2013-1-23 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Wednesday, January 23, 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-absent; Mope-present; Mundie-present; Schadder-present; Perry-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings: The minutes of the December 5, 2012 regular meeting and December 13, 2012 budget meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications: None.

Courtesy of the Floor: Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2013-24. She asked how much would this be without the equipment and financing, and how much the interest rate is. Schadder said it is 3.3% and includes the equipment.

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton commented that the Police Department deserves to have new equipment and new cars in order to do their job safely and effectively.

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2012-38 An Ordinance Making Transfers of the General Appropriation Ordinance for the Year Beginning January 1, 2012 and Ending December 31, 2012 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if this is just a transfer of some line items, and Hahn said yes.

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

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Ordinance 2012-38 An Ordinance Making Transfers of the General Appropriation Ordinance for the Year Beginning January 1, 2012 and Ending December 31, 2012 (3rd Reading)

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Mundie.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES

RESOLUTIONS

None.

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2013-1 An Ordinance Prohibiting Public Drunkenness in the City of Hazleton and Prescribing Penalties for Violations (1st Reading)

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mope asked what the original fine was, and DeAndrea said there was none because there was no ordinance on the books. He said that the Police Department arrests three people a week for public drunkenness. They are cited and the Magistrate orders the maximum fine, but we only receive a small amount of that. The rest is court costs. Mope asked where the fine goes with this Ordinance. DeAndrea said it is paid to the City. If it is not paid within a certain period of time, a citation is issued and it goes to the Magistrate. Mope asked how public drunkenness is determined. DeAndrea said it is done according to the Crimes Code, and it is dependent on how each person handles his or her alcohol. Schadder asked about the fine under this Ordinance. DeAndrea said it is a $100.00 fine, and if cited under this Ordinance, it will not go on that person's permanent record. Mundie asked about the testing for alcohol. DeAndrea said they do not give the preliminary breath test to anyone for public drunkenness. They can still go before the Magistrate if they so desire. Mundie asked if other cities have this Ordinance, and DeAndrea said they probably do but he does not know for sure. Perry asked if this applies to drugs as well, and DeAndrea said yes.

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

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-22 Reappointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Lorenzo Wright

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mundie.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-23 Appointment to the Zoning Hearing Board – Michael Pozzessere

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-24 Authorization to Approve Execution of the Lease Purchase Agreement Regarding Five 2013 Ford Interceptor SUVs for the Police Department

