said there is no time frame. It is until the Mayor no longer wants him as Solicitor. He added that this is just a housekeeping matter, and it was recommended by the IRS after the audit was completed. Mundie asked who told him to do this, and Slusser replied the IRS and Mary Ellen Lieb, the form Director of Administration. Hahn said he met with Lieb before she left and reviewed all the records for the audit. During that time, this oversight was found. Mundie asked why this is being done now. Slusser said he recently received a letter of appointment from the Mayor. Mope stated that she thought the Mayor waited too long to appoint a Solicitor. This should have been done at the beginning of the year. Mope stated the Mayor should be here for this. Slusser stated he did not know anything about that. Mundie said he requested invoices for Slusser for the last few years (2009 to the present), and the total amount paid to him is approximately $250,000 over the course of those years. Mundie asked if Slusser still meets with the Mayor on a weekly basis, and Slusser responded yes. Mundie commented that the Mayor should come to these meetings, and not have private meetings with the Solicitor. Bast asked if it is correct that, according to the Third Class City Code, the Solicitor’s term is concurrent with the Mayor’s term. Slusser responded yes. Mope commented that this should have been done a long time ago, and it is not Slusser’s responsibility to do this.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2013-68 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refunds to 2013 City Property Records

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Perry.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-69 Designating Steve Hahn, Acting City Administrator, as the Authorized Official (AO) to Accept Grants through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aviation dotGrant System

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Schadder asked for an explanation regarding this resolution. Hahn said this was originally done when Lieb was the Administrator. The Mayor is the signator. He said that they are trying to wrap up the audit and were trying to get information on the Airport, when this matter came up. Hahn said he does not have the authority to accept the grants at this time. He said during the audit, it took many months to come up with the required information. This would speed up the process. Hahn said the Mayor signs for the grants, but this would give him access to this system.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES ----------------------------------------------

Resolution 2013-70 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refunds to 2009, 2010 and 2012 City Property Records

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Perry.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-71 A Resolution to Change the Name of the Hazleton Municipal Airport to the Hazleton Regional Airport

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Mundie asked why this is being done. Dominic Yannuzzi, the City Engineer, said the Airport serves then entire area, and not just the City of Hazleton. The use of the Airport has increased over the past year and half. Yannuzzi said by doing this, we would be allowed to apply for more grants for the Airport. He added that in the past Council has provided support to other municipalities for their grants. Mope asked about the use of the undeveloped land at the Airport. Yannuzzi said it will be used for aviation-related services. He said this is just the first step, and he expects additional development of the acreage. Mope said that we need money to grow, and sometimes we do not have the matching funds for these grants. She said she does not believe the Airport is operating efficiently enough yet, and we need to watch what is spent at the Airport. Hahn said the Chamber of Commerce and Can-Do are looking into money for signage for City Hall, the Airport, etc. He added that it would be better to change the name of the Airport first, and then have those signs made. Mundie asked about the ownership of the Airport. Yannuzzi said the City of Hazleton will still retain sole ownership. Mundie asked Hahn if separated the Airport budget from the rest of the budget. He also asked for the income and expenses report up to June 1, 2013. Hahn said he will get that information to Council as soon as possible. He added the bills for the Airport are being separated as they come in. Schadder asked about the amount of money being brought in at the Airport. Yannuzzi said that all costs for running the Airport are currently being “recouped.” He commented that he believes the City will be receiving more than it will be giving up by changing the name. He added that all this will be explained in his report.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-72 A Resolution Providing Support for the Municipal Authority of Hazle Township in Procuring Funds from the Pennsylvania Water Supply and Wastewater Infrastructure Program

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

  On the Question:

Mope asked for an explanation regarding this matter. Bast said this is just to support Hazle Township with regard to the application for grant money to repair their sanitary sewers. Yannuzzi said that is correct. He said there is currently no public sewer on Airport Road adjacent to the Airport. This will enable them to add sewer lines in this area. Mope asked if there are any homes there, and Yannuzzi said yes. Mope asked if the Airport has sewer access, and Yannuzzi replied no. They have a septic tank onsite. He said that the intention would be to eventually hook up to the sewer system at the Airport. Mope asked what the monthly charge would be to the Airport, and Yannuzzi said it would be a standard monthly bill, and they would pay what other people in the area would pay. Mope said she believes Hazle Township residents currently pay a higher rate for their sewer than Hazleton residents.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-73 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refunds to 2010 and 2011 City Property Records Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-74 A Resolution Naming an Unnamed Lane between the Properties of 1159 East Broad Street and 1201 East Broad Street “Ellie Lane” in Memory of Eileen “Ellie” Whitaker

