2014-1-14 Council Minutes

 

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 7:10 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:  None.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

At this point, Mundie stated an executive session was held prior to tonight’s meeting to discuss Airport matters and contracts.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Judy Yurcho, Locust Street, Hazleton commented on the appointments. She said to avoid problems with these appointments, background checks should be performed at the appointee’s expense. She said this will see if they have any bankruptcies, criminal offenses, etc., before having them serve on these boards. Yurcho added that there should be “no money incentive” for these individuals to serve on these boards. She stated one of the candidates for an appointment has used bad language on Facebook, and people like that should not serve on these boards. She commented that Hazleton needs the right people and “we deserve the best.” She said these candidates need to be qualified. Yurcho stated there is too much nepotism in the City. Sosar asked if she was referring to the Act 51 investigations, and Yurcho responded “kind of like that.” She said that financially stressed people should not be on boards because they may take bribes. Sosar said he agrees with Yurcho about the background checks.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-11 Reappointment to the International Building Code and International Property Maintenance Code Board of Appeals (Building Officials & Code Administrators International) – Michael Wilfing

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if it is permissible to include two boards on one Resolution. Slusser said he researched this and it is perfectly fine. Mundie asked what Wilfing’s background is, and Wilfing said he has 30 years of code enforcement experience and was a supervisor in that department in New Jersey.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-12 Appointment to the Shade Tree Commission – Wilma Ruggerio

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-13 Appointment to the Zoning Hearing Board – Kevin Schadder

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if Slusser research if someone leaving Council can then be appointed to a board for pay. Slusser said he did not look into it. Attorney Charles DeCosmo, Council Legal Advisor, said it is okay. Sosar asked Schadder to come to the podium. Schadder said he was previously on the Zoning Board for eight years, prior to being appointed to City Council. He said that Ray Bast and John Paletski recently resigned from the Zoning Board, and they are in need of experienced person. He added that the other members have only been there for one to three years, and he would have the most experience. Mundie said he is not in agreement with this appointment because Schadder voted to let Min Sec come in. Schadder said that Min Sec misrepresented itself to Zoning and various other organizations. He said he was one of the people that encouraged the Mayor to get rid of them afterwards. Schadder said he did some research and said he felt the City could not go forward with its lawsuit. He stated the Philadelphia Zoning Board sued Min Sec and they were found liable for between $1 million and $3 million, because it was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Schadder stated Min Sec would fall under the ADA. Mundie said Bast and Paletski were thrown off the Zoning Board because of Min Sec, and Schadder said they were not thrown off, they resigned. He said they resigned because of what happened on Poplar Street. He said they talked to the Mayor and Slusser about this before resigning. Schadder said he would speak to Mundie privately about this. Mundie said that after Zoning, the applicant should have gone to the Luzerne County Court of Appeals, and not the Mayor. That would be the next step. Schadder said much more was involved than just going to the Mayor. Mope said she had the same problems when trying to stop the methadone clinic. She said the proper process should have been followed. Mope said it is a shame that we lost two valuable people on the Zoning Board over this. Schadder said he wished they were still here, but they need someone with more experience on the Zoning Board.

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

RESOLUTION FAILS 3-2

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Resolution 2014-14 Appointment to the Zoning Hearing Board – Vilmarie Budde

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Slusser said the term in the Resolution is incorrect. It should be the remaining term of the person who resigned. Mundie made a motion to change the term to two years instead of three years. Mope seconded the motion.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES

Back on the Question:

Sosar said he has seen Vilmarie Budde at many meetings of the City. He asked if she was familiar with zoning procedures, and if she was ready to tackle it. Budde said she was ready to tackle it. Sosar asked if she will be able to fit it into her scheduled, and Budde said yes. Mundie asked if she still works at PPL. Budde said yes, she works on West 9th Street, and has worked there since 2012. Mundie asked about her work for a cleaning company in Hazleton. Budde said she is a supervisor there, and they are headquartered in Mountaintop. Mope said Budde has done a lot of community service over the years. Budde said she does not do this for the money, and she will never take a bribe. She loves the City and wants to help in any way she can. Sosar said she is an honest person, and he thanked her for everything she has done over the years.

