2017-07-18 Council Minutes

MINUTES

HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR MEETING

TUESDAY, JULY 18, 2017

Call to Order: Council met in regular session on Tuesday, July 18, 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 June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting were approved unanimously.

Proclamations/Communications: Certificates were presented to the members of Junior Council in recognition for their service.

Bid Opening:   SUBGRANTEE BID, CITY OF HAZLETON, REQUIREMENTS FOR RACP GRANT- CAN-DO. Atty. Sean Logsdon read the bids. First bid was from Miller’s Brothers Construction Company, Schuylkill Haven. The base bid is $588,900. Total allowances were included. The bid bonds were included. Second bid was from Gottstein Corporation, Hazle Township. The base bid is $185,000. Total allowances are $31,350. The bid bonds were included. Third bid was from Champion Builders, Inc., Kingston. The base bid is $678,300. Total allowances are $16,700. The bid bonds were included.

            Sosar recommended the bids be tabled and examined by the appropriate authorities within the city. He said the city council will await their recommendation. This was approved by council.

            Mayor Cusat said this project is for the CAN DO Things Remembered Building. Mundie said it is for the Broad St. Corridor. Mayor Cusat said it is a privately owned building, not a city project.

* PRIOR TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING, A DISCUSSION WAS HELD REGARDING THE EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR THE CITY OF HAZLETON.

Mr. Jim Rose from the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Center for local government services and Ryan Hottenstein from Financial Solutions and the city of Hazleton’s business financial advisor spoke of the Early Intervention Program for the City of Hazleton. Mr. Rose said he was asked to come to the city council meeting due to the city running out of cash. He said depending upon what the city pays, the city will run out of money completely in August or the beginning of September. The city will not be able to meet any of their bills or make payroll. He said he does not want to see any city have any problem. He said ultimately, the city of Hazleton’s residents will pay the price. He has several options/recommendations for the city. Mr. Rose did a similar presentation with the city’s Early Intervention Program back in October of 2012. He said he is pleading with the city to consider an EIP with an emergency action plan. He said it will allow the city to hire a contractor/consultant to work with the city on developing the EIP. He said within three weeks, it will allow the group to formulate an emergency action plan for the city.

Mr. Ryan Hottenstein spoke of some of the issues the city of Hazleton has run into and the borrowing options. He said he was engaged with the city to issue an RFP for a bank loan, both re-funding and a work in capital borrowing at about $470,000. He also does municipal financial advising for distressed municipalities. He said when he received the replies back from the lenders, he received one response from M & T Bank for $470,000. He said it became clear, with the city administration, that this amount was not sufficient to cover the shortfall for 2017. The city would need additional funding, $900,000 in total. He said he talked with city administration and the state about this issue. He said there needs to be a long-term plan for the city not to run out of money. Mope said the bank agreed to one loan but it was not a sufficient amount. She asked the total amount needed. Mr. Hottenstein said the final number is not tallied. He said it is a “moving target”. Cuozzo asked if they are basing their numbers on the city receiving no income from now until December. Mr. Hottenstein said he is including both revenues and expenses in between now and the end of 2017. The city is projecting the amount to be around $900,000. Cuozzo stated the city has come to council about four times to borrow $900,000 for different items. Mr. Hottenstein said based on the cash flow projects, the city will be running out of money in mid-August. Cuozzo asked how this shows seeing the city is not following the budget that was approved and a shortfall on items. Mr. Rose said he is here to explain the city’s dire financial situation. He said he strongly recommends council pass a resolution to put out RFP’s for the Early Intervention Program consultant. He spoke to the audience explaining the EIP. He said it is a program the state offers through the Department of Community and Economic Development. It provides grant funding for municipalities in financial trouble that can hire consultants to come in to see all the operations of the city and their financial situation. It looks at any changes that need to be made for the city to move forward. He said because of the city’s financial situation, he requests the city submit proposals to do the work. He said it would include a 3-week emergency plan. He said the city must act right now. It would allow the city to have some options what the city could do to move forward. He said the state would pay 90% of the cost of the consultant and the city would pay 10%. He said the whole program would last 3 years with the city paying at the end of the 3 year program. He said the funding will come from the state. He said the normal funding is a 50/50 split but because of the dire situation, he said the state increased the funding to a 90/10 split. Mope asked what the amount would be for the city’s 10% obligation. Mr. Rose said about $75,000. Mope asked if this is similar to the prior PEL report. Mr. Rose said it is. He said if the city has a study done within 5 years, the state recommends the study be redone with an emergency plan.

