2013-10-17 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Thursday, October 17, 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:  None.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  None.              

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2013-17 An Ordinance Approving the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2014 (3rd Reading)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

In order to clean up the demolition of the McKinley Street property, Mundie made a motion to amend the Ordinance as follows:  Decrease economic development acquisition to $90,000, and increase Clearance-Scattered Sites to $50,250. Mope seconded the motion.

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

Back on the Question:

Bast stated the Health Department went to Court last week about the McKinley Street property, and received a favorable judgment. This will be served on the owners in New Jersey. Mope said we could use the transferred funds for other properties with the same problem. Fermin said she discussed this with the Mayor and we are not going to use the money for this purpose. She said we will not receive these funds until March or April of next year. She commented that this is a burdensome issue because if we do it for one property, then we have to do it for all of them. Mundie said its Council’s decision what properties to use this money for. Schadder asked for a list of all the dilapidated properties in town. He said the old electronics building by his house is half down and the rest needs to come down. Perry asked if the fact that the McKinley Street property is in litigation could be problem. Fermin said she would have to check out the legalities of this, but it may be a problem in the future. Mope said we need money in cleanup and patrols for the safety of the community. Fermin said there is a cap on economic development acquisition, so we cannot take from that fund. She said we can take it from the digital deterrent system for the police. Mope asked how much money is left over for 2013. Fermin replied HUD only allows 25% of these funds be used for this purpose, and there is also a cap. She said we can only have $95,550 for police budgeted. As per HUD, we can take money out of the camera system. Mope said we need to put more money into police patrols, and something needs to be done right away. Fermin said we need to wait until HUD releases the funds for 2014. DeAndrea said he appreciates the extra money, but he may not be able to spend it all because of current staffing levels. Right now they have a lot of overtime. He would suggest not putting it all into overtime for the police. DeAndrea said he would prefer to keep the money in the cameras. Mundie asked for information regarding the McKinley Street judgment. DeAndrea replied that we used to put a lien on the home, and when it sold, we would get our money. The only problem is the home may never be sold, and then we would not receive anything. He said he waited until the fines built up to pay for the attorney fees before going to court. The 30-day appeal period on this matter ended on October 9, 2013, at which time he contact the Solicitor to file a judgment. DeAndrea explained that if the owners do not pay, their home in New Jersey would be sold by Sheriff’s sale. Mundie commented that it could still take months or years before we collect on the judgment. Mope said we need to proceed with this because this problem needs to be rectified immediately. Mundie said this litigation could be stopped at any time, and the fund can be reimbursed. Schadder said this needs to be done as soon as possible. Bast asked Fermin what the funds in the budget could be used for. Fermin replied it could be used for such things as bricks falling off the building, etc. It needs to be an eminent danger to people or property, and the guidelines need to be followed. Perry asked if any money would need to be moved for this, and Fermin said no because there is already money in there for 2013. Mope said Fermin stated that not all the funds were spent in 2012, and Fermin replied that they just started spending this year’s funds. Mope said it states in the City Code that we can do this. Fermin said Community Development does not want to bail out every property owner. She said she would need to make a new line item for this purpose, but we could still use the funds left in clearance. Bast asked when she expects to receive the funds for 2014, and Fermin responded probably March or April of next year, but we could also get it in August. Schadder asked the Poplar Street property, and Mope said the front portion was deemed unsafe, but the back portion is safe for now.

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-yes; Mope-yes; Mundie-yes; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES AS AMENDED

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2013-21 Amending Ordinance 2013-10 entitled An Ordinance Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Uploading Only, Loading Zone Signs, 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 Signs, 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 Perry. Seconded by Bast.

  On the Question:

Perry said he asked for this Ordinance to be changed to give business owners and the City more time to work on this. Schadder said there are a lot of street signs pointing the wrong way. He suggested getting a community group to go through the City and make a list. Then the Administration could give it to the Streets Department in the spring to work on.

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

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-99 Resolution Approving Hazleton Public Transit’s Title VI+ Program

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Sharp said Transit needs to follow certain standards, so as not to discriminate. He added that they cannot seek funding without passing these standards.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

             

Comments from the Audience:  Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton spoke about the recent shooting and death. She asked how long we have to wait for the violence to stop. She said next time it may be a child. Thomas said she has been trying to get cameras on Alter Street for over a year now. She said we have the money, but we need HUD’s permission first. She said she got together with some other people and wrote a letter to HUD about this. Thomas commented that we need to start fighting for this City as well as the country. She encouraged other people to write to HUD about this.