Roll Call (as amended):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2014-15 Reappointment to the Zoning Hearing Board – Michael Pozzessere

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-16 Reappointment to the Shade Tree Commission – Allyne Petryliak

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-17 Reappointment to the Planning Commission – Rocco Bognet

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-18 Appointment to the Planning Commission – Craig Budde

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Sosar said he is concerned about Craig Budde carrying a gun. He said he does not like guns and he has never touched one. Budde said he respects that but it is not illegal to open carry a firearm in Pennsylvania. Budde said he never threatened anyone with it. He said if he gets appointed, he will make sure it is covered at the meetings. Mundie expressed his concerns about Budde taking a gun to the Planning Commission meetings. Mundie asked if Budde ever used his gun before, and Budde said yes, it was used in self-defense. He said no one can stop him from open carrying, but he would talk to the other members of the Planning Commission before bringing it to a meeting.

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

RESOLUTION FAILS 3-2

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Resolution 2014-19 Reappointment to the Health Board – Dr. Barbara Vilushis

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-20 Appointment to the Hazleton Housing Authority – Amilcar Arroyo

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar said he does not know of anyone more knowledgeable about what is going on in Hazleton than Amilcar Arroyo. He said Arroyo has helped “put out fires” in the community. He stated he does not believe there will be any problems with him serving on the Housing Authority. Sosar asked Arroyo if he has enough time to do this, and Arroyo said he would make time. He said he always honors his commitments. Sosar said Arroyo will do a good job. Mundie asked if Arroyo is on the Luzerne County Community College Board, and Arroyo said no, he is on the advisory board only. Roll Call:  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-21 Appointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Stephanie Pcolinsky

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-22 Reappointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Lorenzo Wright

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-23 Reappointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Krista Schneider

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-24 Reappointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Donna Palermo

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-25 Reappointment to the Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Sue Farley

Presented by Bast. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-26 Reappointment to the Civil Service Commission – Rocco Formica

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Bast.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

Comments from the Audience:  Judy Dowd, Hazleton commented on the condition of the Wyoming Street Parking Garage. She said there are currently 31 lights in the parking garage. She has discussed her concerns with the Mayor, Vito, and Hahn, but no one seems to know whose responsibility it is to make the necessary repairs. Dowd said lights are falling down. She said the lights on the Chestnut Street side were falling down, and the Fire Department came in, cut them down, and capped them, but a lot of them were never replaced. Mundie said he is going to go there after the meeting. Mundie asked if Wech has gone over there, and Wech said no, because he was never asked to. Dowd showed pictures of the garage to Council. Mope asked who did the work at the garage, and Slusser said he did not know. Dowd said money was paid to do the work on the parking garage, but it was not done correctly. They only put lighting where a fixture was already present, and not everywhere. Dowd said someone was using heroin by her car because she found used needles there. She asked why the money is not being spent properly, and who owns the parking garage. Mundie said he will look into the matter. Dowd suggested considering a “one strike rule” like Wilkes-Barre has. Mundie said Council will consider it, and they are looking at some other things as well.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton asked what the status of the McKinley Street property is. Mundie asked Slusser about this. Slusser said this was discussed in executive session. Slusser said the decision was made to discontinue the process in New Jersey. He is currently looking into whether or not they have more property in Luzerne County. Mundie asked how much was spent on this so far, and Slusser responded over $500.00. Mope asked about the money put in from the CD Budget. Mundie said that will not be available until March or April. Mope said the debris on McKinley Street is considered a liability the way it is. Slusser said it was the intent of the Administration to establish a procedure for out-of-state property owners. It would have an impact moving forward. Mope asked if we will get all the money we are due, and Slusser said they are trying to pursue valuable properties of those living in another jurisdiction. Unfortunately, they may not have valuable property in this area. Mundie felt this was a waste of money. He said the pile of rubble is dangerous. He stated Council provided the money for the cleanup but the Mayor will not move on it. Mope asked if lawyer’s fees can be collected as well, or if we can recoup anything else. She felt the current condition of the property puts the City in a state of litigation. She said this has been going on since April of 2013. DeCosmo said if someone is injured by this, there could be a problem, and this may need to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Slusser said his concern is that it is not owned by the City. Mundie said there was a similar problem in Reading. DeCosmo said he feels the City exposes itself to liability leaving it the way it is. Rabo said the former Powell Furniture building was dismantled and cleaned up a few years ago. Rabo said that the City should not just go after out-of-state property owners and hope to get the money. He said we should follow with the previous patter, go to court, present the evidence, and get a ruling.

