2015-07-21 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2015

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 7:30 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 June 16, 2015 Work Session and Regular Meeting were approved unanimously.

 

Proclamations/Communications: None.

Courtesy of the Floor: Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton asked if Ordinance 2015-17 will address the issue of double parking, and Cusat responded yes. Rabo said he supports the match for Public Transit. He thanked Ralph Sharp and Jack Mundie for attending the last County Council meeting regarding this matter. He asked about the leftover funds from Community Development for the demolition of the McKinley Street property. Rabo thanked everyone for cleaning up this property. He suggested having the owner reimburse the City for this money. He commented that the Mayor did nothing to address this issue for over a year. Rabo stated that using this money for demolition is an accepted use according to federal guidelines. He commented that he would like to see members of the Fire Department issuing citations because there are not enough Code Enforcement Officers to do the job. Mope said they will only be issuing citations if they come across a situation during their normal work activities. Donald Leshko, Fire Chief, said he would like the Fire Department to be able to cite people for code and parking violations. He said double parking is a big problem in the City. Leshko said this is a big step in the right direction. He assured everyone that these duties will not take them away from their primary jobs. Rabo asked if the Ordinance regarding parking went through the Planning Commission first. Attorney Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said he does not feel it needs to go before the Planning Commission. Cusat said the Ordinance just amends the fees and penalties involved, and also adds in a towing provision.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-73 and said the Streets Department has too much work to do now. They do not have time to issue citations. Cusat said they would just be issuing citations to people who interfere with their job duties. This will not take them away from their job duties. Cuozzo said that any vehicles that interfere with City workers job duties should be towed away. Cusat said that vehicles can now be towed and the owner will be responsible for all towing fees and fines. Cuozzo asked where the $6 million went that was borrowed to redo the streetlights. Sosar said there were errors made by the former administration. The City still made payments to MEM after it was told not to do so. Mundie said the City paid an extra two or three payments to MEM.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2015-16. She said letter (N) of the Ordinance would eliminate all parking on Mine Street because of the railroad tracks. She asked about the $30.00 fine on a City-owned lot. She stated cars stay there several days and no one does anything about it. These cars should be towed. Deakos commented on Resolution 2015-76 and asked where the match will be coming from. Sosar said this will hopefully come from an LSA grant. He added that he will be suggesting an amendment to that Resolution.

                                                                                                                                                           

 


 

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2015-14       Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2013 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Fallon Fermin, Director of Community Development, said this is being done so that the Hazleton Historical Society can complete its ADA improvements to the building.

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

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Ordinance 2015-14       Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2013 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES

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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 2013-13 (Quality of Life) Regarding the Appropriate Time for Placement of Garbage and Imposing Penalties for Violation Thereof (2nd Reading)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mope stated this Ordinance is already in place, and this is just amending the time for placement of garbage. She said a lot of complaints were received regarding the current time. This Ordinance changes the placement time to 4:00 pm the day preceding the scheduled collection day, and the cost of the fine was changed to $25.00.

Roll Call: Bast-absent; Cusat-no; 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 2013-13 (Quality of Life) Regarding the Appropriate Time for Placement of Garbage and Imposing Penalties for Violation Thereof (3rd Reading)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YES; 1-NO; 1-ABSENT)

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-57      Hazleton Regional Airport Easement Agreement with Woelfel Children’s Real Estate Trust (TABLED 6/16/15)

Motion to Remove from Table:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES

RESOLUTION REMOVED FROM TABLE

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Dominic Yannuzzi, City Engineer, said this is concerning an Easement Agreement where the City will be given land, and it will give the Woelfel Children’s Trust permission to go across the City’s property for a drive. The land totals 50 feet. Mundie asked if Yannuzzi had any maps showing this portion of the land. Yannuzzi said he can have them next week and will email them to Council. Mundie made a motion to table the Resolution until the next meeting, and Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

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

MOTION TO TABLE PASSES 3-1-1 (3-YESSES; 1-NO; 1-ABSENT)

RESOLUTION TABLED

                                                                                                                                                           

 

