2014-01-28 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Silent Meditation and Pledge of Allegiance:  A silent moment was taken followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:  Bast-present; Cusat-present; Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings:  The minutes of the January 6, 2014 Inauguration, January 14, 2014 Regular Meeting and January 16, 2014 Work Session were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton commented on the budget. She said “just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it.” She said we should only be using the money that we know we have. Yurcho said she does not want a repeat of last year, when the Mayor threatened to lay off employees. She also commented on the purchase of the Learjet. She said there will be too many expenses involved in owing such a thing. She stated that the whole country is in “turmoil” trying to figure out how to pay their bills, and the Learjet will not bring any money into the City. She said that eventually the taxpayers will foot the bill for this.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on the McKinley Street property. She said it is about time somebody took action on this. She asked if the Learjet will be kept in a hangar or if it will be placed on display outside. Mundie said it may be flown, it may be used for education purposes, or it may just be on display. That has not been determined yet. Deakos asked if we need to keep it in working order. Mundie replied that we would need to adhere to what the primary purpose is, and that is what he has been told. He added that Council may table the resolution regarding the Learjet.

John Keegan, 105 Ferrara Avenue, Hazleton commented on the Learjet. He said not just anyone can get in the jet and fly it; you must be professionally trained. He commented on the hiring of Council’s legal advisor. He said he was told by one of the Water Authority board members that Attorney Frank Skokoski solicited him to change their solicitor to Attorney Peter O’Donnell.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

  New Business:

ORDINANCES

Budget Ordinance 2014-1 An Ordinance Providing for the Appropriation of Specific Amounts Estimated as Required for the Various Departments of the Government of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, for and during the Fiscal Year Dating from January 1, 2014 and Ending December 31, 2014 (1st Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Mundie asked Slusser if it is okay to vote on several amendments at one time, and Slusser said yes. Mundie made a motion to amend the budget as follows, and Mope seconded the motion:

• Remove $252,000 from Unencumbered Funds to add to the budget. • Remove the funds from the Parking Authority for a net savings of $80,000. • Transfer $361,000 from the Sewer Transmission Fund into Real Estate. • Transfer $100,000 from the Sewer Transmission Fund into the Streets. • Reduce Engineering Contracted Services for the Airport by $10,000. • Reduce Engineering Contracted Services for the City by $10,000.

1st Motion to Amend Budget:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on 1st Motion to Amend Budget):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

1ST MOTION TO AMEND BUDGET PASSES 4-1

Back on the Question:

Mope said moving money from the unencumbered fund balance would eliminate a tax increase. Mundie made a motion to amend the budget to add a controller for $35,000. Sosar seconded the motion.

2nd Motion to Amend Budget:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call (on 2nd Motion to Amend Budget):  Bast-no; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

2ND MOTION TO AMEND BUDGET PASSES 3-2

Back on the Question:

Mope made a motion to add a Legal Advisor for professional services for $32,500, and deduct $32,500 from the City Solicitor. Sosar seconded the motion.

3rd Motion to Amend:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call (on 3rd Motion to Amend Budget):  Bast-no; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

** Upon completion of roll call, Mayor Yannuzzi stated aloud that the Motion to Amend failed.**

3RD MOTION TO AMEND BUDGET PASSES 3-2

Back on the Question:

Bast said the Solicitor’s payments cannot be decreases because he has a contract. He added that if the Solicitor does more work than what we have budgeted for, it does not matter, because he will just bill us for it. Bast commented that these are just “fairy tale numbers.” If the Solicitor is coming to the meetings, he is getting paid. Mope said that if his line item goes over 5% of the budgeted amount, Hahn will notify Council, and we will need to vote on it. Mayor Yannuzzi asked what amounts were removed for the Parking Authority, because Mundie did not give the exact amounts. Mundie said he is removing all revenue and expenses for the acquisition of the Parking Authority, and just leaving $30,000 in there like before. Cusat gave the following breakdown of reductions regarding the Parking Authority:

