2014-05-27 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:55 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 22, 2014 Regular Meeting, May 6, 2014 Work Session, and the May 6, 2014 Regular Meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications:  A Certificate of Award was presented to Joel Soto of the Junior Council by Mundie on behalf of City Council. Joseph Habel was absent.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on the appointment to the Blighted Building Committee. He asked when the Mayor is going to appoint the remaining members of this Committee as stated in Section 12.1 of the Urban Redevelopment Law. He said the law states that there should be one member of Council, one member of the Planning Commission, one member of the Redevelopment Authority, and two Mayoral appointments on that Committee. Mundie said the Mayor did not inform Council of the action being taken on this Committee. Rabo said the Mayor appointed someone to the Redevelopment Authority. He asked for the qualifications of that person, which should include real estate and construction. Mope said Council was not made aware of this by the Mayor. Rabo commented on Resolution 2014-65, and said that Council should vote no on this. He said Alfred Benesch is being asked to do the building code inspections, and they are also performing the City’s engineering work. He feels this is not a good idea, and that the Mayor may be showing favoritism towards Alfred Benesch. Rabo commented on Resolution 2014-67. He said the Planning Commission and/or Redevelopment Authority should be involved in this process with Community Development. Karen Parrish, Mullin and Lonergan, the consultant for Community Development, said the Plan required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not a land use plan. She said Planning Commission tend to be land use planners. This is different because it is a grant management plan. She said she would be like to have the input, it is a very comprehensive discussion of the economics and housing situation in the City. Rabo said the public should be involved, and Parrish said they will. Parrish said HUD encourages public participation because the program is 40 years now. She said it is time for HUD to refresh its image, and let everyone know what these block grant funds do for the community. Rabo asked if an updated Comprehensive Plan for the City would be helpful in receiving additional funding from HUD. He said the City’s most recent Comprehensive Plan was done in 1992. Parrish said most community plans in Pennsylvania are over 20 years old. She stated “HUD is a formula allocation, so planning or no planning, it wouldn’t change the HUD figures. However, a good comprehensive plan with a strong implementation actions section would definitely help with state funding…” Rabo commented on the lease between the Parking Authority and the City. He asked how a lease could be authorized before the construction on the parking garage is completed. Mundie said that question will be answered shortly. Rabo commented on the traffic study. He said that the Planning Commission should be involved in that matter, because it is a land use issue. Mundie said Council will check into it further.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2014-7. She said this Ordinance states “no permits shall be granted where adequate and readily available off-street parking is available.” She said in front of Hayden’s building there is patient loading and unloading signs, but they also have off-street parking. According to this Ordinance, they will no longer be able to have these signs on Broad Street because they will need to use the parking lot. Deakos said there is a $5.00 charge to use that parking lot. She felt there are some conflicts in the Ordinance and is should be reviewed. Deakos said there are a lot of reserved parking spaces on the strip behind the parking garage, but now there is going to be more reserved spaces. This is going to create a lot of problems with parking. Deakos said someone should “map out” the parking situation in Hazleton first. She was concerned about how this will affect the parking lot next to her building. She felt it is going to hurt a lot of businesses and people in the downtown area, and other options should be explored first. Deakos asked why the City of Hazleton is part of this Lease, when it does not own the Parking Authority yet. She said she thought gaming grant money was received to repair the parking garage, and now it is going to be dedicated to one entity. She felt this was not fair. Deakos was concerned that this could lead to downtown belonging to one corporation, instead of to all of the many businesses in the area.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton, commented on the Resolution regarding the purchase of new buses. He asked what is going to happen to the old buses. Ralph Sharp, Director of Public Transit, said they will try to sell one of the old buses, and the other two will go out to public auction. Tarantino asked if that money goes back into the general fund. Sharp said Public Transit operates on state and federal funds, and they are separate from the City. Mundie said they have a separate budget, and it goes back into their budget. Tarantino asked who controls the gaming money that comes in. Mundie and Mope both said that the City applies for the grants separately. Tarantino asked if that means that the money goes to the individual who is responsible for the project, and Mope replied yes.