Sosar said he is not sure how the state can do a study like this. He said he has been at round table meetings. He said the state legislatures and senators continue to tell the public that the state is short 2.7 billion and borrow another 1.2 billion for this fiscal year to balance the budget. He said the state cannot get their act together. Mr. Hottenstein said his job is strictly looking at the numbers, to look at the issues and try to help communities make good decisions. He said if the city misses payroll, this is a major situation. Mr. Hottenstein said council needs to look at how the city functions right now. Mope said the recent PEL study was done well. Mr. Hottenstein said the city needs to look right now to get out of the dire financial straits. Mope said the PEL study was not followed. She said the council cannot be blamed for not following the PEL study because council is not in charge of spending. She said the city needs to have things followed. Mr. Hottenstein said elected officials are responsible with carrying things through. He said the council will have to make difficult decisions. He said there should be a tax increase. He said the city is running out of money. He said council has the ability to authorize the administration to put together an RFP for EIT consultants to work with the city to arrange an emergency plan. Mope asked when the city council and administration are given proposals how this will be enforced. Mr. Rose said it could be done by making resolutions or laws. Sosar said resolutions do not matter in the city. He said the residents would agree. Mope said council passes a resolution and then pass an ordinance to be followed. Cuozzo asked if Act 47 should be used. She said the city needs direction. Mr. Rose said if Act 47 is utilized, it would not absolve the council from doing their job. He said the council needs to take the recommendations from the plan and make the recovery plan the ordinance for the city’s plan. Sosar asked if it would be overseen by the state. Mr. Rose said yes. He asked council what they want from the state. Sosar said the city is broken and the state needs to be reviewing the fiscal responsibility. He said he served on the government study commission. He said the people who wrote this form of government wanted a mayor and director of administration to closely watch the handling of finances of the city. He said this is not happening. Sosar asked if the state will monitor carefully every expenditure and action taken by the city. Mr. Rose said this is what Act 47 would do.

Gavio said he is all for it. He said he does not want to see the employees or residents suffer. He is in favor of an independent study. Gavio asked if the city needs to do an independent study before going into Act 47. Mr. Rose said yes and make things a lot easier. Mr. Rose said one thing that may result is the state recommending using Act 47. He said the state recommended Mahanoy City using Act 47, as an example. Sosar said the money recommended for the city to pay for the study is not there or will not be there in the future. Mr. Rose said the city will have the funds after the 3-year study. Mundie apologized to Mr. Rose for indicating that council meet in executive session. Mundie said council is frustrated because the mayor is spending money that council does not agree with. He said he gave out raises to all department supervisors. He said the mayor did not care what was in the budget. Mayor Cusat disagreed. Sosar said the budget that exists and the budget passed are not the same. Cuozzo said the borrowing will go into the debt service. Mundie asked Mr. Hottenstein about a TAN note. He said there are different options for the city. He said it depends on how the city proceeds forward. He said there will be no other option. He said without a verification from council for proceeding with an EIP, he said the TAN note is not available. He said if the city agrees with an EIP, a short-term TAN would be available for the end of the year, approved quickly, for the city having cash for expenses in August and the city can move forward. Mundie said the city always received TAN notes without studies. Mope spoke of weigh scales for the trucks that would bring in income for the city. She said the date keeps being pushed back. She said this is income that the city needs. She also spoke of the airport solar system farm. It was brought up as revenue for the city but never followed through. She said it looks “bad” for the city. Mayor Cusat said these projects were not built into the budget as revenue because they were not certain to come in this year. Mundie said the mayor refused MRS’s money of $500,000. Mr. Rose said Hazleton can be fixed. He said he worked in Hazleton for a few years. He said the city thinks “outside the box” and come up with solutions to problems. Mope said the weigh scales were not included in the budget. Mayor Cusat said the administration is not at fault for the state not calibrating the scales.

