2017-05-23 Council Minutes

MINUTES

HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR MEETING

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 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: Cuozzo-present; Gavio-present; Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings: The minutes of the May 2, 2017 Regular Meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications: None.

Bid Opening: HAZLETON CITY ARTS CENTER- Krista Schneider, Executive Director, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, opened bids for Phase 1 of the Hazleton City Arts Center project. The first bid was from Bognet, Inc. Their base bid was $1,308.900.00. Deduct alternate 1 - $8,100. Deduct alternate 2- $2,700. Deduct alternate 3 - $500.00. Deduct alternate 4 - $11,444.00. Bognet, Inc. addendums and bid bonds were also included.      

The second bid was from CMG of Easton. Their base bid was $1,298.900.00. Deduct alternate 1- $6,500.00. Deduct alternate 2- $2,000.00. Deduct alternate 3- $350.00. Deduct alternate 4- $10,200.00. CMG of Easton addendums and bid bonds were also included.

The third bid was from Champion Builders, Kingston, PA. Their base bid was $1,238,000.00. Deduct alternate 1- $7,000.00. Deduct alternate 2 - $2,400.00. Deduct alternate 3- $450.00. Deduct alternate 4- $10,000.00. Champion Builders addendums and bid bonds were also included.

Courtesy of the Floor (ON AGENDA ITEMS ONLY): Antonio Rodriquez, 718 Muir Ave., Hazleton, said he is happy with the hiring of six new police officers. He said we need to take our city back. He said we need to chase out the criminals. He said the criminals are from outside cities. He said, in the near future, he will propose an ordinance that the city of Hazleton will never become a sanctuary city. He said the city of Hazleton has a strong police department. He said Hazleton has to come back to the city it once was. He said Wyoming and Alter streets need to be cleaned up.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st St., Hazleton, spoke of the six new candidates for the police force. He said he is happy that the city of Hazleton can hire more police officers to patrol the streets. He said the police officers will bring credit and justice to the community. He questioned the proposed Ordinance 2017-12 Garbage Collection and Disposal Ordinance. He asked if a resident has nowhere to put the smaller containers, will the resident be able to use garbage bags. He also asked if the hauler leaves a garbage container and does not replace the smaller container what will be the recourse. He also questioned Resolution 2017-45- Awarding Contract for Furnishing Road/Asphalt Materials to the City of Hazleton. He suggested the city talk to companies dealing with plastics. He said the plastics can be used for asphalt-like material to do the city streets at one third the price. He also questioned Ordinance 2017-11 Outdoor Burning Ordinance. He said he thought this ordinance was already in place. Mundie said this is a more detailed ordinance. Rabo also questioned the police officer hiring’s. He would like to know the funding-basis for the appointments. He would like an explanation for the hiring’s.


New Business: 

ORDINANCES                                               

Ordinance 2017-11  Outdoor Burning Ordinance (1st READING)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

   Cuozzo questioned Atty. Logsdon as to what he changed in this ordinance. He said he did not put this ordinance on the agenda. Fire Chief Donald Leshko said this is the original ordinance that was proposed in 2016. He said he is asking council to adjust the ordinance. He said it does not include a “chimenea” which is in the city code. Leshko said he would like council to pass the ordinance on the first reading, he will make changes and then present this at the next city council meeting. Sosar said there are no penalties listed in the ordinance. Leshko said he needs to include the penalties. Sosar said the content and body of the ordinance is good. Leshko will confer with Atty. Logsdon and make changes. Cuozzo asked Leshko to go back to the minutes to see what council previously reviewed and make appropriate changes. Mope asked Leshko to include any grilling requirements. Leshko agreed. He said he will make a requirement that grills need to be 10 feet away from any combustible structure. He said the ordinance needs to be updated. Leshko said he gets a lot of fire calls for chimney fires. 