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Mope asked if we are buying SUVs because of weather conditions. DeAndrea said that is partly right. At the moment, there is only one SUV in the Police Department, and sometimes they have to borrow from the Code and Health Departments. The gas consumption on the new SUVs is two miles per gallon less than the sedans. DeAndrea said these vehicles are roomy, and they have a lot of room in the back for gear, etc. This is the new police line from Ford, and 90% of their parts are interchangeable between the SUV and the sedans. DeAndrea said they will purchase sedans the next time they need any vehicles. Mope said that even with the tax increase and budget cuts, she still does not know where this money is coming from. DeAndrea said on page 11 of the budget, line item #5750-Capital Purchases, there is $44,160. This has always been in the budget. He has been looking into this purchase for the past seven months. Perry asked about the actual cost for each vehicle, and DeAndrea said each one is $42,009.42. Schadder asked about the amount budgeted for gasoline. DeAndrea said his budget was cut by $125,000. He did not hire two additional police officers, and no other line items were touched. He is anticipating better gas mileage, and with the warranties, vehicle repairs and maintenance will be covered. Schadder asked how much the lights and letter cost for each car. DeAndrea said that before it would have cost about $4,000, but with this lease, it is $900. He said that the warranty covers most of the cost for re-lettering, which is about $250. Mope asked why our insurance does not cover the lettering, and DeAndrea said sometimes we do not meet our deductible. Mope asked what happens if we cannot afford to make the lease payments. DeAndrea said we would need to notify Ford within 90 days that the money is not coming. They will then come and take back the vehicles that we can no longer afford. DeAndrea said there will be five separate leases. If we default on one, we still get to keep the others. There are no added fees or penalties if the municipality defaults because this is being done as a municipal lease. Mope asked about purchasing the vehicles as opposed to leasing. DeAndrea said if they would decide to purchase, they can only afford one vehicle. Mundie asked about the lease. DeAndrea said there is no money down. We make the first payment when the car is delivered, and every year after. We will then own it after the end of the lease. Mundie asked who these are being purchased through, and DeAndrea said Kovatch (KME). Mundie asked if the sedans are cheaper, and DeAndrea said there is a difference in price between the sedans and SUVs of $3,300 per car. Mundie asked if there is money in the budget for this, and Hahn replied yes. Schadder asked how this will affect the morale of the staff. DeAndrea said it will boost morale in the Police Department. The current vehicles are unreliable. DeAndrea commented that the public deserves for the police to have a professional appearance. Perry asked if the new vehicles will be totally equipped, and DeAndrea said yes. This will include energy saving lights, new radios, gear racks, plastic seats, etc. Perry asked about the turnaround time. DeAndrea said three months at the earliest. Mope asked about the receipt of any seizure money. DeAndrea said he has not received any seizure money since he became the Chief of Police, and the Police Department is waiting on $350,000 for two years now. Mundie asked about the police pursuit policy. DeAndrea said he would e-mail that information to Council. Perry asked about the total cost savings, and if DeAndrea looked into used cars. DeAndrea said they look into used cars for narcotics, detectives, etc., but they try not to get used cars for patrol. He commented that emergency response vehicles need to be reliable. Schadder asked if he is getting rid of five police cars. DeAndrea said not, but they are going to be used by Code Enforcement, the Airport, etc. Three of the cars will be given to another department of the City, and two will remain in the Police Department. Mundie asked if any of the current vehicles were obtained through Costars, but DeAndrea did not know. Mundie asked about the size of the vehicles, and DeAndrea said they are not the smallest nor are they the biggest. Perry asked about the warranty. DeAndrea said there is a three-year/36,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty, and five-year/60,000 miles power train warranty on the new SUVs. DeAndrea said that all non-warranty work will be performed by the City garage. Mundie asked if any of the police cars were totaled , and DeAndrea said just one was totaled. That would be car eight. Mope said that we need a capital budget to see what we have. She commented that this is why we are in this situation. Hahn said we need revenue to put into a capital budget first. Mope said it is a state law and we have not had one for many years. Hahn said he will put it in the budget this fall. Perry suggested that some revenue coming in should be put in the capital budget. Hahn said usually when revenue comes in, it is used to reimburse the general fund for repairs, unexpected expenses, etc. He said he will meet with all departments regarding this matter prior to preparing the next budget. Mope commented that the revenues coming in should be used for necessities only.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-25 Authorization of Execution of Intermunicipal Agreement between the City of Hazleton and the Hazleton Parking Authority for Use of Vehicle

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

DeAndrea said that this vehicle is currently not being used by the Parking Authority. It will be used by the Police Department, but not for patrol. He said this is the legal way to be covered by the insurance company. Perry asked if this was a used vehicle when it was purchased by the Parking Authority, and Hahn replied yes.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-26 Authorizing the Destruction of Old City Records

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Hahn said that some offices in City Hall are being moved around to be more accessible to the public. During this time, records were found that were being kept way beyond the required amount of time. Hahn said storage is an issue, and some of these records were 10 to 12 years beyond what was needed. He said the rest of the records need to be better organized. Each department will look at its records and review them. They will then be placed in specific location. Hahn said they will then be reviewed again, and then they will be destroyed. Mundie asked about digital records. Hahn he does not know of anything like that, and we would not have the necessary equipment for digital records. Mope suggested looking into digital storage. Hahn said he will look into it, but it still may not release you from the obligation to have a paper copy available. Perry asked who will be destroying these records, and said that he was concerned with confidentiality. Hahn said someone will oversee it to make sure it is done correctly. He said it may possibly be done in house. Hahn said we cannot burn these documents, but he is looking into cloud storage. He said Frontier Communications will be conducting a presentation regarding this matter in the near future.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-27 Resolution to Participate in the Bi-County, Five-Year Hazard Mitigation Plan Update for the Counties of Lackawanna and Luzerne, Pennsylvania

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Schadder asked if this needs to be done in order to be eligible for FEMA money. Hahn said yes. He added that this is a county-wide model plan.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES
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Resolution 2013-28 Authorization of Execution of Intermunicipal Agreement between the City of Hazleton and the Borough of West Hazleton for Fire Protection

