2013-4-10 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 5:50 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 March 20, 2013 were approved unanimously.

At this point, Perry stated that an executive session was held regarding pending litigation matters.

                                                                                                                                                           

 

Proclamations/Communications:

 

Resolution 2013-45      Honoring Joseph DeLuca, Past Commander of the Italian American Veterans of Luzerne County

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Mope

On the Question:

Perry asked DeLuca to come the podium, and he read the Resolution aloud. DeLuca thanked City Council for the Resolution, and said he is proud to have served his country. He said that he is here representing all veterans, past and present.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

                                                                                                                                                           

Courtesy of the Floor: Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolutions 2013-38 and 2013-40. She said it is a shame that we cannot find people from Hazleton to reside on boards. Openings on boards should be advertised. The decisions made affect Hazleton and the people residing on those boards should have a vested interest in Hazleton.

Ted Sherrock, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2013-8. He said something should be placed in this Ordinance regarding snow blowers. He suggested limiting times for running snow blowers during the winter months because they are loud and people are running them at all hours of the day and night. Sherrock commented on Resolution 2013-38. He said Mr. Olsen is now retired but did work in Hazleton. Sherrock added that Olsen does a lot for Hazleton. He added that there is no requirement to live or work in Hazleton to serve on the Health Services Authority.

Justine Crego, President of H.A.L.O., stated that H.A.L.O. is moving forward with its lawsuit against the City of Hazleton with regard to the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2013-8. He said people should not be limited on when they use their snow blowers in the winter months. Rodriguez said there are many people in Hazleton that do shift work, and some work nights and sleep during the day. They may have no choice but to run a snow blower in the early morning hours or late in the evening in order to maintain their property. Rodriguez said the City needs to address daytime noise and unnecessary noises as well.

Steven Fukes, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2013-8. He said he is inundated with extremely loud music from cars, as well as the noisy straight pipes on motorcycles. These noises are so loud they vibrate his windows. Fukes said these noises could be clearly heard through closed windows. He said he also has an issue with these 15-passenger vans and taxicabs that pick up people and just continue blowing their horns.

                                                                                                                                                           

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)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Schadder.

On the Question:

Perry motioned to table this Ordinance. He said it is a bit complicated and the Solicitor needs more time to review it in order to amend the wording. Seconded by Bast.

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

ORDINANCE TABLED 3-2

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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)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Hahn said the Ordinance needs to be amended to change the nonresident rate to 1.85%, and the 1% collection rate by the school district needs to state that it is only for residents and not nonresidents. Hahn said the same Ordinance has been used every year for quite some time, but the wording is incorrect and confusing. He asked that the Ordinance be tabled, so that the Solicitor can review it. Slusser agreed with that suggestion from Hahn. Schadder said he received a lot of questions regarding this Ordinance. He said this Ordinance is convoluted and complicated, and someone should come forward and explain what this is all about. Perry stated that this is not a commuter tax as some people have been stating. Slusser agreed and stated the earned income tax has been in place for many years. He said he needs to make sure the appropriate allocations are in accordance with state law. Perry said that this is the same Ordinance that is usually presented with the Budget Ordinance. Hahn commented that the typographical error has caused people to misunderstand it. Mundie asked why this would be tabled. Slusser replied that he would like it tabled so that he could make sure the allocation of the tax is correct, as well as to look into some other issues that have been presented to him. He will need to look into the laws further and needs to clarify some questions. Hahn said that if the intent of Council is to have the EIT paying into the pension fund for nonresidents, then that rate will need to be adjusted. Mope asked where this money ends up, and Hahn said highway aid, pension, recreation, etc. He said 0.35% is for the pension. He added that nonresidents working in Hazleton may not be paying into the pension fund. Perry asked how much is budgeted for the pension fund. Hahn replied $3,332,734 is budgeted for the pension and 35% of what was budgeted has been collected so far. He added that this amount is on target at this point in the year. Perry asked if this is similar to what the residents pay, and Hahn said that would depend on where people live. Mundie asked if Slusser would have this for the next meeting, and Slusser replied yes. Perry motioned to table the Ordinance and Bast seconded the motion.

