2014-04-22 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, April 22, 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 April 8, 2014 regular meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton said some Council Members are concerned that placing surveillance cameras on Alter Street will chase criminals to other parts of the City. She asked if those Council Members are afraid that the criminals will go to James Streets or the Heights. Thomas said criminals are all over the City, including Vine Street, Locust Street and 2nd Street. She said certain Council Members are saying “As long as you stay in the Alter Street area, we won’t keep an eye on you.” Thomas said those people “who live in the Alter Street area are tax paying citizens, and you three are denying us our right of protection by the City of Hazleton. You are endangering our lives, businesses, and property values, and we are not going to let you get away with it.” She said certain Council Members said they were concerned because the cameras take away money from police overtime. Thomas asked Mope if she was concerned about the police overtime when, in December of 2012, she proposed cutting police salaries by $240,000, and cutting police benefits and overtime by $100,000 each. She said the cameras have been approved by the previous Council, the Chief of Police, and the Director of Community Development. Half of that contract has already been paid for. Thomas said that on April 10, 2014, the Standard Speaker printed a story whereby Mope wanted to know where else in Hazleton, besides Alter Street, this surveillance camera system would serve. She said she was at the meeting when DeAndrea told everyone where the cameras were going to be placed, and that they would be throughout the City. Thomas asked if anyone on Council ever bothered to call or email DeAndrea about the placement of the cameras. Thomas said Mope came to the Alter Street Crime Watch meetings and had its members believing she was in favor of having cameras on Alter Street. She said Mope and Mundie signed a petition to place cameras on Alter Street. Mundie said “we’re going to pass that, but we had some questions.” Thomas said she has a right to speak. She added that they waited a year and a half for those cameras, and they are not going give up until they get them. Thomas added that Mundie said to her that he “could not sleep at night if he could not help the people,” and she believed him. Mundie said he was the one who asked for cameras when he was first elected. Bast called for point of order, and asked Mundie to let Thomas speak. Thomas said that in the newspaper, Sosar said he questioned the $30,000 reduction in police service funds. She asked if Sosar knows that we have three police officers for each shift in a city with between 25,000 and 30,000 citizens. Thomas said there were only seven applications received when DeAndrea last hired police officers. The police are overworked, but those cameras will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She commented that “You think that because you’re the majority you could do anything you want…we don’t work for you, you work for us.  And if you think you can endanger our lives, property, and deny us our rights, you are very mistaken.” Thomas said the Alter Street Crime Watch would like to thanks those who showed up from other crime groups. She asked Council to change its mind, and “give the people of Hazleton the 24 cameras that are going to be positioned throughout the City.” She understood that the cameras will not solve all the problems, but they will help. Thomas stated she “strongly recommends that maybe two of you out of the three will think next time before you let the one who came up with this fiasco steer you in the wrong direction again.” Thomas told DeAndrea that she would volunteer to watch the cameras a few hours a week.

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton agreed with Thomas about the cameras. Her major concern is who will be watching them. She said we need to have someone sit there and watch them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or they are not going to do us any good. Yurcho said if a crime is committed and we watch the recording several hours later, the person who did the crime is already long gone. She said we need to push the crime out of town. She said these cameras are not going to be able to digitally enhance faces, and they will be blurry. That is why we need to catch the criminals in the act. Yurcho stated that there are cameras all over Wilkes-Barre, and they still have a high crime rate and a high murder rate. She is not against having cameras, she just wants to know that someone is there monitoring them. Yurcho volunteered to monitor the cameras a few hours a week. She said it is not going to work if we install $150,000 worth of cameras and they do not help.