• Line Item #402-5100 – reduce to $151,578.09 • Line Item #402-5190 – reduce to $9,817.73 • Line Item #402-5191 – reduce to $2,295.15 • Line Item #402-9195 – reduce to $1, 286.25 • Line Item #402-5210 – reduce to $522.34 • Line Item #410-5100 – reduce to $173,311.00 • Line Item #410-5190 – reduce to $11,620.00 • Line Item #410-5191 – reduce to $2,718.00 • Line Item #410-5192 – reduce to $586,303.00 • Line Item #410-5194 – reduce to $1,715.00 • Line Item #410-5195 – reduce to $5,880.01 • Line Item #430-5100 – reduce to $532,904.00 • Line Item #430-5190 – reduce to $35,829.00 • Line Item #430-5191 – reduce to $8,379.00 • Line Item #430-5192 – reduce to $140,480.00 • Line Item #430-5194 – reduce to $5,574.00 • Line Item #430-5195 – reduce to $51,316.00 • Line Item #430-5361 – reduce to $0.00 • Line Item #430-5373 – reduce to $3,000.00 • Line Item #363-3210 – reduce to $30,000.00

Mayor Yannuzzi said these are quite a few changes, and this is going to drastically change the budget amounts. He asked when all of this was decided, because this was not discussed on the floor. Mayor Yannuzzi said Council violated the Sunshine Law because they discussed these cuts “behind closed doors.” Sosar called for a point of order, and said that decisions can be made by Council members individually. He said that one Council member may call another Council member and it will not violate the Sunshine Law. Mayor Yannuzzi asked when they decided on these cuts. He said he brought his budget to a public meeting. Mope said she just received these numbers during the meeting just like everyone else. DeCosmo said that Council received the budget and made their own decisions individually. Mayor Yannuzzi was concerned that Council was voting on something that the public did not have the opportunity to hear and comment on first. Bast questioned moving sewer transmission fund money to the streets and real estate. He said he thought it was a dedicated fund and could only be used on the sewers. Mundie said that the auditor said it was okay to use this money. Slusser said he conferred with the auditor, and the auditor has signed off on it. Bast asked Slusser if it is legal for Council to add new line items to the budget at this point, and Slusser said it is not provided for specifically in the Third Class City Code.

Mundie made a motion to amend the budget by cutting wages of management employees, as follows, and Mope seconded the motion:

• Those earning between $30,000 and $35,000 will be reduced by 2%. • Those earning between 36,000 and 41,000 will be reduced by 3%. • Those earning between $42,000 and $49,000 will be reduced by 5%. • Those earning $50,000 or more will be reduced by 10%.

4th Motion to Amend Budget:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on 4th Motion to Amend Budget):  Bast-no; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

4TH MOTION TO AMEND BUDGET PASSES 3-2

Back on the Question:

Mayor Yannuzzi said if making cuts to wages, it has to be done separately from the budget. Mundie said Council can cut wages because it is part of the budget. Mundie said the Mayor told Council we were in the black, but then all of a sudden we are in the hole. Mayor Yannuzzi said that is because the stormwater management fee was removed, which came to $500,000. Mayor Yannuzzi reiterated that cuts to non-union employees need to be made by separate ordinance. Bast asked what the total dollar was for the cuts to wages. Mundie said he did not know, but Hahn could get that figure. He said it is approximately $48,542.00. Mayor Yannuzzi said there needs to be 10 days before final reading for the public to review these amendments to the budget. Bast asked Slusser if it is legal for the other Council members to do this. Slusser said he cannot comment right now, because he needs to research the matter first. Mayor Yannuzzi commented that certain Council members are “picking on people who are not in a union,” and it is all based on “revenge.” Cusat said he may have more amendments, and asked if there will be enough time to do this at another meeting. Slusser responded no. Cusat asked about scheduling a meeting for February 4, 2014, and asked if amendments could be made then. Bast said we can make changes on that date, but we cannot vote on anything at that time because of the required 10-day time frame. Slusser stated the time frame does not allow for the required 10-days, so all changes will need to be done tonight. Cusat made a motion to amend the budget by no longer selling our debt of delinquent taxes, line item #301-330. This currently amounts to $268,411.00. Mundie seconded the motion.