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2015-16       An Ordinance Regulating Parking within the City of Hazleton and Establishing a Schedule of Fines for Violations Defined in the Various Classifications of Said Regulations (1st Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said this Ordinance adds the right to tow vehicles and adds more violations in accordance with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Chief DeAndrea said the language was taken from the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, and this Ordinance will now be up to date. He stated the parking regulations regarding railroad crossings is a state law. Sosar asked if DeAndrea is content with this Ordinance, and DeAndrea responded yes. Cusat forwarded it to him and he gave Cusat some of his suggestions. Mope asked about cars being ticketed for parking in front of private driveway. She asked what happens if they have permission to do this. DeAndrea responded that they do not ticket for this violation, unless the homeowner calls and asks the police to ticket that person. Mundie asked if the fines in this Ordinance are comparable to other cities, and DeAndrea responded yes. He said that costs and other fees are also added to the fines. The amount increases as more violations are cited. Mundie asked who sets the towing fees, and DeAndrea said every towing company sets its own rates. Every towing company used by the City has rates that are within $10.00 of each other. There are things such as hookup fees, storing charges, gate fees, etc., that are also added to the bill. Cusat said if this will include towing abandoned cars and those cars with expired inspections and registrations. DeAndrea said only if they are on City-owned property, and not on private property.

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

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Ordinance 2015-17       An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 2014-07 Regarding the Leasing Metered Parking Spaces and Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; Providing for Application Review and Procedures for Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; and Renewal of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone, and Any Other Related Signs in the City of Hazleton (1st Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said this will allow City businesses to lease metered parking spaces on the City streets. This was formerly done by the Parking Authority, and they were seeing about $3,000 in revenue per year. They were charging $125.00 for one metered spot to be leased by a business for its customers. Sosar asked why this is for the particular signs mentioned in the title. Cusat responded the original ordinance was created in accordance with the list of signs the City creates, and the usage of the spaces to be leased. Mope asked if this Ordinance increases the prices of the leased metered parking spaces and Cusat responded no, not for the first space. The cost goes up with each additional metered parking space that is leased. Cusat stand the City stands to lose $3,000 in revenue from one business if this is not passed. Mundie asked if Cusat spoke with DeAndrea and the Administration when preparing this Ordinance. Cusat replied yes. DeAndrea stated he worked with Cusat on this Ordinance and gave him his input. With this Ordinance, the City will not lose any revenue.

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

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-61      Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refund of 2014 City Real Estate Taxes

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-62      Resolution Certifying the Local Match for State Operating Financial Assistance for Fiscal Year 2015/2016

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-63      Approving Lease Termination Agreement with Angelo’s One Pound Cheese Steaks

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Ralph Sharp, Director of Public Transit, stated that due to health reasons, the current owner asked that the lease be terminated. He is paid up to date with the rent and all City fees.

                                                                                                    

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-64      Authorization and Approval to Execute Lease Agreement between Hazleton Public Transit/City of Hazleton and Angelo’s & Sammy’s Philly Cheesesteaks

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

        

Ralph Sharp stated this is for the new owner of the leased retail space in the Intermodal. He owns a deli in Allentown. He added that he will be paying $952.00 per month with a 3% increase every three years thereafter. This has already been approved by the FTA. Mundie asked if Cohen reviewed this and Sharp said yes. Cohen said he reviewed it and it is fine.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-65      Contract for Road Materials 2015-Cold Patch

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar asked Frank Vito, Highway Foreman, when cold patch is useful. Vito responded that cold patch is needed for emergency reasons such as sink hole. He said the asphalt recycler will be used during the winter, but it takes six hours to melt the asphalt. They will do two loads a day in the winter. Vito said they have been using the Dura Patcher in the summer. Mundie asked Vito to call the Public Works Manager in Kingston because he uses the asphalt recycler on a regular basis. He said he might be able to give you some extra information on it. Vito said they get hot patch in the summer because it stays hot much longer. He added that they have been telling contractors that the City will take its used asphalt.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-66      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Scott Greene