At this point, Mope called for point of order and defer from the agenda temporarily. She addressed Sylvia Thomas about the surveillance cameras. She said “we are not against the cameras. We wanted Chief DeAndrea to come here so we could ask him a few questions on it.” Mope said “This is not our first trip around the block with cameras…some cameras are dark…we’re not just dealing with your problem on Alter Street, we’re dealing with the rest of City, and we’re also dealing with a previous problem when people when out and purchased this camera system. So they had bought expensive cameras, and we had a problem with the transmission on them, and it didn’t work out, and we ended up with a second monitor as well.” She said she had gone downstairs after one of the Council meetings, and there were only two cameras operating out of all that were purchases. She said she “heard from the people that purchased the cameras that they were mad, because they went through all of this expense, and they were not getting what they were promised.” Mope added “they were left with cameras and no signals being transmitted.” She said “before we spent $150,000, we wanted to do a trial area.” She said she has the minutes from December 5, 2013, and read from them, as follows: “Mundie asked what is this about. Chief DeAndrea said these cameras are for Alter Street.” Mope said we were supposed to start with Alter Street as an “incubation area to see how it worked out.” She added that if it worked out, we could expand on it, and if there were any problems, they could be fixed before purchasing more cameras. There was also money for patrols for other areas in the City. She said there was a woman on James Streets who had her tires slashed and her windows of her car shot out with BBs, and she asked for help. Mope said Council was going to direct the Chief to add extra patrols. Mope stated she wanted to make sure the taxpayers would be “getting their money’s worth, and the CD money was getting spent properly.” She added that almost $75,000 was paid already for the cameras. Mope stated that Sosar said we were not happy with the large amount of money that was being taken away from police patrols. She stated that not only are we trying to help the people of Alter Street, but also the other people within in the City. She said if the vote goes through, Alter Street will get its cameras. It was a question of the fact that there were cameras purchased for Diamond Avenue, Cedar Street, Green and Wyoming Streets, four more cameras at 15th and Alter Streets, and more going on the McKinley Street water towers, because of problems sending the signal back to City Hall. She said Council just wanted to make sure the money was being spent properly. Mope said she was at the Alter Street Crime Watch meeting and there was an officer there with regard to the gangs. He spoke about all the criminal activity and the different signs. Mope asked him about the camera system, and he made the statement that “It’s like a tomato; when you hit it, it splatters.” He was not in support of the camera system. Mope said Council still voted yes on obtaining the cameras to see if it works for the City. She said “you are looking for a magic bullet and there is no such thing,” and there will still be criminals. She agreed with Yurcho that the cameras will need to be monitored regularly in order to work. Mope asked DeAndrea if they can be viewed at other locations besides City Hall. DeAndrea said they do not have computers in the cars, but there is a remote access option if we do get them at some point in time. He added that it can also be accessed by a smartphone.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton said she is in support of the purchase of the surveillance cameras, but there are some very serious problems with this. She said she knows of one businessman who had a camera on, he had a robbery, he went to the police to get the video of it, and he was told the camera was out, but no one ever informed him. Deakos said she also knows of a business where the camera was pointing in the direction of a robbery, and, when the owner asked two police officers for the video of it, they would not give it to him. They were forced to go to the Police Chief to get the information. She said the police officers do not even look once a day to see if the cameras are working or not. This is a serious situation. Deakos said if we get more cameras, what corrects the problems of the fact that who checks to make sure that they are working properly. She said the Chamber had a meeting in City Hall about a year and a half ago, and a good suggestion was made. She said the City has firemen on duty 24 hours a day, so the feeds should be going into every one of those fire stations. When the firemen are not out on a call, they could be monitoring them. Deakos said if it is not monitored, if the camera is out, and if the police officers are refusing to look at the video for crimes, then “what’s the point.” She added that she went on a tour, and one of the Standard Speaker’s cameras was very blurry and one was out, and they should have been informed of that. Deakos said now that the window at the Police Station is boarded up, you cannot see the camera feeds anymore. She was concerned that this practice will continue. She said these things need to be reviewed before spending any more money on this.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2014-48 regarding the Keystone Communities Planning Grant. He asked if that will include the blighted neighborhoods around the downtown area, and, if so, will the Redevelopment Authority be doing that. He also asked if the Redevelopment Authority met on March 6, 2014.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2014-48. She said it states that the City will assume the provision for the full local share. She asked where that is coming from. Mundie asked Fallon Fermin, Director of Community Development, if she had any of that information. Fermin responded, but her response was inaudible. Bast said we will discuss that when it comes up during the business portion of the meeting, and Mundie agreed.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-4 An Ordinance Approving a Modification to the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2014 (TABLED 4/8/14) (1st Reading)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSED UNANIMOUSLY ORDINANCE REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Bast said as he recalls from discussions about this last year is that it was to be city-wide, and it would start with Alter Street and some other locations, and then move on from there. DeAndrea said this was discussed at several Council meeting. He said he never referred to it as the “Alter Street camera system.” He stated on the recording from the December 5, 2013 Council meeting, Council President Perry asked “Chief, is this about the camera system for Alter Street,” and he responded “for the entire city.” He added that after that he began to explain that the camera system would begin in Alter Street and major areas of ingress and egress for the City. The reason why it was going to start on Alter Street was because he was keeping his promise to Sylvia Thomas and the Alter Street Crime Watch. He said on April 12, 2012, he went to the Laurel Street Crime Watch meeting, and Sylvia Thomas asked him about a camera system. DeAndrea said he began looking into this and corresponding to her. He promised the Alter Street Crime Watch that when they are able to “roll one out,” it will start with Alter Street. DeAndrea said he never stated that Alter Street would be a “test bed.” He said he stated that the first implementation of the “rollout” would be cameras for Alter Street because the majority of the funds for the first part of the rollout are for the network video recorder, the installation of antennas, transmitters, wireless network, etc. DeAndrea said that the McKinley Street tower has nothing to do with the current implementation of the camera system. The request that went to the Hazleton City Authority are to solve a communication with the City of Hazleton’s Police Department, all of the police department’s in lower Luzerne County that use Zone E to include West Hazleton. The entire northwest side of the City is a “dead spot” for the Police Department’s communications, and they cannot update their portable radios. DeAndrea said that because the Hazleton Police Department owns its radio frequency, Luzerne County 911 cannot fix these radio problems. Luzerne County 911 said that if the Police Department can get permission from the Water Authority to hang an antenna on that tower, it will cover the communications. DeAndrea said he believes that they can go back to the Water Authority, and enter into an agreement with them to hang one transmitter on that tower for the camera system. He stated they are attempting to enter into a Co-Location Agreement with the Water Authority and the West Hazleton Police Department because they transmit on Luzerne Channel E, which is the southern end of Luzerne County, and that zone has the same dead spot. DeAndrea felt that the dish on that tower could perform a dual frequency that will fix West Hazleton’s radio transmission problems as well. DeAndrea said that as he explained on December 5, 2013, fifty percent of the money would be spent up front to do all of the purchases. This money would have been lost if it was not spent by December 31, 2013, which was about $54,000, as well as what was set aside for the camera system from 2013. Combined together, it came to slightly over $70,000, and that is what was spent as half of the contract. He stated the other half has to be paid this year. DeAndrea said that Fermin came to him before any request for proposals was done, any contract was negotiated, or before a vendor was selected, and asked him what he needs for the police patrols and camera system. He told Fermin to use the exact same thing that we had in 2013, and when it comes time, we can ask Council to make a transfer. DeAndrea stated that normally this would not even be here, because the initial budget would have put the money where it needed to be. He said that there are four cameras on 15th and Alter Streets, but he considers the business located there to be the most robbed business in the City of Hazleton. It is also a high traffic, high volume area where there are a lot of serious accidents. The intersection of Wyoming and Green Streets is another high crime intersection, which has had serious accidents, two homicides, shootings, stabbings, aggravated assaults, and that is why that was picked as a test bed. He stated the third one is the Pantry Quik/Beer Garage on Cedar Street and Diamond Avenue. DeAndrea said that all of the cameras are state-of-the-art PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom), and they are high resolution, so that you can make out faces, identify people, read license plates, etc., from a remote area. The back end of this camera system is extremely expandable. Each network video recorder (NVR) is expandable to either 16 or 32 cameras, depending on if we are using 8, 15 or 30-day recordings. Mope asked if these are going on poles or buildings. DeAndrea replied that they can go anywhere, but he anticipates that they will go on poles. To go on poles, he and Convergence are working with PPL. DeAndrea said every pole we use has to be identified and submit paperwork for a permit from PPL to allow these to be hung on the pole, even if the City owns the pole, because there is power going into that pole from PPL, and they need to do their free study. He said “we are on the City’s side of the meter, so that we’re not just hooking things up and taking power from PPL.” These cameras were chosen because we need cameras with heaters and cooling systems so that the cameras will work when it is cold and when it is hot. Because of the area we live in, these cameras need a special housing because of the hot and cold temperature extremes. DeAndrea said he is proud of the camera system we are getting and where we are at in the process. He believes it will help immensely. He said at the last meeting Sosar was concerned that we are taking away police coverage. DeAndrea stated the he cannot spend Community Development money on North James Street because it is not a low-mod district. DeAndrea stated that he has said this before, but the City of