Karen Parrish, Mullin and Lonergan Associates, with the main office in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, thanked Fermin for recommended them again to continue their service to the community. She said they have been Community Development’s consultant for many years, and they feel they are in a good position to provide the City with a quality document as they have done every five years. Parrish said it will be a little bit different this year. There will be more input requirements from HUD, and it will be done electronically on IDIS. She said it will continue to be the “benchmark” under which HUD evaluates the program. They set goals and objectives, and then based on the funding, they see if they met those goals and objectives. This is the reported back to the community under the Annual Performance Report. She said at the end of this year, they will be evaluating the fifth year of the City’s program. Parrish said they have a good sense of what the community has been able to achieve with the money, and where it will go in the future. She said along with the Five-Year Plan is the Annual Plan, and they will be coming back to Council with the budget. She said the timetable for the five-year plan is getting tight, and they usually like to have three or four months to prepare it. Right now they are down to three months, and HUD has to have the plan by November 15, 2014. Mundie asked why we are down to only three months. Parrish said there is a 30-day display period, so it has to be on display no later than October 15, 2014. But, because of Council’s meeting schedule, it will have to be displayed in September. She said it did not start late; it just did not Council as quickly as was intended, because of the turnover in the Community Development Office. It was put on hold for about a month. Parrish said this was not something that was anticipated. Mundie asked if this contract is different from the last one. Parrish said the last contract did not include the five-year plan, but the contract before that did. She said it is very similar. The hourly rate is a little different. She said this is done every three years. The City must advertise it, and evaluate the proposals received. Parrish said there was a proposal received from another firm this year, but she did not know who that was from. Mundie asked Parrish if the City has ever been fined or if any money has ever had to be paid back. Parrish said she did not think so. She said about 20 years there were some inconsistent findings, and that is what brought Mullin and Lonergan in. She also said there was a housing rehab issue at one point, but it was worked out with HUD. Parrish said there is no such thing as a perfect program, but Hazleton has been very close to being one. She said Fermin had to host a HUD monitoring visit, and everything went well. The exit interview was positive, and all the questions were answered in a timely manner. Parrish said HUD will follow up with a letter of review regarding this matter. It should be in within the next two months. Mundie asked that Council be given a copy of the letter when it is received. Parrish said if it is a really good letter with nothing to follow-up on, it will be published in the newspaper. If not, we will need to go back and forth with HUD until all the matters are cleared up. Sosar asked if this is a form of an audit that needs to be done each year. Parrish said it is not a financial audit. This is a procedural/performance audit. It states what the money was spent on, whether or not the procurement and procedural regulations followed, if all the projects were eligible, if those projects meet the national objective, etc. Mope asked if Parrish received an inclination of the direction in which the City wants to head in the five-year plan. Parrish said that conversation was not started yet. She said in July, HUD will be releasing new income statistics for the first time in 11 years, and it will be brought current. This will open new opportunities for the City. Mope asked that Parrish keep Council informed of these developments. Sosar said he read that Luzerne County has experienced a 46% increase in poverty, especially among families with minor children.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-7 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 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said that this is not a tax or a fee. He added that if you are a business owner and you are fine with your current parking situation, then you do not need this. If you feel a reserved spot in front of your business would be an asset to your customer, then it is something you should look into. He said he believes there are many signs throughout the City that have been erected in front of businesses that were not approved by Council. This makes those signs invalid. Cusat stated that metered parking will not be removed to erect any of these signs. Sosar asked if there are time limitations involved. Cusat said yes. The signs will list the hours of operation of the business. If it is before or after that time period, anyone can legally park there. Mope asked about businesses who have their own private parking lots. Cusat said they could apply for the sign, and it will come up for approval. Broad Street is a state road, and there are meters already there. Mope said that patients of doctor’s offices need to have access to the front of the building. Cusat said he is not trying to hurt anyone by this Ordinance. He is trying to help out the small businesses.

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

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Ordinance 2014-7 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 (3rd Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

*At this point, Mundie moved Resolution 2014-70 to this point in the meeting.

Resolution 2014-70 In Memoriam – John Ford

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Cusat read the resolution aloud. Mope said he will be greatly missed and it is a great loss to our community. Sosar agreed.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-53 Awarding Audit for 2013, 2014 and 2015 (TABLED ON 5/6/14)

NO MOTION MADE TO REMOVE FROM TABLE – RESOLUTION FAILS

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-63 Approve Purchase of Two Gillig Buses and One Transit Bus for Hazleton Public Transit

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Ralph Sharp, Director of Public Transit, said they are looking to replace three buses. One is a 2000, which is two years overdue. Larger buses are to be replaced every 12 years. He said they also need to replace two 2002 buses. Sharp said they want to get two 29-foot Gilligs and one 25-foot Ford E-450 Cutaway bus. Sosar said how these diesel buses rank in energy efficiency in comparison to the natural gas buses. Sharp said he looked into natural gas and hybrids. The 29-foot Gillig Bus costs $399,000, but if they went with natural gas, it would cost $460,000. He added that we would also need a natural gas fueling facility. Sosar said he does not believe there is a natural gas facility nearby. Sharp said the closest one he knows of is in Scranton. He said they would need a grant to build a natural gas facility, but they could probably sell the natural gas to other agencies. Sosar asked if these diesel buses are more efficient than what we currently have. Sharp responded yes. Mundie asked what the fuel savings over time would be, and how quickly that $61,000 difference could be made up. Sharp said he would have to look into that. He said they will save fuel with the 25-foot Ford E-450, because we used to have a 29-foot bus for that route. Mundie said that might be something to look into down the road. Sosar said as more and more places are turning to natural gas, it is something to consider for the next time. Mundie asked about getting it from a private company. Mope said the DeAngelos are into that with their fleet. Mundie said the natural gas buses are quieter and cleaner, and Sharp agreed. Mundie said these are becoming very popular. Sosar asked about the ridership. Sharp said the senior ridership is slightly down, which is normal for this area. The Humboldt and Wilkes-Barre routes have seen an increase in ridership. He is anticipating a greater increase in the Humboldt route when the new American Eagle plant opens up. Mundie asked how early the buses go out to Humboldt. Sharp replied that the first bus leaves at 5:19 a.m. from the station, and it runs until 8:25 a.m. That bus then goes up to the Wyoming Valley Mall, Mohegan Sun, and all throughout Mountaintop. He said he was asked to work with LCTA to go into the Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, because several people have asked for that. Sharp said one issue is that if you pull into the new terminal, you have to back out onto the road, and you need a flagger for that. They are trying to work something else out. Sharp said he is going to talk to County Council about having a stop off on one of the corners in the Square. Mundie asked about the cost to travel to Wilkes-Barre on the bus. Sharp replied $2.00 each way. Sosar asked Sharp to look into putting some of the colleges in Wilkes-Barre on the route. There are a lot of students looking for transportation to these places. Sosar said the colleges are three blocks away in any direction from the Square. He said a study there would be worthwhile. Mope said as a mother of students in the Wilkes-Barre, it would be beneficial for them to take a bus, especially in inclement weather. Sharp said he would look into the matter.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-64 Appointment to Blighted Building Committee – Charles Ziegler

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-65 Removing Diane Panzarella as the UCC Building Code Official (BCO) and Appointing Kyle L. Kehoe of Alfred Benesch & Company as the UCC Building Code Official for the City of Hazleton

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Bast.

