2015-01-06 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 6, 2015

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 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:  None.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor: Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton comment on the Resolutions to override the Mayor’s Vetoes of four ordinances. She said that if Council does not override the Mayor’s vetoes of these ordinances, employees will need to be laid off. She commented that the Mayor is the one who should be laid off.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton said Attorney Robert Cohen is a good lawyer and a good man, and Council should pass the resolution appointing him as City Solicitor. He added that the resolutions regarding overriding the Mayor’s vetoes need to be passed in order to avoid a shutdown of the City government.

John Homa, Hazleton said Council needs to approve the resolutions overriding the Mayor’s vetoes. He asked Council not to over tax its constituents.

At this point, Mope made a motion to go out of order on the agenda, and to vote on Resolutions 2015-1, 2015-2, 2015-3, and 2015-4. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Go Out of Order on Agenda and Vote on Resolutions 2015-1, 2015-2, 2015-3, and 2015-4:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call (on Motion to Go Out of Order on Agenda and Vote on Resolutions 2015-1, 2015-2, 2015-3, and 2015-4):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

Resolution 2015-1 A Resolution Reconsidering and Overriding the Mayor’s Veto of Budget Ordinance 2014-20

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said the law states Council can override the Mayor’s veto after the third day following its return to the clerk. It is too early to do this. He added that he is not prepared to vote on these resolutions at this time. Sosar said the Third Class City Code states Council has up to three days to react to the Mayor’s veto, and the Mayor vetoed them yesterday. Cusat read the law aloud that states it is on or after the third day after the Mayor’s veto to rescind an ordinance. Mundie asked if Attorney Bob Cohen could give his legal opinion on this matter. Cohen said from what Cusat said, he appears to be correct. He added that his opinion is not binding because he has not yet been officially hired as the City Solicitor. Cusat stated that there is still time to vote on it at a later date. Mundie suggested voting on these resolutions pending a legal opinion from the solicitor. Sosar said Council needs to vote on these as soon as possible or the City will be operating without a budget and there will be no money for salaries. Cusat suggested scheduling a special meeting to vote on these resolutions for Friday, January 9, 2015. Cusat made a motion to table this resolution until the special meeting on Friday, January 9, 2015. Mope seconded the motion.

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 RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-2 A Resolution Reconsidering and Overriding the Mayor’s Veto of Ordinance 2014-22 Re-Enacting Ordinances 1931, 132, and 1933 for the Period January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, which Impose the Real Estate Tax, Earned Income Tax, Per Capita Tax, and Resident Tax, Respectively

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said he has the same concerns with the resolution as he does with the prior resolution. Cusat made a motion to table the resolution until the special meeting on Friday, January 6, 2015. Mope seconded the motion.

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 RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-3 A Resolution Reconsidering and Overriding the Mayor’s Veto of Ordinance 2014-24 Fixing the Tax Rate of Real Estate Located in the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for All City Purposes for the Fiscal Year 2015, Beginning January 1, 2015 and Ending December 31, 2015

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat made a motion to table this resolution until the special meeting on Friday, January 9, 2015. Mope seconded the motion.

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 RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-4 A Resolution Reconsidering and Overriding the Mayor’s Veto of Ordinance 2014-25 Re-Enacting Realty Transfer Tax Provisions Pursuant to Article XI-D of the Tax Reform Code of 1971, and Authorizing the Department of Revenue of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  to Determine, Collect, and Enforce the Tax, Interest, and Penalties

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat made a motion to table this resolution until the special meeting on Friday, January 9, 2015. Mope seconded the motion.

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 RESOLUTION TABLED

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-141 Council Meeting Schedule for the Year 2015 (TABLED 12/30/14)

No motion made to remove from table. Resolution fails.

NO MOTION MADE TO REMOVE FROM TABLE RESOLUTION FAILS

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-5 Appointment of President of Council

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Sosar made a motion to amend the Resolution and appoint Jack Mundie as Council President. Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jack Mundie as Council President:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jack Mundie as Council President):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO AMEND RESOLUTION AND APPOINT JACK MUNDIE AS COUNCIL PRESIDENT PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2015-6 Appointment of Vice President of Council

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Sosar made a motion to amend the Resolution and appoint Jean Mope as Council Vice President. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jean Mope as Council Vice President:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jean Mope as Council Vice President):  Bast-yes; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO AMEND RESOLUTION AND APPOINT JEAN MOPE AS COUNCIL VICE PRESIDENT PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2015-7 Appointment of City Solicitor – Robert M. Cohen, Esquire