Hazleton does not have enough police officers. He said that he knows the crime will scatter to other parts of the City, and he will deal with that when it happens. Mundie asked if these cameras will be monitored 24 hours a day, and DeAndrea replied “absolutely not.” He said there is no plans to say that they will be monitored for any specific period of time every day. Monitoring the cameras is not what helps, but it does not hurt. He said having the cameras becomes a crime deterrent for some people, but not others. He said the last homicide on February 2, 2014 was solved because there happened to be surveillance cameras not only in the State police car on the scene, but the bar had cameras that allowed us to identify who did the shooting and what happened. The whole homicide was solved based upon the quick response of the Pennsylvania State Police, their camera system, and the cameras system at the bar. Mundie asked if Wilkes-Barre monitors their cameras, and DeAndrea said he did not know. DeAndrea said he does not want to have to take a police officer off the road to monitor cameras. Mundie suggested partnering with URS or some other agency and getting them to monitor the cameras. DeAndrea said this camera system was never presented as something that was going to be monitored. He said we could bring in volunteers, or have a remote feed to Fire Department, which are all great ideas. DeAndrea said he is not against monitoring them, but he is against taking a police officer off the road to watch them. Mundie agreed. DeAndrea said these cameras are “a phenomenal tool.” Mope said she wanted everyone to understand that they are not going to be monitored all the time. If something is going on at a particular time, the police may not know it is actually going on. DeAndrea said he does not know of anywhere that has these cameras monitored all the time to send an officer in anticipation of a crime occurring. DeAndrea said he explained in December 2013 or January 2014 about the amount in police overtime. He said the issue came up where the police officers’ overtime was in question, because of the amount they got paid, and then they retired. DeAndrea said he does not have enough police officers on the road to spend the money on overtime. He said he had previously requested that money not be taken from Community Development and put into additional police coverage. He stated mandatory overtime is when an officer calls in sick and there are not enough officers to be on the road, or when a person is arrested and there are not enough officers waiting, so they have to go into the City Hall jail until the next shift comes in, and an officer needs to be held over on overtime, have them do the charges, and take them to Wilkes-Barre. There needs to be a minimum of three officers per shift. DeAndrea said that by the time we do that, we are up to over $105,000 in mandatory overtime. He said he does not have enough police officers to spend the additional money. Mope said as she understood it, the money from Community Development for the extra patrols that that was overtime money. She said she thought that was money from Community Development to patrol the “troubled areas.” DeAndrea and Fermin both said it is overtime. DeAndrea said Cuozzo pointed out in 2012 that it specifically states that the money must be used for above and beyond police services, and it cannot ever be used to pay a police officer’s straight time salary. It is only to be used for overtime. DeAndrea said when he is done paying all of the extra overtime, and the reimbursable time from the Attorney General’s Task Force from the DEA from any grant received, he does not have any officers left to sign up for these extra duties. He said he received a letter from the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton and the doctor writing the letter commented on how extremely worn out and tired the Hazleton Police Officers look when they are up there. This doctor is concerned for their well-being because of the shifts they are working, and the amount of time they are spending on the job. He recognizes that the City does not currently have the money to hire extra police officers, but cameras could be installed to assist them when police officers are not there. DeAndrea said this cameras system works with our integrator. He said next year he is going to request from Community Development that they do not give the Police Department any money, and that it all goes to the Fire Department, if it is legal. He said that he learned in a staff meeting last week that the Fire Department needs a new pumper truck, which is over $300,000. The Fire Department can buy a pumper truck with a three-year payment plan, use the $100,000 next year to make the first year’s payment, the second and third years they use their own Community Development money, and then the City is the new owner of a brand new pumper truck at no additional expense, and no capital purchase. DeAndrea said he spent a lot of years in the State Police, and whenever there is an incident, the State Police Watch Center flips a switch and can view any PennDOT camera anywhere in the Commonwealth, as well as the turnpike and toll booth cameras. From the Hospital to Diamond Avenue and Broad Street, there are 36 cameras on Broad Street. Every one of those cameras can be networked into our camera system. This covers every intersection on the Broad Street Corridor. DeAndrea said the City did not pay for those cameras, but it will have to maintain those cameras. He said he would like to enter into an agreement with West Hazleton Borough with regard to its cameras on Broad Street. He said this way we would get access to major points for egress and ingress. The computer and network for the PennDOT camera system will be located in City Hall, so no wireless feed will need to be installed. All that we will need is to run a line from that network to our computer network. He stated we will be able to increase our cameras by 40 without the cost of a new camera. Mope asked about the life expectancy of the cameras, but DeAndrea did not have that information readily available. He said it is probably years. DeAndrea said the old system cannot be repaired because he “cannot mix apples and oranges.” He stated that Mope asked at the December 5, 2013 Council meeting if the old cameras would be able to be linked to this new system. He replied it is illegal to spend any Community Development money on fixing something that is old. When these types of grants are received, maintenance is not allowed to be incorporated. Mope said the entities bought the cameras and we provided the transmittal part, which would have to be fixed. DeAndrea said they cannot be repaired with Community Development money. He said there is no line item to go out and spend money on that old camera system. There was a lot of “finger pointing” with the old system to determine who pays for what. With this new system, the City owns the entire system (front end, back end, and everything in between), so there cannot be any finger pointing. Sosar asked if the old system will be integrated at all with the new system. DeAndrea replied that the cameras that are working on the old system are able to be viewed because the same software was “specked.” Any cameras that are working can be viewed on the same screen. Sosar asked how many our working, and DeAndrea replied that he did not know. Sosar asked how much it will cost to fix the ones that are not working, and DeAndrea said he did know because we do not own them. He said he cannot ask the City to spend money repairing someone else’s equipment. Sosar said the Little League’s cameras do not work and they were purchased with Community Development money. Fermin said some of the cameras were purchased by individual businesses through a business loan through Community Development. It was a business loan that they paid back. Fermin said the Little League already paid back its loan. Mope said the Little League was upset because they could not use their camera system. Sosar asked if the cameras in McKinley Park and on the McKinley tank were purchased through Community Development. John Keegan responded no. They said cameras could be purchased that could be hooked into this system. Keegan said about $7,900 was spent to put repeaters up on McKinley Street, and some necessary electrical work. He said the Hazleton City Authority purchased that because the City did not have the money to finish the project. Sosar asked Keegan to pull those records. He said the Hazleton City Authority put together “a line of sight” of three towers within the City. He said it was his impression that this line of sight were part of the signal that was to be sent back to City Hall that really never worked well. Keegan said they were specifically for the camera system. Sosar said the line of sight has never worked well. Keegan said the one that DeAndrea is working on now is with the radio frequency and has nothing to do with the camera frequency. Keegan said there are some legal issues being discussed between the City’s solicitor and the Water Authority’s solicitor so that this could be finalized. DeAndrea said there are three separate McKinley Street Tower issues. Sosar said that the towers have been used for telephone services and repeaters in the past. He said this was all on the old McKinley tank, but it since has moved to the new McKinley tank about three years ago. When the park was put together, cameras were used to focus in on that, and they went back to the City. DeAndrea said they still do. Sosar stated “not always.” DeAndrea said there are a lot of problems with the Little League’s cameras. It is hard to determine who is responsible for this. Keegan said a lightning strike caused the Little League’s problems. Sosar said he wants some type of guarantee with this that they will work, and that the seller will stand behind them. DeAndrea agreed. He said this system allows for the City to be in control of everything. We did not own the old camera system, therefore, we could not fix them. DeAndrea said that everyone who has the old system was awarded the opportunity to purchase their own video recorders on their end. This way they would know if the cameras were working or not. DeAndrea said it became an issue as to whose responsibility it was to notify the business owner that something they have is not working. He started calling the company and was calling them one time at the start of every shift, or three times a day in a 24-hour period. He was calling the emergency number, leave a voice mail message because no one ever answered the phone, and we got to the point that the owner of the company asked the Police Department not to call anymore because they cannot fix the cameras because you do not have money to pay them. Sosar asked if it will be different with these new cameras, and DeAndrea replied yes. DeAndrea said these cameras are “plug and play.” The City is going to be able to use City workers to do the work on these new cameras. Sosar stated he would like to see the cameras also feed out to the internet for the use of the crime watch groups. It takes a lot of the danger and curiosity away. DeAndrea said if that is done, the criminals will be watching them in an uncontrolled environment. He said the criminals could watch the cameras and find dead spots. He said he is not for or against this, but it is needs to be considered. Sosar said he thought the money that was used the last time on the police tours was for Broad Street to Holly Street. He asked when the last time a survey was done to determine what areas of the City are low income. Fermin said she would need to check her files, but she refers to the census of 2004 from HUD. At that time, the City was deemed 58% low mod. Sosar said that would cover James Street and all the other streets that we are discussing. It would be money well spent to do a study to determine what parts of the City are low income. We could be getting more money and moving forward faster if we had that. He encouraged Fermin and the Administration to do that. Fermin agreed. Mundie asked about the 2010 census. Fermin said that everything documented by HUD goes be the 2004 census, that is what she has been going by, and that is what here HUD representative has told her to use until new information is released. Sosar asked Fermin to check into this, and she said she would do that.