5th Motion to Amend Budget:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on 5th Motion to Amend Budget):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

5TH MOTION TO AMEND BUDGET PASSES 4-1

Back on the Question:

Hahn said the he would like to disengage from the sale of our delinquent taxes. There is a 10% cost with the company. He felt this was a good opportunity to “extract” the City from this. Mundie asked how much they collected last year. Hahn said for 2012 the total delinquents were $318,000 and $269,000 was netted. That money was disbursed between the debt fund and recreation. Cusat said he researched this and usually about 54% is collected within the first 12 months, and then 95% by the end of the second year. Hahn said that 2013 was the seventh year we were involved in this. Money was borrowed and then paid back when it was collected. Mayor Yannuzzi said they give us some of the money up front. Hahn said we may owe them money if we decide to get out of this. Mundie asked Slusser if he reviewed the contract, and Slusser said yes. Hahn said although there may be some additional costs involved to get out of the contract, he feels it is a good idea to do so. Hahn said Council’s amendment added new revenue, and asked what expenses they match. He said revenue is being increased by about $68,000. Cusat suggested adding the following line items to the budget:

• 401-5181 – Incentive Pay - $400.00 • 405-5181 – Incentive Pay - $100.00 • 405-5420 – Join Pennsylvania League of Cities - $9,933.00 • 407-5181 – Incentive Pay - $100.00 • 408-5181 – Incentive Pay - $300.00 • 408-5238 – Protective Clothing (two people) - $900.00 • 409-5181 – Incentive Pay - $400.00 • 421-5181 – Incentive Pay - $600.00

Mundie said he would like to hold off on this for now, and asked if Hahn agreed. Hahn said he does not know if this can be done because it would be altering the budget. Cusat said they could be added to miscellaneous expenses if it cannot be done this way. Hahn said the problem is that some people have the incentive pay and some do not. Cusat asked about Department 430. He wanted to know if there was an adjustment to this department because the numbers were off. Hahn said some will be leaving on April 1, 2014, and the rest of his pay is not included. Cusat said some of the amounts were incorrect and needed to be corrected, as follows:

• Line Item 430-5750 – loader payment - $29,785.00 • Line Item 452-5100 - $5,000.00 • Line Item 452-5101 - $22,000.00 • Line Item 452-5361 - $12,000.00 • Line Item 452-5103 - $27,000.00

