2015-11-12 Council Minutes

MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2015

 

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Thursday, November 12, 2015 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 6:30 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-present; Mundie-present

At this point, Mundie stated Council had an Executive Session prior to the meeting to discuss an Airport matter.

Minutes of Previous Meetings: The minutes of the October 20, 2015 regular meeting were approved unanimously.

 

Proclamations/Communications: None.

Courtesy of the Floor: Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton said when the Rules are suspended and a new item is added to the agenda on the floor, there is still supposed to be a public comment period for that item. On several occasions in the past, this was not done properly. With regard to Resolution 2015-105, Rodriguez said Resolutions should not have blank spaces in them. Sosar said someone is here from OnDemand Energy to give a presentation, and those blanks will be filled in before it is voted upon by Council. Rodriguez questioned why the hiring of a collection agency (Resolution 2015-106) was not put out to bid. Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said as per the statute, a request for proposals is not required in this case because it would be considered a professional service. Rodriguez felt this was not fair to other collection agencies. He asked if Resolution 2015-107 is just for Broad Street, and Mundie responded yes. Rodriguez said this should include the whole City and not just Broad Street because the City is a mess. Cusat said the new administration will work on that problem. Sosar said he would like to see future plans include Alter, Wyoming and Poplar Streets and Diamond Avenue.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton asked when the money will be received with regard to the loan (Ordinance 2015-25). Tom Pribula, Acting Director of Administration, responded the closing will be done in mid-December. Once it is closed, we must pay off the current loan, and the rest is to settle the illegal immigration lawsuit. All of this must be done by mid-January 2016 as ordered by the Court. Pribula said this money will not be spent on anything else besides those mentioned above. Deakos felt that stipulation should be placed in the Ordinance. With regard to Ordinance 2015-28 (Amendment to Stormwater Ordinance), Deakos asked if we can do this. Mope said this was only for the year 2013 and we cannot collect retroactively. This is no longer in place and there was no penalty section in the original Ordinance. Cohen said this amendment is being done to the Stormwater Ordinance so that the City does not incur any costs for collection of the fee. This will save the City about $20,000. The collection fee will be collected from the individual and not the City. Mope asked if this is just for delinquents and Cohen responded yes. Sosar said the stormwater fee was supposed to go into a dedicated fund and not the general fund. With regard to Resolution 2015-107, Deakos said the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for
Revitalization should be listed as the responsible party for any money owed. The City is not managing this account. Schneider said that wording is a requirement by the state.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton stated the Stormwater Ordinance never followed the DEP Ordinance or the County Stormwater Plan. He commented that he believes the Redevelopment Authority is a “dummy corporation” used to clean up the prior administration’s mess. He asked if this will hinder the City’s future requests for loan, grants or other programs. Rabo questioned the City’s obligations with regard to the Redevelopment Authority loan. Attorney Brian Koscelansky, Bond Counsel, this loan is being done under the provisions of the Debt Act. Pribula said the City is the grantor. Rabo asked if the City’s playgrounds were used as collateral, and Koscelansky responded no, they were never used as collateral. Rabo asked that something be done concerning the blighted properties in the City. Rabo asked why no one has ever seen a breakdown of the project with regard to Resolution 2015-107. This is part of the application process and has not been done yet. Rabo said the Mayor is not supposed to be sitting on the board of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for progress because it is a quasi-government corporation. Cusat said if that was a problem or if the application was not done right, they would not be getting the money. Schneider said this was submitted with the grant application. Rabo requested a copy of the financial breakdown from Schneider. Rabo said the Elm Street Program should be used for the areas surrounding Broad Street. Schneider said the Alliance has been raising money for the Main Street designation and they need to have five years of funding sources available or they will not receive this designation.

Grace Cuozzo, 948 James Street, Hazleton said it states in the fourth paragraph of Resolution 2015-107, it says the City will be found responsible if something is determined to be ineligible. She commented that the City should not be the responsible party in this matter. Krista Schneider said this is to fund phase two of the Arts Center. They received $475,000 from the state in July and the design phase started last month. She expects this phase to be done by early spring. If awarded, both phases will be bid out. If not, they will still complete phase one. Schneider said the building needs to be brought up to code first before they can move forward. Cuozzo stated that we need to look into things that will beneficial for more sections of the City.

Victor Perez, President of the Dominican House in Hazleton, said the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress Grant (Resolution 2015-107) is very important for the City. He stated that all downtown Hazleton organizations need to be involved and work together. We need a plan for the whole City and not just the downtown area.

                                                                                                                                                           

 

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

None.