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Cusat said he is concerned if there is enough money to hire an in-house City Solicitor. Mundie said there is already money set aside for this. Cusat was concerned that if the resolutions regarding the Mayor’s vetoes of the budget ordinances are not passed on Friday, the budget reverts back to the previous budget, and there is no money in that one for a City Solicitor. Mope stated that is incorrect. If that happened, there would be no budget to follow. Sosar agreed. He said only essential services would be available. Mundie asked about Attorney Robert Cohen’s experience. Cohen responded he has not been a solicitor before, but he is very experienced in municipal law. He also has 30 years of general practice experience. His was last employed in Wilkes-Barre. Mundie said Mr. Greco gave Cohen a “glowing recommendation.” He asked Cohen if he will be attending City Council meetings, and Cohen responded yes. Mundie said Council did not have a solicitor at its meetings for the past two years, and it has been very “problematic.” Sosar asked if Council can vote on this resolution tonight without a budget in place, and Mundie said it can be passed pending the veto overrides.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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Resolution 2015-8 Allocation of Funds for the Hiring of Part-Time Police Officers

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Mope made a motion to table the Resolution, and Mundie seconded the motion.

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

MOTION TO TABLE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-9 Appointment to the Hazleton City Water Authority

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Mope made a motion to amend the Resolution and appoint David Sosar to the Water Authority. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint David Sosar to the Water Authority:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint David Sosar to the Water Authority):  Bast-no; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-abstain; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO AMEND RESOLUTION AND APPOINT DAVID SOSAR TO THE WATER AUTHORITY PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YES; 1-NO; 1-ABSTAIN)

Back on the Question:

Bast asked if Sosar is giving up his position on City Council in order to serve the Water Authority Board. Mope responded no, because the new Third Class City Code states he does not have to do that. She added that it also states that he cannot vote on this matter.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YES; 1-NO; 1-ABSTAIN) AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2015-10 Appointment to the Sewer Authority

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Sosar made a motion to amend the Resolution and appoint Jeff Cusat to the Sewer Authority. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jeff Cusat to the Sewer Authority:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on Motion to Amend Resolution and Appoint Jeff Cusat to the Sewer Authority):  Bast-no; Cusat-abstain; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO AMEND RESOLUTION AND APPOINT JEFF CUSAT TO THE SEWER AUTHORITY PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YES; 1-NO; 1-ABSTAIN)

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YES; 1-NO; 1-ABSTAIN) AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2015-11 Amending Resolution 2014-136 Permitting the City of Hazleton to Apply for a Local Share Account Grant on Behalf of the Hazleton Integration Project (HIP)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:   Mundie said some of the numbers listed on the grant application were incorrect, and Council needs to correct this so the Hazleton Integration Project can move forward with this.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

           

Comments from the Audience:  None.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  None.

Comments from Council:  Bast said he agrees with Cusat that Council should wait three days before voting on the veto overrides. He thanked Cusat for looking into this matter. Bast commented on the appointments to the Water and Sewer Authorities. He felt Cusat and Sosar were “overstepping” their boundaries by serving on these authorities as well as serving on City Council. Bast said it seems that Council is sending a message that we are the only people who know what is best for the City.

Cusat stated there is a lot to consider before he can vote to override the Mayor’s vetoes. He commented that Council needs to look after the citizens of Hazleton. He added that although there is no tax increase in the budget, rates for such things as sewer and water will continue to go up.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She said the Council meetings will begin at 7:00 pm until the end of April. She stated that there is a lack of information coming from the authorities, and she felt it would be a good idea to have Council members sit on these two boards. Council needs to have a say in the rates and taxes charged, and it needs to have a better understanding regarding the finances of these authorities. Mope said that this way Council will know what is going on and can make the appropriate financial adjustments. She feels Cusat and Sosar will do a good job on the authority boards, and will serve the City well. Mope thanked the other Council members for her nomination as Vice President. Mope also congratulated Cohen on his appointment as City Solicitor.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming. He congratulated Mundie and Mope on their nominations, as well as Cusat for his appointment to the Sewer Authority Board. He commented that these are not easy tasks. The new Third Class City Code stresses more involvement between Council and the authorities. He researched this thoroughly to make sure that everything is being done correctly and there are no improprieties. Sosar said we need to move ahead and he does not want the City to shut down.

Mundie welcomed working with Cohen at the upcoming meetings. He said he will be giving Council help and guidance in making decisions on behalf of the taxpayers. He said he is happy to meet anytime in order to help the City. Mundie said the Mayor’s budget had the storm water fee in place and included a tax increase, and the people and businesses in Hazleton cannot afford it. He added that Council put money in the budget for part-time police officers to help out the Police Department, and he is trying to do what is best for the City.

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

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