2013-8-6 Council Work Session Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
WORK SESSION
TUESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2013 5:30 P.M.

Council met for a work session on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed Stormwater Management and Collection Ordinance (Ordinance 2013-13). Council Members Mope, Mundie, Schadder and Perry were in attendance. Council Member Bast was absent. Also in attendance were Steve Hahn, Acting City Administrator, Dominic Yannuzzi and Nate Staruch from Alfred Benesch, and Frank Vito, Highway Department Supervisor.

Perry called for a moment of silence to remember those killed and injured in the Ross Township, Pennsylvania municipal building shooting.

Yannuzzi gave a PowerPoint presentation with regard to the research he performed. In summary, Yannuzzi stated the following:

(1) The City of Hazleton is 5.953 square miles (10,116 parcels). Of that amount, 0.8516 square miles is state and local roads, and 0.6326 square miles is City property. The remaining area is 4.469 square miles (10,011 parcels – 2,860 acres).

(2) The City is broken down into the following zones:

a. R-1: Low Density Residential b. R-2: Medium Density Residential c. R-3: High Density Residential d. CH: Commercial Highway District e. O: Professional Office District f. I-1: Light Industrial g. I-2: General Industrial h. CC: Central Commercial I. O-S: Open Space/Recreation District (i.e., minelands)

(3) The City’s current infrastructure consists of the following:

 a. Approximately 150,000 lineal feet of separated storm sewer  b. Approximately 300,000 lineal feet of combined sewer  c. Approximately 1,400 inlets  d. Approximately 1,500 manholes  e. Gutter lines/swales along 95.12 miles (502,233 feet) of City roads  f. Gutter lines/swales along 12.53 miles (66,158 feet) of state roads

(4) The most recent Comprehensive Plan, which establishes goals for improvement/maintenance to the system) was prepared in June of 1992 and adopted in December of 1992, and the Stormwater Management Ordinance, which regulates new development, was passed on April 27, 2011

(5) City Council amended the 2013 budget to include $500,000 for stormwater expenses. Yannuzzi estimated the expenses to be $580,000 as follows:

a. Street sweeping (labor and equipment): $60,000 b. Minor inlet repairs ($1,000 X 10): $10,000 c. Major inlet repairs (6,000 X 8): $48,000 d. Vactor truck (equipment) (value=$150,000)

1. Hose maintenance: $2,000 2. Pump maintenance: $10,000 3. Repairs: $10,000

e. Inlet cleaning: $50,000 f. Vegetation control: $40,000 g. Swale installation and repairs: $50,000 h. Back hoe (excavation/grate removal): $15,000 i. Dump truck (debris removal): $15,000 j. Capital improvements: $100,000 k. Administrative oversight (administration, staff, planning, design, documents): $25,000 l. CPU system and GPS recorder: $25,000

(6) The current design is outdated and inefficient. The inlets have rusted, unsecured, and impermeable metal covers. They have small access holes, which restrict water entry, and are easily blocked by natural and man-made debris. The pavement around them is deteriorating, which poses a safety hazard for pedestrians and vehicles. The metal curb covers are rusted, deteriorating, and damaged with jagged and sharp edges. Over time, the connecting pipes may be damaged. There are deposits of sediment and trash, which effects inlet performance, and severely inhibits the flow of water into the system causing it to flow in an undesirable manner. Some inlets are 100% blocked. This leads to potentially hazardous runoff, which may spread across the street. In some locations, this may divert water into hazardous pools and/or private property. In the winter, this creates ice patches. Yannuzzi showed pictures of the following inlets as examples:

a. Corner of Peace and 1st Streets b. Corner of Peace and 5th Streets c. Corner of Peace and 9th Streets d. Corner of 15th and McKinley Streets e. Corner of Carson and 2nd Streets f. Corner of Carson and 7th Streets g. Corner of West 17th and McKinley Streets h. Corner of Peace Street and Diamond Avenue i. Corner of Carson and 17th Streets j. Corner of Locust Street and Diamond Avenue k. Corner of Vine Street and Diamond Avenue l. Corner of Peace and 15th Streets m. On Poplar Street near the entrance to the Market Fair

(7) The average lot size in the City is 32' X 200' (6,400 ft²).