On the Question:

Bast asked if this is being done because Diane Panzarella does not want the position anymore, and we need a BCO to sign permits, etc. DeAndrea said Panzarella resigned as BCO. He added that right now there is no one to sign permits. Mundie said that Alfred Benesch already does the UCC work anyway, and DeAndrea responded yes. DeAndrea said we are already paying Alfred Benesch to do the inspections. Mundie suggested putting the word out that we would like to see someone else trained to do this work, and maybe offer them an extra incentive to do that. DeAndrea said this is not his final plan, and Council may put a time limit on this. He plans on appointing or hiring someone else to this position, because he would like to see the City be more self-reliant with regard to these issues. Sosar suggested making this a term of one year. Mundie said this Resolution could be changed at any time. He said he would rather give some extra money to a City employee, instead of giving it to Alfred Benesch. Mundie asked how much Kyle Kehoe charges, and DeAndrea said he charges $65.00 per hour, no matter what he is doing. Cusat asked if anyone asked Panzarella if she would reconsider if she was compensated for her time. DeAndrea said he will not ask, because he cannot be bound by any City employee that he supervises that comes to him and says they resign. Mundie agreed with DeAndrea. Cusat said he knows Panzarella went on her own to these classes, and paid for it out of her own pocket, and got no compensation for it. DeAndrea said “the issues go much deeper than compensation.”

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-66 Contract for Materials 2014

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Sosar asked how much this will take care of throughout the City. Mike Vislocky of the Highway Department said he cannot answer that question. Sosar said this is a hard job, and we had a very bad winter. Mope said this is something that a Department Head should have been present for. Sosar said it is shame that we do not have a Department Head here to answer any questions. Mundie asked Vislocky if these are the same people we had last year. Mope said she remembers some of them. Vislocky stated he just uses the materials, and he does not know where it comes from. Mundie asked if these are all delivered. Vislocky said he did not know. Mope said it is all cold materials, so it cannot be delivered. Sosar said he still wants to see the machine that recycles the asphalt in action. He believes that machine could help the City out tremendously. Mope stated there is supposed to be a demonstration of that machine sometime in June. Mundie said he spoke to a man from Kingston, who said he loves the machine and he wishes he had more of them. He gets used asphalt from people, they dump it in his driveway, and he reuses it again with that machine. Sosar said he believes we could do a lot of work with this machine at this time of the year. Mope said all the asphalt from the Broad Street Corridor Project and the side streets could be reused. It is basically free product. She said Kingston is asking for more of those machines. Vislocky said he would like to see how the machine works. Mope said Frank Vito promised her that the company would be demonstrating it sometime in June.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-67 Resolution of the Council of the City of Hazleton Awarding a Contract to Mullin and Lonergan Associates, Inc., for the Preparation of the Consolidated Annual Submission for Community Planning and Development Programs for FY 2015, 2016 and 2017 and the Five-Year Housing and Community Development Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for FY 2015-2019, and Related Technical Assistance

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-68 Authorization to Execute Lease Agreement Between the Hazleton Parking Authority, the City of Hazleton, and DHD Realty Holding, LLC