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Mope asked where this Resolution came from. Perry said it came from the Mayor’s office. Schadder asked where this road is located. DeAndrea said it is a dirt road across from the Hilltop Apartments. Bast asked if the City maintains it, and DeAndrea said no. Mope asked if we would be obligated to maintain this road if we name it, and Slusser said no. Slusser added that the City already owns it, so there are no additional obligations to the City. Mope asked who currently maintains it, but Slusser did not know. Schadder asked how this will affect the 911 system. DeAndrea said it will have no bearing on it. We are just renaming a street that is already in existence. Hahn added that there is no one living there and there are no homes on this roadway.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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  Resolution 2013-75 Approval of Settlement Agreement and Global General Release of Claims Regarding Litigation Involving Amelia M. Greco, as Trustee of Revocable Trust Agreement Dated January 8, 2004, Docket Numbers 3:11-CV-383-JJM and 2012-9638

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Mope asked where the money is coming from for this settlement. Hahn said it will be paid for with the gaming grant money still remaining. Mope said there is only $100,000 put aside in the budget for this. Hahn said the budget is currently being revised. Mope asked if we need to ask permission to use the grant money for this. Hahn said Yannuzzi stated it does not need to go before the Board for approval. Mope said she understands this option is the lesser of two evils, the money is not guaranteed. Bast asked if any of this will be paid out of the general fund. Hahn said yes because they will only reimburse the funds, and will not give them to us up front. Hahn said he is in the process of sending them a letter regarding this matter. Mope said the Mayor publically stated that he would not use money from the general fund. She then read aloud an email from the Mayor regarding this matter. Hahn said we need the acquisition funds and legal first before applying for the grant money. Mope said she was “not onboard with this to begin with,” and she just wants to make sure we have the money. Hahn said he was not involved in any of the discussions regarding this matter, but Council was involved. His job is simply to get the approval from Council. Perry asked if there is a deadline. Slusser said yes. Slusser commented that, in his legal opinion, this is the lesser of two evils. He said this is a very good deal for all the parties involved. He is acceptable of the terms in the agreement. Slusser commented that this will allow everyone to move forward. Schadder said he agrees with Mope in that the land was “confiscated.” He asked if we need to pay all the court costs, etc., if this is denied. Slusser said yes, and he believes this is the right decision for the City. This was done in concurrence with the majority of Council. Hahn said that as of June 15, 2013, timbering was put in the budget, and the budget is expected to balance or be very close to it. The City has well in excess of $2 million in the general fund. Hahn stated that we cannot be reimbursed by the state until we have this signed agreement, and it is given to them. Slusser said he still recommends this deal. We were able to reach an amicable decision in resolution of this matter. Perry commented that the cost of doing this outweighs the cost of not doing this. Slusser agreed. He said higher amounts could have been imposed by the Judge. This way the costs will be contained.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-2

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Resolution 2013-77 Authorizing the Sale or Disposal of Property and Equipment Owned by the City of Hazleton

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Mundie asked how this is being done. Hahn said that they are trying to sell some of the items, but the weapons will be handled differently. Council’s approval is needed to do this. Mundie asked if we got the highest price we could for some of these items. Mope commented that we need to be careful where the weapons go. DeAndrea said the computer are very old and there are no hard drives in them. A lot of the equipment is antiquated. He said the weapons will be offered to be sold to the officers first, and then sold to an FFL dealer. DeAndrea said we do not want these weapons to end up back in Hazleton. He said they will receive the gun digest price (blue book price) from the dealer. This is the same for the ammunition. He said these weapons were taken out of service in 2009, and 12 of them will be retained for training. DeAndrea said the 6.8s are no longer being used, and neither is the ammunition. Mundie asked how much ammo is being sold, and DeAndrea said about 10,000 rounds. Schadder asked if there is a specific plan to sell these items. DeAndrea said seniority will prevail, and they will be bought at their current value. Schadder said he wants this to be fair to everyone. Perry asked if there are any legal ramifications involved. Slusser said he would prefer to discuss that in executive session. He added that if he thought that was a problem, he would have told Council. Mope asked about the equipment from the police cars. DeAndrea said the notebooks from the police cars are unserviceable because no parts are available to fix them.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-80 Amending Resolution 2011-22 with regard to the Department of Community and Economic Development HOME Program

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Mope asked if this is being amended to change it to two homes instead of three, and Fermin said yes. Mope asked about the money remaining. Fermin said the money is given out to homeowners, but there is a cap on that amount. This program will help with things such as siding, roofing, etc., for the those who qualify.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

             

Comments from the Audience:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2013-10. She said it may be cheaper to have someone park in the designated spot and get a ticket. She suggested have a stipulation that employees and owners cannot park in the designated spot. Deakos commented on the GIS software. She stated there is free software on the internet from this company that will do the same job. She also suggested checking to see if the software from the County works with the reader first before proceeding any further.