Mike Wilfing, Hazleton said the City should look at the International Property Maintenance Code. He said it states we have an obligation to clean it up. Wilfing said he did this in the past when he worked in New Jersey. He said we will spend the money and still have the problem and the hazardous condition. Mundie said he has argued about this with DeAndrea and the Mayor. Mope said the lot it sits on should be worth something. Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton said the property on Poplar Street was knocked down, so the City has already set precedence. She said we have ordinances for when the grass is too high that we can mow the grass and send an invoice, but not for something as hazardous as this. Deakos said the City is not using all of the tools available. She suggested reporting the owners to the Credit Bureau. She commented that these are steps the City should be taking. Deakos said maybe a sheriff’s sale should be conducted. Mundie asked Slusser to send him his bills for all the work he performed with regard to the McKinley Street property.

Comments from Mayor or City Administrator:  None.

Comments from Council:  Bast said it is a sad day when a qualified person’s appointment is not passed. Bast said Schadder could have brought a lot to the table with all of his experience. He stated that we lost of years of experience when Ray Bast and John Paletski resigned. He thanked Schadder for his years of service on the Zoning Board and on Council. Mundie commented that Council’s votes mean nothing, because the Mayor will just do an executive order to get who he wants in that position. Mundie said the Supreme Court decided these appointments would be the Mayor’s appointments, and Slusser agreed. DeCosmo said the Code says “with the advice and consent of Council,” when it comes to these appointments. Bast said the appointment of Skokoski and DeCosmo as Council’s Legal Advisor is wrong. The last Legal Advisor appointed was Attorney Joe Woitko (Ordinance 96-1). It was for an indefinite term, and Woitko was never removed from that position. Bast said he has a problem with taking the advice and consent of the Legal Advisor over the Solicitor, and he felt this would open us up to lawsuits. Bast questioned the legalities of the appointment. Mundie said he felt they were open to lawsuits by not having any legal counsel at the meetings, and Bast did not want legal counsel at the meetings. Bast said that was not true, and he stated he wanted the Solicitor at every Council meeting. He said it was Perry’s words to have the Solicitor here on an “as-needed basis.” Bast thanked everyone for coming and answering questions. He thanked the appointees for their service and commitment.

Cusat thanked everyone who volunteered to serve on these boards, authorities and commissions. He said he looks forward to the budget work session on Thursday.

Sosar said he votes in conscience when voting for these appointments, whether it be yes or no. He wished all the appointees luck in their appointments, and he appreciates their service. Sosar said we are always looking for more people to volunteer, and he would like to see a lot more.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She said complaints are always welcome. She said they are going to have a complaint section placed on the website, as well as some other information. Mope congratulated everyone who was appointed, and she said it is not an easy task to make these selections. She thanked Slusser for attending the meeting. She also welcomed DeCosmo to the meeting, and said they will be a welcome addition to the meeting.

Mundie thanked everyone for coming, and thanked those appointed to the boards. He felt they would all do a good job. He stated that if anyone is interested in sitting on a board, they should send their resume to the City Clerk. Mundie stated that we are always looking for good people. He said that the Mayor has not given them the budget yet, and he has Council worried. Mundie said there are changes and corrections being made to the budget, and Council needs time to “digest” it. He said they are trying to get the City back on track.

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