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Neal DeAngelo, III, of DBI Services came to the podium to represent DHD Holding. Mundie asked if DeAngelo is an officer at DHD Holding, and DeAngelo responded no, but he is an owner. He said DBI needs 120 to 140 parking spaces, so they will not be taking the whole garage for themselves. He said there will be other spaces available for the downtown tenants and the public. DeAngelo said they need to rent the whole garage because they need the security. He stated that he receives pictures daily from people regarding the condition of the garage. Mundie asked if the garage is going to be rehabilitated, and DeAngelo responded yes. DeAngelo said the Mayor has moved a portion of the grant money from the robotic garage to this project. He said it was approved by DCED and amounts to about $1.6 million. It will be renovated and be brought up to Class A. Mundie asked if they went out for bids yet. DeAngelo replied no, and that is part of his concern. They would like to bring the remaining 120 employees downtown by the end of this year. They have already started the project of building a bridge to the parking garage. DeAngelo said there is a lease already in place with Norfolk Southern for the railroad space. Mundie asked when he believes the building will be ready for them to move in. DeAngelo stated that George Hayden believes it will be completed in October, but he believes it will be closer to December. Mundie asked if they are ready to go out for bid yet. DeAngelo said he did not know. Mundie commented that Dominic Yannuzzi should be here to answer Council’s questions. Mope said Council has no idea what is going on with this project. DeAngelo apologized for that, and said they have been working on this for two years. Mundie said he did not hear about this until about a year ago, and he did not hear about it from the Mayor. Mundie said government should not work like this, but sometimes that is just how it is. Mope commented that she would have liked to have received some information on this project. She said Council does not know if it is capable of having $1.6 million of repairs put into it, or if it is just going to be a waste of money. DeAngelo said they paid their architect to review the parking garage, and Dominic Yannuzzi took their print of all the things the garage needs. He said they would not be interested in parking in the garage if they felt it was not a stable structure. Mope said she spoke to DeAngelo’s father, and he was interested in adding onto the garage as well. DeAngelo said a study would need to be done, but pillars could be put on the outside of the garage to add additional decks. It can be supported around the garage. Mope said half of the upper deck is roped off because it is dangerous up there. DeAngelo said they are not allowed to park above the fire garage because it is not stable. Mope said the $1.6 million might bring it up to code, but she does not feel this will cover a complete renovation of the garage. DeAngelo said he believes the $1.6 million will get it to a habitable and safe place to park a car. Sosar asked if there is any engineering report done on the structure of the building. DeAngelo said he has the architectural study, which lists all of the deficiencies and the approximate costs to repair those deficiencies. Sosar felt a civil engineer would be more appropriate to look at the building. He said he would like to see an engineering report that addresses the needs of the building itself. DeAngelo said he believes he has a copy of a report that would have that information. Sosar said he does not believe he would have to meet with the Planning Commission, but, because there is some new structure, he may need to meet with them. DeAngelo said George Hayden and his team are handling the construction end of this project. Sosar asked that DeAngelo create a “working relationship” with the other people using the garage. Mundie asked how they will know if his company is going to use the whole building for itself. He said nothing is in the lease about that. Bast asked how many spaces will be in the parking garage when it is completed. DeAngelo said he did not know exactly, but he was given a number of 215 in the garage, and another 30 spaces along Mine Street. Sosar said he thought there was 220 to 225 in the garage. DeAngelo said there is some additional parking above the fire garage. He said the City owns a parcel of the land there, which he believes is the fire station. He said they do not want this parcel of land, and the City will be keeping it. This is why the City of Hazleton is a party to the lease. Mope said Chestnut Street is not part of this because they are City streets and it does not have to be part of the Lease Agreement with the Parking Authority. She said DeAngelo’s company will be tying up all of the parking spaces on the southern half of the City. The public needs to be able to park there as well. Mope asked if the spaces will be leased out to other entities, and DeAngelo said yes, they will be subleased. He said they will honor any leases that are already in place, and they do not plan on kicking anyone out. He added that they are not looking to profit from this. Mope asked how much they will be charging for the spaces. DeAngelo said the lease indicates it will be $30.00 per space, but that is because his company is taking over all of the maintenance on the garage. He said the spaces that cost $55.00 are for a reserved spot. Judy Dowd, who was in the audience, said she has no problem paying the $55.00, as long as it is not on the top of the garage because she is unable to shovel in the winter. She said there are only 47 parking spaces in the elderly high rise, and there are 174 apartments in the building, so parking is limited. A lot of people from that building park their cars in the garage for the winter. Sosar said DBI’s need for parking will only be during working hours, so those spaces do not need to remain empty after work hours. Mundie asked if there is a time frame for the repairs to be completed, and DeAngelo said that he was only told they could do it quickly. Mundie said he understands this needs to be approved as soon as possible, but waiting this long is not Council’s fault. It is the Mayor’s fault. Bast commented that he does not believe it will be completed by the end of the year. Sosar suggested postponing the vote on this Resolution until the next meeting, so that DeAngelo can get Council the reports on the parking garage. He said that hopefully everyone will be on the same page for the next meeting. He does not feel comfortable with making a decision tonight without seeing the reports and any future plans for it. He would like DeAngelo to also work with the current tenants. Mundie said he would like to see some type of language in the contract stating that a certain amount of spaces will be made available to the public. Sosar commented that those who already have a space should get “dibs” in the garage. Bast said he is concerned that it is $30.00 per spot for the next 10 years. He said over the last 10 years, inflation has been at 25%. If this continues, DeAngelo will have to charge people more because it is going to cost more to maintain it. Bast said what the City will receive in year 10 of the contract will be 25% less than what was received in year one. Mundie said there are renewal periods built into the contract. DeAngelo said after the 10-year lease, it goes into consecutive five-year options. There is also an option to purchase. Mope said the City has a bad habit of “putting the cart before the horse.” She stated that the City did not take over the Parking Authority yet, so we do not own it. Mope said when the City takes over the Parking Authority, it will also be taking over its liabilities. She said there is a lack of cooperation between the Administration and Council. DeAngelo said that any delays with this lease will delay their project, and delay any of their employees moving downtown. Mope said she is also concerned with the tax dollars. She said Council does not receive all the information it needs from the Administration. She commented that they are trying to do what is best for the taxpayers, the downtown businesses, and the people that patronize these businesses, and what DBI is bringing into the area. Bast said for over the last 20 years, this government has used small, one-time fixes to try to keep taxes in check. This is a big problem. Mundie said the Parking Authority has lost money each year over the last five years. Mope said if you have control over the parking spaces in the garage, then you have control over setting the price for those spaces. There is a potential to make some profit. She said another building was leased out from the City to a private entity, and the City got paid very little, and the private entity is making major money. Mope said this is going to be a KOZ for 10 years, and these KOZs are hurting the City, because we are losing tax money for 10 years. Mundie asked if the Mayor is going to go out bid once they receive the lease. DeAngelo said he believes that is dependent on if the lease is approved. Mope said she does not know how there can be bids if there is no Parking Authority. Mope said the Parking Authority salaries were placed in the budget, and the Parking Authority was supposed to have been disbanded in April. Neal DeAngelo, who was in the audience, said the Parking Garage is in deplorable condition and is an embarrassment. Mundie said this should not have taken so long. Sosar motioned to table the Resolution until the next meeting, so that DeAngelo can get Council the information they requested. Sosar said he would like to see the engineering reports, looking into planning, and some type of format in terms of the parking layout for employees and the public. Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2014-69 Awarding Audit for 2013