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

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-6 An Ordinance Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; Providing for Application Review and Procedures for Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; and Renewal of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone, and Any other Related Signs in the City of Hazleton (1st Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Cusat said he wanted to get something out there to help out the small business owners reclaim some of the parking spots, so they can generate more business. Mundie said as he understands some revisions will be made to it, and Cusat said yes.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

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

MOTION TO TABLE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY ORDINANCE TABLED

              RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-48 Resolution Authorizing the City of Hazleton to Apply for a Keystone Communities Planning Grant with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar asked where the additional money is coming from. Krista Schneider, Executive Director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, said this is a revision to the original resolution that was passed in February. Schneider said the when the original resolution passed, the language in that resolution stated the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress would guarantee the matching funds for the planning study. The Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress is guaranteeing the $25,000 match for this study. Schneider stated they put that language in there so that the City knew they had the money and the City would not be obligated for any funds. She said their regional office in Wilkes-Barre reviewed it, approved it, and sent it to Harrisburg. Harrisburg said that because the City is the official applicant, that language cannot be in there. She stated that nothing has changed, and they have verbally awarded the grant. The grant has been approved pending a revision of the Resolution language to state that the City of Hazleton has to guarantee the matching funds, but the letter guaranteeing the matching funds from the Alliance still stands. She said they need the language revised in the Resolution so they can release the funds. Mundie asked if the study just entails the downtown area, and Schneider said it is for the downtown area. The preliminary study area stretches from the shopping center on Broad Street to Poplar Street, and then up to Holly Street on Wyoming Street, and south to Chestnut Street. Schneider said this encompasses more than the central business district. Mundie asked if a request for proposals is going out, and Schneider said it was already put out. Consultants were interviewed and one was selected pending the award of this grant.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-49 A Resolution Authorizing the City of Hazleton to Join with Other Municipalities as a Member of the Pennsylvania Municipal Health Insurance Cooperative (PMHIC), to Enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement for the Purpose of Joining the PMHIC, and to Participate as a Member of the PMHIC

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if everything is completed and if the Mayor and other City officials are okay with this. Mope asked if there could be a brief explanation of this. Joe Pilla and Denise Wolfe of ETA Benefits, representing Benecon, the administrators of the program, were present to discuss this matter. Pilla said the program goes into effect May 1, 2014 and there is no change to Blue Cross benefits with the employees. They met with several union leadership members to review the plan. They have extended their services and availability to further educate the employees at any time. Pilla said the minimum anticipated savings is $62,000, and the actuarial anticipated savings is $248,000 at the end of the nine-month contract. He said instead of sending money every month as a fully insured premium, they are only going to send them enough money to cover the administration of the claims, and the stop-loss insurance. The claims will be paid as they go. Mundie asked if everyone was “onboard” and happy, including the unions, and if they talked to Tom Pribula about this matter. Pilla said he was at the meeting and had a few questions about signing the contract. Wolfe said he was concerned about signing the contract, and wanted to make sure that Council approved of this. Mope asked if Nancy Doyle was onboard with this, and Wolfe replied yes.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-50 Directing the Mayor to Sign the Agreement with Hazleton City Council’s Legal Advisor

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Bast said that every once in a while agendas were amended, but now every time there is a meeting there are two and three revised agendas, where resolutions and ordinances get put on the day of the meeting. He said it was always an issue for Mope and Mundie in the past, but now they are doing the same thing over and over again. He said he would like more time to review these items instead of getting them at the last minute. Bast made a motion to table this resolution, but there was no second. The motion fails.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Bast. No second.

