2014-03-25 Council Meeting Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 7:15 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 March 11, 2014 regular meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2014-3. She said that the paper street boards a playground. She suggested giving the street to the playground instead. Deakos asked if the City will see any property taxes as a result of this transfer.

At this point, Mundie said an executive session was held prior to the meeting with regard to a lawsuit filed by Thomas Vercusky.              

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-3 An Ordinance Authorizing the Vacation of a Portion of 11th Street between Arthur Street and Taylor Court (2nd Reading)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar said if we are ceding land, it would have to go on the tax rolls as part of person’s property. He said the proper taxing authorities should be notified as soon as possible. Sosar stated that if someone is a landowner, it is their responsibility property wise and tax wise to take care of it. Cusat said according to the map, we only have the abutting property. He said we do not have the 22 feet of land. Cusat said he did not believe it was half ours. Mundie asked if the Mayor could provide some information with regard to this matter. Mayor Yannuzzi said this was a paper street, and Hazle Township offered it to both adjacent property owners. The City of Hazleton refused it because of the cost and maintenance involved. He said the property is actually in Hazle Township, and it was offered to us because we are one of the adjacent properties. Mayor Yannuzzi said these individuals have been maintaining this portion of land for years, and they will continue to maintain it. Mope said the taxes will go to the Township, and Mayor Yannuzzi agreed.

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

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Ordinance 2014-3 An Ordinance Authorizing the Vacation of a Portion of 11th Street between Arthur Street and Taylor Court (3rd Reading)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-40 Appointment to the Zoning Hearing Board – Michael Lee (TABLED 3/11/14)

Bast made a motion to remove the Resolution from the table, and Cusat seconded the motion.

On Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

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

MOTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Michael Lee said he was born and raised in Hazleton, and his family is from Hazleton. He is a 2004 graduate of Wilkes University with a degree in business administration. He said since then he has been in sales and management, selling industrial supplies to the businesses in Hazleton for the past 10 years. He works with coming up with solutions to make businesses be more productive and efficient. Lee said he does not have much experience in zoning, but he is willing to learn. He said he believes he is qualified to sit down with the committee and make the right decisions. Mundie asked if Lee has the time to put into it, and Lee said yes.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

At this point, Mayor Yannuzzi thanked Council for passing this Resolution and appointing Michael Lee to the Zoning Board.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-42 Authorizing the Contract with Barry Isett and Associates for Engineering Services for the Office of Community Development

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mope said one of the reason Council wanted Barry Isett to continue on was because they were in the middle of the Green Street project. She asked Fermin how long it is going to take to complete that project. Fermin replied that she submitted a letter to DCED today to get an extension for the ISRP Grant. She said if Council passes this Resolution, they are going to pick up tomorrow and have them start getting the drill cuttings done. She is anticipating completion of this project within the next six to eight months. Mope asked if this is phase three, and Fermin said no, this is phase two. Fermin added that phase three will be to complete the rest of the work with the vapor sample soils. Mope asked how long that would be, and Fermin responded that she would have to confer with the engineer, but she does not believe it would be more than a couple of months. Sosar said he was under the impression that some of phase three needed to start being applied for very soon. Fermin said she received word from HUD that they are going to be able to use some HUD money for the 2014 CDBG allocation amount to go ahead and apply for the ISRP Grant. She said once she gets a letter from HUD stating they are approved for a certain amount of money, she can then go ahead and apply for the ISRP Grant. Mundie asked about the time frame of the contract. Fermin said it is for 2014, 2015, and 2016. Mundie asked if the previous contract was for three years, and Fermin said it was for 2012 and 2013, with an option to renew for 2014. Mundie asked why it is now for three years, and Fermin said she did the standard contract based on the contract before the last contract. She said she did this with the engineering, consulting and accounting contracts, and they are all for three years. Mundie asked Fermin if Barry Isett would have a problem with having a contract for two years with an option for the third year. Fermin said she would have to discuss that with them, but she believes three years is standard. Mayor Yannuzzi said that is the term Barry Isett bid on. Fermin said a three-year contract was in the bid specs.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-43 Appointment of Director of Administration – Tom Pribula