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Mope made a motion to table the Resolution. Bast asked if Council wanted an audit this year. Mundie said they are definitely going to aware this at the next meeting. Mope asked the City Clerk to contact the firms who responded to the RFP to make a presentation at the work session. Cusat said he thought the audit was awarded for three years. Bast said he put this in because he wanted something in for 2013, so we can begin the audit. He said we have no one doing the audit for the previous fiscal year, and it is almost June. Bast said he believes that because it is so late in the year, the firm already handling the 2012 audit will know what is going on. He said he talked to Dennis Moore and he agreed to perform the 2013 audit. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

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

RESOLUTION TABLED 3-2

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*Resolution 2014-70 was moved to the beginning of the meeting. See page four.*

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Resolution 2014-71 Authorizing and Approving the Partnership between CopLogic and the City of Hazleton for Electronic Police Reporting Capabilities for the Police Department

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar said he contacted a lieutenant in Bensalem to explain the CopLogic program to him. The lieutenant said the started using it in 2013, and they are connecting it to a report program called Codee(?). It can be used as a stand-alone or it can be interfaced with other programs that help generate reports for the department to meet legal standards. Sosar asked if we have something like that in place. DeAndrea said no, there is nothing like that. He added that they do not use that records management system. They use Visual Alert. DeAndrea said CopLogic interfaces with 67 different records management companies. He added that this will not be a stand-alone system. DeAndrea said Scranton is also using CopLogic. He said the City pays thousands of dollars per year in overtime for the police to respond to non-response necessary incidents and victimless crimes because people need things such as a police report for an insurance company. DeAndrea stated that under these circumstances most people just want to make a report. This ties up police officers from getting to more serious crimes in a timely fashion. Mundie asked how these types of things are reported. DeAndrea responded that normally they would call 911, and a police officer would come out to take the report. He said some of the good people in this community do not want to call 911, because it is not an emergency, so they never report the crimes that should be in the database. He said if such things are reported, more crimes could be solved. DeAndrea said CopLogic is a computer-based program where you go onto the City’s website and report certain crimes. You cannot report anything where a police office is required to come or it is an emergency. He said right now the Police use a Citizen Complaint Report. This allows you to go online, and fill in all of the information. Once it is sent it goes to the police department and you receive a temporary number. A supervisor on every shift, minus emergency calls, has to correct review and correct those items. DeAndrea said once it is corrected, it is either sent back requesting more information in the narrative, or the officer hits enter. Once we hit enter, the person lodging the complaint receives an email that explains the report has been accepted and it is in the records management system. He said if the person is caught, they can go into the database and get the information they need. He stated that they save money by not sending officers to non-emergency response incidents. He does not hold officers over on overtime to handle these calls when he is short staffed. DeAndrea stated the public will save time by not having to come to City Hall, and take time off of work to report these matters. He said this can be used from anywhere there is access to the internet. He said there are some people in this community who are afraid to call the police, because a cop will have to come to your house to report it. DeAndrea said he will also have it available in Spanish, but it will be received in English. He added that CopLogic can also be used to report traffic signals that are out, parking meters that are not working, potholes, street lights that are out, noise complaints, drug tips, etc. He said he has received complaints from people and multiple agencies who say they have never received a response to their phone message. With this program, it will be time-stamped, so you will know when it came in. Mundie asked if pictures or video can be sent. DeAndrea said yes, and they can also add pictures to the report. Also, you can print out an immediate copy of the report, and you will not have to pay for them. Mope said there are some people who are not “computer savvy,” and she asked what will be available to them. He said if someone is unable or unwilling to use the internet to make a report, a police officer will be sent to their home. If someone comes to City Hall to report something that is a non-emergency, a computer kiosk will be available to the public. If that person is not “computer literate,” a police officer will enter it for them. This program can also be used on a smartphone. DeAndrea said it is against the law to falsely report a crime. It is unsworn falsification, which means that person could be criminally charged. Mope said she is concerned about the availability of an officer to assist these people, because the officers are not in the building. She said she has seen people standing in the lobby not knowing what to do. DeAndrea said the police officers are usually on the road, and they would need to contact 911 to have a police officer come back to City Hall. Mundie suggested having someone from URS to man the window. DeAndrea stated that as part of an auxiliary police force, one of the things he would like to do is staff City Hall. He would like to have volunteers go through auxiliary police training to be available at City Hall as an “information booth.” These individuals will also have to go through a background investigation. Mundie asked who else has this program, and DeAndrea responded that there are over 300 police department nationwide that have this program. He said if we go with CopLogic, we will be the third in the State of Pennsylvania. They have just moved to the East Coast. DeAndrea said he reviewed several companies, and this company seems to be the best company to go with. They have the police transparency of giving the public the ability to do reports online. Sosar said the Bensalem Police Department has a sergeant on duty every day, where one of his duties is to review every single report that comes in. He asked if we have the ability to monitor these reports. DeAndrea said yes. He said there is a time requirement wherein every police report must be reviewed. Mundie suggested having a clerk in the Police Department review the reports. DeAndrea said he cannot do that. He said the reports are currently being taken by a police officer, and reviewed daily by the supervisory staff. He stated that each report has to be reviewed within 24 hours, and he currently has the staff to do that right now. Mundie asked how many calls they get that could go through CopLogic, and DeAndrea said about one-third. This program will