Mark Rabo, First Street, Hazleton commented on the Airport. He said that when any form of government owns a business, it is considered socialism. He suggested keeping the land and leasing the airport or put it up for bid for a developer. Rabo also stated any business on that land may be taxed. He also commented on the Quality of Life Ordinance. He stated out-of-state property owners are not taking care of their properties. He said we need some “teeth” to go after them. He stated the Governor is wrong with regard to the mobile gang unit. He encouraged everyone to send an email to the Governor showing support.

Ted Sherrock, no address given, Hazleton, stated he was on the school board for many years and appointed two solicitors during that time. They were both on retainer, and they were able to budget for it at the beginning of the year.

Mike Wilfing asked how the City is going to operate without a Building Code Official in place. He asked “who is watching the door.” He said that Alfred Benesch is charging the City an hourly fee and that could get quite expensive. He added that the user should have to pay Alfred Benesch and not the taxpayers.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2013-10. She stated there could be a problem with the businesses that already have more than one designated parking spot. She asked how this problem would be handled. Cuozzo asked how much the City Solicitor charges per hour, and Bast replied that he believes it is $125.00 per hour. Cuozzo said that Council should have approved his fee. Bast said Slusser is just appointed for the rest of the Mayor’s term. Cuozzo asked if there is a new contract in place, and Perry said nothing else changed except for the fee. Mundie said he believes the fee is $130.00 per hour. Perry asked the City Clerk to check into the hourly fee for the City Solicitor.

Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton, said there was supposed to be a code enforcement sweep, but it seems to have fallen to the wayside. She said there are still people parking on the sidewalks and parking in the opposite direction of traffic. She also said that City employees are not following the parking laws. Yurcho said that the City needs to keep consistent with enforcing the codes. She commented on the Greco land, and said she hoped the money for this is not coming from the people of Hazleton. No one wants a new parking garage, and it should be put to an election by the City taxpayers. Perry said this will be done with LSA money. Yurcho said we get grants for things that we do not need, and we should not take the money. She asked that the City go after grants that are of use to us. Yurcho commented that everything should be about what is best for the City of Hazleton. Perry said the problem is that we usually do not get the grants that we desperately need, and we cannot turn down anything because then we will not receive anything. Mope said one of the problems is that the Administration does not communicate with City Council. We have to find out things on our own. Yurcho commented that the Mayor should be at every Council meeting. He is supposed to be overseeing the City. She reminded Council that they represent the taxpayers.

Dominic Tolerico, Garfield Street, Hazleton, asked if the Airport turns a profit, does it go into the general fund. Perry said yes. He asked if the City owns the Airport, and Mope said yes. He also asked if there is money being spent out of the general fund on the Airport, and Mope replied yes. Tolerico said, as he understands it, this money cannot and should not go into the general fund. Mope commented that we need work sessions in order to meet with the department heads. She said we are getting grants for things that we do not need, and doing projects that we do not need. Mundie said, in his opinion, the answer is no. But, we would need to ask the Solicitor or the Administrator, and neither one is here right now. Tolerico commented that the Airport is “useless.” Perry said we cannot sell the Airport, because, if we do, we have to give back all of the grant money from the FAA. Tolerico said the City should consult with a professional about this matter. Mope said that all department heads should be here for every meeting in case there are any questions.

