2015-06-16 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JUNE 16, 2015

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:50 p.m.

Silent Meditation and Pledge of Allegiance: A silent moment was taken followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call: Bast-absent; Cusat-present; Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings: The minutes of the May 5, 2015 and May 26, 2015 regular meetings were approved unanimously.

At this point, Mundie indicated an Executive Session was held prior to the meeting to discuss contract negotiations.

Proclamations/Communications:  A certificate of award was presented to Josh Narrow for his participation in the Junior Council Program. Certificates were mailed to all of the other Junior Council members.

Courtesy of the Floor: Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2015-15. He asked who will be responsible to pay fines for violation of this Ordinance if it is an apartment building. He also asked how to determine who committed the violation. Cusat said any apartment building that has more than four units requires a dumpster. Mundie said this is for the people who put out the garbage, not the landlords. Rodriguez said there is a lot of trash on Holly and Poplar Streets, near the Animal Shelter. There are such things as furniture, household garbage, etc. He asked Council to walk around the City and see all the problem areas. Sosar said that certain areas of town are being used as depositories for garbage. He said everyone needs to work with Code Enforcement to rectify this problem. He stated there is garbage in the Railroad owner’s property, as well as across from the Beltway Diner, but no fines are being given.

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton said the time for placement of garbage should be 4:00 pm the day before pickup. She felt 6:00 pm might be too light for the older people in the city. Mope said Council is trying to accommodate as many people as possible. She stated this is for offenders who put out their garbage several days earlier. Sosar said a few minutes earlier is not an issue. It just should not be out extremely early. Yurcho asked where the money from the Verizon tower is going. She said that money should be going to the City. Mope said Dominic Yannuzzi, City Engineer, will be explaining that matter.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton, said Ordinance 2015-15 needs to be enforced. There is already something like this in place. He said a lot of ordinances are not being enforced. He added that an Airport Authority should be established to address the issues at the Airport.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-56. She said it states that the City is paying 50% of the hangar costs, and asked if that means we are paying $300,000. Deakos also commented on Resolution 2015-57. She said the Airport is not making money and is not good for the City. She said the Airport is for the whole area and not just Hazleton. Hazleton taxpayers are taxed enough, and the other municipalities should be chipping in to support the Airport.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-53. He said he attended two of the County Council meeting where they indicated they would be withholding the match for buses for next year. He said it is a disservice that people cannot get bus services to the north end of Luzerne County. These funds should not be held as a “political football.” Rabo suggested City Council discuss this matter with County Council as soon as possible. He asked if there was ever an agreement with the County for these matching funds. He asked if there is any money in the reserves if the County does not match this. Rabo said the City should look into creating an Airport Authority. This way, everyone would need to contribute and not just the City of Hazleton.

John Keegan, 105 Ferrara Avenue, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2015-15. He said it is not as simple as just putting out your garbage. He stated the Hazleton City Authority was supposed to institute a public education program regarding the Garbage Ordinance. Keegan said Section 203 of the Ordinance mandates that trash should be in approved containers, and we need to educate the public about the use of these containers. He said we need to have an “awareness campaign” before setting a time for placement of the garbage.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton said an agreement was made between Luzerne County and the City of Hazleton by Mayor John Ford. She said this is something that Council should look into further.

                                                                                                                                                           

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

None.

                                                                                                                                                           

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2015-14       Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2013 (1st Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Fermin stated this is for the Hazleton Historical Society, and the match would be used for improvements in conjunction with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sosar asked about the money given to the Little League, and Fermin said the last thing they will be getting from Community Development is money to repair the drainage issues at the Little League park. They also received an LSA grant for about $25,000.