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

ORDINANCE TABLED

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-37      Extending the Rebate Period for the Collection of City Real Estate Taxes for the Year 2013 (TABLED 3/21/13)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

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

 

RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Bast asked if we are in the face value period and Hahn replied yes. Mundie asked how collections are going. Hahn said roughly 61.5% has been collected, but this may not be typical. Hahn said to date the total is $2,571,000. He spoke to Jim Hunt from Berkheimer and he said it could be set up to have people pay the face value on the county taxes, and the rebate value on the City taxes. Mope suggested changing the rebate period to April 10, 2013. Mundie said that we may have to give some people rebates. Hahn said he did not know how much it would cost, but a 2% rebate would be roughly $30,000. Mope asked Slusser if this could be done, and Slusser said he did not know. Bast asked what about the people who paid early to get the rebate, but maybe could have used the extra days to pay. Slusser said that is not necessarily an issue. Perry asked when they would be penalized, and Hahn said there is usually a 60-day discount period, a 60-day face value period, and then they have until the end of the year to pay the penalty amount. Hahn said there would be an issue if anyone paid between April 1, 2013 and April 10, 2013. Perry was concerned with the cost involved to change the dates. Hahn did not know if Berkheimer would charge more for this. Bast said that his research showed that 30%-33% pay the face value on their taxes. Schadder asked how much this would affect the taxpayers. Hahn said a $1,000 tax bill will net a $20 savings for the taxpayer, but most tax bills are much lower. Mope said that the new taxing dates hit people hard. This would give them an opportunity to have an extra grace period. Schadder asked if this will affect services in the City. Mope stated that she did not think this would cause a lot of damage, and it would prove to be beneficial to the taxpayers. Hahn said one problem would be how to get a notice out to the taxpayers, and it will cost money to mail notices to the taxpayers. Mope said we need to keep the website updated, and we need to use the local television stations in order to get the word out. Bast said some people have their taxes in escrow and wondered how this change would affect them. Schadder asked if this could be made retroactive. Mundie suggested changing the date to April 11, 2013. He added that we cannot afford to send out notices to every taxpayer. Bast asked if residents who paid between April 1, 2013 and April 10, 2013 would be entitled to a refund if this changed. Hahn said it could pose a problem and he did not know if we would have to refund some of the money. Mundie said we would just not refund any money. Schadder if a rebate would have to be paid to these individuals, and Slusser said yes. Hahn said it would cost money to cut checks and mail refunds to people. Hahn commented that we would need to notify the residents of Hazleton of this change. Slusser said the City would have an obligation to issue rebates should this pass. Mundie said he suggested this because it was a lot of money for people to come up with on such short notice. Mundie asked about extending the face value to July 1, 2013. Bast said we would still have the same problems. Perry said we need to avoid any additional costs. Hahn suggested tabling this to give Slusser time to look into this matter. Mope suggested doing this next year instead, because the residents were never told that both taxes were going to be included on the bill. Hahn said it used to be two separate bills until this year. He said right now there is $2.5 million in the bank, and last year at this time there was only $60,000 from a cash flow standpoint. Mundie asked when these did the used to go out. Hahn said that the county taxes went out in February and the City taxes went out in April. Mundie suggested extending the due date to July or August. Hahn asked for this to be tabled in order to determine if rebates would be done.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Schadder.

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

RESOLUTION TABLED

 

                                                                                                                                                           

New Business:

ORDINANCES

 