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Scott Greene said he was previously a part-time police officer in Duryea and Hughestown, and he graduated last September. He is not a veteran. Sosar asked if Greene will be having a training period, and DeAndrea said yes. Sosar asked if these officers are replacements for officers who resigned or retired. DeAndrea said they are replacing both those who resigned and those who retired. Mope asked how many officers there will be on the police forces after these hirings, and DeAndrea said 38 including him.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-67      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Colton Kishel

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Detective Kenneth Zipovsky said Colton Kishel lives in the Mountaintop area, and graduated in June or July of this year. Mundie asked DeAndrea to send resumes or biographies of police officers to Council prior to them being hired.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-68      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Pedro Bautista

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Pedro Bautista said he recently graduated from Lackawanna College, and has lived in Hazleton for the past six years. He added that he is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-69      Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules – Joshua Keller

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Detective Zipovsky said recently graduated, and currently lives in Shenandoah. He has no previous experience as a police officer.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-70      Approving a Cost-of-Living Increase for the Hazleton Police Department for the Years 2016, 2017, and 2018

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Mundie asked Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, if this is a common occurrence in a contract. Cohen said the contract stated this would be negotiated in the last three years of the contract, and it is proper for Council to approve it. Mope commented that this contract was negotiated by the Mayor. Cohen said this contract was approved by a previous Council. DeAndrea said the Union is trying to save the City money with regard to fees and costs associated with negotiations and arbitration. He added that if Council says no to this, it will go to arbitration. Mope said the Fire Department gave up one year’s cost-of-living increase, and that is still not completed yet. Sosar asked if this can be voted on at the next Council meeting. DeAndrea replies yes, but it needs to be finalized by the end of this year. Cusat stated the Administration did not get raises this year, and the Fire Department did not get their cost-of-living increase this year. Therefore, this should not be done for the Police Department. He commented that it would be disrespectful to those employees who took a pay freeze. Mundie said he has an issue with this because it was negotiated by the Mayor. Cohen said signing a contract with blank spaces in it is not common practice, and he has never seen this before. Cusat asked what would happen if it is not done by the end of the year, and DeAndrea responded that it would then go into arbitration. Mundie made a motion to table this Resolution, and Cusat seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Cusat.

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

MOTION TO TABLE PASSES

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2015-71      Resolution Appointing Members of the Hazleton Fire Department as Designated Parking Enforcement Officers for the City of Hazleton

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat said he came up with this Resolution because he was at a fire, and a car was blocking the fire hydrant. Donald Leshko, Fire Chief, said Chiefs already have the ability to give citations if something interferes with them performing their job, but this will give it to everyone in the Fire Department. Cusat said they will not be on patrol for these violations. This is just for those violations that interfere with Fire Department’s duties. DeAndrea said this will be a big help to the Police Department.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-72      Resolution Appointing the Hazleton Code Enforcement Department as Designated Parking Enforcement Officers for the City of Hazleton

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Cusat said they will not be patrolling for violations. This is just going to be used if the situation arises.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-73      Resolution Appointing the Employees of the Hazleton City Public Works/Highway Department as Designated Parking Enforcement Officers for the City of Hazleton

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-74      Resolution to Reinstall Parking Meters along West Broad Street

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Cusat said these meters were removed while the Intermodal was being built, and should have been reinstalled when it was completed. He added that business owners in this area will have the option to lease these meters for their customers, and a sign would be placed at the meter to that effect.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-75      Approving the Police Radio Co-Location Lease Agreement between the City of Hazleton and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if they ever looked into using the water towers. DeAndrea responded that the water towers are already used for this purpose, and the hospital can be seen from more areas of the City. It will only cost the City $1.00 to do this because the hospital is working with us. DeAndrea said it will also give us 10 five-year extensions.