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar asked Tom Pribula who he works for in the City. Pribula replied “from an organizational chart standpoint, the Mayor.” Sosar asked if he only works for the Mayor, and Pribula stated he feels he “works for all of the citizens of Hazleton in moving the City forward and trying to make it better, financially sound, making sure things are done properly. As far as the day-to-day direct report…by an organizational chart…I report to the Mayor on an ongoing basis.” He said he worked for Luzerne County and he felt he worked for every individual in the County, and he feels like he works for everyone in watching over the taxpayers’ money within the City. Sosar asked if Pribula is “answerable to Council as well.” Pribula replied “sure.” Sosar said Pribula has been in this position for almost two weeks, and he asked him what budget he is enacting. Pribula said he inherited the 2013 budget in the system. He said we do not have the “most modern accounting system, so it hasn’t been loaded yet.” Pribula said the two budgets are not “significantly different,” so he is able to “assess the spending versus it.” He said the tax rate is the same. Sosar said “the taxing rate may be the same, but there are differences in the budget.” He asked Pribula if he is recognizing those differences and if he is recognizing Council’s budget as the budget to be used. Pribula said he has seen three different budgets, and he is waiting for final determination on which budget to load, because it is a “labor intensive process,” and “it would be silly to load it multiple times if there’s a conflict.” Sosar asked if he is saying that he is not sure which budget he is enforcing but you are enforcing something. Pribula replied “Basically, and like I said the 2013 budget is not significantly different, and you’re able to manage the approximate same bottom line.” Sosar asked what Pribula’s salary is, and he responded that the “recommended salary was $70,000.” Sosar said “that’s interesting because that’s not the salary that is in the Council budget. So, in other words you are not going to follow Council’s budget.” Mayor Yannuzzi asked “What salary is in the other budgets?” Sosar said he did not ask that, and he is not going to get into an argument over that. Mayor Yannuzzi responded “I know you’re not because it’s the same salary.” Sosar said the salary in Council’s budget is a little bit different. He asked if Pribula is familiar with the Third Class City Code, and said the Third Class Code on counties is a bit different than the Third Class City Code. He also asked if Pribula ever worked with the Third Class City Code. Pribula replied he has a copy on his desk, but he does not have it memorized, and he is somewhat familiar with it. Mope asked if Pribula has any plans to move into the City at any time, and Pribula responded no. Mope said it is up to Council’s discretion if they want to choose someone out of the City. She said it has nothing to do with him personally or with his qualifications, but she always felt it was better to have a City Administrator from the City of Hazleton. She said this is because if something happens to the Mayor, the City Administrator fills in for the Mayor. She was not comfortable with someone who is not living in here running the City of Hazleton in the Mayor’s absence. Cusat said he was going to ask about Pribula living in the City and if there has to be a motion to exempt it. Mundie said no. Cusat asked Slusser if Pribula has to live in the City. Mayor Yannuzzi responded “They are talking about a City Administrator, which is a manager, and in this position, if you read this, he is Director. The Director can live outside the City.” Mope said no. Mayor Yannuzzi said a lot of policemen and firemen live outside the City. Mope said this is in the Optional Plan. She added that the policemen and firemen have a 10-mile radius. Mayor Yannuzzi said Pribula lives in Dorrance Township and that is within 10 miles of the City. He said “That to me is no difference than any other employee of the City.” Mope said the Optional Plan, Section 416, under Mayor and Administrative states “At the time of his appointment, he need not be a resident of the City or State, but during his tenure of office he may reside outside of the City only with the approval of Council. He shall exercise and discharge the functions, powers and duties of the Department. The Department, under the direction and supervision of the Mayor shall assist in the preparation of budget, administer centralized purchasing system, and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by Council.” Mayor Yannuzzi said “Okay. So, you could approve it, but you’re not going to approve it because it’s too far, or what reason.” Sosar said he does not believe it is time to get into a discussion about this right now. He suggested that Council’s questions should be kept to Pribula. Bast said he met with Pribula this afternoon for quite some time, and asked him all the questions he needed to. He said he discussed everything he needed to know with Pribula this afternoon. Cusat asked if it is okay that he lives outside of the City. Slusser said he did not bring a copy of the Third Class City Code with him, but he does not believe there is a requirement in the Optional Plan provision regarding residency. He believes the provision that Mope read aloud is in the Third Class City Code regarding the City Administration, and, as the Mayor indicated, Pribula is designated as the Director of Administration. He said arguably he does not believe he is required under that provision under this title. Mope said “I just read you something from the Optional Plan, and you said you don’t think it’s required.” Slusser said he felt she was reading that from the Third Class City Code, and Mope said she was reading it from the Optional Plan. Mayor Yannuzzi said “It doesn’t matter. They can approve him where he lives. It doesn’t matter. He’s not going to move.” Mundie asked Pribula if he is going to be attending Council meetings. Mayor Yannuzzi said “That will be my decision.” Mundie said “Well, then I made my decision.” Bast said “…you can’t make your decision based on that. You have to make it based on the person’s qualifications.” Mayor Yannuzzi said “Before you vote, read your Third Class City Code. You have to judge him on his qualifications, not on what I said.” Mundie said he know where the Mayor and Pribula stand on this matter.