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

ORDINANCE PASSES ON 1ST READING


Ordinance 2017-12  Amending Chapter 203 (Solid Waste) of the Hazleton City Code, and Ordinance 95-18, as previously amended by Ordinance 2011-1 (Garbage Collection and Disposal), Ordinance 2013-12 (Quality of Life), and Ordinance 2015-15 (Appropriate Time for Placement of Garbage and Imposing Penalties for Violation) Regarding the Appropriate Placement of Garbage Containers for Collection of Non-Collection Days and Proper Storage or Placement of Garbage in Containers- (1st READING)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.         

On the Question: 

            Sosar said there are some interesting questions being raised. He said the houses and row homes that are close together are unable to put garbage containers behind their homes. Sosar said he has a house, with no room on either side, to put garbage containers in his back yard. He said there are residents, in the center of city, that are unable to comply with this ordinance. Mope said this is an older city. She said some residents have no access to their back yard because of narrow walkways. Mope said this ordinance is being presented prematurely. She would like the Water Authority to put pressure on the garbage collection company. She is not sure what garbage containers are to be exchanged. Sosar said the Water Authority is working with County Waste to exchange- out their garbage containers. He asked Mayor Cusat if there can be an amendment to clear off the resident’s sidewalks. Mayor Cusat said it is hard to clear-off the containers from the sidewalks. He said a lot of properties on Alter Street have no room to put these containers. He said council should look at an ordinance for dumpsters. Cuozzo asked who put this ordinance on the agenda. Mundie said he requested this ordinance be placed on the agenda. Atty. Logsdon said the Code Department asked him to draft a garbage ordinance. Mope asked Atty. Logsdon if residents cannot move the garbage containers to their back yard if garbage bags can be used. Atty. Logsdon said yes. Mope said this needs to be included in this ordinance. Mundie said garbage bags can always be utilized. Mope said there needs to be an amendment for using garbage bags. Mayor Cusat said the residents need to keep the garbage in their house until garbage collection day. Cuozzo said the way the ordinance is written, a lot of residents cannot put containers on the side of their house due to the design of their property.

            Gavio said residents need to use common sense. He said the garbage containers need to be removed from the sidewalks. Mayor Cusat said the city needs to work with residents regarding the containers. Sosar said bags and containers need to be used where applicable. He said he is not ready to vote on this ordinance. Mayor Cusat said the city will need to revert back to the old method. He said the garbage containers cannot be left out in the city. Sosar said some residents were upset with garbage containers being left on the sidewalks. Mope said it is unflattering for the city when the  containers are left out. Sosar said older residents will have a hard time lifting the larger containers. Mayor Cusat said the containers are bulky and hard to move. He said if there is somewhere to store them, the city would benefit. Mope said council does not want to see the garbage containers left out on the sidewalk. Sosar said some residents only put out grocery bags on collection day. Sosar said there is an option for cities to enforce the “pay-per- bag” method. Mope said the city is benefiting from the recycling program. Sosar said there are a lot of liability issues with garbage collectors receiving cuts and scrapes from the garbage contents. He said a lot of garbage haulers are reverting to machines due to liabilities. Sosar said council needs to table this ordinance. Mundie asked Atty. Logsdon to investigate how other cities garbage ordinances are worded. Atty. Logsdon agreed. Atty. Logsdon suggested opening   up a dialog with County Waste. Atty. Logsdon and Sosar stated County Waste is very cooperative.

MOTION TO TABLE:

Presented by Sosar.   Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes                                                                                          

ORDINANCE TABLED


*NOTE- AT THIS TIME, MR. SOSAR SUSPENDS THE RULES AND GOES OFF THE AGENDA. 