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

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Ordinance 2015-15       Amending Chapter 203 (Solid Waste) of the City Code, Ordinance 2011-1 (Garbage Collection and Disposal), and Ordinance 2013-12 (Quality of Life) Regarding the Appropriate Time for Placement of Garbage and Imposing Penalties for Violation Thereof (1st Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Cusat suggested amending the time for placement of garbage to at least 2:00 pm in order to accommodate people who work second shift and restaurant business owners. Sosar said this is a complex matter and we are trying to please everyone. He believes it needs to be earlier than 6:00 pm. He added that the large recycling containers are posing a problem for some people. He asked that some small bins be made available as well. Sosar suggested changing the time to 4:00 pm. Mundie commented that if there are issues with the time change, we can address it at a later date. Sosar stated that it is the Water Authority’s responsibility to make sure garbage is being placed for collection at the correct time. Mope said this will address those people that put their garbage out two or three early. She added that Code Enforcement should be familiar with the habitual offenders. She suggested giving them warnings first and supplying them with the proper information regarding this matter. Mope suggested having people contact the City when they are going on vacation to avoid receiving a ticket. Sosar said if someone’s garbage is in plain view by their fence and not at the curb, it is still consider being out for collection, and Code Enforcement needs to address this matter. Cusat said the time should be earlier than 4:00 pm. Cusat made a motion to amend the time to 3:00 pm. There was no second.

1st Motion to Amend:

Presented by Cusat. No Second.

1ST MOTION TO AMEND FAILS DUE TO LACK OF SECOND

Back on the Question:

Sosar said he would like to see a report from Code Enforcement and the Water Authority about what kind of fines are being given out regarding this matter. Mundie asked DeAndrea how many of these citations are being thrown out by the Magistrate. DeAndrea said he does not receive a report from the Magistrate, but some are thrown out and some are found not guilty. Mundie asked how often people are ticketed for this. DeAndrea responded they cited a lot of people in the beginning. He added that Code Enforcement never issued any tickets after 1:30 pm, and most were based on neighbors’ complaints. Mundie made a motion to amend the time to 4:00 pm, and Sosar seconded the motion.

2nd Motion to Amend:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call (2nd Motion to Amend): Bast-absent; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

2ND MOTION TO AMEND PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YESSES; 1-NO; 1-ABSENT)

Roll Call (As Amended): Bast-absent; Cusat-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-52      Approval of the Sale of the Police Department’s Unserviceable Items

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-53      Approving the Purchase of a New ADA Accessible Van for Hazleton Public Transit

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar asked if this is going to cost the taxpayers any money, and Sharp responded no. Sharp said this is Act 3 money and it has to be used up. He said there is $22,743 in Act 3 money. Mundie asked if this is being done through the state program, and Sharp responded yes. It was not put out to bid because the state program already has the lowest price. He stated that he had a hard time getting the County to match the funds for the past three years. He said that all of this was done with a handshake, and there was never a written agreement. Sharp said the agreement was that Hazleton would get $150,000 per year from the County. Currently, the reserve is approximately $551,000. Sharp said he is asking for $141,000 from the County, which is PennDOT’s requirement for a grant. He added that Transit will be receiving $1,800,000 for operating expenses. Mope said Hazleton Public Transit provides a lot of business to the southern end of Luzerne County, which is about 30% of the income. Sharp said they pick up quite a lot of people at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Mope commented that Hazleton is helping a lot of businesses by bringing people into Wilkes-Barre. Sosar said that a lot of students at Luzerne County Community College, Kings College, and Wilkes University need public transit and that is something Sharp should look into. Sharp said he has had meeting with Senator Yudichak and he is working with the Luzerne County Transit Authority and Mericle on this matter. Currently, City buses make two trips to Wilkes-Barre, but this may increase to six or seven times. Mundie said he went to the last County Council meeting and tried to plead the City’s case regarding the local match. County Council will vote on this matter on June 23, 2015. He stated Transit served all of Luzerne County. A match was given to the Luzerne County Transit Authority and we are no different than them.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-54      Resolution Permitting the City of Hazleton to Apply for a Greenway, Trails and Recreation Program (“GRTP”) Grant