Ordinance 2013-5         Amending Ordinance 2012-25 Establishing a Registration and Licensure Program for All Residential Rental Properties, All Institutional Occupancies, and Day Care Facilities, Section 7, Subsection b (Fees) (1st Reading)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Bast said that the Ordinance sets specific calendar dates for registration, but the renewals did not go out yet. He would like the Ordinance to read as a certain number of days instead of specific dates. Bast said that he would like to get moving on the inspections immediately. There are issues with the Fire Department being called to residences that are unsafe and not up to code. He commented that someone could get killed in a fire because these buildings are not up to code. Mundie said that he agrees that rental properties should be clean and safe for everyone. He said the major problem is out-of-state landlords. Mundie said that the double homes where the owner lives in one side and rents the other side are usually in good condition. He stated that he believes people in this situation should be exempt from the registration and inspection process, as this was done several years ago. Mundie commented that this Ordinance could have been written a lot better. Perry said that we are trying to protect the renter. He added that exempting certain individuals from the process would be discrimination. Perry said the Fire and Police Departments walk into a lot of horrible conditions, and we need to protect them as well. Bast gave an example where a landlord locked the door to a room which contained the furnace and electrical panel. This could become a dangerous situation if a fire broke out. Perry commented that lots of cities have a similar ordinance in place right now. Bast stated that this is only amending the dates, and nothing else. Mope said that she sees a lot of problems with out-of-state landlords, and we need to start attracting more reputable landlords to the area. She said renters are not necessarily stuck in a bad situation, and they need to report problems with the rental properties to the City immediately. Mope suggested hiring a process server to deliver citations to the out-of-state landlords, and attaching the costs involved to the fine. She said the only landlords we need to worry about are the one currently “not on the books.” Schadder said that currently inspections are not being done, and we need to start doing them as soon as possible. He said that depending on where they came from, some renters do not know any better, and do not know what the building codes are. Schadder said he is not opposed to assessing fees on landlords for inspections and registrations. He commented that we need to “motivate” people to pay these fees. He commented on the time frame involved, and said he believes the penalties are a bit excessive. Bast said that the reason the penalties are so high is to motivate people to pay, and the amounts will cover the costs to go after them if they do not pay the fees. Prior to this, it was costing the City more money to go after them if they did not pay, than what was actually owed. Schadder was concerned that the five-day time frame was a little too short because some people may just forget. Bast said that they will have two months prior to that to make the payment. Bast said that he thoroughly researched this and this came from another municipality. He said the dates can be changed back to the original ones next year. Mope said that we need to address the problem of people who turn their homes into apartments and do not inform the City. Bast said fines up to $600 can be incurred, and asked that if anyone know of this going on to please report it to the City Code Enforcement Office. Schadder said he recently forwarded some addresses on Wyoming Street to Code Enforcement. He said that City residents need to get involved and turn in people they believe are violating City codes. Mope commented that she is concerned with addressing the matter of landlords who are not registering. Schadder stated that we could go after some of them under the Quality of Life Ordinance. Perry said he encountered individuals who said they did not know that they even needed a business license. Bast said the rental registrations were not sent out to comply with the Ordinance. This is the same amount of days, but it will not have specific calendar dates. Mope asked Slusser if this will affect the injunction. Slusser said that no injunction is currently in effect, and nothing will affect this until a court order is in place. Slusser said any further discussion on the lawsuit filed by H.A.L.O. would need to be discussed in executive session. He said that in his legal opinion nothing is preventing Council or the City from doing anything at this time.

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

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Ordinance 2013-6         Revising Consolidated Plans for CDBG Program Years 2010-2011-2012-2013 (1st Reading)

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Greg Pavlick from Barry Isett & Associates said that this simply moves funds with regard to change orders for VaPP Housing for 2010. Mope asked about the funds being moved involving the streets. Pavlick responded that this is leftover money from the streets project. It is being moved to the 654 North Locust Street property. Pavlick said that when the project was finished we realized a savings, and this is money that was not spent.

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

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Ordinance 2013-7         An Ordinance Making Transfers of the General Appropriations Ordinance for the Year 2013 Beginning January 1, 2013 and Ending December 31, 2013 (1st Reading)

