2015-10-20 Council Minutes

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

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 pm.

 

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

 

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

Minutes of Previous Meetings: The minutes of the October 6, 2015 regular meeting were approved unanimously.

 

Proclamations/Communications:

Courtesy of the Floor: Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2015-97 regarding the Rules of Council. He said there is no mention of any suspension of the rules in this Resolution. He stated the public needs a chance to speak about this if the Rules are changed.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton asked when was the last time the Rules of Council were updated. Mope responded they were done in 2012 by then President of Council, Jim Perry. Tarantino asked if Council follows Robert’s Rules of Order. Mope responded yes, but Council “tweaks” it to fit its needs. Tarantino said that when a Resolution was prepared on the floor at the last meeting, the public was not given a chance to speak.

 

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton asked why Community Development is requesting an extension of the HOME Grant. Fallon Fermin, Director of Community Development, said the reason for the change is that the closing for the second property being purchased is scheduled for November 3, 2015, and to get all of the required work done by the deadline of December 7, 2015 would be impossible. The extension to May 7, 2016 will give the City plenty of time to complete all of the required rehabilitation work on that property. Fermin said this property is located at 437 East Walnut Street. Cuozzo asked how the City can sell its tax liens for 2015 when the fiscal year is not over yet. Sosar said this came from the Administration. Cusat stated that the Administration is trying to start the process early, so a figure may be put into the 2016 budget as an estimate. Cuozzo said there is no reason to do this early. This could be done easily at the beginning of 2016. Sosar said he would look into the matter.

 

                                                                                                                                                           

 

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2015-21     An Ordinance Approving the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2016 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

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Ordinance 2015-21     An Ordinance Approving the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2016 (3rd Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

None.

                                                                                                                                                           

 

New Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-94     Recognizing November 2015 as Epilepsy Awareness Month

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-95     Adopting the Luzerne County 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Sosar asked if the Solicitor looked over this Resolution. Cohen said he did not look at and did not know what this was about. Mundie stated this is something that the City is required to be pass in accordance with Section 322 of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-96     Authorizing the Mayor to Sign the ERISA Investment Management Agreements with The Glenmede Trust Company, N.A., for the Investment Management Services of the City’s Police, Fire and Non-Uniformed Employees’ Pension Plan Assets, as Awarded to Same this Date

On the Question:

Sosar asked Greg Steber of the Pension Super Board if he is satisfied with The Glenmede Trust Company managing the pensions. Steber responded yes. He said they were not satisfied with the previous company that was managing the City’s pensions, so a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued. But, certain things were done incorrectly. The previous Solicitor, Attorney Chris Slusser, reworded the RFP and it was put out for bids again. He stated they picked they best plan they felt comfortable with. There were a lot of legal issues going back and forth between Cohen and Glenmede, but they have been rectified. Sosar asked if the provisions of Act 44 are being met. Cohen said he reviewed the second RFP word for word, and he drafted this Resolution to be in compliance. He added that the unsuccessful bidders will be provided with a copy of Glenmede’s reply to the RFP. Steber said they may have to put out another RFP for certain parts, but they need this Resolution in order to have the money from AFG turned over to Glenmede as soon as possible. The actuarials will be done at a later date.

In accordance with the instructions of Councilwoman Jean Mope, City Solicitor Bob Cohen’s opinion regarding this matter, which was sent to her by email on October 20, 2015, is placed in the minutes, as follows:

“…The August, 2014 RFP and its award of investment services through Glenmede Trust Company, N.A. only complies with the Pension Act, including its Act 44 amendments, and follows up Resolution 2014-104…The post-award disclosures will be made as required by Act 44, as stated in the Resolution, 2015-96…These issues being raised by an unsuccessful applicant have no merit. Bob Cohen, Esq.”

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-97     Rules of Council

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar said that due to his teaching schedule, he is unable to meet with the Department Heads on a regular basis. He stated he would like to add something to this Resolution requiring Department Heads to attend City Council meetings in case there are any questions concerning their departments. He would like to have a sit-down with all of the Council Members for their input on this matter before proceeding. Sosar questioned whether or not the Mayor and one Council Member have a right to place something on the agenda. Mundie agreed with Sosar that he would like to have every Council Member’s opinion on this matter first. Mope said the previous Council limited the amount of information they could receive. She feels this whole Resolution needs to be redone. This one is almost the same as the last one and she voted against it last time. Cusat said he would like to see the name of the sponsor of each Ordinance put on the agenda. He added that one member of Council may put something on the agenda in accordance with the Third Class City Code. Cohen agreed. Cusat said if there are ever two seats vacant on Council, discussing something with another Council member would be a violation of the Sunshine Act. Cohen said placing items on the agenda has nothing to do with the Sunshine Act. Cusat said having Department Heads attend Council meeting should be the Mayor’s call and not City Council’s. He should discuss this matter with them himself. Sosar thanked those Department Heads that do attend City Council meetings. Mundie asked that the part regarding requests for information be removed from the Resolution. Sosar said this Resolution is not crucial at this time. Mundie asked all of the Council Members to bring their changes to the next meeting. Mundie made a motion to table the Resolution, and Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

 

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

 

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

RESOLUTION TABLED 3-1

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Resolution 2015-98     A Resolution Requesting an Extension of the Completion Date of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Fermin said she spoke to DCED first before preparing this Resolution.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-99     Authorization to Execute Cooperation Agreement Between the City of Hazleton and the Hazleton Area Little League

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2015-100   Sale of 2015 Tax Claims

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Sosar questioned how important this was in preparing the 2016 budget. Cusat said Pribula needs a number to put in the budget, otherwise it will be recorded as zero. If this is passed tonight, these tax claims will not be sold until January and will not start coming in until February. Cusat made a motion to amend the Resolution to fix a typographical error, and Mundie seconded the motion.