Police Chief Frank DeAndrea said he respects Council and follows the rules on putting things on the agenda. He answers all questions asked of him prior to the Council meetings. He said that he puts a lot of work into his ordinances and resolutions, and then Council takes them off the agenda. He said he has issues with Ordinance 2013-10, but no one consulted him. DeAndrea said the other departments need to be consulted on such matters. He added that there are three readings of ordinances in which to ask questions. He said the resolution hiring another police officer was removed, but he has all the documents ready for that hiring. Vilcheck signed a contract to retire from the police force, and Hutnick was to replace him. There are currently 400 hours available to a new police officer, but now we have to wait another month. He planned on discussing this with Council at tonight’s meeting. DeAndrea suggested pushing back agenda deadlines, and/or requiring a cover letter as to why something is being placed on the agenda. Mope commented that she has been saying this for over a year now. She said we do not have enough time to ask questions prior to the meetings, and each thing needs to be reviewed first. She added that it becomes a real problem when holidays are involved. Perry suggested putting a notation on each item as to who placed it on the agenda. Schadder said he talked to the Police Chief prior to the meeting. Hutnick was number one on the list. If we would have had more information, we would have been able to vote on it tonight. Mundie stated that if it is something important, we could always call a special meeting of Council. Perry said the budget was reduced and we added two new police officers. He commented that he just wants to make sure we can maintain the people we already have first. Chief said Vilcheck’s salary was already budgeted. Bast said he sees the need for more police officers. He said we hired two new officers with found money. He added that this will be in next year’s budget. Right now, we are looking at over $150,000 to come out of the general fund. Bast said that we need to make sure we have the money first. He commented that he does not want to see taxes raised again, and that we need to wait until all the numbers come in first. DeAndrea said that we only hired one police officer. The second officer was injured in a car accident and has not been able to report to work yet. DeAndrea said that if he is not back by the next Council meeting, he will rescind the offer.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator:  None.

Comments from Council:  Mope thanked DeAndrea for all the information he gave to Council. She commented that there is a communication problem between Council, the Administration, and the Department Heads. There is trouble getting information in a timely manner. She recommended periodic work sessions. Mope said we need to have a capital budget even if there is no money in it at this time. This way we will know what to put where. The Highway Garage needs a new roof very badly. There are a lot of potholes that need to be patched. She said it is not the fault of the Streets Department if they do not have the materials to do the job. Mope said she appreciates everyone’s input, and she is willing to work with everyone. She commented that we need to work with what we have to the best of our ability, and we need cooperation from everyone. Mope thanked everyone for coming to tonight’s meeting.

Schadder commented that we should meet with the department heads and try to work out some of the issues that were brought up. He said communication is a problem, and everyone is frustrated with the Administration. Schadder announced that there is a new number for the main office of City, and it is 459-4960. Schadder said he would like an RFP placed for the work on Broad Street. He commented that there is no direction, a lot of neglect, and a lot of failed opportunities in Hazleton. We need to get a community planner in here. He said we need to embrace DeAngelo Brothers for bringing in jobs and businesses into the community. Bringing in more jobs will definitely lift everyone’s spirits.

Bast said that communication is a big problem. He agreed that a cover sheet explaining the ordinances and resolutions that are being placed on the agenda would be a good idea. Bast said his Ordinance was pulled from the agenda because the Solicitor said that he overlooked something on it. He commented that there is a lack of communication between Council and the Administration, and the Mayor and the people of Hazleton. Bast said the Mayor puts things on the agenda without coming to Council first. The Administration needs to educate the public on the major things going on. It should not be left up to Council to explain things at a Council meeting. This is the Mayor’s job, not Council’s job. Bast asked Mundie if he still lives in Hazleton, because a lot of people have been asking him that question. Mundie did not answer the question.

Mundie asked DeAndrea if the crime rate is up or down. DeAndrea said he did not know. Mundie said he would like to see something with the crimes last year versus the crimes this year. DeAndrea said he would prepare a specific comparison for Council that would be year to date. Mundie said he heard Mary Ann Thomas left the Code Enforcement Office, and he asked for more information on that matter. Bast said that is a personnel issue. DeAndrea said it is against the law for an employer to comment about any current or former employee. He said that he would need to have an executive session with Council to discuss this personnel matter. Mundie said he is just trying to get the facts straight, and trying to understand what is going on. DeAndrea stated that Mundie could have called him prior to the meeting to discuss this matter. He added that the public is not allowed to hear personnel matters. Mundie thanked Mike Wilfing for his term as Quality of Life Appeals Officer. He said Wilfing did this voluntarily, and was not paid or reimbursed in any way. He has 20 years of experience, and it will be sad to lose him.

Perry asked the City Clerk to contact Dominic Yannuzzi about the status of the timbering on the Water Authority land. Perry thanked everyone for their input. He said DeAndrea’s suggestions for the agenda are good. He added that Council needs to start contacting people with their questions before the meeting. Perry congratulated the Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) on their grand opening. He commented that it will be a great asset to the community. Perry commended the Attorney General’s Office for implementing a gang task force, and making Hazleton the first community for it to visit. He said there is a magazine available about the Hazleton area called “Hazleton Life,” and asked everyone to take a look at it. Perry added that there is a website called www.savehazleton.org that everyone should look at as well. Perry commented that we all want to help and fix Hazleton. He thanked everyone for coming.

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

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