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

RESOLUTION FAILS 4-1

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Resolution 2014-44 Authorizing the Slusser Law Firm to Engage the Services of Robson Forensic as an Expert in the Case of Thomas M. Verscusky v. Vercusky v. Richard A. Wech and City of Hazleton

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar said for the record Slusser gave Council a lot of information regarding this matter, and a lot of this was dealt with in the executive session. He said we are all mostly on the same page right now, and he encouraged Council to vote in favor of this Resolution. Mundie said that “For a set amount of money, we are going to get an opinion, and if that can’t happen…” Slusser interjected and said “I am very clear on the direction of Council as per discussion in executive session. I would be concerned about revealing too much of that discussion because it may hamper our further efforts.”

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 said there was an article in the Times Leader stating that Hazleton wanted to annex the Airport land. She asked if Council ever approved doing anything like that. Deakos said the City Engineer went to the Luzerne County Board of Elections asking to put this on the ballot. She asked if there is anything in the budget to allow for this. Sosar said “…We don’t put it on the ballot. We don’t annex. We look for the land if want and try to get the land, but it has to go through Hazle Township. They have to be willing to cede that land to us. This is an annexation but it’s really Hazle Township’s to give the land to the body, not Hazleton’s. This is not an invasion that we would be asking for at this point, and that was totally, totally erroneous as to what was stated as far as annexing that piece of land…I don’t think Hazle Township is going to put a referendum vote up to give us part of their land.” Deakos said the City Engineer tried to put it on the ballot, it should have gone before the City Solicitor, and there was nothing in the budget about it. Sosar said there would not be anything in the budget about this. Deakos was concerned about who was paying for these services. Mope said she did not know anything about it. Mundie asked when it was in the newspaper, and Deakos said Monday. Mundie asked Lisa Shema, City Clerk, to make a copy of that article for Council. Sosar said it was brought to him this morning be some people in Wilkes-Barre, and they commented that everyone would know that it has to be Hazle Township that is willing to cede the land. He said there is no way that is going to happen.