Mayor Yannuzzi said that cannot be done. Mope asked if Hahn is considering the savings on the electricity, and Hahn said yes. Hahn said there will be a reduction to the electricity for the streetlights. He hopes to see a reduction of $40,000. Mayor Yannuzzi said that is a dedicated fund and it needs to stay in there for the streetlights. Cusat said there should be a reserve account for the Airport for the payments coming from the hangars. We need to put some money aside for the payments. Mope said that should be paid in full by then. Cusat asked about the hangar payments. Dominic Yannuzzi said we will receive 50% of the hangar amounts out of the airport funds. This is not a balloon payment. Mayor Yannuzzi said the Airport amounts do not balance. Yannuzzi said that the money for the Airport can only be used at the Airport. Mundie asked how much was lost at the Airport. Hahn said about $46,000. He said that fuel needs to be purchased by the tanker, and there was a surplus of fuel of $50,000, and the fuel inventory was $120,000. Yannuzzi said the Airport used 20,000 gallons of fuel last year. Hahn said that $10,000 of that should go in some other line item. Mundie suggested putting it in capital improvements for the airport. Bast asked what they mean by unencumbered funds. Mundie said there was a balance of $895,000 in unencumbered funds. Hahn said that was in the general funds, and did not say unencumbered funds. Mope stated there is $1,381,890.98 in unencumbered funds. Hahn did not agree with that number. He said bills have been paid out of that amount and they have not cleared the account yet. He said that fund averages out to about $130,000 per day. Mope said we have that money in the unencumbered funds account and no one knows about it.  She said we are using a cash basis balance, and that balance needs to be in the budget. Mayor Yannuzzi said not all of that is surplus, and most of it is for other obligations. Mope asked where is $600,000. She said we started out with a balance of $971,612 in 2013. Mayor Yannuzzi said that money cannot be transferred because it is an obligated fund. Mope stated that no tax note was taken out in 2013, so that money is not obligated. Mope questioned line item #396-3820 in the amount of $1,381,890.98. Mayor Yannuzzi said this is not a cash budget. Mope said she spoke with Robert Moore about this. Mundie asked if the unencumbered funds from 2010 through 2012 were in the budget, and Hahn said no. He said there was money in there from the prior year’s fund budget. He said that we can put that in there as revenue. Mope said to remove the assistant foreman position and add two more people to the Streets Department. She said this will be posted and asked Hahn to remove his pay from the budget. Mayor Yannuzzi said the assistant foreman has been out sick for about a year and is using his sick days. He said he asked for a doctor’s excuse and he did receive one. Mundie asked if a grievance was filed, and Mike Vislocky of the Streets Department said they are aware of the situation. Mayor Yannuzzi said you cannot just take away his salary because he is sick. Hahn said the assistant foreman did submit his retirement paperwork, and the budget has already been adjusted for that. Mundie said to cut out his salary and put in two new leads in his place. Hahn said he cannot change line items to make the budget balance. Cusat said Slusser told him it does not have to be balanced. Slusser said that the budget has to be balanced on final passage.  Sosar stated that according to the Home Rule and Optional Plan Law, the Council can do whatever the State Constitution does not prohibit. Slusser replied that is not necessarily true. He stated that this is not specifically provided for in the Code. Mope said that at one time the City had a controller, so there is no reason we cannot have one now. Mayor Yannuzzi said he is supposed to submit the budget in the form provided by Council. This means that Council cannot add line items after the Mayor already submitted the budget to them. He said he asked if that was the form Council wanted to use, and was told yes. DeCosmo said the Code is not specific about this, but he felt Council can create a new line item. Hahn asked about Line Item #400-5314 for special legal services. Mope said that Council’s legal advisor should be a separate line item for Council. Mayor Yannuzzi said any increases to the budget need to be done by a supermajority, which is a majority plus one. Therefore, those amendments failed. He added that the position of Legal Advisor is not approved by the Third Class City Code or the Administrative Code. Bast said he asked Slusser to prepare his opinion with regard to the position of Legal Advisor. Bast read from Slusser’s legal opinion. He said the Third Class City Code and the Home Rule and Optional Plans Law provides that “the City Solicitor shall have the superintendence, direction and control of the law matters of the City.” He added that “Council may, at its discretion, retain Special Counsel for particular proceedings or matters of the City and fix his compensation by Resolution.” Bast further stated from Slusser’s memo that “there is no mention or authorization in the Code or the Home Rule and Optional Plans Law for the appointment of a Council Legal Advisor.” He added that “the Rules of Statutory Construction provide that when the legislature includes specific items in the Act, omissions from the list should be regarded as exclusions. Therefore, by the legislature providing for the very specific instances in which Legal Counsel can be retained by the City, failure to provide for a Council Legal Advisor should be considered to be an exclusion under the Act. Bast said that Slusser’s legal opinion states that Ordinance 96-1 creating the position of Council Legal Advisor is in conflict with the Third Class City Code and Home Rule and Optional Plans Law for these reasons. He added that Council cannot create or fill a position that is in conflict with the Code.

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-27 Authorizing and Executing an Agreement with Skokoski & DeCosmo for Services as City Council’s Legal Advisor

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

  On the Question:

Bast stated that Ordinance 96-1 creating the position of Council Legal Advisor is an illegal ordinance, and, therefore, this is a moot point. He added that his contract says that he will be paid $125.00 per hour, which is more than the City Solicitor. Slusser said he reduced his hourly wage a few months ago to $120.00 per hour. Bast said Mundie is just “trying to take care of his buddy.” Mundie asked DeCosmo to amend his contract to reflect an hourly rate of $120.00, and DeCosmo said he would do that. Mayor Yannuzzi said he is required to sign all contracts and he will not sign that one. Slusser agreed that the Mayor usually signs contracts. Mayor Yannuzzi said that if he does not sign the contract, DeCosmo will not get paid. Mundie said that Council will pay DeCosmo for his services.

