2015-01-20 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2015

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, January 20, 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:  Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-18. He asked what hangar this is for, and who owns Crosswinds Flight Center. Mundie responded David Antolick. Rabo asked if the Airport made money or lost money last year. He said the City needs to create an Airport Authority instead of having the Airport Advisory Board. He read from a portion of the Municipal Authorities Act regarding this matter. Rabo said this would transfer operations to the Airport Authority instead of the taxpayers. Mundie said this was a good idea and he would be looking into the matter further.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-12 Council Meeting Schedule for the Year 2015

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 2015-13 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refund to 2014 City Real Estate Taxes

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 2015-14 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refund to 2014 City Real Estate Taxes

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 2015-15 Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refund to 2014 City Real Estate Taxes

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 2015-16 Amending Resolution 2014-135 Requesting Local Share Account Funds for Catholic Social Services

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 2015-17 Authorization to Execute Cooperation Agreement Between the City of Hazleton and Pathway to Recovery Counseling and Education Services

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 2015-18 Approval of Airport Hanger Land Lease-Crosswinds Flight Center, Inc.

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Attorney Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said this is for a land lease, and the hangar is already there. The square footage of the land outside the hangar is being reduced because it is no longer needed. He said someone is leaving the corporation, and David Antolick will be the only one in the corporation. Mundie asked if lease is for the same amount of money, and Cohen responded yes.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

           

Comments from the Audience:  John Keegan, 105 Ferrara Avenue, Hazleton said he does not believe it is legal for Council members to sit on authority boards. He added that any conversations held between Council members regarding this matter are a violation of the Sunshine Law. Cusat said according to the Third Class City Code, it is not illegal. He added that he publically asked for letters of interest and resumes from anyone wanting to serve on the authority boards. He received no interested candidates for the water and sewer authorities. Sosar said there were no violations of the Sunshine Act. He stated that he contacted the Local Government Commission and the Ethics Commission and both of them said that it was okay for them to serve on the authority boards. He added that the Local Government Commission encouraged Council members to serve on the authority boards.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton said he serves on the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority and there are County Council members that serve on various County boards. He said this should not be blamed on City Council because the Local Government Commission, Ethics Commission, and the state boards say it is not illegal. Rabo stated that Council has the power to approve the Downtown Hazleton Revitalization Plan, and they need to take an active part in this process. He said a Council member is required to serve on the Blighted Property and the Vacant Property Committees. Rabo commented that Puza approved the blight status of Cranberry Creek without any of the criteria being met. He stated the Mayor told him not to apply to any boards because he will not allow Rabo to sit on them. Rabo said he is qualified in redevelopment and knows more about this than any other County Council member.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton asked if there was any progress on regulating the hookah bars and after hours clubs in the City. Mundie said they are still working on it. Tarantino asked how DeAndrea can handle the Code Department as well as the Police Department. Mundie said he was appointed by the Mayor. He stated that DeAndrea should have declined the position in Code Enforcement and his main focus should be on the Police Department. Tarantino suggested bringing the Shared Ride Program into downtown Hazleton.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton thanked Council for approving the 2015 budget and for looking out for the City’s senior citizens. He said he would like to see a police office in attendance at every Council meeting, because politicians have a lot of enemies. He added that Mundie needs to keep people to the three minute time limit when they are up at the podium.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton said Council members need to be appointed to the authority boards in order to keep abreast of things. They also need to understand the ramifications of decisions made by these authority boards on property owners.

Ted Sherrock, 67 Franklin Street, Hazleton complimented Council on their work with the 2015 budget. He said he watched the interview on Topic A with Mundie and Mope and they did a very good job. He also thanked Attorney Bob Cohen for accepting the position as City Solicitor and for attending the Council meetings. He said things are running more smoothly and “the City is on the verge of coming back.”