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mundie asked for an explanation of this Resolution from Leshko. Leshko said they are working towards a regionalization for fire protection. Leshko said West Hazleton is on board, and we will be meeting with Hazle Township very soon. Mundie asked if there will be an increase in overtime. Leshko did not know. Mundie said he would like language placed in the agreement that overtime will not be used. Leshko said he can do that. He added that West Hazleton has some paid firefighters. Mope was concerned with the part-time paid drivers, and the different pay rates involved between the municipalities. Leshko said we would look at this on a case-by-case basis. He stated that they would not be responding to every call outside of the City. Other municipalities have had great success with regionalization. This would be quite different than the proposed police regionalization. Leshko said rates would be capped and a commission would be formed. He said that the career and volunteer staff are on board. Mope asked how this would affect our insurance. Leshko replied that it would not affect our insurance, because this will be done through the state. Mope asked if there will be a trial period. Leshko said yes, but if we decide not to continue with it, we must submit a 30-day notice. Leshko said he recently found $4,200 in energy savings for two fire stations, such as changes to the inside lighting. Schadder asked if there is currently a working agreement with West Hazleton. Leshko said it is just a verbal agreement. We try to dispatch at the borders. Schadder said that it seems that this is already being unofficially done. Leshko said yes. He stated that we can cancel this at any time if we feel it is not working out. It will be at the Fire Chief's discretion on when to send firefighters to help out these municipalities. Leshko said that he does not want to have the City unprotected. Volunteers are all being pulled out of the same pool right now. During the day, most people are working, so there are less volunteers. Leshko said he is also looking into combining the local fire departments for the required testing to save money. Leshko said the Southside Station has the newest additions, such as a new natural gas unit and new energy efficient lighting. The Diamond and 14th Ward Firehouses are the oldest. The 14th Ward Firehouse needs a new roof. The Diamond Firehouse has a newer roof and newer heating system, but both of them are using oil as the main heat source. Leshko said they are trying to convert to natural gas, but there is a problem with them not being zoned. Schadder asked Leshko if he is increasing his efforts to secure grant funding, and Leshko replied yes. Schadder commended Leshko for moving forward with this regionalization with West Hazleton. He commended DeAndrea as well for his efforts. Leshko said we will get further with this if we all work together. Mope expressed her concerns regarding the upkeep of the Firehouses. She was afraid that the City will lose its identity. She was also concerned that we will lose volunteers and have to hire more firefighters. Leshko said there is no reason why we would lose our identity, and he would never let that happen. He commented that the volunteer firefighters are a "proud heritage." Leshko said he got a better deal "under one umbrella" for workers' compensation insurance. Perry asked if there is any required training for volunteers. Leshko said they are required to complete 200 hours of training. Perry asked if the Chiefs decide this, and Leshko said yes. Mundie asked if this will result in any more costs to the City, and Leshko said "as of right now, no." Mundie made a motion to add language to the agreement about controlling overtime costs. Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Agreement:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend Agreement): Bast-absent; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

AMENDMENT PASSES

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

Comments from the Audience: Cindy DeLuca, DeLuca Auto Repair and Towing, Hazleton asked about the rotation for towing. She said she called the Mayor about it but did not receive a reply. DeLuca said their paperwork was given to the Administration three or four months ago. Perry asked Hahn to check into this for DeLuca. Mope asked DeAndrea for an explanation of the towing policy. DeAndrea said the state has a towing policy in place. He borrowed the state's policy and gave it to Slusser to review. He said there is no policy in place right now. The Police Department uses three towing companies right now, but there is no formal agreement with them. DeAndrea said as long as DeLuca's meets the requirements they will be placed on the list. He said he would check with Slusser for the next meeting. He believes this will save the City from the costs of litigation. DeAndrea said there is a two-week rotation beginning at midnight on Sunday. This list is kept by 911 and they dispatch the towing companies on the list.

Dr. David Sosar, 338 West 7th Street, Hazleton congratulated everyone on their efforts in cutting costs. He also thanked the Police and Fire Departments for having someone come to the Council meetings to answer questions. Sosar commented that legal counsel should be present during all Council meetings. He commended everyone for their work on the budget. He commented that he is tired of the Mayor not showing up to Council meetings, and asked for the Mayor's resignation.