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Hahn said that there were tax monies placed in various accounts by the Luzerne County Tax Collection Committee (LCTCC) with PLGIT. They were unable to determine who was owed what amount. Hahn said the amounts owed were based on a court-approved weighted average, and we received our check in the amount of $157,830 three weeks ago. Hahn said he asked the auditor, Robert Moore, if this would be considered 2013 revenue first before transferring it. It was then placed into the earned income tax (EIT) account. Hahn said that “other expenses” is for legal fees, and a settlement amount that was not budgeted for. Hahn said that EIT collections are ahead of where we were last year, and we have collected 43% of the budgeted amount. He added that we have also collected 35% of the budgeted pension amount. The pension monies are lagging behind the EIT monies. Mundie said that the Don Wilkinson Agency had a $300,000 bond, and we are entitled to that money. He said we had our own contract with Don Wilkinson, and should have that money. He asked if anyone looked into this. Hahn said that we would have to file a claim over the dollar amount lost. He said, under the circumstances, there is no way to figure that out, and asked Mundie what amount we would use. Slusser said he does not believe they had a performance bond. Mundie said it was a performance bond, and it was not Act 32. We had a contract with them, they did not perform the duties of the contract, and we had to hire another company. Mundie said he brought this up a year ago. Slusser said he would need to look at the bond first before anything else. He would need to take into account the quantification of the alleged loss. Slusser said that any further discussion on this issue would need to be discussed in executive session. Slusser said that the bond cannot be presented just because they went out of business. We would need to present them with a dollar figure. Mope asked if any of this money needs to be placed in the pension fund. Hahn said this was not sent to the City with a delineation of what goes where. Robert Moore said that cannot be determined. Hahn said the check stub stated simply “PLGIT disbursement.” Mope said she would like to see some of this money put toward the streets. Mundie asked if anyone is owed a refund from Don Wilkinson. Slusser said that would need to be discussed in executive session. Bast said the projected revenue for the EIT is $2.4 million. He asked what it was last year. Hahn said for the whole year it was $1.5 million. Bast said the funds from a one-time revenue source are being used to hire two new police officers, and replace one fireman that resigned. He asked if there are any continued obligations into the future, and, if so, how will that be funded. Hahn said that will be addressed in next year’s budget. Schadder asked what would happen in the event that these new hires would need to be laid off. Hahn said we are obligated by their contract to pay them six-month’s salary. Schadder asked if we are obligated to hire a new firefighter. Hahn said yes, as per their contract. Hahn also explained that their repairs were budgeted for $7,000, but so far they have already spent $6,500. Perry asked if Vito has started pothole patching, and Hahn said yes. Hahn explained that $2.8 million has been brought in so far this year, which amounts to 32% as budgeted. He said that expenses are at $2.4 million or 27% as budgeted. At this time, there is an excess of $400,000, but property tax payments will begin to taper off, and he does not expect to see any more surpluses. Hahn said there is $15,000 from liquid fuels for pothole patching. The Streets Department will be aggressively filing potholes. Mundie asked if he can have a report on what streets are being done. Perry commented that the Streets Department is working with limited manpower and they are “stretched very thin.” He asked everyone to be patient with the pothole patching. Mope suggested a “pothole adoption,” where people can donate money to the repair of particular potholes. She said this was done many years ago. Mike Vislocky from the Highway Department said he does not know of any such program. Hahn said the Highway Department is looking into the purchase of new equipment to help with the pothole patching. Vislocky said they need hot patch, and durapatch only works 60%-65% of the time. He said they use cold patch starting in November through the winter months, and hot patch the rest of the year, if available. Vislocky stated that most of the Street Department workers are tied up right now with street sweeping. The pothole patching will take two to three months to complete. He said that they used a lot of material so far this year. Schadder asked where they will be street sweeping next. Vislocky said they are finishing the Center City section, and then they will start on Hemlock Street and work on Diamond Avenue. He asked that everyone look for the emergency signs, because vehicles in violation of the street sweeping are being tagged and towed this year. Vislocky said that 12-15 cars were towed today. He added that the signs are placed the day prior to the scheduled street sweeping. Hahn said we are looking for money to put into street repair.

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

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Ordinance 2013-8         An Ordinance of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Defining and Prohibiting Sound/Noise Disturbance and Providing Penalties for Violations (1st Reading)