Ordinance 2017-13  Ordinance Altering the Hazleton City Administrative Code and Requirements of the Administrative Body of the City of Hazleton as related to the preparation of the City Budget for all of 2017 and all years thereafter. That the City Budget will include employee salaries as line items within the budget and all expenditures known to incur for the city within the year as line items within the Budget-( 1st READING)

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

MOTION TO SUSPEND THE RULES:

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

On the Question:

            Sosar said one of the issues plaguing city council is the ambiguity of the city budget as to exact salaries. He said not included are the salaries of administrators or department heads. He said he is proposing a change in the administrative code to 2017 and upcoming budgets. He said it needs to include all employee salaries as “line items” and all expenditures incurred by the city. He said he wants to see the salaries and how the city is spending money. Mayor Cusat said council already gets this in the sub-budgets. Sosar said he wants to see where each department head is receiving their salary. Gavio said this is all public knowledge. Mundie said council wants a more detailed budget. He said some cities have a more detailed budget, i.e. Lancaster. He said council needs a budget that is better to work with. Mope said the departments doing monthly reports do include the budget, but are not available to the public. Mope said the residents need to see the city budget. She said the budgets are not in the monthly reports. Mayor Cusat said the information is already there. Sosar said he would like to see a narrative on the budget. He said he never received a request to vote on a transfer. He said the money that is utilized by the city to take care of TAN notes was not voted on by council. Sosar said it is a very simple process. He said everybody needs to be on the same page. Mayor Cusat said  the budgets “year-to-date” item includes this. Mayor Cusat asked if Sosar would question the Sewer Authority or any other authority on their budget. Sosar said he would be happy to question other authorities. Mope said when Mayor Cusat was on council, he had a hard time giving information on issues. Mope said Mayor Cusat spent Monday’s and Tuesday’s, in City Hall, on his  days off, working on the budget, along with Mope. She said council had a hard time getting information. She said council did not know about a movement of $500,000 in 2016 and $1,000,000 in 2017 until council investigated. Mope said a transfer, by law, needs to be presented to council. Mayor Cusat said any individual line item salary cannot be cut. Sosar said Mayor Cusat raised salaries in 2016. Cuozzo said the mayor needs to keep a better accounting of salaries. Cuozzo said specific jobs need to be included in the budget. Cuozzo said this is also council’s job. Mundie said council is presenting this ordinance to add to the budget as other cities include and needs to be more precise. Mope said she has asked every year for a more detailed budget.

            Mark Rabo stated that he agrees with a position budget. He has reviewed other cities and municipalities budgets that have a position budget. He said Hazleton is the only third-class city that does not have a position budget. Mayor Cusat agreed. Rabo said other cities have narratives included in their budgets. Mope said she has reviewed other cities budgets.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

   *NOTE- MR. SOSAR REQUESTED TO GO BACK ON THE AGENDA AT THIS TIME.

MOTION TO GO BACK ON AGENDA:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

ORDINANCE PASSES ON 1st READING


 RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2017-45     Resolution Awarding a Contract for Furnishing Road/Asphalt Materials to he City of Hazleton

Presented by Cuozzo. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-46     Resolution Transferring Property to the City of Hazleton                                                                     

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

        Cuozzo asked what the city would do with the property. Atty. Logsdon said a representative from Habitat from Humanity called him. He said in lieu of being condemned, he asked if the city would take over the property. Atty. Logsdon presented this to city administration. He said there would be an issue on tax liability. He said there would be an agreement with Habitat for Humanity regarding any tax liability or back taxes. Atty. Logsdon said Habitat for Humanity would be responsible for the tax liability. Mope asked the condition of the property. Mayor Cusat said it needs to be demolished. He said it is next to a house that is being demolished on Cedar St. He said it will be demolished to make a larger property for development. He said it is located next to Postupack’s. He said it needs to be demolished by a certain date. Cuozzo asked Atty. Logsdon where the agreement is holding the city harmless. He said he did not include this in the resolution. He said he will forward the agreement to council. Cuozzo said to note there is not an attachment included which holds the city not liable on the tax liability and deed. Cuozzo suggested tabling this resolution and transferring to the Redevelopment Authority. Mayor Cusat said the city could always transfer this to the Redevelopment Authority. Cuozzo said there was a problem transferring a property in the past. Mundie said this could affect any grants for demolition. Mundie asked if this needs to be voted on at tonight’s meeting. Atty. Logsdon said the Habitat from Humanity representative keeps asking council to vote on the resolution. Sosar said council could have a special meeting to vote on the resolution. Cuozzo is worried about any legal costs that would be imposed to the city. Mundie asked Atty. Logsdon regarding the agreement holding the city not liable on the property. He said the agreement is drafted. He said it would be signed with the whole transaction, including the deed. Cuozzo suggested amending resolution to hold the city harmless.