MOTION TO TABLE FAILS DUE TO LACK OF SECOND

Back on the question:

Bast said he stands by what he said, and he does not believe this is legal. He wondered why Council’s Legal Advisor was not present at tonight’s meeting. Mope said Lisa Shema, City Clerk, took a vacation day on Thursday, April 17, 2014, and City was closed on Friday, April 18, 2014 and Monday, April 21, 2014 for the Easter holiday. She said that is why it was put on the agenda late. She added that they were waiting to hear from the City Solicitor on some things that they asked for, but still have not heard back from him yet. Mope said the Legal Advisor’s contract has not been signed yet, even though Council passed a Resolution regarding the matter. Bast said it is not just this meeting, it is happening at every meeting.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

----------------------------------------------

Resolution 2014-51 Directing the Mayor to Sign the Agreement/Contract with the Engineering Firm of Barry Isett & Associates for the Office of Community Development

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Bast made a motion to table this resolution, but there was no second. The motion fails.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Bast. No Second.

MOTION TO TABLE FAILS DUE TO LACK OF SECOND

Back on the Question:

Mundie said Council appointed Barry Isett & Associates at a previous meeting. He asked if they are working on any Community Development projects yet. Fermin their contract was not yet signed by the Mayor. She said Barry Isett has been doing some things to keep our projects current, but she does not yet have a signed contract with them. Cusat asked if we are in jeopardy of losing anything by the contract not being signed. Fermin replied “at this time, I would say no…” Mundie stated that if it goes any further, it could be a big problem. Fermin stated “down the road…my projects are at a standstill, but I would definite contact a legal advisor before I would.” Mundie asked if she discussed this with the Mayor, or if he told her why he is not signing it. Fermin responded “no, there was no discussion.” Mundie asked if the reason for him not signing it was because Council voted for it. Fermin responded “I don’t know.”

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

             

Comments from the Audience:  Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton asked if there is a budget yet. Mope responded “That’s what we want to know.” Thomas asked under what circumstances does a City shut down. She said if the City shuts down, we have no police officers to arrest criminals, and no firemen to fight fires. Mope said “Those departments have to work.” Mundie said the Mayor could shut the City down, but he does not believe he would do that. Thomas asked if that decision is up to the Mayor. Mundie said he believes the Mayor could shut the City down by not paying anyone. Sosar said there is a better answer to that question, but those individuals are not at the meeting. He added “Let the empty chairs answer it.” Mope said that they have met with the Mayor, and tried to come to a compromise.

Zach Lee, 884 State Court, Hazleton said he is a Red Cross volunteer for the past three years, and if they do not get a call from the Fire Chief to say they are needed, how do we help the people who are affected by a fire. Mundie said they are still operating, but we do not have a budget in place that the Mayor is following. He said the Mayor is using his own budget. Mundie added that the City is still operating.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton asked if the Redevelopment Authority met on March 6, 2014. Fermin said she would need to check in the file. Mundie asked Fermin to get that information and give it to the City Clerk. Rabo thanked DeAndrea for using Act 90 to finally go after the landlord of the McKinley Street property and clean it up. He said he hopes Act 90 will be used in the future before there is a hazard. He said he heard DeAndrea say there is not enough Police Officers in the City of Hazleton. About a year ago, he sent DeAndrea a state statute allowing for auxiliary police to be established by Council. It would be under the auspice of the Chief of Police just like the regular Police Department. Rabo stated they would have the same training, and the same prevue of the Police Department. He said he was under the impression that something would be done about that. Rabo read from the statute, Act 561 of 1952. He said this provides for auxiliary police, provides for supplementing the police forces of cities, boroughs, towns, and townships, for the appointment of powers and control of auxiliary police, and for the transfer during the disasters and emergencies of such auxiliary police members of the regular police forces and police equipment thereof. Rabo said he believes this would supersede the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police because state law supersedes any type of common contract with any police union. He said he has been doing research on blighted properties for over a year. He stated that according to the U.S. Census, 16% of Hazleton’s homes are vacant, which amounts to about 1,881 properties that are vacant. He said these homes are “targets” and “ticking time bombs.” Rabo stated there are arsons every summer. He asked why a Blighted Properties/Vacant Properties Review Committee has not been established as required under Act 113 of 2002, the Urban Redevelopment Law, under Section 12.1B. He read from that law regarding this matter. He said this could also be found under Chapter 73 of the City Code. Rabo asked the Administration and Council to reenact the Vacant Properties Review Committee as directed under Urban Redevelopment Law. He also asked that Council amend the Chronic Nuisance Properties Ordinance to include the nuisance abatement provision, Act 22 of 2014, Sections 2702-2712, which is the re-enacted Third Class City Code, which takes effect on May 18, 2014. Mundie said we are going to direct the Mayor to do that. Mope said “That’s our problem, the Mayor has to do that.” Rabo asked Council to amend the Rental Inspection Ordinance because under the re-enacted Third Class City Code, it allows for a real estate registry, which many cities have. He asked that all owners of vacant properties be required to get a vacant property/dwelling policy. This would enable the City to recoup any costs in the event of a disaster regarding a vacant property. Rabo stated that the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania once had a population of 60,000 people back in the 1950s and now it has a population of 20,000 people. It is now known as the “City of Abandonment.” He asked if we want Hazleton to end up the same way, or do we want to take of this issue. It is a crime issue and an economic issue because it is draining the City’s resources.