William Boran, 319 West Green Street, Hazleton commented about the home that had chickens and roosters in it. He said someone should have heard the roosters at some point. Boran said he has his suspicions on what the roosters and chickens were being used for. He said if there had not been a fire in that house, no one would have ever known about it. He wondered how long it had been going on. Boran questioned if there are other homes in Hazleton that contain the same thing. He said this City has had dog fighting, drugs, gangs, prostitution, shootings, stabbings, and other problems. Boran said he believes that cock fighting is now going on. He said it is also possible that these animals were being consumed. He asked Council to consider an ordinance to inspect rental properties in Hazleton to expose some of these problems. He said he knows it costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time, and the Health Department is very busy, but his concern is disease. Boran said if these chickens and roosters are not federally inspected and sold by reputable companies, they could start spreading disease. He said the City allows 40,000 square feet for 10 chickens, and he was concerned with how many other homes or buildings are being used for this purpose. He said he contacted the Health Department about a truck that comes up Spruce Street every week and drops off a container of supplies. He said he was told the next time he sees this happen, he should call the Health Department, and they will go up and check it out. Boran said that once a container leaves its location, if the lock is opened or cut off, anything can be taken out or put into that container. Sosar said he lives on Second and Alter Streets, he knows what he is talking about, and he is familiar with the area where the chickens were found. He said his family has 911 on speed dial. He said he has called 911 about certain situations in his neighborhood many times. Sosar said he cannot believe no one heard any of the roosters living at that location. He stated we have to be more vigilant if we hear or see anything out of the ordinary. He asked Boran to call if he sees that truck, or if he could take a picture of the truck, so that there is concrete evidence and maybe we can put an end to these types of things. Sosar said “We would be more than happy to do our part, as long as we can get the good citizens of Hazleton to also do some of the leg work as well.” He said this would not put him in any danger, and this would give us the information we need to give to the appropriate authorities. Sosar stated he cannot imagine the kind of mess that 80 chickens and roosters made on a daily basis. He said he does not want to discuss it too much because of liability issues. Boran said if such an ordinance was adopted, all the small stores that sell chicken as a menu item need to be inspected to see where their chicken is coming from, and if it is USDA inspected. He was concerned if the people eating and shopping at these establishments are susceptible to disease. Boran said the citizens of Hazleton need to be more vigilant about things such as this, because it is not hard to hear roosters crowing. He said he noticed that last year he had a lot of pigeons, and all of a sudden they are no longer around.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton said he concurs with everything that Mr. Boran just said. He said he addressed County Council opposing the lifting of the ordinance banning “backyard chickens.” He said this is a prime example of why we cannot allow this to happen. Rabo said he attended the joint meeting of the Senate and House Urban Affairs Committee on Act 90, which addresses nuisance abatement and also blighted properties. He said Philadelphia implemented this and they have had some successful results. He said Philadelphia has a Blight Court. Rabo said 80% of Philadelphia’s properties were in compliance after they were taken to Blight Court, and they collected almost $1 million in fees, which overran the costs to operate it. He said it was “based on targeted code enforcement, not a wholesale sweep.” Rabo said this needs to be implanted and is going to be required under the recodified Third Class City Code, which takes effect on May 18, 2014. He read from the Code as follows: “For nuisance abatement, this new article modernizes and consolidates provisions relating to the investigation and elimination of public nuisances. Current obsolete provisions found in Sections 4140 through 4143 that authorize City Council to petition the Court of Common Pleas to appoint a board of viewers to inspect alleged nuisances would be repealed. Section 2701A defines public nuisances as any conduct or any property or condition or use thereof declared to be a public nuisance under this Act, or any other law, and conduct or property if a city department determines that it endangers the health and safety or causes harm, inconvenience, discomfort, damage or injury to any one or more persons or property in the city. Menaces, hazards, and unsafe buildings that are insufficiently maintained by the definition would be elements of a public nuisance. Section 2702A would require Council to designate the department to which reports of the existence of a possible public nuisance would be made and the department so assigned will be responsible for investigations. Any property inspection conducted pursuant to this Section or 2704A relating to prior notice of abatement is subject to administrative warrant provided in Section 2308.” Rabo believes the City would not have any problems dealing with these types of things if something like this were in place. He said the Redevelopment Authority met on February 6, 2014 and they met without the Blighted Properties Committee in place. He said he has been addressing this issue with the Mayor for the past couple of months, and it is a violation of Section 10.2, Subsection B, of the Redevelopment Law. Mope asked the City Clerk to send the Mayor a memo regarding the reactivation of the Blighted Properties Committee.

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton said the Mayor and the Solicitor left the meeting, but Pribula has enough courtesy to stay for the rest of the meeting. She commented on the City tax bill that she recently received. She said almost 40% of the bill accounted for debt service, and asked what this is. Mundie said it has to do with the City’s borrowing. He stated the bills in the past were not separated like they are now, and they are now more detailed. Mundie said it did not change from the last bill, and it was only separated. Pribula said when he received a sample of the billing, he assumed that was the way it was always done. He stated it is “wise” to break down the billing, and dedicated millage to debt service because it shows that a municipality is “fiscally sound they break out and dedicate a debt service specifically assigned to that.” Pribula stated there is a 2005 GL Bond and also a 2011 Revenue Note, and those are the two outstanding debt issues, and this is the dedicated tax to repay these items. Thomas said it made her mad to find out this takes up 40% of her tax bill. She commented “This city is not run by laws and rules. It’s not run by leadership. It’s run by temperament. It’s bossiness and [inaudible] instead of cooperation. And, what do we get for our money?” She said she went down Wyoming Street recently and she counted 15 empty stores on the right-hand side of the street. She said she saw piles of garbage on Fifth Street near Sherman Court. Thomas said she was First Street between Locust and James Streets on Sunday and it looked like “Harlem.” She commented that it feels like we are only paying for debt and nothing else. Thomas said she loves this City, but it is “going to pot.” She said City residents pay all kinds of fees and get very little in return. Thomas said she is happy to help in any way she can.