Roll Call:  Bast-no; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

**Upon completion of roll call, Mayor Yannuzzi stated aloud that the Resolution failed.**

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-2

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Resolution 2014-28 Repealing Resolution 2011-79 and Appointing the Acting City Administrator/Director of Administration as the Right-to-Know Officer

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mayor Yannuzzi commented that this Resolution give the busiest man in City Hall more work. Mope said that the Right-to-Know Law states it should be a senior level management employee, so therefore it belongs to the administration. Hahn said that he will do whatever he is asked to do.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-29 Appointing an Alternate Right-to-Know Officer

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Hahn said that Nancy Doyle was the alternative right-to-know officer, but because of her workload, it is being changed.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-30 Approving Non-Combat-Type Aircraft Conditional Transfer Document from the United States of America to the City of Hazleton for Transfer of Bombardier Learjet, Model C-21A, Serial No. 84-0100

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope. On the Question:

Bast asked if there are any costs associated with this, and Yannuzzi said no. Bast asked how it will be delivered to the Airport, and Yannuzzi said donations have been secured to transport it. Mope asked if everything is included, and Yannuzzi responded yes. No repairs will be required as long as we will use it to honor the community by displaying it, and use it for educational purposes only. Yannuzzi said he had a conference call yesterday with the GSA about this. Mundie said he spoke to them as well, and they said it is okay if we hold off until the next Council meeting. Sosar said the agreement states that the engines have to be started once every two week. Yannuzzi said that is only required if we want to keep it operational and in good working condition. The only that would need to be operational would be the electronics for the aviation students. Sosar asked if there are any costs involved to keep the electronics operational. Yannuzzi said we are not required to repair it because we are not intending to use it. There is no commitment. He added that this will only be on display to honor the military and to educate the youth of the community. Bast asked if this is covered under our insurance, and Yannuzzi replied yes, it is covered as a static display. Mundie was concerned that there would be children playing on it and perhaps damaging it. Yannuzzi said it would be used by appointment only, and no one will have access to it without an appointment. Sosar said he received a complaint from someone that there are financial problems in the City, and we do not really need a jet. He asked Yannuzzi to state that this will never cost the City any money. Sosar said people are struggling in Hazleton and the economy is bad right now. He does not know if this is the right time for this. Mundie asked if we could give it back. Yannuzzi responded yes, we can give it back. He said it will not cost any money, and after five year, it would become an asset to the City. Mope read from an article in the newspaper. It stated that the City will be making it operable because the GSA says it is repairable. It also states that the it will be maintained by the employees, and will be used to transport valuable business assets. Mope said she spoke to the GSA and was told if it is being used for educational purposes, they could have given it to the college themselves. Mundie asked if other cities have done this. Yannuzzi said the aviation college in Pittsburgh is getting one, and there are dozens of them sitting on display in various museums. He said he can stipulate that repairing the aircraft is a secondary option. Mundie asked about the cost to have it shipped. Yannuzzi said that someone donated this service to bring it in to the Airport. Mope said that the agreement states it is intended for flight within 30 days. Yannuzzi said he talked to Lisa at the GSA about this. She said that this can be conditional and an addendum can be attached to the agreement. Mope asked how Yannuzzi became involved in this matter. She said Yannuzzi worked on this for months, but Council did not know anything about it. Now, there is a rush to get this through. Yannuzzi said he worked on this for two months, and he prepared the application. He did not want to bring it before Council until the application was approved by the GSA. Mundie said that should have been up to Council to decide. He added that he would like a list of cities that have done this because it will help them make their decision. Mope said that she would “like to see the numbers.” Mundie asked about the donors, and Yannuzzi said they would like to remain anonymous. Sosar said that he appreciated all the time and effort Yannuzzi put into this, but there are still some questions that need to be answered, and we need more information. Sosar said he would like to table this until the next meeting. Bast asked if it was okay with the GSA to hold off on this until the next meeting. Mope said he spoke to Lisa at the GSA and it is okay with her. Yannuzzi said she was under the impression the meeting was next Tuesday, and not tonight. He added that this is a “conditional document.” He said that the City can give this back at any time, and someone else will take it. Mope said that she is not saying this is a bad idea, but we want to know about the financial obligations connected to it. Mope said that there are certain provisions that are required, such as it has to be gated and accessed with a security card, etc. Mundie asked if anything was paid to the GSA up front, and Yannuzzi said no. Mope said that even if Council approves this, it is still up to the GSA if we get it or not. She added that there is a $5,000 up front charge in the agreement. Yannuzzi said that amount will be covered by anonymous donations, and will not come from the City funds. Sosar made a motion to table the Resolution until the next meeting, and Mundie seconded the motion.