Melanie Fuller, owner of Hair of the Dog in downtown Hazleton, said for over a year now there has been a problem with the garbage in the downtown area. She said she is in a business district, but because there are some apartments above these businesses, they are allowed to put their garbage out in front of the businesses on Broad Street. Fuller said she is very grateful for the Downtown Corridor Project and it looks fantastic, but some of the business owners suffered financially because of it. She said this garbage does not look good at all in front of these businesses. Mope asked if this is out all week long, and Fuller said it is out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If it is windy, the mess blows all over the street, especially on her side of the street. Mope said at the last meeting it was discussed about recyclable containers with lids. Fuller said downtown businesses have dumpsters in the alley behind them, and there is garbage is hidden. Yet, there is garbage pickup for the apartments in front of the businesses. Fuller said an ordinance should be creating and their garbage should be picked up in the back just like the businesses. Mope asked if anyone contacted the owner or the Code Enforcement Department. Fuller said she has seen Code and Health Officers walk past it and not do anything about it. She said now that the City is looking nicer, it is more noticeable. She gave Council pictures of the garbage bags. Sosar said Code Enforcement, Health, and the Hazleton City Authority needs to get involved in this matter. DeAndrea said they are in compliance with the Ordinance, because they are in containers and the bags are tied closed. He said we spent millions of dollars beautifying the downtown area, and this just sticks out. He suggested amending the ordinance that the garbage needs to be picked up in the alley. Mope was concerned if they had access to the alley. DeAndrea said one problem is that some of those individuals living in those apartments may decide to just open their second story window and drop the garbage out. He said another problem is that people will say that they put their garbage out properly the night before, and they have no idea who tore the bag, who threw the bag, etc. Sosar said in the pictures provided by Fuller, there is no front door for them. They need to be going out onto Mine Street, and Mine Street would be adequate for handling that garbage pickup. DeAndrea said it is Spruce Alley, not Mine Street, and Sosar corrected himself, and said that is where they should be picking it up. DeAndrea said it depends on what their address is. He said that if we do not allow garbage pickup on Broad Street, then there is no way it can end up in front of someone else’s property on Broad Street. If there are cans or bags there, he would be able to say that the garbage is not supposed to be there, and there is no way around it. Bast said the easiest way is to just amend the Ordinance. DeAndrea agreed. Fuller said there is so much garbage, she believes there are a lot more living there than there should be. Sosar said that is something that is being questioned across the whole City. Fuller said a downtown merchant area should not allow garbage pickup in front. Mope agreed. DeAndrea suggested banning garbage pickup on Broad Street from Cedar Street to Diamond Avenue. Mope said the sidewalks in front of the shopping center are littered with garbage and stones from the winter, because those businesses do not sweep. She said people have to maintain their properties. Mundie suggested this matter be discussed with J. P. Mascaro as well. Mope said these people should be notified ahead of time. DeAndrea said if we are going to make Mascaro drive in Spruce Alley to pick up the garbage, then we are going to consider regulating parking in that alley. Fuller said there is no parking there. Bast said there are people who park in Spruce Alley. Sosar said we know what the problem is now, so give us some time to work on it. DeAndrea said he believes this can be easily solved. Sosar agreed. Mope said the widths of the alleys need to be considered. DeAndrea said over the years, courts and alleys are being “more parked in.” He suggested putting signs up in those alleys. Mundie asked if a portable camera could be set up in a truck to see who is putting out all that garbage. DeAndrea said putting out the garbage is not a violation. Fuller said all of the garbage is put out every week. Mundie said some of this could be from some of the businesses.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton asked why the Planning, Zoning, and Redevelopment Authority’s meeting schedules are not posted on the website, as well as their agendas. Mundie said he wants everything on the website. He said he is going to direct all of these agencies to start being open and accessible. Deakos commented on the cameras installed on the Broad Street Corridor. She asked if those recordings are being saved for a certain period of time in order to review when there are accidents, etc. DeAndrea said he does not know because they belong to PennDOT. Deakos asked if that could be looked into with PennDOT. Mope said according to the article in the newspaper not long ago, they only monitor motion. DeAndrea said that is not correct. He stated the City’s vehicles have a traffic interrupter, but it has nothing to do with the cameras. It is just a transceiver that picks up the signal from the traffic interrupter and cycles the light to be green in our direction. DeAndrea said some PennDOT cameras only record motion and change to save bandwidth, so they are not always sending a signal, and also to save recording time. Once these cameras are tied in with the new camera system, they will record for as long as we decide to keep something. DeAndrea said he believes PennDOT records them somewhere now. He added that time is limited by how large of file we want to keep, and how much storage we have. DeAndrea said up to 15 days is a lot of time. Mundie agreed. DeAndrea said if he is not made aware of an accident in 15 days, then he will never know about it. Mundie asked if the cameras record sound. DeAndrea said no, but there are systems that can do that, but this can become a “wiretap issue of was it an illegal tap or not.”

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton said there are a lot of people here who care about the City. She said the young man on Junior Council, Joel Soto, is here for just about every meeting, yet the Mayor, Director of Administration, and the Solicitor cannot show up. Those people should be here for every meeting for the sake of the City, but apparently they do not care. She said if it is not going their way, they do not want to be here. Yurcho said that Joel Soto, who is 16-years-old, cares more about the City than the person elected to be its Mayor. She said it should not matter whether or not Mayor agrees with Council, but he should still be here. She commented that she wants what is right for the community, and she does not want to see people and businesses move out. She wants to see people and businesses move into Hazleton. Yurcho said she is a taxpayer, she owns her home, and she has no representation and no one who wants to put a budget together. She said the Mayor “does not give a damn about the City, and that’s sad.” Mundie agreed. He said the big problem is that he is not sending the Solicitor or Administrator here either. Yurcho agreed. Mundie said Council has questions that it would like answered. He added that Tom Pribula would come to the meetings, just as Steve Hahn came to the meetings, but that might be one of the reasons he got fired.

John Homa, Hazleton commented on hiring a Controller to perform the proper checks and balances. He is in favor of this. Mundie said they are working on it. Homa stated if “Joe Yannuzzi doesn’t want to do his job of caring for the City, get out.”