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-97     Rules of Council (TABLED ON 10/20/15)

NO MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE MADE

RESOLUTION FAILS

                                                                                                                                                           

 

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2015-25     An Ordinance Of The Council Of The City Of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Authorizing The Lease Of Certain Real Property To The Redevelopment Authority Of The City Of Hazleton Pursuant To A Lease Agreement; Declaring The Guaranty Of Said Authority’s Guaranteed Lease Revenue Note For The Benefit Of The City Of Hazleton To Be A Project Of The City For Which Lease Rental Debt Is To Be Incurred; Determining To Incur Lease Rental Debt In A Principal Amount Not To Exceed Five Million Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars ($5,900,000) In Respect Of Said Project, Such Debt To Be Evidenced By The City’s Sublease And Guaranty Agreement With Respect To Said Note; Authorizing Certain City Officers To Prepare, Certify And File With The Department Of Community And Economic Development The Debt Statement Required By Section 8110 Of The Local Government Unit Debt Act And Authorizing The Preparation Of A Borrowing Base Certificate; Approving The Form Of, And Authorizing, Subject To Certain Conditions, Execution And Delivery Of The Aforesaid Lease Agreement And Sublease And Guaranty Agreement; Repealing Inconsistent Prior Ordinances; Setting Forth Certain Conditions To The Execution And Delivery Of The Aforesaid Lease Agreement And Sublease And Guaranty Agreement; And Authorizing The Proper Officers Of The City To Take All Required, Necessary Or Desirable Related Action In Connection With Such Project And The Execution And Delivery Of The Lease Agreement And The Sublease And Guaranty Agreement (1st Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Tom Pribula, Acting Director of Administration, said the 2011 note had a variable rate. He pursued some banks to refinance the note at a lower fixed interest rate. He said First National Bank had the best fixed rate and terms of those that were solicited. This will save the City approximately $640,000, and will also pay off the illegal immigration lawsuit. Pribula said the payments are not going up, and we will have the same debt service for the next 10 years. Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said no one has appealed the Ordinance. Pribula said there are still some negotiations with the settlement that need to be completed.

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

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Ordinance 2015-26     An Ordinance Amending the Quality of Life and Violation Ticket Process Ordinance in the City of Hazleton, Ordinance 2013-12 (1st Reading)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

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

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Ordinance 2015-27     An Ordinance Amending the Parking Ordinance, as Amended, in the City of Hazleton, Ordinance 2009-24, as Amended (1st Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

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

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Ordinance 2015-28     An Ordinance Amending the Existing Stormwater Collection and Management Plan Ordinance, Ordinance 2013-13 (1st Reading)

NO PRESENTATION MADE – ORDINANCE FAILS

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Ordinance 2015-29     An Ordinance of the City of Hazleton, County of Luzerne, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Amending Ordinance 95-26, Zoning Ordinance for the City of Hazleton, as well as Chapter 245 (Zoning), Part II of the Code of Ordinances for the City of Hazleton, to Provide for BYOB Establishments within the City of Hazleton as Special Exceptions, with Specific Performance Standards Attached Thereto; and Providing for Uses not Addressed within the Ordinance as Special Exceptions with Specific Performance Standards Likewise Attached Thereto, and rescinding Ordinance 2015-5, the Hazleton City BYOB Ordinance (1st Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

On the Question:

Sosar said he would like Council to pass this as it currently is and amend it at a later date. Bob Cohen, City Solicitor, said there would need to be another hearing if the zoning districts are changed, or if any substantial changes are made.

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

                                                                                                                                                           

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2015-101   Awarding Contract for 2015-2016 Winter Emergency Snow Removal Equipment

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Cusat asked how many responses were received to the RFP. Dominic Yannuzzi, City Engineer, said there was only one bid received, and that was from Brenner Recycling. Cusat and Sosar felt this should be bid out again because of the fact there was only one bid received. Mundie agreed.

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

RESOLUTION FAILS

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Resolution 2015-102   Approving the Hazleton Police Department’s Drug Task Force Agreement with the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Attorney General

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Sosar said having a drug task force in this area is very important. Mope said she would like to see them here permanently.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-103   Appointments to Junior Council

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-104   Authorizing the Director of Administration to Adjust Records – Refund of 2014 City Real Estate Taxes

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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Resolution 2015-105   Approving the Recommendation of OnDemand Energy Solutions for a New Electricity Provider

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Mary Malone from the Chamber of Commerce said the current energy contracts are set to expire at the end of the year. As a member of the Chamber, the City will be receiving updated pricing. Cheryl Hefft from On Demand Energy put a bid out on behalf of the City. This was sent to 13 different providers. Constellation Energy had the best price for 48 months at $0.04494/kWh for the streetlights for a savings of $1,230.46. Sosar asked if the price will change if the City changes to LED lighting and Hefft there will be a change in the use but not in the price per kilowatt hour. There are no penalties involved throughout the contract. Hefft said the City will be locked into this price for 48 months. She stated there needs to be a contract in place by the end of the year or it will default to PPL’s current rate for 30 days. Hefft said she will be monitoring this on a regular basis. Mary Malone said because the City is a member of Chamber of Commerce, they can offer updated pricing. The City’s contracts are set to expire at the end of this year. Hefft said OnDemand Energy is licensed in Pennsylvania and bid on this on behalf of the City. It was sent to 13 providers and Constellation New Energy had the best price for 48 months at $0.05811/kWh. This amounts to a savings of $1,230.46. Hefft added that the price per kilowatt hour will remain the same but there will be a reduction in the usage. Also, there are no penalties for increasing or decreasing use throughout the contract. The most optimal pricing right now is for a 48 month term. Mundie asked what would happen if the rates go up. Hefft said the City would be locked into this contract price. She added that the City needs to have this contract in locked in by the end of the year, or it will default to PPL’s rate for 30 days. She will be monitoring this on a regular basis.