allow the officers to be out on patrol or investigating crimes. Mundie asked about the fees involved. DeAndrea said it costs $9,000 for the interface to be built for the Police Department, which will be coming out of seizure money. When this is complete, the Police Department will have a website for crime reporting. Every year thereafter, there will be a $5,000 software maintenance fee. This guarantees that the software is compatible with the equipment and software of the Police Department. Mundie felt the cost of too high, but DeAndrea said this is relatively cheap compared to others. DeAndrea said the maintenance fees for police fingerprinting are $14,000 a year, and Visual Alert is $6,000 a year. Mundie asked how long the contract is for, and DeAndrea said we will not be tied into this for any certain period of time. Mundie asked how long Scranton has had this program, and DeAndrea responded that they just started using it a few months ago. Mope asked where the $5,000 maintenance fee will be coming from, and DeAndrea responded that it will come from his budget. He said he believes the savings received from not having all of the overtime will offset the $5,000 a year fee. Sosar said he will give DeAndrea the name of the person he spoke to in Bensalem about this. He said the system can be customized. He said that in Bensalem they still have a number to call the police department without calling 911. DeAndrea said they have that as well. Sosar said the general public should have that number. DeAndrea said the phone number is 570-459-4940, which goes to voice mail in the Police Department. Sosar was concerned because it only gets listened to once a shift. DeAndrea said that the law is that if someone needs a police officer to respond to a crime in progress, they need to call 911. There is no way around this. Sosar said some businesses are afraid to do that because of the harm it may cause to that business. DeAndrea said if a police officer shows up and the business did not call, the person committing the crime is still going to believe that the business called the police. Sosar gave an example of this. DeAndrea said if you want to report a crime immediately, the way to do that is to call 911, and there is no way around it. Mope asked about the Drug Tip Line, and DeAndrea replied that is still up and running. Bast asked if a study was done to see how many nonemergency 911 calls would be able to go through this system. DeAndrea said no. But, believes it is probably thousands of calls per year. DeAndrea anticipates savings of tens of thousands of dollars in overtime saved and additional revenue brought in. He said they responded to 29,000 calls last year through the 911 system, which is almost as much as Wilkes-Barre. Mundie asked what is the criteria for a non-reportable car crash. DeAndrea said no injuries, no property damage, and no vehicles need to be towed. These types of incidents could be reported through CopLogic. Sosar would like to know what percentage of crimes would fit into that category in a given year. DeAndrea said he could get that information. He added that because there are people who are still reluctant to call 911, that means that there are a percentage of crimes that are not being reported. He believes this software will enable people to report more criminal activity than usual. Sosar asked DeAndrea to contact Scranton and Bensalem about this. DeAndrea said before he was Chief, people would call and be told that they need to come to City Hall, get a form, take it home, fill it out, and bring it back in. He did not like the way this made the Police Department look to the public, and he stopped this practice when he became Chief. He now makes an officer respond to those calls, and the officer then fills out the form. Mundie asked if the $5,000 maintenance fee is currently in the budget, and DeAndrea said no, but he will build it into his 2015 budget. Mope asked how much was set aside from the seizure money. DeAndrea responded that $14,000 has been put aside from the seizure money to pay for this project for the first year. He said he has reduced the Police Department’s overtime by $60,000 in a two-year period, and the fine revenue has increased by $120,000. Mundie asked about this year’s overtime, and DeAndrea said they are on track to be at or under budget. Code Enforcement’s revenue has increased by $160,000 for one year. He believes this will more than cover the cost of the $5,000 maintenance fee for each year of this program. Mundie asked how long this program has been around, and DeAndrea said he believes since the mid-2000s. Mundie asked why there are so few in Pennsylvania. DeAndrea said it is based on the West Coast in California, and it took some time to get to the East Coast. He added that the smaller police department cannot find the money to purchase it. He said all of the larger metropolitan police departments seem to use CopLogic instead of any other program. He said once this is interfaced, we could add code enforcement complaints, health department complaints, garbage complaints, nuisance complaints, etc. This system also has pin mapping, e.g., where are the most DUIs in the City, etc. The current computer system does not track that kind of information. Mundie said this would be a good way to report potholes. Mope said there is still a part of the community that does not like technology. DeAndrea said that is why he is trying to still make it possible for people to come to City Hall, and the police will do the report for you. Mope felt that the City still needs to have that “personal element.” She would like to see it more so with the Police Department, because she gets a lot of complaints about the access to City Hall, the Police Department, etc. She said the barricaded window in the front is also a deterrent. Mope said the community wants to have accessibility to the police officers. DeAndrea agreed, but said that sometimes there are not always police officers available. Mope said when we had dispatchers, people really liked being able to get a person. Bast said the problem is that there are not enough police officers to be out on the street and still be in City Hall. Mope suggested having a light-duty officer answer the phones. DeAndrea agreed, but said they are not allowed to come out into the lobby. Mope said the public feels they are being shut out of their own Police Department and City Hall. She does not want to have that type of atmosphere, and wants it to change. DeAndrea said he is restrained by what can be done because of the amount of staff he has. He said if they come to City Hall, they have to call 911 and have the dispatcher send an officer to City Hall. DeAndrea said he does not like that there is such a “disconnect.” He would like to have volunteers to monitor things, etc., because we do not have the money to pay people to do it. He stated that he has to be careful who he puts in City Hall in case someone comes into City Hall and starts trouble. This could become a liability. Cusat asked if it is easy to use from a Smartphone. DeAndrea said it is the same thing as accessing any website. Cusat asked if an app could be designed as well, and DeAndrea said no. Cusat said he contacted Chicago and Los Angeles about setting up a texting hotline, and he received the same information.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-72 Requesting C Group Energy Services to Begin Contract Negotiations with SmartWatt Energy, Inc. for the City of Hazleton’s Street Lighting Project