Dominic Tolerico, Garfield Street, Hazleton asked if Council collectively agrees with what Judy Yurcho said. Mope said yes, they should be at the meetings. Mundie said he agrees with Yurcho, but Council cannot make the Mayor come to the meetings. He said he wants the Solicitor, Administrators and Department Heads at the meetings. The Mayor is elected by the people, so Council cannot force him to come to these meetings. Tolerico asked what Council is willing to do about this. Mundie said Council tried to pass a resolution last year stating they must attend the meetings, but then President Jim Perry changed the “must” to “may.” He said that is something that needs to be discussed with the Department Heads. Tolerico asked “What is your recourse as a legislative branch, what can you do? Can you cut funding? Can you take legal action?” Mundie responded that Council could pass a Resolution forcing them to attend, because it was done before. He said, in the past, the Solicitor and Administrator were forced to attend work sessions, when Lockwood and Tarone were on Council. Tolerico asked why Council is waiting to take action. Mundie said he tried to pass a Resolution about this last year. As far as cutting funding, Council already did that with our budget. He said the Mayor “is ignoring our budget.” Tolerico said he is not specifically talking about the Mayor. He would like to ask the Solicitor a question, but he is not here. Mope said that Council is having the same issues. She said the City Clerk sent something to the Solicitor this week pertaining to the agenda, and she still did not get a response. Mope said she has also sent him things and did not receive a response. She said in her opinion, they are at the point of if they want to keep their jobs, they will do as he says. Tolerico said there has to be provisions with regard to these matters, because this is probably not the first time something like this has happened. Sosar stated that in the State of Pennsylvania there is no such thing as a mandatory referendum or a recall. He said the only way to create those is if you actually had a Home Rule Charter, not an Optional Plan. Sosar stated that right now, the City has a Mayor who got less votes than what the other two candidates got put together. He added that there are more people that did not want him as Mayor than those who did. Sosar said “You’re stuck with him because that’s the law.” Tolerico said he is not talking about a particular Mayor or Councilman, but there has to be something in place that if the Administration is not acting according to the law, or the legislative branch is not acting according to the law, there has to be recourse. He said you cannot sit here and say he is doing something that he is not allowed to do, but there is nothing we can do about it. Sosar said Council is pursuing everything that it needs to do. He said “When you talk about legal action no one is going to like it because it is going to cost you money. If you think for one second that anybody at that table will take money out of their own pocket to defend themselves in a courtroom…I have a bridge I’d like to sell ya.” Sosar asked if Tolerico is willing to accept that, and Tolerico said yes. Tolerico said it is better than to continue losing money by things continuing to carry on the way they are. Sosar said “Legal action is going to have to be taken. Now, if you guys are willing to do it, we’ll take him to court, and we’ll force him to do whatever it is that has to be. But you’ve also got to understand that he is going to go fighting into the night.” Sosar said he has been chastised before. There were commercials on television that said “Dave Sosar cost this City $20,000. Dave Sosar took the City to court. Dave Sosar sued the City for $20,000.” Sosar said he did sue the City, but he was one of five people, and the “lead person” was John Quigley. He stated that he was part of that, but they paid their own way. Sosar said “You know where the $20,000 came from? The City Council took the money from the City treasury. And, you want to know who it was, who was the President of the City Council, the lead name on that court case, one Joseph Yannuzzi. Now, that’s what you’re in store for, so be ready, because he’s going to take every single dollar that you guys have in the treasury…” Tolerico said Sosar named three names specifically, but what he is saying is that Council should create legislation so there are procedures in place. Then it is not personal. Tolerico said “who’s sitting in that seat is not personal.” Sosar said we would need to go to a Home Rule Charter to do that, because Council does not have that power. Mundie said Council could pass a resolution telling them they need to attend the meetings, but the Mayor could still tell them not to attend. Tolerico said it is not just about who is going to attend meetings, but about how everything in the City needs to be run. He added that there needs to be procedures in place. Sosar said “…there are legal resources that have to be taken. I’m sorry, but you can’t just write a piece of legislation because it’s just going to get thrown away. Do you realize how many things right now in this City are going on that are not being followed properly?” Mope said “most of it.” She added “And why do you think we are in so much trouble Dominic? Because we’ve been holding their feet to the fire trying to make them follow the law, and they don’t like it.” Mundie said Council does not receive all of the information it should be getting from City officials. Mope said the Legal Advisor’s contract was not signed, that is why he is not here tonight. Tolerico asked if there is a legal opinion on the budget. Mope said the Solicitor was asked for a legal opinion quite a while ago. Sosar said our hands are tied. Sosar said “This is a game that’s being played. I can’t change those rules. The rules are fair, but he’s playing a different set of rules, and unless you go after it legally, you’re not going to have a chance to deal with it.” Mundie said we are doing it. Tolerico asked how long that will take, and Mundie said we will have something put together at the next meeting. Sosar told Tolerico not to look for a quick solution. Mundie said “Our Mayor doesn’t understand how our government works…Council decides as far as the budget goes, the Mayor presents his budget, we finalize that budget, decide how much is spent, what line items should be spent, we decide whether we should raise taxes or lower them, us five, not the Mayor…” Tolerico said “If I don’t understand the law and I break it, it doesn’t matter if I understand it, so that’s not really a reason that he can get away with doing it…” Sosar said “There’s going to be two sides to a story. One lawyer’s going to say one thing, one lawyer’s going to say another, and when lawyers start to talk guess who isn’t allowed to talk anymore? So, just be prepared because that’s what’s going to happen.” Tolerico said he believes everyone in this room is prepared for something to happen. Mope said when we under the old form of government, it was different. She said now that we are under the Optional Plan (strong mayor), the Mayor has control over the departments. The only one that Council can control is the administrator because Council provides the duties he or she is supposed to follow. She said she wanted to give Pribula some time to get comfortable with his position, and see if he was going to come the Council meetings first. Mope said Resolution 96-52 requests the Director of Administration to be presented at all work sessions and all meetings of Council. She read from the Resolution. Mope said this was adopted on March 14, 1996, and the president was Phil Andras. She said from this point on, she is going to let Pribula know that they expect him to attend the Council meetings for the sake of the public.

John Homa asked if you are not in favor of a controller, what are you trying to hide.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton, asked when can we “revamp” the form of government to make it stronger and correct some of these problems. Sosar said it can be done right now. He added that one of the things that everyone needs to understand is that these things happen in almost any structure of government. He said the elected officials can make or break a government. Sosar said he hopes the people of Hazleton have learned from the mistakes that were made in the last election. He said “Not for City Council, I hope, but for the Mayor of this City. This has become embarrassing.” Sosar said structure is nice and can help, but it is people that will make the structure work. Tarantino asked Sosar if we need to “fine tune the form of government in the City.” Sosar said he wrote the Administrative Code a long time ago, it has been altered a number of times, and he is ready to alter it again. Sosar stated “We will change the things that need to be changed. The Administrative Code is not going to look like it did a few weeks ago when we’re finished with it.” He added that “Whether people like it or don’t like it, they’re going to follow it.” Tarantino asked if that has to be voted on, and Sosar said that will be done by Ordinance. Tarantino said he is looking forward to it, and he has a lot of respect for Sosar.