(8) Residential lots would have a factor of one; commercial highway, professional office, and light and general industrial would have a factor of two; and central commercial (i.e., Broad Street Corridor) would have a factor of three. Open space/recreation (i.e., minelands) would be $5.00/acre or $5.00 minimum/parcel.

(9) Yannuzzi suggested a $40.00/year base rate for a 6,400 ft² residential lot. He also showed a formula that could be used to calculate the fees.

(10) He stated there are three options:

a. A fee based on the zoning use and size of the property b. A flat fee assessed to all properties c. Assess each property using extensive aerial photography to determine permeable vs. impermeable surface ratio

Mope asked if the software used for this is the same as the GIS software that was recommended to the City. Yannuzzi said yes. It is in their office and free for the City to use. Perry asked Yannuzzi to explain what a swale is. Yannuzzi replied that it is a ditch by the side of the road where water runs off into the inlets. Mope said there are no catch basins from Kiefer Avenue on up in the Heights. Yannuzzi said we would need to plan for that, and determine if it is more cost effective for the sewer lines to be repaired or replaced. He said that sewer lines are smaller and therefore would be cheaper to replace, therefore, he would suggest replacing the sewer lines. Perry asked what the cost would be, and Yannuzzi said a new inlet would be between $75,000 and $100,000. Vito said he made the appropriate City officials aware of the problems, and we are now liable to fix it or we could be sued. Mope asked if there are enough City employees to perform the job, and Vito replied that some of the work would need to be outsourced. Yannuzzi suggested asking Slusser about the liability issues involved with this matter. He said he used a 32 x 200 lot as the average. Residential would pay $40.00, commercial and office would pay $80.00, and central commercial would pay $120.00. He feels these amounts would cover what the City needs to accumulate for repair, replacement and maintenance of the storm drains. These fees could be changed for next year. Yannuzzi said he researched several other municipalities’ stormwater ordinances before drafting this one. Mope asked what cities he looked at, and Yannuzzi said Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Hanes, Kansas, and Newton, Massachusetts, just to name a few. Mundie asked how many he looked at, and Yannuzzi said he did not do an exhaustive search. Perry asked what option Mount Lebanon chose, and Yannuzzi said they chose to assess each property using extensive aerial photography to determine permeable versus impermeable surface ratio, which is the most expensive. Hahn said Philadelphia and Texas use the same thing. Yannuzzi said these rates can always be adjusted. Mope said the state wants the sewers and storm drains separated. She said that Wilkes-Barre and Berwick have stormwater ordinances but the separation was just for new construction. Hahn said that every municipality and county had to adopt a plan for new construction, but we also need to manage what we already have. Yannuzzi added that all new sewer connections need DEP approval. Mope asked what the county mandates, and Yannuzzi said the county accepts the City’s management of this. Mope asked why we are looking at maintenance if we only need to worry about new construction. Hahn said that we need to be able to maintain our existing system. Mope said that an $84.00 sewer transmission fee has been collected for years, and that should have been used for the maintenance. Vito said we need to repair our current infrastructure or something might break underground. He added that we need to build some type of fund for repairs, which he asked for in the amount of $100,000 during budget time. Perry said that it states that it is a dedicated fund in the Ordinance. Vito commented that the equipment for this use is very expensive. Schadder said the sewer transmission fee is separate from what we are discussing here. We are discussing a stormwater fee. Schadder asked how many inlets are in need of repair. Vito said most need major repairs, but funding and the lack of manpower are the issues. He added that they receive heavy damage by tractor trailers driving over them. Schadder asked if he ever brought this to anyone’s attention and Vito said yes, at budget time. Mope said we need to have a capital budget. She added that we do not need to have the money right now, but we need to see what needs to be done. Schadder said this is a good start because he has been receiving a lot of complaints regarding water breaking up the asphalt. Vito agreed. Schadder commented that the system is antiquated and is breaking up the road. It is impossible to keep up with. Vito said 1,400 inlets are hard to maintain with limited resources and manpower. They are trying to work on the worst ones first. Vito said that right now Peace, James and Grant Streets need to be addressed immediately. Mope said we could have worked toward it if we had a capital budget. She added that $240,000 is owed to us in commercial sewer transmission fees. Perry commented that the people involved with that are no longer here, and we should stick to discussing the storm sewer matter. Mope said there is $150,000 in the budget for storm sewer inlet repairs. Vito stated that we need to be concerned with separation, repairs