Ann Marie Shelby, 9 Wood Drive, Hazle Township, complained about Hazleton Creek Properties. She said she thought the accepting municipality was supposed to be notified if and when drill cuttings started coming in. They are currently bringing in about 1,000 tons a day. She said the City is losing a lot of money with regard this matter. Shelby she said she is tired of Hazle Township taking in all this fly ash, dredge, etc., and asked what effect this has on the people and the community. She asked if anyone was informed that these drill cuttings were coming in prior to Wednesday.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton said Mayor Quigley took demolished six dilapidated properties during his term in office. She said a lot of money is being spent on 13-17 East Green Street, and so far $100,000 has been spent on this property. We only paid $30,000 for it at a Sheriff’s sale. She asked why we need another $40,000 for that property. Cuozzo said we should be going after the original owner for the cleanup. She added that the property was owned by the Redevelopment Authority at one time. Cuozzo felt this money could be better used elsewhere. She thanked the Hazleton Police Department for their hard work. She commented that they deserve every consideration and having these marches are ridiculous. Most of the police officers are good men, and they face danger every day. The City has changed dramatically over the years. Cuozzo was upset that more people do not support them, and she hopes everyone realizes how much they do.

Jonathan Saxton(?), no address given, said the City has gotten progressively worse over the years. He said he came with a gun tonight because there were rumors on the internet that said there would be riots tonight. He commented that more money should be spent on police officers, and uniform cameras. He felt street cameras were not the best route. Saxton said the community needs to start trusting the police again. A lot of people he knows grew up without respect for the police because of all the corruption in the City. He commented that uniform cameras would be very helpful to the police.

Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton thanked the Police Department for their hard work. She commented that the budget is coming up and this is not the time to cut the police force. She asked the Administration not to spend money “like we hit the lottery.” Yurcho said we still have not received the revenue from the stormwater and timbering, and she asked the administration to only use what it currently has, because the taxpayers cannot afford any more. She said the City is landlocked so we cannot expand, and there are no money coming in from big businesses. Yurcho said we should not be hiring other lawyers, when we already have a City Solicitor. We should be using him only. She commented “you are bankrupting this town.” She also asked that the police make sure the surveillance cameras are continuously monitored.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator:  None.

Comments from Council:  Mope thanked everyone for coming. She said there was a “diversity of opinions” at tonight’s meeting, and we will look into everyone’s concerns. Mope felt the use of personal cameras for the police officer was a good idea. She thanked Sylvia Thomas and the Police Department. She also thanked every City department for all of their hard work. Mope commented “when we work together, things will fall into place.”

Mundie asked why Council never received the letter from the IRS stating that we are being charge $15,000 in penalties. Hahn said this was brought to Council’s attention in a prior email sent by him. He said he does not believe a Council meeting is the appropriate venue to discuss this matter, and it would be better served to discuss this in an executive session. Hahn added that there are a few other things Slusser would like to discuss in executive session as well. Mundie commented that we will be “out” $900,000 at the end of the year in our current budget. Hahn said that was incorrect. He said we need to collect $1,010,000 between now and the end of the year. He said Mundie’s statements are not true and inaccurate. Mundie said that Hahn is saying that we do not need the timbering and stormwater money that was placed in the budget. Hahn disagreed with that statement, and said he did not say that. He said we need to collect those monies in order to balance the budget, as well as earned income tax, property taxes, etc. Mundie asked that a list of business that have paid their business licenses, as well as those that have not paid, be placed on the City’s website. Schadder said that list should also include contractors. Mundie said there is a home at 186 South Laurel Street, where the heating system only goes up to the kitchen, and the fumes are going into the neighbor’s house through the exhaust pipe. Wech said the pipe has already been extended and is at the maximum. He said everything is up to code and perfectly legal. Wech added that he previously discussed this matter with Alfred Benesch.

Schadder said we need to blame the federal government for keeping money from us. He said we all have the right to feel safe within this building, and we need to respect each other’s differences and move forward. Schadder said he supports the Police Chief 100% and respects him. He commented that it is “unfortunate that the Police Chief is being disrespected at these meetings.” Schadder stated that we need to start communicating with each other in a positive manner. He asked the citizens of Hazleton to support and respect the Hazleton Police Department. He thanked the Health, Code, and Streets Departments for all of their hard work in cleaning up the City.

Bast thanked everyone for coming. He said tonight’s meeting was very orderly. Bast said everyone has different opinions, but we need to respect that and hear them out. He said he also supports and respects the Police Chief for all of his hard work. Bast commented on the recent fatal shooting and said this was a “sad situation” that had to happen. The City is not the same as it used to be, and we need to move on and move the City forward. Bast commended DeAndrea for his actions with regard to the McKinley Street property.

Perry said we are all “open to suggestions” by the public. He stated that Council is here for the people, and we need to come up with some other solutions to the ongoing problems. Perry we live here and pay taxes too, just like everyone else. He was happy to hear that people are being supportive of the Police Department. Crime has “increased 10 fold,” and the residents of Hazleton are taxed to the max. Perry said if you want more protection, you must tell us. He is all for more protection, but it must be funded by the taxpayers. Perry asked everyone to get out and vote, and tell the government what you want. He commented that everyone is passionate about their opinions and what they want. He said we cannot accomplish anything with negativity, and asked everyone to be more positive. He thanked everyone for coming.

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

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