Sosar said if the city proceeds with the 3-week study, it will show where the city will be going. He said it will guarantee a better insight if the city needs to utilize Act 47. Mr. Hottenstein agreed. He said he cannot guarantee what a lender would say with the EIP. Sosar said the DCED believed that council caused contention between the city council and the city administration. He said there are a lot of problems with no one taking responsibility. He said he wants to have the option to go in either direction. Mope said the council tried to re-finance the 2005 loan without getting the right rate. She said the city continues to borrow to get out of a hole. She said it is a temporary fix. She said the bleeding needs to stop. She is all for an emergency study. She wants oversight. She said financially, council has no power. Mr. Rose said the consultant would be here for the whole program. Mr. Hottenstein said the report is usually short and to the point. Cuozzo said this was done before and nothing was complied with. Mr. Hottenstein said there would be a blueprint to balance revenues and expenses for the city to follow. Mope said the city has no room for growth. Mope said the city does not have good paying jobs. She asked how to turn this around and stop it. Mr. Hottenstein said many third-class cities have major issues to be addressed. He said the city needs recommendations for action steps to take. Mope said one of the recommendations is a tax increase. She asked how to keep the population here when they cannot afford it. Mr. Rose said the EIP shows the city other avenues. Sosar said the other avenues offered by the state officials do not assist the local governments, but are left to “flounder”. Mr. Rose said the local government needs to figure out how to work with the tools the state offers. Mr. Rose said the contractor will come in and work with administration, department heads, and council to figure out what works best for the city. Mundie said there was a prior presentation held that was open to the public.

Gavio said the city staffing is not up to where it was. Sosar said the current census listing is between 25,000 and 26,000. He said he disagrees, and said the current population is between 30,000 and 32,000. Mope said there are only so many properties, in the city, to be purchased. She said a lot of properties are going up for sheriff sale and hurts the tax base. Mayor Cusat said the tax base increased, in 2016, by 3 million dollars. Mundie said there will be a resolution approved tonight for a RFP to obtain numbers for the study. Sosar said he is worried about meeting payroll in August. Mundie said Mr. Tom Pribula, city administrator, stated that payroll could be stretched to September 8th without paying any vendors. Mayor Cusat agreed. Cuozzo asked how long it would be to have the RFP results. Mr. Rose is recommending a quick turnaround and recommending to the mayor that the firms returning their proposals within one week. He said at that point, the council will need to hold a special meeting. Mundie and Sosar agreed. Sosar said council and administration are not “arch enemies”. He said everyone here wants what is best for the citizens of Hazleton. Mr. Rose will give the city a list of five firms and said maybe the city will receive three firm proposals. Mundie asked if anyone could bid on it. Mr. Rose said yes. Cuozzo asked what department decides who gets the contract. Mr. Rose said it is a combination. The council will choose and hire the firm but work with administration to pick the firm that meets the city’s expectations. Mundie asked what city was the last to come out of Act 47. Mr. Rose said it was Nanticoke. Mundie requested a copy of their last EIP. Mr. Rose said he will forward this to the city clerk. Mr. Hottenstein said under the EIP, the city selects the consultant. He said under Act 47, the state selects the consultant.          

Mundie thanked Mr. Rose and Mr. Hottenstein for coming to the council meeting. Mope said council and the mayor have their concerns and council and administration are on the same page.

Mr. Antonio Rodriquez asked what the city will be paying for the contractor. Mr. Rose said the city will be paying about $75,000.

Mr. Rose asked if the council will approve a resolution. Sosar said the council will go off the agenda and approve the resolution.

Mayor Cusat presented a resolution, not on the agenda, to sell an old city fire truck. He said the resolution has a reserve on it, to sell to another municipality, and to move it as fast as the council can. He said the reserve is more than $12,000. Mundie asked what municipality it is. Mayor Cusat said it is overseas. Mayor Cusat said the municipality approached the city for the fire truck. Mundie asked if the fire truck was offered locally. Mayor Cusat said the city “shopped around” locally. Sosar said there are two sister ciities, one in Italy and one in Poland. He said we need to do right to offer them any equipment. He said the city offered sporting and medical equipment to Italy in the past. Mundie asked what the urgency is on the resolution. Mayor Cusat said the fire truck needs to be shipped soon.    

Cuozzo asked about a recent LSA grant requested by the city. She said last year, the city applied for one million dollars and asked if the city received any money. Mayor Cusat said the city received $300,000 from the LSA grant. She said the city now wants to apply for $700,000. Mayor Cusat said the one million was needed at 30%. He said the city now has the $300,000 but the city is looking for the $600,000 match to reach the one million goal. Cuozzo asked the mayor if he received the one million in 2016. Mayor Cusat said the one million was not received in 2016. He said the $300,000 combined with the $680,000 will get the one million dollars needed.

Cuozzo asked who wrote the resolution. Mayor Cusat said Barry Isett & Associates or Community Development wrote the resolution. Mundie suggested to the mayor to change the wording in the fire truck resolution. Mayor Cusat suggested to vote to amend the resolution.