Diana Jessel Sterba, Second and James Streets, Hazleton said she is upset with all the vandalism going on. She said her car has been vandalized several times in the last six months. The window was shot out with a BB gun twice, her tire was slashed, and the right-hand side of the car was smashed in a few days ago. She commented “James Street is like Taladega.” She is tired of the vandalism. Sterba said she has used guns her whole life, and she is “a good shot.” She said she just wants peace and quiet.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton, asked about the parking situation on Holly Street between Wyoming going east that he mentioned at the last meeting, and said the signs need to be replaced there because they are faded and hard to read. Pribula said he was not aware of the situation, but will look into it. Tarantino said people are parking on the north side of Holly Street where there is no parking. The sign between Laurel Street and Manhattan Court is faded and unreadable. Tarantino said the way people are parking makes it hard for that to be a two-way street, and no one has been enforcing the parking there. He said people in his neighborhood are not putting out their recyclables with the garbage. He said we need to start enforcing some of the ordinances we have on the books, and this is one that needs to be enforced. Mundie asked the City Clerk to send a memo to the Health Officer, Mark Thompson, with regard to this matter. Sosar said the City gets a $10,000 grant for recyclable containers and they are kept here in the basement of City Hall. He asked the City Clerk to send a memo to the Mayor to have him get a notice out that the recycling containers can be picked up here. Sosar said he would like to see us receive some that have lids attached, because when it is windy, there are recyclables blowing all over the place. He said was traveling down Church Street on Sunday and he was embarrassed to see all the garbage blowing around. Sosar said it does not take long to pick up a container or a piece of paper by your home. He suggested looking into getting recycling containers with lids the next time we order them. Mope said she saw on television a community that had recycling containers with the lids attached. She said one of the biggest problems is the recyclables blowing all over the place. She said she recently discussed it with the President of the Water Authority Board. Mope said the City needs to send out a reminder about the recycling program and that containers can be picked up at City Hall. She asked Sam Galski of the Standard Speaker if he would let people know about this. Mope asked everyone to please recycle. Sosar stated it is the law. Mope said we need to promote recycling in this area. Tarantino asked how much money the City is bringing in from the recyclable such as the tin and plastic, or is it being given to the garbage collector. He said there is a company in Freeland that is making money grinding up all of the plastic containers, so they are buying it from some place. He asked where they are buying this from. If it is coming from us, where is it in the City’s budget. Tarantino said this is income that should be going to the City.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  Pribula said he is still assessing the way things are being done. He said he is working hard to get the audits done, get things in shape, and move forward. He said he will continue to do that. He said that “wherever I’m at, I try to leave a place better than I found it, and I intend on doing that until the day I leave here.”

Comments from Junior Council:  Soto said the City is trying to get back on track to be a good city. He thanked the citizens that are here and for staying strong. He said from hearing some of the comments, it is very frustrating and there is a lot of blame going on. Soto reminded everyone to hang in there. He said this Council seems like it really has something going for us. He said he is not sure if we have a budget or not, but everyone is doing the best they can. Soto said “life is hard, but we need to keep pressing on.”

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming and he congratulated Michael Lee on his appointment to the Zoning Board. He wished Lee good luck. Bast thanked Pribula for taking the time out today to meet with him and answer his questions. He also thanked him for coming tonight. He said it seems like Pribula has a lot of good ideas and he hopes he stays on. Bast stated that he looks forward to working with him. Bast said a Rental Inspection Ordinance was passed about a year and half ago, and the Administration has not really enforced it. He said this Council seems like they want to either change it or eliminate it based on things that have been said over the past couple of months. He was not sure where that is going at this point. He said he hopes that eventually we will be inspecting rental properties. Bast said this is something he has been trying to get done for quite a long time, but it has fallen by the wayside. He said hopefully this will address some of the issues we are having.

