2015-01-09 Special Meeting Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
SPECIAL MEETING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2015

Call to Order:  Council met in special session on Friday, January 9, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 5:00 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 (via telephone); Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Courtesy of the Floor:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton asked Council to override the Mayor’s vetoes so that City does not shut down. She said if that happens, the Mayor should be the first one to be laid off.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton was concerned with the safety of the City and its residents if the Mayor’s vetoes are not overridden.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton asked Council to override the Mayor’s vetoes. She said Council did a good job with the budget. She thanked them for keeping the taxes stable.

             

Business at Hand:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-1 A Resolution Reconsidering and Overriding the Mayor’s Veto of Budget Ordinance 2014-20 (TABLED 1/6/15)

Mope made a motion to remove this Resolution from the table. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Bast commented on the use of sewer transmission fees to balance the budget. He stated the PEL report has a major impact on the City, if it is not followed. This budget did not follow the PEL report. Bast said the City paid $80,000 for this report, and we should be following it. He said the City is facing serious financial issues in the near future. Bast stated that he did not agree with the Mayor’s budget not Council’s budget. The storm water fee saves people money on their taxes because it taxes every property in the City. He said the “financial house” of the City need to be solved, and this does not do that. Cusat asked if a written legal opinion was received regarding this matter. Attorney Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said he received Cusat’s request for an opinion on this matter at 3:00 pm today, and there was not enough time to do that. Cohen said that there are two sections in the Municipalities Act in Optional Plan A, which are applicable to Option Plan B, specifically 53 Pa.C.S.A. §12, stating that an override only succeeds with a super majority. According to 53 Pa.C.S.A. §3016, Council may reduce any item by a majority vote. The believes that if the overrides do not pass, his original budget is the one that will go into effect. Cohen agreed with the Mayor on this matter. Cusat said he is not comfortable on voting on this until he has a definite answer. Sosar said that as he understands the law, the City is an extension of the State of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania, therefore, it follows the Pennsylvania Constitutional Laws. The state must start each fiscal year with a balanced budget, and that budget does not revert back to the governor’s original budget. In this case, the state would have no budget. Sosar said six years ago, there was a 49-day shutdown of the state government except for essential services. He felt that the City should be following the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Constitution. He added that if people are to be laid off, union employees need to be notified two weeks in advance of the layoff. Sosar said he is ready to override the Mayor’s vetoes and put a functioning budget in place. Cusat said the opinion he received from Harrisburg says that if the Mayor’s vetoes are not overridden, it does not revert back to the Mayor’s original budget. There would be no budget in place. He said that he needs some reassurance from the Solicitor before he can vote. Cohen said he did not give anyone a formal opinion on this matter, but he feels the Mayor’s opinion makes more sense. Cusat said he needs more information before proceeding with this. Sosar said without a budget in place, no expenditures can be made. Cusat commented that he would rather take that chance, then to have the Mayor’s budget put in place. Sosar said he is tired of having Hazleton be the example of what not to do. Cusat said he understands the City might have to shut down, but he needs an answer once and for all. He said he needs an official “stance” from the City before he can vote on this. Sosar asked what the Mayor intends to do if Council overrides his vetoes. Mayor Yannuzzi said there are already procedures in place to have the budget put in place. The Mayor stated the budget was provided in a timely fashion to Council in Council’s approved format. Council can make changes to that budget, and then it comes back to him and he can review it and veto it, if he so chooses. He stated that on first reading, Cusat made amendments to the budget, but the amendments were voted down. The Mayor stated that the advertisement in the newspaper said the final adoption of the budget would be on December 11, 2014. Cusat said this may have been a typographical error. The Mayor stated that if his vetoes are not overridden, his initial budget goes into place. Mope asked if that budget included a tax increase and a storm water fee, and the Mayor said yes. Bast asked if that budget also included the police tax, and the Mayor responded yes. Cusat made a motion to table this Resolution and Bast seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Bast.

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

MOTION TO TABLE FAILS 3-2

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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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 (TABLED 1/6/15)

Mope made a motion to remove this Resolution from the table. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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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 (TABLED 1/6/15)

Mope made a motion to remove this Resolution from the table. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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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 (TABLED 1/6/15)

Mope made a motion to remove this Resolution from the table. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

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

Mope made a motion to remove this Resolution from the table. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Bast said that the City should hire full-time officers, but it cannot hire them at this time. He felt because of the amount of training involved to hire part-time officers, it would be better to hire full-time officers instead. Mope said this allows them to hire part-time officers in the interim until the City can afford to hire more full-time officers. She feels part-time officers would be beneficial to the Police Department, and part-time officer offer more flexibility with their time. Sosar said he agrees that we need more full-time officers, but part-time officers will be helpful in the interim. Cusat said it is a good idea to hire part-time officers at this time in order to see if it will work out with the Police Department. The Police Department needs help and this will “get the ball rolling” until the City can afford to hire more full-time officers. Mundie said he was in Kline Township today and the have one full-time officer and nine part-time officers. They have good coverage and great officers and it is working out. Mundie said the residents are very happy with this too. He said the same goes for West Hazleton. The part-time officers are just as qualified as the full-time officers. He said that the person the City just hired came from West Hazleton.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1

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

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