 

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES – RESOLUTION AMENDED

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED

                                                                                                                                                           

 

Comments from the Audience: Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, asked if Mundie and Cusat will attend City Council meetings if elected as Mayor. Both responded yes. Tarantino asked about the status of the firefighter’s contract. Mundie said he did not get any notice from the Mayor and he also does not know if a seven-year contract is okay. Cohen said it is okay. He added that the labor attorney gave him case law regarding this matter, and he is in agreement with him. Sosar said he does not know how well the Mayor negotiated the contract. Medical insurance increases will be an issue, and the copayment of $5.00 is too low. This contract will tie the City’s hands for seven years. Sosar said he was told that this is going into arbitration. He believes this means they will bet their demands one way or another. He said that the taxpayers cannot afford to keep paying increasing taxes. Sosar said the City needs to employ a professional negotiator for future contracts. Mundie said the Mayor gave into the Union’s demands and did not want to fight for a fair contract. He felt the City’s finances could change over the course of a seven-year contract. Mope said the services of a labor attorney were used during these negotiations and was paid from the special litigation line item. There was nothing put into the budget for special litigation. She was under the impression that this would be something the City Solicitor would be involved in. Mope said transfers are not being brought to Council. Mundie commented that the Mayor does not follow the rules and he is doing whatever he wants. Tarantino asked if the City passed a Resolution regarding its official language, and Mundie said yes. It was not struck down by Council and is still in place.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton said it should not be a requirement that the new police officers learn Spanish. This should be voluntary and not a condition of employment. He believes this is sending the wrong message that Hispanics lack the skills to learn English. Rodriguez said English should be first and every other language should secondary. He commented that our country has always been defended using the English language.

Mary Laughlin, Northeastern Representative for the Epilepsy Foundation, thanked Council for passing the Resolution making November epilepsy awareness month. She said the Epilepsy Foundation offers free training for police, fire and EMTs regarding epilepsy and seizure disorders, and they can get credits for it.

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton agreed with Rodriguez and said “we are giving this country away.” She said foreigners should be learning English.

Richard Ammon, 236 East Beech Street, Hazleton said he has been regularly attending Council meeting since 2012. He thanked Council and all the regular attendees. He said all department heads should be required to come to every meeting, but he is thankful for those who do attend the meetings. Ammon asked where all of the candidates are. He felt if they are elected they will not show up the Council meetings. He said the person filling the vacant Council seat should have honesty, integrity and humility. Her made comments regarding Council candidate John Keegan. He said the new Council member needs to serve the people and not themselves. He cautioned the voters to look for the best candidates.

Comments from Mayor: None.


 

Comments from Junior Council: Josh Narrow said he was glad to be back on Junior Council. He felt it is very important that information be shared between Council and the Administration.

Jacob Oressie thanked Council for selecting him to serve on Junior Council. He felt having a requirement that new police officers learn Spanish as a condition of employment was wrong, and it should only be optional.

Comments from Council: Cusat thanked everyone for coming. He said the 2016 Budget will be released soon and he hoped the vacant Council seat would be filled soon so that person can be involved in the budget talks.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She was glad that the ongoing work of the Epilepsy Foundation was brought to Council’s attention. She said the Council members do not always agree but they are always friendly towards each other. She thanked Greg Steber for coming to the meeting. She thanked everyone for their input and she thanked Fallon Fermin and Mike Wilfing for attending the meeting.

Sosar thank everyone for attending the meeting, especially Greg Steber and Donald Leshko. He said Council has complained about the Mayor’s empty seat for quite some time. He stated the Chairman of the Southern Political Action Committee is a candidate for City Council, and Mayor Yannuzzi received contributions to his campaign from this Committee. He commented about all of the negative ads that were placed on television regarding Mundie and himself. Sosar said this candidate says he wants a fresh start but is supported by Mayor Yannuzzi. He attempted to get copies of the Southern Political Action Committee’s reports from the Election Bureau, but they were unavailable. The Southern Political Action Committee was fined $250.00 in February for not filing its final report. He applauded the Epilepsy Foundation for all of the good work they do.

Mundie asked Narrow and Oressie to see if they know of anyone who may want to be on the Junior Council, and to tell them they can still apply. He thanked everyone for coming. He thanked Mary Laughlin for making Council aware of all the good work done by the Epilepsy Foundation. Mundie reminded everyone to vote on Election Day for the most qualified people.

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