  Roll Call (on Motion to Table):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2014-31 A Resolution Authorizing the Abatement of the Nuisance Existing Upon the Property Located at 590-592 McKinley Street, Hazleton

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Bast asked where is the money for this cleanup. Mundie said it is coming from Community Development but it will not be in until March or April. He commented that perhaps the Mayor will take the money out sooner, so that this could be taken care of immediately. Mundie asked if the Mayor will help the people that live near this. Mayor Yannuzzi said he is working on this problem. He said it is not easy to just go on private property, dig up the basement, and fill it in. It takes some time. Mundie said it has been done before. Mayor said that should never have been done because now it sets a precedence. Mundie said he hopes something will be done very soon. Slusser said $1,300 was spent so far on this matter, and they are close to getting a judgment under Act 90, which would extradite an out-of-state landlord. He said we could then put a lien on other more valuable property owned by this individual. Slusser said the owner of this property has 10 to 12 other properties in Hazleton that may be more valuable. He hopes to recoup this money for the taxpayers as soon as possible. Slusser said he was ordered by the Administration to continue working on this matter. Mundie asked about the lawsuit with H.A.L.O. Slusser said the City continues to defend it. Some discovery motions took place, but it is not particularly active right now. Slusser added that it would malpractice if he did not continue to work on this matter. Mundie said that Magistrate Joe Zola threw out 50 Quality of Life citations because they were incorrect. He added that Council will be changing some of the Ordinances in the future to avoid problems like this.

Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

Comments from the Audience:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on the budget. She said that the Mayor is an elected official and he should not be receiving longevity pay. She asked where it states that he is entitled to longevity pay. Mayor Yannuzzi replied that according to the IRS, he is considered an employee, therefore, he is entitled to the same thing as the other employees. Mundie commented that the Mayor made over $60,000 in 2012. Hahn said that was not true. The Mayor made a little over $57,000 in 2013, and will be receiving $58,560 in 2014. Deakos reiterated that an elected official should not be receiving longevity pay. Bast said that the Mayor salary has been set since the 1990s. Mundie asked if Lou Barletta received longevity pay when he was the Mayor, and Mayor Yannuzzi replied yes. Mundie asked if the Mayor gets a health care stipend, and Mayor Yannuzzi replied yes. Deakos commented that the Mayor cannot be fired, therefore, he cannot be an employee.

John Keegan, 105 Ferrara Avenue, Hazleton said that Chapter 30 of the Home Rule Charter, Sections 2002 and 2003, changed the form of government. Therefore, having a Legal Advisor is illegal. He said the bickering between the Solicitor and the Legal Advisor was one of the reasons it was changed. He added that the position of Controller has to be elected at a regular municipal election. Mundie said that the City set a precedence because they had a Controller before. Keegan said that it does not set a precedence because it was done under a different form of government. Keegan commented that he feels that if Council is trying to save the taxpayers money, then we should not be paying to have a Legal Advisor come to the meetings. He added that the Legal Advisor’s opinion does not matter because it would never hold up in court. Mope asked if the Water Authority chose its own counsel. Keegan said the Water Authority operates under different laws than the City does. DeCosmo said Section 3031 of the Home Rule Charter under Subchapter A does say “elected controller.” But, under the Administrative Ordinance, Council can hire a controller. DeCosmo added that it states the office of Controller can be appointed by the majority of the governing body, which is Council. Slusser said that does not apply because it is not the enabling ordinance. DeCosmo said that Section 3151 states “any of the Optional Plans except for F,” and we are Optional Plan B. Slusser said he disagrees, but would discuss this matter further with DeCosmo.

Charles Ziegler, Harrison Street, Hazleton said he was here previously with regard to all of the abandoned cars in the City. He gave a list of abandoned cars to Council, the Mayor, and the Chief of Police, and not one car has been taken care of yet. Mundie asked if these cars can be towed, and Rick Wech said if it is on a City street, only the Police Department can tow it. Sosar said he thought abandoned stickers were placed on the cars, and then they were towed. Ziegler some of the abandoned stickers are so old that they wore off. He also complained about all the garbage scattered around on Columbus Street. Mundie gave Ziegler’s list of abandoned cars to the Mayor. He asked why DeAndrea is not doing anything about this. Mayor Yannuzzi said he cannot speak for DeAndrea. Ziegler commented that all of this illegal dumping throughout the City is ridiculous, and something needs to be done.