Ted Sherrock, 67 Franklin Street, Hazleton said the Mayor is going to say that he was attending a party tonight for a “very deserving lady,” Donna Palermo, and that is why he is not here. Mundie said he might use that excuse for tonight, but that is not the reason he is not here. Sherrock said he was also at that party, left there and went to a wake, and then came in here 10 minutes late, and he has been here ever since. Sherrock said he has been coming to the meetings for the past two years and it is the same thing over and over again. Sosar said the Mayor does not want to be here “because he doesn’t want to get yelled at. He doesn’t want to be called names… the simple fact is if you do your job, you don’t have to worry about that.” He said a President said “If you can’t that, then get out of the kitchen.” Sherrock said no one knows more about government than Sosar. Mope said Council gets yelled at by everyone, and we have to make sure that we treat everyone equally. She added “You’re only as good as your leadership.”

Donna Plesh, Hazleton said she noticed a lot of trash inside of people’s yards, like mattresses, toilets, broken items, etc. She suggested tagging a notice on each home telling them to clean it up. Plesh asked for something to be done about the prostitution that is going on in the downtown area. She said they are increasing in number, and now they have pimps. Mope said she had planned to address the DeAndrea about this at the end of the meeting. She said she called 911 on Saturday about this matter. She received a call from Tom Gabos of the Hazleton Historical Society, and he stated that they were having an open house event. Mope told the police that it was not an emergency, but asked if they would bring more patrols up for that event. Mope stated that she and Sosar attended a meeting of the historical society about two months ago, and a member of the board stated to her that she was told by a pimp that she was not allowed to cross to the other side because that was his territory. Mope asked DeAndrea to please address this problem as soon as possible. DeAndrea said he knows where Mope is talking about, and that it also goes up to the Post Office on Wyoming Street. Plesh said they come into her place of employment and ask for money from customers.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  Joel Soto thanked Judy Yurcho for her earlier comments. He said that this Council shows him that they care, and what a true leader is, which is going to affect his life. Soto said he is 16-years-old, and he would like to take an example from the Councilmembers. He said at the last meeting, it was discussed how to keep the youth in this area. Soto said he likes this town despite what other people say about it. He said he is content with his family, house, and friends. He said the Mayor is “ultimately trying to run the City.” Soto said we need leaders that are willing to do the right thing, and when people badger them and bad-mouth them, they will be adults and put all that aside. He commended Dr. Sosar for his earlier comments.

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming. He said he is interested in seeing what the other Councilmembers will be brining to the next meeting, because he has no idea what that is. He said he would appreciate if Council at least gives a few days’ notice when changing the agenda. Changing the day of the meeting makes it difficult to review. Bast said that he knows that when Sosar sued the City many years ago, it was about authority appointments and he lost. He said he did not know the reasons behind that, because he was in high school at that time. Bast stated he does not know what plans the other Councilmembers have with regard to suing the City this time, but he hopes it has some merit. He stated “I know that it’s lawyers that speak when it, when that comes about, and it has nothing to do with what you think.” Bast said with regard to the appointment of a Controller, a Controller for this City has to be elected, because it was taken out when this form of government was formed. Council cannot appoint someone. It has to be brought up by the electorate, and it is an elected position. Bast stated that is how it was put into the City Charter. He said he hoped everyone had a nice Easter.

Cusat asked the City Clerk to send a memo to the Mayor and Administration with regard to monthly statements that are required to be submitted to Council by the Department Heads. He suggested that Council invite Joe Clifford of the C Energy Group Services to the next Council meeting. Cusat said Council should be updated on the outcome of the RFPs and he is also expecting a short presentation be made by the top two energy service companies, which were Citelum and Smartwatt. He said his remaining questions cannot be answered tonight, because those individuals are not present at this meeting. He thanked the Department Heads that came to tonight’s meeting, and to everyone else who showed concern.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She said your input is always important. She thanked Joe Pilla and Denise Wolfe for coming and giving reassurance to the Unions that their health benefits are going to remain the same. She thanked those people who brought up their problems. Mope thanked everyone for their support. She said sometime the whole story is not in the newspaper. Mope said we need to bring things out and ask questions, and that is why we have been asking for Department Heads to come to the Council meetings. There was a camera system in place, and Council “took a lot of heat” with this new one, because those people had to pay for them themselves, and they were not operating. She said she just wanted to make sure these cameras “were going to do the job.” Mope said they were concerned about the police patrols, and if the other neighborhoods were going to be patrolled as well. She said that Council was not favoring one neighborhood over another. Mope thanked DeAndrea for explaining everything tonight, and for letting them know what is going to happen with the Fire Department, because there is a lack of communication going on. She said she is happy to know that we will be getting a new pumper truck. Mope thanked Fermin for coming to the meeting, and thanked her for all of her beneficial information that she provided to Council. She said everyone had good questions, and good input.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming. He thanked DeAndrea for coming and for the information he provided to Council. He said it proves that when Department Heads are here to answer questions, so much more can be accomplished. Sosar said we do not always have to see eye-to-eye on everything. These are not easy jobs. He asked Fermin to very seriously look into a new study being done throughout the City for what they had previously discussed. He said the City is at its lowest income since it ever has been before, and we could do so much more. Sosar said to Bast that there were stories going around when Mundie was appointed to the Water Authority, and when he was appointed to the Water Authority. He said he would be happy to speak to Bast about this anytime he wants to. Sosar said that usually when you hear a commercial, there is usually only one small grain of truth in it. He said he was involved in a court case, but now it sounds different than what it was portrayed to be in commercials. He said there are a lot of people who like to “wrap lies around a little grain, and that’s it,” and he gets tired of that. Sosar said he is not going to put up with it anymore. He said he always questions himself before a meeting about is he going to say the right thing and is he going to do the best he can. Sosar said he is going to do the best he can whether anyone likes it or not, because that is how it is supposed to be. He told everyone to have a good night.

Mundie thanked Council for voting yes with regard to the health insurance consortium. He said it is going to save between $62,000 and $248,000. He asked Sam Galski from the Standard Speaker to please print that in the newspaper. Mundie said there have been some stories about the machine they were looking into to reuse asphalt to fill potholes. He said Kingston is currently using it, and he called them a left a message. He said he would like to go up and see if it works. Sosar said he called the Mayor of Kingston, who is a friend of his, about this. Mope said they are going to go up and take a look at this machine. Mundie said he wanted to see how well this machine works, and if it works well, it could help with the filling of potholes in the City. He said this is a high priority. He said if it works, Council will work on way to pay for it. Mope said she does not want to take someone’s word for it. She wants to check it out for herself. She said a lot of municipalities are purchasing these types of machines because they like them so much. Mundie thanked everyone for coming.

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

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