Mundie made a motion to amend the Resolution, as follows:

  • In paragraph three, change the lowest available price to $0.05811/kWh for 48 months, and remove the rest of the paragraph.
  • In paragraph four, insert $0.05811 where indicated.
  • In the last paragraph, insert $0.05811 where indicated, and add the following at the end of the paragraph: “Constitution New Energy, Inc., and authorize the Mayor to sign contracts regarding the same.”

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Cusat.

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

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

RESOLUTION PASSES AS AMENDED

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Resolution 2015-106   Approval of Agency Agreement with Creditech Collection Services for Collection of Delinquent Fees for the City of Hazleton Including Sewage Transmission Fees, Quality of Life Ordinance Citations, and Parking Ordinance Citations

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mundie asked if it is typical to have a two-year contract, because he would prefer to do this for one year. Cusat responded that Creditech did not want to build a database for just one year. It would not be worth their time otherwise. Mundie said he is familiar with Creditech and they come highly recommended. He stated he did not like that this contract automatically renews, and he would like that removed from the contract (Paragraph #6). Mundie made a motion to amend the contract to remove the portion that states the contract will automatically renew. Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Amend Contract:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

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

MOTION TO AMEND CONTRACT PASSES

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

RESOLUTION PASSES

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At this point, Cusat made a motion to suspend the rules in order to add a new Resolution to the agenda. Sosar seconded the motion.

Motion to Suspend the Rules:

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call (on Motion to Suspend the Rules): Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO SUSPEND THE RULES PASSES

Resolution 2015-107   Resolution Permitting the City of Hazleton to Apply for a Keystone Communities Grant

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Krista Schneider, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, said this grant is for phase two of the park and City arts center project, and is for specifically for Main Street designation. They will be using the money from the gaming grant for the match. She said $50,000 is approved for the façade with a match coming from First Federal. Schneider stated the City has no financial obligations with regard to this grant. Sosar asked when they will be seeing some progress on this project. Schneider responded that phase one is complete (the park), and the rest will be done once there is enough money for phase two. The building was vacant for 10 years. Plumbing and HVAC upgrades and ADA improvements were made, and elevators were installed. It has all been brought up to code. Mope asked when the building will begin being utilized and Schneider said maybe in six months. The Art League is committed to the building and they have a Memorandum of Understanding with them. Schneider said the Art League would like to lease the whole building. She added that the Keystone Communities Grant is specifically for the downtown area. Mundie said if this does not get approved, they cannot finish the project.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

                                                                                                                                                           

 

Comments from the Audience: Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Avenue, Hazleton said we need to protect the identity of our police officers. He added that police officers pictures and names should not be published in the newspaper.

Sylvia Thomas, 823 North Church Street, Hazleton said she hopes Council remembers the citizens of Hazleton when preparing the budget. She wants Council and the Mayor-Elect to get along and work together so we can save our City.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton said Luzerne County is considering borrowing $20 million because of the budget impasse. He asked Council to contact them and ask them not to borrow the money. This will increase taxes by 8% each year. Mundie asked the City Clerk to prepare a letter to Luzerne County Council regarding this matter. Rabo thanked and congratulated all of the candidates for office. He hoped that they could all work together.

Comments from Mayor: None.

Comments from Junior Council: Josh Narrow said he likes that the request for winter emergency equipment is going out to be rebid. He stated he was happy to see all of the work that it is being done on the City Streets.

Eric Degenhart thanked Council for his opportunity to sit on Junior Council.

Comments from Council: Cusat thanked everyone for their support during the election. He congratulated Mope on her re-election to Council. He said he looks forward to working with everyone. He also congratulated Bob Gavio. Cusat said he has some ideas with regarding to the budget but they cannot be discussed at this time.

Sosar congratulated Cusat and said he looks forward to working with him. He also congratulated Mope. He thanked everyone for coming. Sosar said Council will do its best with the 2016 budget. He also thanked Krista Schneider for her efforts, and said we need to work on other parts of the City as well.

Mope thanked everyone for coming. She thanked Pribula and Cohen for coming. Without them, Council would not have been able to work on this budget. She said Council will do its very best regarding the budget. They do not want to burden the taxpayers with an increase in taxes. Mope congratulated Cusat on his win and said she looks forward to working with him. She also thanked the veterans who attended yesterday’s Veterans Day ceremony.

Mundie congratulated Cusat and Gavio on their wins. He said he did not vote for the Stormwater Ordinance and felt that it is not fair to the people of Hazleton. He said he has serious concerns with the DBI project because they still have not taken over the Parking Garage yet. The City Engineer said the Parking Garage is done. He asked Cohen to look into the agreement with DBI and report back to Council. Mundie thanked everyone for coming.

At this point, a brief discussion ensued between the Council members regarding when to have a budget meeting in order to be in compliance with the time frame. It was decided to have the meeting on November 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm.

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

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