Chris Puza, 143 St. Charles Drive, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2014-27. He said when he was on Council, there was a Legal Advisor available to them. He said they never used him because they were smart enough not to double bill for the same service, and use the Solicitor instead. Mope said that Council is using a Legal Advisor because the City Solicitor was not attending the meeting, and they were flying by the seat of their pants. Puza said that you are double billing the taxpayers, and that Mundie was quoted as saying it was nice to have a second opinion. Mope said we have to have our own Legal Advisor because of the Mayor. Puza said that when he was on Council, everyone worked together. The Solicitor and the Mayor were at the meetings. He said that now there is a lot of arguing and badgering going on. Employees and elected officials are being disrespected and badgered in public. Puza said he has seen Council badger the Director of Community Development and the Chief of Police. Mundie said the only reason Slusser is here is for the Mayor. He said he asked Perry to have the Solicitor come to the meetings, but he never did that. Mope said that she did not want it to be “awkward” for Slusser with the Mayor. Puza commented that Slusser was a valuable asset when he sat on Council. He said Slusser’s opinion is the only one that really matters, therefore there is no need for a legal advisor. Mundie said when Slusser was not at the meetings, he believes that a lot of things were done incorrectly. Puza said that Slusser gave you his legal opinion on something tonight, and you voted against him anyway. Mundie commented that Slusser “is at the whim of the Mayor.” Sosar said there are different interpretations of the law, and it is good to hear both legal opinions. He said that we have errors and omissions insurance. Sosar added that we want to do what is right, and we want to know what is legal and what is not. He added that Puza sat here on Council, and he should know that. Puza said Council asked for DeCosmo’s legal opinion three times tonight, and that is against the law. Mope said that Puza is “pandering to the Administration,” and all you said to everything was yes. Puza said the first thing he did when he was appointed to Council was to sit down with the Administration and make cuts to the budget. Mope said the first she did after being elected was to suggest cuts to the administration’s salaries.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton said that if the law changed was it legal to have a controller when that position was originally created. She said we need to have someone oversee the operations. She said that a contracted employee should not be looking to purchase an airplane. Cuozzo stated that Hahn should not be the City Administrator because Council voted him down, and he does not reside in the City. She asked how he is being paid his salary of $75,000 a year.

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton asked Hahn if the City is “in the black.” Mundie said the Mayor made that statement, not Hahn. Yurcho said she asked many times if the budget is balanced. In October, Hahn said it would be balanced. Hahn said he did not say that in October. Yurcho said she owns her own home and is a taxpayer, and she wants some answers. Mayor Yannuzzi said we were in the black until the stormwater fee was not approved in December. Mayor Yannuzzi said the Stormwater Ordinance was not his ordinance, and he did not want it. Yurcho said she is tired of paying all of these taxes. She said no one is doing anything to bring business into the City, the parking garage is falling apart, and nothing is being done. Mayor Yannuzzi said the Parking Authority owned the garage at that time, and they did not repair it. Yurcho said that if the Mayor cared about the City and its taxpayers, he would be here at every meeting. Mayor Yannuzzi said Council just put a surplus in the budget, and that has not been done in years. Yurcho asked about the tax increase. Mayor Yannuzzi said the stormwater fee was dropped, therefore, more taxes were put in. Yurcho said she is tired of getting taxed. Mayor Yannuzzi said there was no tax increase in the City for 37 years until last year. Yurcho said the Luzerne County reassessment also increased taxes.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton thanked Council for trying to do something with the McKinley Street property. He said a precedence was set by the Mayor’s predecessor. He said in 2009 there was a fire that destroyed a building at 128-130 East Broad Street, and grant money was used to clean it up. Rabo said the City went after the money for the cleanup from the owner and it was recouped. Wech said that was not paid with City funds. The owner paid for that herself. Rabo asked about eminent domain, and Mayor Yannuzzi said that takes a long time. Rabo suggested contacting the Redevelopment Authority about this. Mundie said he just wants it cleaned up, and he does not want to proceed with eminent domain. Mayor Yannuzzi said that just because his predecessor did something does not mean that he is going to do it too. Rabo said the Mayor let the Blighted Property Committee appointments expire. He added that the City Engineer is the executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, and he has not been at any of the meetings. Yannuzzi said that is not true, and he has been at every meeting of the Redevelopment Authority. Mayor told Rabo to check the minutes. Mundie said he plans on putting the minutes of every City board, authority, and committee on the website. Rabo said that the law requires that the Blighted Property Committee be active. Mundie said “we will get it going again.” Rabo commented on the Airport. He said accepting this Learjet will “anchor” us to the Airport. He said we should sell the Airport to a private company and make some money. Mayor Yannuzzi said that if we did that, we would be obligated to pay back the grants we received for the Airport of the years. Rabo said there is a forgiveness period for grants. The Airport is losing money and has been losing money for years. It has never made any money since 1957. Mayor said it used to be owned privately, but we are now making money and it is sustaining itself.