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar asked if this is in addition to the money set aside for the park. Dominic Yannuzzi said this additional grant will be used to enhance the park with such things as pavers, lighting, benches, etc. There is no financial match required.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-55      Acceptance of Verizon Wireless Cellular Tower Land Lease Agreement for the Hazleton Regional Airport

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar asked where the revenue goes and Yannuzzi said it goes directly into the Airport fund. Mundie asked when the Airport will be repaying the money it owes to the City. Yannuzzi said that issue is currently in discussion.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-56      Hazleton Regional Airport Hangar Projects-Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank Loan

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Dominic Yannuzzi said this loan is more like a line of credit. Money is drawn out of it for Airport projects. Mope asked if he will be using the whole $300,000 and Yannuzzi responded no. Sosar asked if this will have any impact on the taxpayers and Yannuzzi responded no. Yannuzzi added that this is for the Airport hangers only.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-57      Hazleton Regional Airport Easement Agreement with Woelfel Children’s Real Estate Trust

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if there is any timeframe involved with this because he would like to take a look at the land first. He stated last time the City dealt with the Woelfels, they received $3 million and the City received nothing. Yannuzzi said this does not have to be done tonight.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-58      Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant for Hazleton Regional Airport

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mundie said that no taxpayer money will be used regarding this matter, and Yannuzzi said that is correct.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-59      Amending Resolutions 2000-161, 2003-110, 2005-55, and 2008-88 Updating and Modifying Salary and Benefits Policy for Management Level Employees

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Tom Pribula said the City offered employees to enroll in the City’s health insurance or to take a stipend towards finding their own insurance. He stated that it is now illegal to receive a stipend to purchase health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. This will eliminate the stipend and require those employees to enroll in the City’s health insurance and pay $20.00 per month. He met with the members of the Unions to discuss this matter. Pribula said that by not doing this, the City would be fined $100.00 per day per employee for noncompliance. The City will receive a Form 1095 for healthcare at the beginning of next year for tax purposes. Mundie asked if Pribula discussed this with the City’s health insurance provider and Pribula responded yes. He stated the City is under more stringent laws because of being with Benecon. Benecon brought it to our attention. The should have been done in January of 2014. Sosar said the impact of this should be about $68,000. Pribula said this was not put into the 2015 Budget. The Budget was completed in November/December of 2014 and some of the things in the Affordable Care Act were still being debated. They did not come to a conclusion until earlier this year. Sosar asked who is responsible for covering the children of a two working parent household. Pribula said he did not know. Sosar was concerned with the penalties going into effect in 2017 for the healthcare “Cadillac” plans. Pribula said he does not see the City meeting that threshold at this time. We would need to reach $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family. He stated the largest portion of this is the firefighters and police. Mope asked how this affects those working here who retired from somewhere else. Pribula said it is extremely complicated, but he does not believe it affects those individuals. This only affects active employees. Pribula said the City cannot mandate employees to pay more than 9.5% of their household income. Employees still have the ability to opt out if they are covered by spouse. Mundie asked if Pribula looked into how other cities are handling this matter. Pribula said most cities never heard of receiving a stipend before. Their employees either take the healthcare insurance offered to them, or they receive money for opting out. Management employees get a flat fee of $250.00 per month for opting out. Attorney Bob Cohen, City Solicitor said Attorney Lars Anderson, the City’s labor attorney, drafted this resolution. He stated there is currently a case in the Supreme Court regarding this matter. If the case is lost, penalties will not automatically go away. Pribula said the existing union contracts state that as of July 1, 2015, new hires will be 10% of the City’s respective costs for healthcare insurance. This is the standard cost. Sosar was concerned that this percentage would not cover enough of the cost, because it is predicted there will be a 20% to 30% increase next year.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-60      Amending SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreements (City Hall Employees and Highway Department)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Pribula said this is essentially the same as it is for management employees. This Resolution will cover seven individuals. Cusat asked if this will affect the Firefighter’s contract, and Pribula responded no. He said the Fire and Police are on their own. Mundie asked if Pribula talked to the Union representatives, and Pribula said yes and they are in agreement.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

                                                                                                                                                           

Comments from the Audience: Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton said the City suspended DeLuca’s Towing from towing any vehicles. He asked if there is any type of towing contract in place. He suggested having all business conducting a towing business in the City pay a fee.