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Schadder said he noted that a lot of the City’s ordinances are outdated, especially the Zoning Ordinance with is more than 20 years old. He said a problem with noise exists in the Heights and he does not want to have other residents have to go through this. He felt this Ordinance is more specific than the current Noise Ordinance, specifically if it goes to court. Schadder said he felt that due to the number of changes, it would be better to prepare a whole new ordinance instead of amending the current one. This would avoid having to cross reference as well. He said this is open to discussion and can be easily amended. He would like every Council member’s opinion on this. Schadder said that with regard to vehicles making excessive noise, the police have an option to cite that person for noise. He stated the he consulted with the Police Chief and the City Solicitor prior to presenting this to Council. Mundie said that Slusser wrote the original Ordinance, and asked why it was not just amended. Schadder said decibel meters were a new issue, but that has now been amended. This can be revisited at another time. Perry asked if it is better to amend what is already in effect or to have a new one. Slusser said this Ordinance was presented to him for consideration, he reviewed it, and made some recommended changes. Slusser said the decibel meter issue was debated in 2006. Mundie asked if it warrants spending the extra money on the preparation of a whole new ordinance instead of just making amendments to the existing one. Schadder said he felt this Ordinance “gives us specific teeth.” He added that he would not have proposed this if he had not received approval from the Police Chief and the Solicitor. Schadder commented that the City has changed a lot over the years and what we have is currently not working. Schadder asked Slusser if there should be an exemption for garbage collection. Slusser responded that it is already covered under Section 8, under Municipal Services. DeAndrea said that he would suggest amending the penalties section to allow an ordinance citation and fine of $75.00 for the first offense, and have it go to the Magistrate for every other offense after that. The City would be able to keep all of the money collected for the fine for the first offense. Mundie asked if the police every cite anyone for a noise violation. DeAndrea replied yes. DeAndrea added that if it is after 10:00 p.m. and an officer hears excessive noise, he is supposed to cite that individual. If he does not, DeAndrea expects that officer to write a memo to him on why the ticket was not issued. DeAndrea said they have been citing a lot of people for excessive noise lately. Mundie commented that in the past people have left Hazleton because of the excessive noise, and because the police would not do anything about it. DeAndrea said that as soon as it is publically known that we are actively enforcing the Noise Ordinance, the amount of citations decrease dramatically. Bast said he was concerned with the fact that homeowners work all different hours, and they may need to perform work on their homes during odd hours. Slusser said that is addressed in Section 4, Paragraph D, regarding the use of power tools. Mope asked about the courts’ determination regarding decibel meters. Slusser said it can be upheld but decibel meters have an expense attached to them. Bast questioned the wording of Section 5, Paragraph C regarding horn blowing. Perry suggested adding the wording “for an extended period of time.” DeAndrea said if that person is not blowing the horn when the police show up, they cannot be cited for excessive noise. Slusser suggested striking this provision of the Ordinance.

Schadder made a motion to amend the Ordinance as follows:

  • Page 1, Section 1, Paragraph C – Delete subparagraph (3) in its entirety.
  • Delete any reference to Section 7 throughout the Ordinance.
  • Page 2, Section 2 – Delete “decibel” and its definition.
  • Page 3, Section 2 – Delete “sound/noise level” and “sound/noise level meter” and their definitions.
  • Page 4, Section 4, Paragraph C – Delete subparagraph 2 in its entirety.
  • Page 5, Section 4, Paragraph D – Delete “snow blower.”
  • Page 6 – Delete Section 7 in its entirety.
  • Page 8, Section 8 – Add a new paragraph exempting snow blowers.
  • Page 8, Section 9 – Add “Fire Department” as an enforcer of the Ordinance.
  • Page 9, Section 10 – Reword this so that the first fine is $75.00 and that an Ordinance citation will be issued for the first offense. Reword this so that it reads that every other offense after the first offense will be turned over to the Magistrate.

Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Bast.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES – ORDINANCE AMENDED

 

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

                                                                                                                                                           

 

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2013-38      Reappointment to the Health Services Authority – David Olsen

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.


 

On the Question:

Perry said that it was his understanding that you do not need to live or work in the City to be on the Health Services Authority. Slusser said that is correct.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-39      Approving Application for DCNR Grant for East End Park Rehabilitation

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Schadder.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-40      Appointment to the Shade Tree Commission – Dr. Christopher Goguen

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

On the Question:

Perry asked Lisa Shema, City Clerk, if there was any information on Dr. Goguen. Shema said that the Mayor informed her that Dr. Goguen is a biology professor at Penn State, Hazleton Campus. Bast asked if Dr. Goguen lives in Hazleton, but no one could answer him.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-41      Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refunds to 2012 City Property Records

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-42      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Aaron Simon

Presented by Schadder. Seconded by Perry.


 

On the Question:

Mundie asked if Simon is Act 120 certified. Bast commented that he should be at this point. DeAndrea said they have to have completed Act 120 training at the time they are hired. He said Simon is from Pittsburgh, and he understands that he must reside within 10 miles of Hazleton. DeAndrea said that once Simon is approved for hire, he will be given a psychological evaluation. Once he passes this evaluation, he will give notice of his resignation to his current employer, and then begin the process to relocate to the Hazleton area. Schadder said he spoke with Rocco Formica, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, and he said the total score is a combination of physical and written tests. The written portion consists of 100 questions, which are sealed prior to the exam. Applicants receiving a 70% or better are then given an oral exam conducted by a third party organization. DeAndrea said he also conducts a background check at this time. As per the City Code, a list of the applicants was published. The top three people were then selected. DeAndrea commented that he wanted this process conducted in a fair manner, and he made sure no politics were involved. Mundie asked why background checks are not done on all of the applicants. DeAndrea said because of the long selection process, if background checks were done on everyone, they would be “stale” by the time those individuals would be offered employment. He added that background checks are quite costly. DeAndrea said that according to the new Civil Service Rules, veterans must be selected first. The number one candidate, Huntnik, is a veteran but he is still in the academy, and would need to be Act 120 certified prior to hiring. He will be eligible for hire in June. The number two candidate is Simon, who is a veteran. The number three candidate is Magda, but he is not a veteran. Mope asked if the Civil Service test can be taken prior to receiving Act 120 training, and DeAndrea said yes. Bast asked if the list is good for two years. DeAndrea said it is good for one year, but it can be extended to two years. He said that only 23 people applied for the test, but only 10 had Act 120 training. Schadder commented that we are saving money on the new administration of the test. Mope stated that the application says the fee is $30.00, but the charge is actually $50.00. It was asked if Act 120 could be required prior to testing. DeAndrea said that requirement would “greatly dwindle the pool” of applicants. He added that the City no longer pays for the Act 120 training. The applicants have to pay it on their own. Mope asked if they are paid a salary while attending Act 120 training. DeAndrea said no, they are not paid until they start working.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-43      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Bernard R. Posten

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

DeAndrea said that Posten is currently working as a police office in Exeter.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2013-44      Authorizing the Mayor to Execute an Amendment to the Agreement with Direct Energy Regarding On Demand Energy

Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Hahn said that the Resolution has a typo in it. The rate should be 6.491¢ per kilowatt hour. Hahn said the new rate is roughly 2¢ less for street lights, which will result in a savings of $120,000 for the remainder of the year. He added that they are looking into converting more of the lights to LED. Mundie asked if Direct Energy was the only company contacted. Hahn said we already have a contract with them. Hahn stated that we qualify for off-peak hour rates, so he contacted Direct Energy about this. Direct Energy said that we can either buy out our contract for $47,000, or amend the current contract. It was decided to amend the current contract. Hahn said they have been overcharging us for off-peak hours. He added that the contract is not being extended; it is just being amended. Mundie was concerned that there would be hidden costs involved. Slusser said that there are no hidden benefits to the company. They were convinced that this was a good deal for them. Mundie asked why a contract is needed for electricity. Hahn said it is different for municipalities, and this is specifically for the streetlights. He added that Direct Energy agreed to this amendment, because they did not want to look unfavorable to the media. Mope asked for the term of the current contract. Hahn said he believes it was from 2009 to 2011, and then it was extended for two to three more years. He said he will look into some other companies next year before the contract expires. Mundie asked if Hahn looked into other option, and Hahn said yes, but this is best for now. He added that as bulbs are burning out they are being replaced with LED bulbs, but they are costly. Some prices he received were $500.00. Perry asked if we could apply for grant money for this purpose. Hahn said he is planning a meeting to look into our city-wide usage. He has a meeting scheduled with PPL regarding their rebate programs. Schadder asked about working with the HCA on this. Hahn said they are using the same company right now, and, with their usage, they receive a much better rate. Schadder asked if Direct Energy considers this a good faith business effort, and Slusser replied yes. Hahn said all other accounts will remain as is. He commented that this contract should have included different rates for different usage. Bast made a motion to amend the Resolution, and change the rate to 6.491¢ per kilowatt hour. Perry seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Perry.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES – RESOLUTION AMENDED

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

RESOLUTION PASSES AS AMENDED

                                                                                                                                                           

Comments from the Audience: John Chladon, 515 Thirwell Avenue, Hazleton said that he recently wrote a letter to the Mayor, Council, and he read the letter aloud. He requested that D Court, located behind his home, be made passable to vehicles. Chladon said it has been in its current condition since 1975, when the City stopped maintaining it. He has made repeated requests over the past 42 years regarding this matter. Chladon said he had fill brought in over the years to level it out. Slusser sent letters to the residents abutting the Court to remove their property from this City right-of-way, but it was never done. Chladon wants to build a garage, but he cannot do that until D Court is made passable again. He sent a complaint to Code Enforcement, but nothing was done. Slusser said there is a “cost impact” to do this. He added that this become a matter of threatened litigation, and the Mayor is in the process of writing a letter to Mr. Chladon regarding this matter. Slusser said he cannot elaborate on this because it is a legal matter. Bast asked that Slusser send a copy of the Mayor’s letter to Council. Slusser said it will be done in a few days, and he will give a copy to Council. Mope said that Dominic Yannuzzi was willing to go up there and look at the area, but she does not know if he ever did that. Perry said we would need to look into further to see what would be involved in doing this. Mundie stated that the contractor or contractors that originally built the homes in that area was the one responsible for putting in the roads. Chladon said it was done by several different contractors, and there was no developer for the alley part of it. He added that this is a City street. Mundie said usually the developer does the roads, and then gives them back to the City. Slusser agreed with this statement. Mundie stated that there are certain roads in the City that we do not own, therefore, we do not take care of them.