Cusat asked Pribula if he is aware of the McKinley Street property, where there was a fire, and Pribula said no. Cusat said Council voted to move forward with the cleanup of this property, and he did not know who was in charge of getting the RFP out for the cleanup. He said he would like to see that move forward as soon as possible. He said the past Administrator received bills from the engineer that he felt should be more detailed and he asked them not to be paid yet. He asked if Pribula is going to follow through with getting more detailed bills from him. Cusat cited one example where we get billed by a Hazleton company for mileage and travel time. He said there were 14 proposals brought in for the management of the pension. He said they should have been scored by now, but they have not been brought before Council yet. Pribula said the pension financial management has been assigned to someone, and they are transferring the assets. This happened prior to Pribula’s employment with the City. He said the winning bid was posted on the website. He added that he sent the tracking sheet to the unsuccessful bidders as required by Act 47. Cusat asked if it was awarded yet, and Pribula said yes. Cusat said the merger with the Parking Authority was supposed to have been completed by April 1, 2014. He asked if we need to have new job descriptions created and if there is going to be hiring process involved with this. Mope said nothing like that is in the budget, because Pribula is using the 2013 budget, and there is no place to put them in. Pribula said he could look into it because “we’re not really using the 2013 budget.” Mope said it was part of the one budget. Cusat was concerned that we have to worry about hiring employees. Mope said we are not sure if we are hiring them. Cusat asked if we received the 2012 audit from Dennis Moore yet. Pribula said he chased it down, and he has the 2012 draft. He intends on getting that completed as soon as possible. He would like to see 2013 followed immediately thereafter. Cusat said Council tabled the Resolution selecting the auditor for 2013 back in December, and we have not selected one yet. Bast said he talked to Pribula about this today. Pribula said because we are behind on that, we are also trying to complete the 2011 single audit to the state, which basically tracks the grants and puts you at risk of not getting grant money when they are not completed timely. He said it is extremely imperative that these audits get completed as soon as possible. He said he feels it would be wise to approve the current auditor going forward for one more year to maintain the continuity and the efficiency of getting the audits expedited. Pribula said he is “a big fan of rotating auditors on a regular basis,” but, in this case, it would be wise to keep them one more year, and then look for someone new. Cusat said there are lot of old streetlights and poles at the Highway Garage, and he asked how we are going to dispose of them. He asked if they are being scrapped or sold. Pribula said he hoped there would be some value to them, whether they are sold as scrap or resold. Cusat asked if he could follow up on it because there is a lot of aluminum there. He thanked Pribula for coming, and told him he will probably be receiving the title of Acting Director of Administration. He said he is very qualified and he looks forward to working with him. Cusat thanked all the department heads and City workers that come to the meetings and stick around to answer questions. He also thanked the audience for coming.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming and for their contributions. He said he wished he had better answers for Sylvia Thomas and Diane Jessel Serba. He said he knows what it is like for them because it happens to him as well. His car has been broken into a number of times. Sosar said we have got to get a handle on this, and something needs to be done. He said we need to discuss this with the Police Chief, we have to do more, and we have to be vigilant as individuals as well. Sosar mentioned the parking situation on Carson Street. He said he heard there were signs up but they were going to take some of them down. He said he was told the Streets Department was going to have to do it, and there is going to be parking on at least one side of Carson, where there is currently no parking on either side. He asked the Streets Department workers in the audience to look into it and expedite the matter. Mike Vislocky of the Streets Department said he would have to talk to Frank Vito about that. Sosar said “Hazleton has become the city of potholes.” It is hurting our cars and the City’s equipment. There is an establishment in New Hampshire that does infrared street patching. It seals it and it seals it much better because it melts the asphalt that is already there. Sosar said this can be used 365 days a year, and the savings is tremendous after the equipment costs are incurred. He said it costs about $30,000, and that we should look into this. He said he is going to pass it on to the Mayor. Sosar said with this, you would never need to use cold patch again. You can tar in the depths of winter with this product. Mundie asked if Vito took a look at it yet. Vislocky said he would give him the information. Sosar said there is a date in April that is a national cleanup day, and we need to have more of them in Hazleton on a regular basis. He would like to see some groups come out and do this maybe once a month. Sosar said when you build up the pride and spirit of the town you live in, it really helps. He thanked everyone for coming.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She said she talked to Vislocky about the hot patch. She said it is a machine that will actually utilize and reuse the asphalt. Vislocky said this one is a little bit different than what she sent him. Mope said it melts the asphalt so you can reuse it, and it is something to look into. She thanked Pribula for coming and said she appreciates the fact that he is concerned with the audits. She said there will be a discussion with him regarding the auditor. Mope said there have been problems with vandalism on Alter Street, and there was a patrol that was paid by Community Development. They patrol problematic areas of the City. She said she will email Chief DeAndrea about this and see if she can get some more patrols in the area where Sterba lives. Mope said there may have been an oversight. She said they are not going to move any patrols from Alter Street because they need it as well. Mope said there are some “hot spots” that need to be taken care of in the City. She said with regard to the rental property inspections, we are trying not to get into a lawsuit with the local landlords’ association. Council asked the Solicitor to separate the rental registration ordinance and the inspection ordinance. She said by doing so, we hope to go into negotiations with the landlords, so that we can come up with something that everyone is in favor of. Mope said that the money to defend a lawsuit is better used somewhere else. She believes in “working together and ironing things out.” Mope said we need to hear from the Solicitor about this matter. She thanked Lee and said he comes from a good family. She wished him good luck. She said she agrees with Thomas about the businesses that are moving out. She said Hazleton is not what it used to be, but we can make it better. She agreed with Sosar are having some groups come in and clean up the City. She suggested sending something out to the school district about this because some of the children are looking for graduation projects. Mope said she appreciates any participation we can get. She asked the public, if they see something, please pick it up. Mope said “People say it’s not mine. I didn’t throw it. Pick it up and throw it away. Take it home with you, put it in a bag, whatever, but pitch in.” She said we need to think of some way to promote this. Mope said the City is a place to keep clean, just like your home. She thanked all the employees and department head that come to the meetings. She said she appreciates the fact they come to the meetings. She also thanked DeCosmo for coming.