and infrastructure. First, the inlets need to be repaired to make sure it is safe to pedestrians and vehicles. He feels maintenance and repair are a necessity first. Vito said that he had asked to start a fund for this with $100,000 during budget time. Perry said by establishing this stormwater management fee, we will be collecting from schools, hospitals, nonprofits, etc., and it will not be the burden of just the taxpayers. Vito suggested starting out with a simple fee, see how far it goes, and adjust it for next year. Perry said he heard that a lot of people do not want to pay this because their properties do not have any storm basins located on them. Vito said we need to be able to afford to repair and replace these inlets as soon as possible. Schadder suggested starting with half ($20.00) and seeing how far that goes. Perry asked what the Committee will be doing and Yannuzzi said they will look at the list of issues and see what should be done first. Yannuzzi commented that we need to address safety issues first. The Committee will select the priorities. Schadder asked when this project will be started. Yannuzzi said as soon as possible. He added that the City crews could do some of the work, but some projects will need to be bid out. Perry asked how many of the old style grates are broken down. Vito replied quite a few, but there is one on Beech and Church Streets that is very bad. Vito said he believes the suggested fees are warranted in order to do the work that is required. Schadder asked if Yannuzzi contacted any of the other cities about how this is going for them. Yannuzzi said he did not do that. Mundie asked if there are any other Pennsylvania municipalities that have this Ordinance. Yannuzzi said he was only able to find a few online, but there are others throughout the state. He said that it is $8.00 month ($96.00 per year) in Mount Lebanon for one residential ERU. They use a per parcel basis. Hanes, Iowa generates $1 million per year in revenue with this ordinance. Yannuzzi said he took many factors into account to help Council with a starting point. Schadder asked what inlet repairs would be considered minor, and Yannuzzi said that would be just for repairs that may last for about 10 years. The worst would be done first. Schadder asked for the meaning of administrative oversight, and Yannuzzi said that means engineering staff, administration, reproduction of documents, research, etc. Mope commented that business will not stay here or come to the City because of all the fees. She added that Hazle Township prospers while we do not. Mundie asked if any of this is the Sewer Authority’s responsibility. Yannuzzi said the pipes and inlets are the City’s responsibility. Mope stated that the sewer was “zeroed out” in the budget. Schadder asked if the sewer transmission fee may be used for the storm sewers. Mope replied no because the lines were turned over to the Sewer Authority, but there is still some money due us that we can use. Perry commented that we are just trying to look down the road. Mundie said that he will be adding two resolutions to the agenda regarding the use of Pennvest and gaming grants. Hahn said Pennvest would be a loan and not a grant. Mope stated that we have already received grants from them. Hahn said that the City is paying on two Pennvest loans for sewer projects. Schadder asked when the gaming grant money will be released, and Mundie replied sometime in September. Mope commented that we need to apply for these immediately, instead of doing them for everyone else. Hahn said that in order to apply for a grant you need to have solid costs in place, such as engineering, etc., and it needs to be for a specific project. Schadder asked why we need to come up with $500,000, and Hahn said Council put that into the budget. Mope said the sewer fund is a dedicated fund and this money cannot be touched. She added that the budget will still be $500,000 short. Hahn said the $500,000 was put in as revenue by Council, therefore there will be a $500,000 deficit. Hahn added that this money could still be used to pay wages for employees who work on the sewers, supplies for the repairs of the sewers, etc. Vito said the 1,400 inlets are not going away and they need serious attention. They need maintenance and we need to have a starting point. Mope asked about the $84.00 sewer transmission fee. Schadder commented that the $84.00 fee was for the sewers and not the storm water. Mope said she is concerned that the money collected will be used for other things and not for the storm water. Perry commented that this is a good starting point. Mope commented that this is the Administration’s fault. Hahn said that the budgets, 2005 bond issue, and Pennvest loans are all tracked, and there is a paper trail as to where the money goes. He added that some of the money was transferred to the Highway Department for cleaning the catch basins, etc., and some of the money was used to pay off some loans. Mope asked about the 2005 borrowing. Hahn said there was a 2005 general obligation note that was used to refinance old bonds and provide some additional money. Some was used for the sewers. Mope said we need to collection money and have it go where it needs to go, instead of using it to make payments on our debts. Perry thanked Yannuzzi, Staruch, and Vito for coming.

The work session was adjourned by Perry at 6:40 p.m.

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