Courtesy of the Floor (ON AGENDA ITEMS ONLY): Mark Rabo, 1st St, Hazleton, said in regards to Ordinance 2017- 17-Ordinance Amending and Approving Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2017, council should consider the Blighted Property Review Committee to have money set aside for the Determination Certification hearings. He said this is the only source of money the Blighted Property Review Committee has for holding hearings. Sosar said it is a review of properties and would come under the administrative costs. He said there is no product that comes out of that. Mope said the committee could apply for funding, if needed. Sosar said the committee could ask for reimbursement for what they spend with limited quantities of money. Rabo questioned Ordinance 2017-18- Amending Chapter 203 (Solid Waste) of the Hazleton City Code- Placement of Garbage Containers. He asked if the solicitor took out the provision which states if the garbage containers are seen from the street and that code enforcement would not penalize the resident. Cuozzo also asked Atty. Logsdon if this was removed from the ordinance. Atty. Logsdon said he redrafted the ordinance using better language for the correct garbage container placement. Sosar said residents should use good common sense to dictate what the residents can do with the garbage containers. He said there will be all kinds of conditions. The residents should follow the law within reason. He said residents should not leave the garbage containers anywhere. Sosar said out-of-sight for placement of garbage containers is what the ordinance states. Sosar said this ordinance could be reviewed again. Rabo spoke of the Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant ordinance. He said the Wyoming St. grant should be applied in conjunction with the federal grant for roads and streets. Mope said council will share this with the solicitor and mayor to group the grants together. He said the RACP grant should be utilized in conjunction with the neighborhoods and not just the downtown.

Antonio Rodriquez, 718 Muir Ave., Hazleton, questioned when the garbage containers should be put out. Sosar and Mundie said the original ordinance states the resident could place their garbage containers out the night before. 

Dee Deakos, Hazleton, spoke of Ordinance 2017-18- Garbage Collection and Disposal, and said 2003-10 Fines to be Assessed has no fee listed in the ordinance. Atty. Logsdon said the fee is in the original garbage ordinance. Cuozzo asked what the fee is. He said he has to review the original ordinance for the actual fee. Deakos said she placed her garbage out, on a normal day, and it was not picked up by the garbage hauler. She asked if she would receive a fee. Sosar said to call the city garbage hauler or the Hazleton City Authority. Mope said with her call being logged, she is free of any fine.


Old Business:

ORDINANCES:                                                

Ordinance 2017-14                 Amending Chapter 118 (Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia) of the Hazleton City Code, Regarding Violations and Penalties for the Sale, Conveyance, or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia- (2nd READING)

Presented by Gavio. Seconded by Mope.

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


Ordinance 2017-14  Amending Chapter 118 (Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia) of the Hazleton City Code, Regarding Violations and Penalties for the Sale, Conveyance, or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia- (3rd READING)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Ordinance 2017-15  Amending Ordinance 2005-1 (Defining “Dangerous” or “Vicious” Dogs and Listing the Responsibilities of Owners or Keepers of such Dogs) – (2nd READING)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

            Mope said this ordinance needs to be addressed, even without vicious dogs. She said the dogs do not understand that they have a barrier to the property. She said the owner needs to have a leash on their dogs, for public safety.

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

Ordinance 2017-15  Amending Ordinance 2005-1 (Defining “Dangerous” or “Vicious” Dogs and Listing the Responsibilities of Owners or Keepers of such Dogs) – (3rd READING)                                            

Presented by Gavio. Seconded by Mope. 

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Ordinance 2017-17   An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 2016-17 and Approving the Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2017- (2nd READING)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Gavio.

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

Ordinance 2017-17  An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 2016-17 and Approving the Action  Plan for Fiscal Year 2017- (3rd READING)

Presented by Gavio. Seconded by Cuozzo.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


New Business: 

ORDINANCES: 

Ordinance 2017-18  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 Gavio. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

            Sosar said he wants to reiterate that common sense needs to be utilized in this particular ordinance. Sosar said anyone with ideas or suggestions can have them incorporated into the ordinance. Mundie agreed. Mope said this ordinance can be amended at a later date.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES ON 1ST READING


RESOLUTIONS:

Resolution 2017-59  Approving a Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant for Phase 1 of Alter Streets Phase 1 Streetscape Project

Presented by Gavio. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

            Mope said the wording needs to be changed. Cuozzo said the second paragraph needs to be deleted. Sosar said the amendment needs to read, second paragraph- “Now therefore, be it hereby resolved, that the applicant does hereby designate Jeffrey Cusat, the Mayor of the City of Hazleton, and city council, as the officials to execute all documents and agreements”. Mope said this resolution needs to be amended to include council. Sosar made a motion to amend. Mundie seconded this.