Chris Puza, 143 St. Charles Drive, Hazleton said it was nice to see a Solicitor here at the meeting. He stated he talked to DeAndrea and he said we would be throwing money away on part-time police officers. DeAndrea was afraid the City will not have enough police coverage, and it will take a year to train them. Puza commented that Council needs to appoint more experienced and qualified people to the boards. Mundie said it has been hard to get people to serve on the boards, commissions and authorities. Puza said he spoke with the Ethics Commission about Council members serving on authority boards, and they told him to speak with an attorney. He said these positions on the authorities are paid positions and this “raises a red flag.” Mundie said the money earned is practically nothing. They only get about $30.00 per meeting. Puza said it is still a paid position regardless of how much is paid. He added that there had to be conversations about this beforehand between some of the Council members. Puza commented that Council members are not the only experts out there. Mundie said Sosar was on the Water Authority Board for many years, so he is experienced. Sosar stated the Ethics Commission or the Local Government Commission will write an opinion on the matter if they feel it is necessary. He added that the only conflict is that you cannot vote for yourself. Puza stated that if this was discussed beforehand, then it would be considered a traded vote. Sosar said there was no traded vote. Puza said Mope violated the zoning laws when her garage was built. Mope said her husband did all the paperwork, he went to zoning, and it was discussed with Wech beforehand. She said they did not know they needed anything else. Sosar said Mope’s husband put up the garage, not Mope herself. He followed all the rules and regulations before building the garage. Puza said he spoke with some of Mope’s neighbors and they are upset about it. Puza said Sosar voted to raise rates when he was on the Water Authority. Sosar said he voted for two rate increases and they were eight years apart.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton said Council put aside money to cover the hiring of part-time police officers. She said a lot of communities work with part-time police officers and they have three times the coverage they would have had with full-time officers. The money spent on this will not go to waste. Deakos said the part-time officers could be used to control traffic and for prisoner transport. She said she reported unregistered trailers on John Keegan’s property to DeAndrea twice, and included photos, but nothing was ever done about it. She commented that if anyone else would have done this, they would have been fined.

Dick Ammon, 236 East Beech Street, Hazleton said he finds it hard to understand why a blighted property would be a problem if it is in the process of being fixed up. He Sosar and Cusat had nothing to do with the amendments to the Third Class City Code that stated they can serve on authority boards. Ammon said Cusat will do a good job because he works hard on everything, and Sosar has twice the experience and more intelligence than the people he replaced. He felt adding part-time police officers would be very beneficial to the Police Department. He commended City Council for all the decision they made.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  Josh Narrow said it appears there is a lack of communication between the City and the authorities.

Joel Soto agreed with Josh Narrow’s statement.

Comments from Council:  Bast thanked everyone for coming.

Cusat commented on the City losing its health officer and turning everything over to the State Board of Health. He said this is not fair to the business owners because it is being put on them “out of the blue.” He said there is a deadline of April 1, 2015 for these inspections with the state, and he was concerned about what would happen if the deadline is not met. Mike Wilfing, Code Enforcement Supervisor, said there are about 70 inspections left in our region, and the state has enough health inspectors perform these inspections by the deadline. Sosar said this information should be given to the public immediately. Wilfing said that is up to the Department of Agriculture.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming. He said Mope and her husband have always done good work within the community. He thanked the Cohen for coming to the meeting. Sosar said things run more smoothly when the Solicitor is here.

Mope said she had a few legal questions for Cohen, and she received quick responses from him. She thanked him for that and for coming to the meeting. She said everything she does is for the taxpayers. Mope commented that with the upcoming election, certain people are “playing dirty” and trying to get rid of her. She thanked everyone for coming.

Mundie asked Cohen to do some research on creating an Airport Authority. He said the Airport is a drain on the City and does not make any money. He believes they should try to get a fixed base operator by putting out a bid. Mundie said he is going to a conference tomorrow with the Mayor regarding the illegal immigration lawsuit. Nothing has been awarded yet in this matter. Mundie said more new buildings need to be built on vacant lots in the City to increase the tax base.

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