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mundie said this is for negotiations only, and they will have to come back with a contract for approval. Mundie asked if any cities were done equivalent to Hazleton. A gentleman from SmartWatt said they have done them, but not many from this area. Mundie asked what other cities they have done work for. He said they have done work in upstate New York, and they have been in Pennsylvania for five years. Mundie asked how many streetlights were done at the Housing Authority, and the gentleman responded that it was only what was on their property, about 10 to 12. They do thousands of outdoor lighting projects every year. They did the indoor lighting for the Housing Authority.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-73 Requesting a Traffic Study be Completed by the City of Hazleton at the Intersection of 19th and Peace Streets to Determine if There is a Need for a Stop Sign at this Location

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said he put this on the agenda. Sosar said this is an area where there are children walking to and from school. Mundie asked if the neighbors are requesting it. Cusat said yes. There was an accident there about one month ago, and the woman living on the corner had asked the responding police officer about getting a stop sign there. The officer told her to go to City Council. Cusat said there have been quite a few accidents there. Mundie asked if there are any other stop signs in that area. Cusat said they are on 15th and 20th Streets. DeAndrea said he would like the wording to change stating that the study is to be conducted by the City of Hazleton’s Streets Department, or something like that. He does not want to have PennDOT or an engineering firm come in and do the study. He believes this is an easy fix to this problem. Sosar suggested the following wording: “The Council of the City of Hazleton is requesting a study conducted by the City of Hazleton to determine the need for a stop sign at 19th and Peace Streets.” DeAndrea said he will then discuss it with the Highway Department and report back to Council before the next meeting. Sosar made a motion to amend the Resolution as indicated above. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

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

Roll Call (As Amended):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2014-74 A Resolution of the Governing Body of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Authorizing, Empowering, and Directing the Proper City Officials of the Governing Body to Appoint a Liaison Between it and Berkheimer, the Duly Appointed Collector of Local Taxes for the City of Hazleton, for the Express Purpose of Sharing Confidential Tax Information with the City of Hazleton for Official Purposes

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Mundie said it used to be the City Administrator or Director. He questioned why this is changing. Bast said it may be because Pribula’s title is not City Administrator. Cusat made a motion to table the Resolution until the next meeting. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2014-75 Authorizing the Appointment of Father Thomas A. Cappelloni for Services as the City of Hazleton’s Police Department Chaplain

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar asked if Father Cappelloni is doing this free of charge, and DeAndrea responded yes. Sosar said we also need to encompass other religious leaders to be fair to everyone, because of the need of the firefighters and the police officers. He stated they need spiritual assistance, as well as psychological assistance. DeAndrea said he is trying to start a Hazleton Police Chaplaincy Program. When there are serious incidents, the Police Department will be adding another level of support to the community. Sosar said there used to be a ministerium comprised of all of the religious leaders in the City of Hazleton. He asked DeAndrea to reach out to them as well.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-76 Authorizing the Appointment of Anthony Semone, Ph.D., for Services as the Psychologist for the City of Hazleton’s Police Department

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar asked where Dr. Semone’s office is located. DeAndrea responded Warminster, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. Sosar asked if he has worked with the Police Officers in the past. DeAndrea said he has an “intimate” working relationship with the Police Department. He has been involved in the traumatic stress debriefings for every incident the Police Department has had over the last 10 years. He said he has a problem when he orders a psychological evaluation for one of his police officers. Their medical insurance will not pay for it because he is ordering them to go. DeAndrea said it is not workers’ compensation or Blue Cross Blue Shield, therefore, it comes out of his budget. He has spent thousands of dollars last year and this year. DeAndrea said they need to be physically and mentally cleared for duty. If not, and there is an incident, the City could be sued. He said Dr. Semone sought him out when he took over as Chief. He has trained with the Special Operations Group. DeAndrea said Dr. Semone will not do this under medical insurance, because it becomes a medical coding issue. He said he ran this through with the City’s Solicitor and the Solicitor ran it through the City’s insurance carrier. The insurance carrier was in agreement as long as Dr. Semone knows he has no police powers, he cannot arrest anyone, and he carries the City of Hazleton as an additional insured on his insurance policy. Dr. Semone is willing to do that. DeAndrea said Dr. Semone is performing this service free of charge, but he asked that he be paid for his gas and for his meals. This will save the City thousands of dollars. DeAndrea said Dr. Semone is a certified board professional, he has all the insurances we need, and he will provide the City with his certifications to be kept on file. He said that his police officers are very comfortable with him. Mope asked how it works if they want to see them on their own without DeAndrea ordering them to do so. DeAndrea responded that would go through their health insurance. Mope asked if there are any other psychologists available to the police officers, if one of them does not want to see Dr. Semone. DeAndrea said no, because there is not a pool of doctors for a fitness-for-duty evaluation. He said he only knows of two other psychologists that perform these evaluations. One is Dr. Ned Delaney out of the Mountaintop/Wilkes-Barre area, and the other is Dr. Semone. He has used them both in the past. DeAndrea said Dr. Semone is a “good guy,” and they could use a psychologist on staff.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