MOTION TO AMEND:

Presented by Cuozzo. Seconded by Mope .

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

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

BACK ON THE QUESTION:

Roll Call (AS AMENDED): Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY AS AMENDED


Resolution 2017-47     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- Nicholas Davi

Presented by Gavio. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

            Sosar stated that the council has been discussing hiring new police officers for a while. Sosar asked Police Chief Speziale if this is being done through a grant. Chief Speziale said he transferred the administrative rights to Community Development manager Fallon Fermin. Sosar asked if the money is still in place and ready to use. Chief Speziale said there is $614,747.00 in the grant fund. Fermin said there is money for two police officers. She has it linked to the city account so there is no lapse in time in receiving the funds. Sosar thought the grant had ran out. Chief Speziale said he filed two status reports regarding all the steps the city is undertaking in the hiring process. He said the grant will pay for the officers with families for their health care costs. Mope and Sosar agreed. Sosar asked if the new officers replacing the officers who retired are fully retired. Chief Speziale said yes, they are all retired. Chief Speziale said the city transferred from paper to electronic filing. He said since 2011, he counted 10 people who have been hired. He said the city lost 17 people. He said the police department is missing 1 person. Sosar stated he knows of a retired police officer who is not receiving his pension check. Sosar asked the mayor about this issue. Mayor Cusat said this matter cannot be discussed in regular session. It needs to be discussed in an executive session. Atty. Logsdon stated there is a Pension Board who handles these issues. Sosar stated he wants to know about the pension             issue. He said it is his job to investigate any city department who has a problem. Mundie said it   will not affect the hiring of the police officers. Chief Speziale said nobody can come back       after     they retired from the force. Sosar said he will cast his vote after further discussion with city officials regarding the pension issue.

NOTE- AT THIS TIME, CITY COUNCIL, ATTY. LOGSDON, AND MAYOR CUSAT MET IN EXECUTIVE SESSION REGARDING THE POLICE OFFICERS PENSION CHECK.        

Mundie re-adjourned the council meeting.

            Chief Speziale stated there will be a difference of seven officers. He said the city is hiring six officers now. He said he will start drawing down on the $614,747.00 grant immediately. He said   the city continues to look to hire the seventh officer. He said the 2017 grant is current. He will  write this grant as a “re-hire” grant. Cuozzo asked why the Police Department is not hiring the seventh officer. Chief Speziale said it is a long process. He said he will present the other name  to council. Cuozzo said Chief Speziale listed 40 officers. Chief Speziale said the Police Department lost 5 officers. He said some police officers either resigned or retired. Mundie asked Chief Speziale to  present the list to Cuozzo. He agreed. Cuozzo said she doesn’t know  why the seventh officer in the Police Department is not being hired. Mayor Cusat asked if the seventh officer could be hired without a name included. Police Chief Speziale said this could be done under a condition that the psychological and medical evaluations are passed.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-48     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- Christopher Conarty

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-49     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- James Shaw

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-50     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- Michael George

Presented by Cuozzo. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-51     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- Kenneth Crawford

Presented by Mope.   Seconded by Gavio.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes        

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-52     Resolution Approving and Hiring Police Officer in Accordance with Police Civil Service Rules- Zachary Molinaro

Presented by Mope. Presented by Sosar.

Roll Call: Cuozzo- yes; Gavio- yes; Mope- yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie- yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Comments from the Audience: Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Ave., Hazleton, said change is coming in January. He said change needs to be for the better. The city needs to get better.

Joseph Stanavage, 216 West Birch St., Hazleton, said he only has positive things to say about the city. He knows council a long time. He said he is a traveling man. He wants to thank council for all they do. He said he was active with the Hazleton Jaycees. He said he remembered how downtown Hazleton used to be. He wants to thank everyone for their prayers. He said he grew up with Mayor Cusat. He said the city has a great Fire and Police Department.  