Mundie wished Lee well, and said that public service is not easy. He asked him to just do what he thinks is right for the City, and he will do fine. He said the Zoning Board meets once a month. He said the reason he voted no on Pribula’s appointment was because of the Mayor. Mundie said his reason for voting no is because the Mayor said he will determine when Pribula would be coming to Council meetings. Mundie said the Mayor is the one who hired you, and it is conflicting when the Mayor tells you one thing and Council tells you another. He stated that Pribula is probably going to listen to the Mayor on this matter, so he is assuming that he will not be coming to too many meetings. Pribula declined to comment on that right now. Mundie said he knows Pribula is qualified, and knows the work he did in the County. Pribula said he was at City Hall when the County held some meetings here. Mundie stated he thought at that time that the reassessment was not a good idea. Because of that reassessment, Hazleton is “getting the short end of the stick.” People are selling their properties for only 20% to 50% of their reassessments, and no other place in the County is like that. Mundie said he went to County meetings saying that we need to get reassessed again to get them more in line with the rest of the County. Pribula said in his opinion, this should be done on a regular basis. Mundie said he had some of the commissioners convinced of our need for a reassessment not too long ago, because our taxes are way out of line with the rest of the County. Mundie said properties in Mountaintop have exceeded their reassessment, and they are getting more than their assessed value. He wished Pribula well, and hoped he will be attending the Council meetings. Mundie said Council is trying to make a better place. He said he suggested offering a reward with regard to the vandalism of cars in that area about a year ago, but the Chief did not really say anything about it. Mundie said DeAndrea has not come to the past three or four meetings, and he wished he would come so that some of these issues can be addressed. Mundie said we are getting cameras on Alter Street, and he would like to more cameras for other areas of the City. He said maybe we could increase patrols in that area at night. He wished Pribula well and said he knows he will do his best. He got several calls that said he did a good job when he was with the County.

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

 

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