           

Comments from the Audience:  Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on CopLogic. He said there is a crime watch app for smartphones. Rabo said he was at the County Council meeting and there was an item on the agenda regarding the purchase of a corner lot on Cedar Street. This was requested by Dominic Yannuzzi. Rabo asked under what authority does Dominic Yannuzzi or any member of Administration to bypass Council and go to the County Council to ask to purchase County property. Rabo said that he spoke to the County’s Solicitor, Attorney Pedri, and he said that in a private conversation that he had with Attorney Slusser that the Mayor is allowed to do this, provided he is not making any contractual obligations. He asked how this can be regarded as legal opinion based on a private conversation. Rabo said he would like to see the Redevelopment Authority use the Elm Street designation to address the blighted areas around the downtown.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton asked if the lawsuits filed by the Mayor were answered yet and has he been countersued. Mundie said that will be done this week. Tarantino asked about a new government study to change the government structure. Sosar said this can be done, but it would take petitions by the population to do that. He said the real problem is it is not going to alleviate any problems for 18 months, because it would take 18 months to do the study and transition everything. Sosar suggested that pressure be put on the Administration to make them do what they should be doing. He said one man does not run the City. There is a need to make all of the entities of the City to get together and make the City work, but we are not seeing that right now. Sosar said a change of government will not necessarily change that. He asked everyone that when they vote, they put in people that are going to be honest. Sosar said that stormwater fee was wrong, and it was a “backdoor tax.” If they would have been honest with the taxpayers about this, people would understand, and maybe be willing to do what is right. Mope said it not necessarily the type of government, but the people who are in those positions. They determine the direction of the City. They need to be honest with the people and Council. Mope said she does not like executive orders, and that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. She does not believe this is legal. Mope said when people are appointed to a position by executive order, they are bound to do what the Mayor tells them to do, or they are eliminated. That is not the way to run the City. Mope said with regard to the stormwater fee, people have told her that they do not mind paying their fair share. They do not like being lied to, being treated like their opinions do not matter, and being bypassed. She said there is a lack of respect to these people by not being truthful to them. She added that there is also a lack of respect for Council by not being truthful. Mope said there were no penalties placed in the Ordinance, and there was no appeals process. Tarantino said the money is not going to be used for what they were told it was going to be used for. Sosar said “there are so many fires going on right now, figuratively, that we’ve got to deal with.” He said we have to elect good people into office first.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  None.

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming. He said he was told the stormwater fee was a way to reduce the amount of increase in income tax, and would make everyone pay, not just property owners. He was also told some of this money would go to the Streets Department. Bast said the Mayor has “completely gone back on everything he told me.”

Cusat said in the near future he would like to discuss accepting credit cards downstairs and eliminating cash all together. DeAndrea said that has already been done. Cusat said that someone was appointed to head the Recreation Department, but that never came before Council. He said he would like to set up a work session for the next meeting to talk about the Rental Inspection Ordinance. He said we need to either repeal it, change it, or put in place and start collecting. Cusat commented about the letter received regarding the pensions. He said there are still questions about the 2014 budget, and they start it in June for 2015, so we have to come up with the proper format for that. This has to be presented to the Administration. Cusat said there was an appointment made by executive order to the Redevelopment Authority, but that order does not exist. He said he does not recognize that appointment, and he believes that spot is still vacant. Cusat said that as of last night, the Mayor still did not sign the contract with Barry Isett to be Community Development’s engineer. He said they are very worried about losing the money for Green Street because of this. He thanked DeAndrea, Mike Wilfing, Rick Wech, and Joel Soto. Cusat said that on Inauguration Day, he did not read his prepared statement because John Ford was not here. He said thanks to John Ford.

Mope said she understands Bast’s position on the stormwater fee. She said if the Mayor gave him any information, that should have been a red flag right then and there. She thanked everyone for coming. Sosar thanked Joel Soto. He thanked everyone for coming. He said the Cedar Street situation bothers him and it needs to be investigated. He said they have been waiting two weeks to hear about the stormwater fee and if it was legal or not. Sosar said he has 12 things that you could appeal the stormwater fee on. They are: (1) why was there no hearing, (2) why was the administration and the stormwater management fee not utilized, (3) the formula for compensation is problematic, (4) there is supposed to be a minimum, but it is not originally what was said, (5) it was not advertised, (6) some of the stormwater lines do not exist and people are paying for it, (7) it is a fee not a tax, (8) the need for money, (9) the engineering costs and how the engineer has “muddied the waters,” (10) is it legal, (11) it was only supposed to take care of new stormwater lines, and (12) it is a dedicated fund. He asked everyone to appeal the stormwater fee.

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

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