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st St., Hazleton, said there is a free and clear judicial sheriff sale coming in August. He said one of the properties is the St. Joseph Hospital building. He wants to ask the mayor and city council to remove this property from the list. There is a state statue the city could use to remove this property. He said it is called “the right of first refusal”. He said the city should utilize their authority to remove this property. He said the city could utilize Act 90 regarding code violations against the owner. He asked about the status of the revitalization of the Altamont Building. Mundie said he will get a report on this building. He asked about the status of the Hazleton Airport being listed as a municipal authority. Cuozzo said there needs to be a public hearing on the airport. Mundie said this is a long process. Rabo asked if ordinances are being enforced and the general contractors are obtaining permits for their work. Mope said these fines are issued by the Code Department. Mope asked about the street cuts and how many permits were sought. She has asked Charles Pedri from the Code Department for the information but never received this. Mundie said he wants to see if the city is receiving the money from the street cuts. Mundie said the tar needs to settle in the street cuts. Rabo asked about the bank-owned properties and vacant registration ordinances. Atty. Logsdon said he is currently updating this ordinance. Mundie asked Atty. Logsdon to have it ready for the next council meeting. He said it will be ready for the June 20th council meeting. Mundie said the fee for the vacant registration is to be increased from $100.00 to $200.00. Rabo stated a recent statistic reported that new home sales have decreased by 11.5% due to increasing taxes.

Bob Condrick, 770 Lincoln St., Hazleton, said neighborhood kids are vandalizing properties and speeding up his street. He said he was assaulted by a few kids. He said he is very upset about this. Police Chief Speziale said there is an active investigation. He has contacted PA Crime Stoppers who are offering a $1,000 reward. The Police Department is actively investigating this matter. He said they are installing a camera.

Anthony Colombo, a member of the Hazleton City Fire Department, welcomed all residents to St. Gabriel’s Cemetery on Memorial Day for mass and a Hazleton Remembers Program.

Comments from Mayor: Mayor Cusat wished everyone Happy Memorial Day. He said the West Hazleton parade will be held on Monday, May 29th, 2017. He said the next council meeting will be on June 20, 2017 and wished everyone a Happy Father’s Day. He also wished all new police officers good luck.

Comments from Junior Council: None.

Comments from Council: Gavio welcomed all the new police officers. He wished everyone a Happy Memorial Day and Happy Father’s Day.

Cuozzo extended congratulations to the new police officers. She also congratulated Junior Council members on their graduation. She asked Mayor Cusat about the two employees who took a voluntary lay-off. Mayor Cusat said the city still did not receive the loan to bring back the city employees. He said he has no immediate plans to bring anyone back. Cuozzo asked if the potholes are going to be fixed. Mayor Cusat said he is doing his best. She also asked about the cuts from the utilities. Mayor Cusat said the streets need to sit for one year. He said there was a recent meeting discussing certain streets. Cuozzo said there are a lot of potholes in the city. Mayor Cusat said in 2016, the city did not start paving until early fall. He said the city did a lot of paving in 2016. Cuozzo said a lot was put out for bid.

Sosar thanked the new city police officers. He said it is not an easy job and admires the gentlemen for accepting their positions. He said he feels the budget needs to be updated. He suggested a special meeting needs to be held in June to do a 2nd & 3rd reading on Ordinance 2017-13.  

Mope congratulated the new officers. She thanked Jerry Speziale for all his work in the hiring of the new police officers. She also thanked all department heads and the public for attending. She also wished everyone a Happy Memorial Day and Happy Father’s Day.

Mundie wished the new hired police officers well. He said regarding the budget, the city needs to get updated as other cities have a detailed budget, i.e. Lancaster. He said he has been asking for years for a more detailed budget. He said it will make the city audit run more smoothly. He wished everyone a Happy Memorial Day and a Happy Father’s Day. Mundie thanked everyone for coming to tonight’s meeting.

Adjournment: Mundie motioned to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned.

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