Comments from Administration: Hahn said City offices are being moved around to be more accessible to the public. He said there are lot of things in City Hall that should be updated. He said the paint and carpeting in the Administration offices have not be done in over 20 years. The carpeting is ripped and being tripped over. Hahn commented that it is very disrespectful to the employees who work in this department to have to look at that every day. He said the supplies are being obtained inexpensively, but the City is open to accepting donations from local businesses. Hahn said we need to provide better services to the community. He added that the 100th anniversary of City Hall is this year, and the building should look nice. Hahn added that the employees themselves moved everything around.

Comments from Council: Mope said that if there was a capital budget in place, doing these types of things would not be such a problem. A capital budget is for things such as this. She agreed that the employees need to have good working conditions. She commended Leshko for his cost saving efforts. Mope stated she hoped everything that needs attention will be addressed as soon as possible. She thanked everyone for coming to tonight's meeting.

Schadder said that he received complaints from his neighbors about the snow ban tickets. He asked that notices be placed on the website regarding the snow ban and about shoveling sidewalks. He stated that the snow ban season runs from October to April, and that the ban is on the even side this season. Schadder said the snow ban is in effect from when the snow commences until 48 hours after it has stopped. He added that snow and ice has to be removed from the sidewalks no more than 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling. Wech said that a lot of the properties that are not being shoveled are either vacant or in foreclosure. Schadder said that if anyone has any complaints, they should call the Code Enforcement Office. He added that if there is any snow coming, please move your car to correct side of the street. Mope said that under certain circumstances, some of the tickets should be forgiven, such as for a funeral, etc. DeAndrea said that anyone who gets a ticket can opt to take a hearing. That is the reprieve. He commented that everyone has a reason why they should not get a ticket. DeAndrea said that in the case of a funeral, if that person would take a hearing, Magistrate Zola would probably find him not guilty under the circumstances. Schadder recommended that if you are going to be away during the snow season, put your car on the correct side of the street as a precaution.

Mundie suggested getting high school students to shovel snow for people, and it could be part of their senior project or community service, etc. Hahn said he talked to Dr. Antonelli about this, but there are some things that need to be resolved first. He said that liability is also an issue, but they can volunteer if they want to. Hahn suggested having them sign waivers if the school is to be involved. He said he would talk to Slusser about this. Schadder said that the middle schools have community service clubs. Mope suggested obtaining a list of individuals who would need this type of help. Mundie said that insurance could be a problem. He said that some of the people would probably agree to pay them to shovel the snow. Mundie asked if the City can shovel the snow and bill the homeowner for it. Wech said that is covered in the Ordinance, but we have never done that. Mundie said he agrees with Dr. Sosar that the Solicitor should be at City Council meetings, because if something happens, we could end up being involved in litigation. Hahn said that we have a new insurance carrier this year, and there is no requirement for a solicitor to be at these meetings. Hahn said the deductible was $50,000 with the old insurance company, but the new one, Darwin, is $25,000, and we have the same $1 million coverage. Mundie asked if Council approved the switch, and Hahn said the old insurance declined to cover us, so we had no choice but to get a new insurance carrier. Hahn said he has the declaration page for the new insurance if anyone wants to see it. Mundie asked if anyone told Darwin that we do not have a solicitor at Council meetings, and Hahn said no, he did not know he had to. Hahn stated that Council can hire its own solicitor or it can use the City's Solicitor. Mundie commented about the Mayor's memo regarding appointments to authorities. He disagrees with the Mayor, and believes Council should still make those appointments. He stated several reasons for this. Schadder asked if this matter can be looked into further by the Solicitor. Hahn said Slusser is working on an opinion letter. He stated that according to the Solicitor, the law was changed after the case was heard. Perry said that even if the Mayor picks someone, Council still has to vote on it. If it fails, he cannot bring it up again. Mope said she spoke to Slusser about this, and he said she might be right. Mope stated that Slusser commented to her that the passage of Harrisburg's court case has no standing for Hazleton.

Perry said that everything goes through the Solicitor first before it comes before Council. Perry added that it is not legal to force the Solicitor to attend Council meetings. Perry thanked everyone for coming. He said that they are also looking to other cost cutting measures, such as phone service, printers, etc. Perry said that a capital budget is a great idea, but we need to take funds from somewhere else to put money into it. He said that we have not had the money to do that over the last several years. He thanked the Police and Fire Chiefs for their efforts. He also thanked Junior Council for their attendance.

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

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