Judy Yurcho, 984 North Locust Street, Hazleton stated that back in April, there was a very loud party going on in the garage behind her house one afternoon. She said the police were called but no one ever showed up. Yurcho said the same problem occurred over Memorial Day weekend. She called the police and several of her neighbors did as well. The police came, but they did not cite anyone. They just asked them to turn down the music. She said a neighbor asked them to turn down the music, and an argument ensued. These people called the police on her neighbor and she was arrested. Mundie felt a warning should be issued the first time. He added that if they have to come back a second time, every person there should be issued citations.

David Etsel, no address given, said it was his wife that got arrested as Yurcho mentioned above. She was charged with terroristic threats and harassment. Etsel said the music gets so loud that the windows vibrate. He said several neighbors called the police, but when they arrived, all they did was “joke around” with the violators. Mundie said a Noise Ordinance, as well as Nuisance Ordinance were passed by Council. Sosar said it is time for the City to enforcing these Ordinances. He suggested asking them to turn down the music first, and, if they do not comply, then call the police. The police are obligated to do something about it. Mope commented that people have the right to enjoy their property, but not at the expense of the neighbors. She said it is up to the Mayor to enforce these Ordinances. Cusat asked for the address of the problem property, and Etsel responded it is in the rear of 900 James Street on Penn Court.

Julie Storaska, no address given, said she fears for her life every night of the week. Her house and car are constantly being vandalized and the police do nothing about it. She said there is a lot of drug traffic in her neighborhood. She complained about all the potholes in the City and all the high weeds growing. She asked Council for help.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton said the City is getting worse. He stated there are “Hazletonians in high places,” but they may have forgotten about Hazleton. He added that Wyoming Street is a “cesspool,” and the whole City is deteriorating.

Kevin Skinner, no address given, complained about the 911 system. He said he leaves some of his outside lights on for safety reasons, and believes the extra cost is worth it. He stated he keeps hearing about beautification of the City, but nothing is being done. Skinner asked that satellite dishes be regulated. Mundie responded that the City tried, but the federal government said we cannot do that. Skinner said there are street signs faded or completely missed since 1990, and it is hard for people to find things. Sosar said that either the Rotary or the Kiwanis Club is trying to get new street signs.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton said he lives across the street from a very violent building. He wanted to know why the Nuisance Ordinance is not being enforced. He said he heard there was a flaw in the Ordinance and that is why it is not being enforced. Rabo said Chief DeAndrea stated there needs to be a certain number of incidents at a location for it to be considered a nuisance. He researched this matter and found that not to be true. Cohen agreed with Rabo on this matter. Rabo read from Section 6504 of the Crimes Code stating this would be considered a misdemeanor of the second class. He said this is state law but it is not being enforced. He added that if there is garbage scattered, police can charge the owner as a misdemeanor. Sosar said that is difficult to deal with because sometimes animals rummage through the garbage and make a mess. He said people need to pick up the garbage instead of just calling the police about it. Mope said she picks up garbage near her home quite often. She commented that we need to start helping our neighbors. Rabo was concerned that there is going to be two hookah lounges in one City block. He said these hookah lounges are accompanied by shootings and stabbings, and they bring in a lot of violence. Rabo said hookah lounges are not regulated by the state with regard to indoor air quality regulations.

Comments from Mayor: None.

Comments from Council: Cusat said it is nice to have new people here at the meeting. He commented that it is a “shame” how some things are being handled in the City, and this needs to change. He thanked everyone for coming.

Mope thanked Cohen for attending the meeting, as well as everyone in the audience.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming. He said Council is doing its best, and all comments will be taken into consideration.

Mundie thanked Cohen and Pribula for coming to the meeting, as well as everyone in attendance.

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