Steve Vislocky, Hazleton said he lived on Carson Street for many years. He said there are no parking signs up on both sides and there is nowhere to park. The no parking signs have been there for many years, but no one ever received a ticket before. Now, parking tickets are being issued. Vislocky said there is no reason to have no parking signs on both sides. He measured the width of the street, and there is no reason that there cannot be parking on both sides because the street is 34 feet wide. Sosar said he does not see a problem, and they will look into it. Mope said to come back to Council if you do not hear from anyone about this.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator:  Hahn commented on the cuts to the management salaries. He said that the people in management do not receive overtime. Hahn said the people in his department work overtime to get the job done, but do not get paid for it. Today, three people will here 45 minutes beyond their regular work hours to get the pension information that Mundie requested. He asked Council to reconsider cutting the management salaries. Mundie said all he wanted was wages and benefits, and that should be easy to get. Hahn said all of the information Mundie requested was sent today for the 2014 budget. Hahn said there is some inequality here because other people make overtime and it is “uncontrollable,” yet the salaries of people who do not get overtime are being cut. He again asked Council to reconsider cutting management salaries. Mundie said they would reconsider it. Hahn said that he needs a specific list of all the changes to the budget, and Mundie said he would get that to him.

Mayor Yannuzzi said the budget is not accurate and it is not balanced. Mundie said Council will fix it. Mayor Yannuzzi said Council cannot fix it now, because it was already voted on.

Comment from Junior Council:  Joel Soto said the budget is very tedious, and he hopes the problems get solved so that a plan can be made. He said that last years seemed to be a bad year. He thanked Dominic Yannuzzi for coming to the meeting and answering questions about the jet. Soto commented that being “badgered” comes with the territory. He said that being Mayor does not make you popular and there are going to be a lot of unhappy people. He felt that the Mayor getting angry at Council was inappropriate.

Joseph Habel said he hears Council members complain about not having a solicitor at the meeting because they need his legal opinion. He asked if his opinion is so important, then why did you vote against his opinion.

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming.

Cusat thanked everyone for coming and thanked Junior Council for their comments. He said he received a complaint that a bench in Memorial Park needs to be repaired or replaced. He said he will “plug in all the numbers” in the budget and see how it works out. Cusat thanked Mundie for donating their new chairs.

Sosar thanked Junior Council for their comments. He said sometimes, as adults, we forget how we are supposed to act. He said working on the budget has been difficult, and Council has spent many hours on it. He said there were some cuts that did not make it. Sosar stated the taxpayers need a “workable budget.” He hears that the people are struggling to live within their means. He added that if there is money left over in fund balances, we should be using it. Sosar commented “we have got to tighten our belts.” He said he is trying to fight to make sure you get the services of the City at a good price. Sosar commented that we are not always going to agree, but we want the taxpayers to be satisfied.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She apologized if she was short with anyone, but she is not feeling well. She said “the well is dry and we understand.” Mope said sometimes we have to make decisions that we do not like, but they are necessary, and we are trying to help out the taxpayers. She said we need to have these discussions with the public because we need to know what is on your minds. Mope thanked the Mayor for coming. She said he is fighting for what he believes in, just like the rest of us. She thanked Slusser, DeCosmo and Hahn. Mope said with regard to the Legal Advisor, “two heads are better than one,” and “both are beneficial to Council.” She said that she is concerned with the expenses of the jet and she needs to make sure that she has all the necessary information before making a decision.

Mundie thanked everyone for coming and for their input.

Adjournment:  Mundie motioned to adjourn the meeting with Mope seconding the motion. Meeting adjourned.

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