Robert Sebelin, Hazleton Heights stated he is here to oppose Chladon’s proposal, and he brought along his neighbor, Mrs. Quinn, for the same reason. His is the first home on Thirwell Avenue. D Court was never “dedicated.” Sebelin said there was a petition that went around in 2011 signed by residents against Mr. Chladon’s proposal. Sebelin said a letter was sent to Slusser from Atty. Lucadamo that D Court should be vacated. He added that there is an artesian well under that area, and it gets flooded quite often. He said that the City never took care of it since he has lived there. Chladon said that two families on that petition withdrew, one family does not care one way or the other anymore, and there is one forgery on there as well. Perry said this is becoming a legal debate, and it needs to be left up to the attorneys to solve.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton stated that the Hazleton Police Department recently handled a problem for his very professionally, and he thanked them for that. He commented that the “criminal element” needs to be chased out of the City. He is proud of the Hazleton Police Department and he stands behind them. Rodriguez commented that the problem is the personal behavior from certain individuals, and it has nothing to do with skin color, ethnicity, etc.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented that City residents should be sitting on all boards and committees. When there is an opening, it should be advertised in order to get the best possible candidate. Deakos said there is no Ordinance on the books to prevent people from coming into City Hall with a gun. She commented that only police officers should have guns.

Mark Grabo, First Street, Hazleton suggested installing solar panels to power the streetlights. Grabo said that he would like to submit an application for a Community Development Block Grant in order to revitalize a particular blighted and abandoned area of the City. Hahn said that he would need to contact Annetta Williams in Community Development with regard to that matter.

Dominic Tolerico, Garfield Street, Hazleton asked if the 2.35% EIT rate on Ordinance 2013-4 was a typographical error. Perry said yes. Tolerico asked why the Ordinance was tabled. Slusser said he needs to make sure the final ordinance is worded correctly. Tolerico stated that he spoke with DCED and if the City is distressed, a tax can be imposed. He asked if this Ordinance passes, would the budget then need to be amended. Hahn said that the budget cannot be amended anymore because it is after January. Hahn added that there is a taxing ordinance already in place. Tolerico asked where this money is coming from. Bast said that the state sets the City’s pension obligations. Tolerico commented about the pension obligations increasing. Mundie said it is not underfunded right now.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator: None.

Comments from Council: Mope thanked everyone for coming, and thanked and congratulated Mr. DeLuca.

Mundie commented about the news that windows are being shot out by BB guns, and asked about offering a reward for information. DeAndrea said that is “frowned upon” by police departments and the District Attorney’s Office. He said this could mean giving someone involved in the crime amnesty in exchange for information. He added that he cannot stop anyone from giving a reward. DeAndrea suggested instead of giving out a reward, contact the victim of the crime and give him or her the money for their mental and/or physical help. Mundie asked how many municipalities are involved in these BB gun incidents. DeAndrea said there are three different municipalities involved. Mundie commented that 80% of the problems with rental properties are caused by 20% of the landlords, and we are targeting the good ones.

Schadder said we need to crack down on blighted properties. He said that we need to get more information out into the public about this matter, and we need to continue to work as a team. He added that the police are aggressively enforcing the weight of trucks entering the City.

Bast thanked Mr. DeLuca for his service to the country and the community. He said he hoped the two police officers being hired will help out the Police Department.

Perry said some positive things are happening, such as the potential sale of St. Joseph’s Hospital. He said that he feels everyone is doing a great job. Perry said he spoke to the City Clerk about setting up a Facebook page in order to get more information out into the public. Perry added that the Administration is looking into adding an automated phone system in order to make is easier for the public to access City departments.

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