 

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-76      A Resolution Requesting a Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant for the Wyoming Street Streetscape and Safety Improvement Project

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar made a motion to amend the Resolution to include the following at the end of the second paragraph: “…and no money shall be spent from the Hazleton City General Fund, Liquid Fuels, or Community Development.” Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES

Back on the Question:

Cusat asked Dominic Yannuzzi if this can still go through if this amendment is in it. Yannuzzi said he did not know. In the past, the City said where the money would come from. He added that the City can apply for an LSA grant in December for this project. Sosar said it is time the City tries to get money for its infrastructure by applying for LSA grants. Cusat asked Yannuzzi if this amendment will “kill” this project. Yannuzzi said he was unable to answer that question.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES AS AMENDED

                                                                                                                                                           

Comments from the Audience: Dominic Yannuzzi, City Engineer, said the road crew did an excellent job on Seybert Street.

John Homa, Hazleton, said Hazle Township is being built up, and Hazleton needs to be cleaned up and upgraded.

Mike Vislocky, Hazleton, employee of the Department of Public Works, said it is time for the City to start concentrating on the Highway Department, because it has been neglected for a long time. He stated they could do more if they had more men. When he started working here, there were 25 men in the Highway Department, then it went down to 18, and now it is at 15. Vislocky said the City needs to hire a few more people right away.

Ted Sherrock, Hazleton, member of the Sewer Authority, said the Button Buck Project has been going for years. They put in an application for an LSA grant to cover the matching funds. Sherrock said this project is costing the Sewer Authority tons of money, and they are trying to keep the rates down and affordable for the ratepayers. He asked that Council do whatever it can to help out the Sewer Authority. Mope said this is a big project, and she asked Chris Carsia to contact our state senators and representatives to get some grants. Sherrock stated this is a $6 million project. He thanked Council for appointing him to the Sewer Authority Board.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton said the City’s infrastructure and nuisance properties need to be addressed as soon as possible. He said the hookah lounge on Diamond Avenue needs to have its business license pulled because it is a nuisance. Cohen said he cannot comment on that matter because of ongoing legal proceedings in that matter. He said there was no appeal filed as of today’s date. He asked if those using Community Development money for downtown projects can still come back for more money. Mope said they could come back, but not for the same project. Rabo said ARCH is still “on the books” in Luzerne County for over $1 million. He said Community Development money should be utilized to repair the City’s infrastructure.

Comments from Mayor: None.

Comments from Council: Cusat said the street lighting project will save the taxpayers money. He wants the Highway Department to concentrate on repairing and maintaining the City’s infrastructure. He said the resolutions passed at tonight’s meeting will add 40 more parking enforcement officers, and will help the Police Department. He thanked everyone for coming.

Mope thanked Ted Sherrock, and said grants received for the Button Buck project will alleviate a rate increase. She thanked Mike Vislocky for his input. She said Council is trying to “open the door to more options.” A loan for street lighting was taken out, but the City got “burned.” Mope said the City’s financial situation is “very precarious,” and Council needs to see the finances before deciding on spending. She said the 2008 Pennvest loan was taken over by the Sewer Authority when they took over the sewer lines, but it is still reflected in the 2014 Audit. This affects the City’s credit rating. We will look better on paper once this is corrected. Mope said she is worried about keeping everything running and paying salaries for next year. She thanked everyone for coming.

Sosar thanked everyone for coming. He said we need to deal with projects that will benefit the entire City of Hazleton. He said there are a lot of legal cases going on right now within the City. Sosar asked Cohen to look into the Administration’s ability to spend money from a line item, when it is at zero. He said Council has not seen any transfers yet this year. Sosar felt the City Solicitor should be involved in all court cases. But if not, then the Administration needs to ask Council for approval to spend money on a special attorney. Cohen said that information is correct. Mundie said he would like to receive a list of the current cases pending with the City and the attorneys involved in those cases. Mope said Pribula stated $40,000 was spent on special litigation, but that was never brought to Council for approval. Sosar said the Audit states we need to find new revenue sources. The long-term debt is getting higher every year. He commented that no City department should be “left hanging” while others are doing okay. Sosar said this is still a good city, but we need to build it up.

Mundie commented on the street lighting project and said the Administration and the Mayor seem to be against it. Cusat said that Pribula is concerned on where the savings will be realized. Mope said Pribula also had problems with the calculations. Mundie said Council needs to address these, as well as many other administrative issues.

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

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