MOTION TO AMEND:

Presented by Sosar. Seconded by Mundie.

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

AS AMENDED:

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-60  A Resolution Requesting a Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant for the Wyoming Street Corridor- Pedestrian Accessibility and Safety Improvement Project

Presented by Cuozzo. Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

            Cuozzo moves to amend the resolution and strike the second paragraph, “Plus any other funds approved by city council”. Mundie motioned to amend. Mope seconded this.

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

AS AMENDED:

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

DISCUSSION ON RESOLUTION PRESENTED BY MAYOR CUSAT- RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE ADMINISTRATION TO SELL THE CITY OF HAZLETON FIRE DEPARTMENTS 1992 KME PUMPER ( FIRE TRUCK ).

Mayor Cusat said that this is a resolution with a reserve on it. Cuozzo asked Mayor Cusat who he is selling the fire truck to and how much. Mayor Cusat said the reserve is for more than $12,000. Mundie asked what municipality is receiving the fire truck. Highway Department Manager Frank Vito said it is going overseas to the Dominican Republic. Mundie asked if the truck was shopped around locally. Mayor Cusat said he “shopped” the fire truck around locally, i.e. to private entities, municipalities and coal companies.

Sosar said there are two sister cities- one in Italy, and one in Poland. He asked the mayor if this was offered to them. Mayor Cusat said no. He said this city has worked with the city of Hazleton in the past and are capable of shipping the fire truck to them. Vito said the Dominican Republic had contacted the city to purchase this truck. Sosar said if one of the sister cities knew of this fire truck they may be interested in purchasing the truck. Vito stated that council can contact them to see if they are interested.

Cuozzo asked if this fire truck is being sent to another country, does it have to go for bid. Atty. Logsdon said, under the third-class city code, because it is worth over $1,000, it needs to go to the highest bidder. He said one exception is if it goes to a federal government, commonwealth or municipality, it fits under the exception. He said if it goes to a municipality, it fits under the exception. Mundie asked even if it goes to another country. Atty. Logsdon said he sees no problem. Cuozzo said she does not agree with Atty. Logsdon. Mope said the city should reach out to the sister cities and if they do not reply, then council can authorize the sale of the fire truck.

Gavio asked if there is a time-frame for the resolution. Atty. Logsdon said a different version of the resolution was placed on the agenda but removed for this offer. He said council can hold off on the vote. Mundie agreed. Sosar asked if the 1992 fire truck is in good condition for another municipality to use it effectively. John Klein, local 507 President, said the fire truck is in good condition and still used by the fire department. He said the fire truck is still mechanically in good condition. Mundie asked why the city is replacing the truck. Mr. Klein said after a certain amount of years, the fire apparatus needs to be replaced. He said the frame had to be replaced a few years ago.

Sosar said there was old equipment from the old Hazleton General Hospital sent to the two sister cities. He said there was baseball and softball gear sent to them. He asked Mr. Klein if there was an urgency to act on the resolution. Klein said he could not answer that. He said the new fire truck should be arriving in September, 2017. Atty. Logsdon said the council has time to vote.


CUOZZO MADE A MOTION TO GO OFF THE AGENDA. MUNDIE SECONDED THIS.

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

Resolution 2017-61  Authorizing the Solicitation of Requests for Proposals for the Early Intervention Program Study for the City of Hazleton

Presented by Cuozzo. Seconded by Mope.          

On the Question:

            Council agreed that Resolution 2017-61 will be placed on the agenda. Cuozzo said council is seeking a RFP for the Early Intervention study. This is for the advertisement. Sosar said council should hold a special meeting at the end of July or beginning of August. He said council needs time to deal with this. He said the 3-week study needs to be done in August to make a decision.

            Sosar said if the RFP is put out today, it does not give people enough time to put proposals together. He said one-two weeks is enough time.

            Mundie said the next city council meeting needs to be moved up in August. He said the next city council meeting will be rescheduled from August 15th to August 8th, 2017.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


MOTION TO GO BACK ON AGENDA:

Mundie made the motion to go back on agenda. Mope seconded this.

This was approved by all council members.


Comments from the Audience: Mark Rabo, 1st St., spoke of the Early Intervention Program and said he has been through this before, when the plan was introduced in 2010, with Luzerne County. He said the blame was put on the commissioners and form of government with borrowing and spending problems. He said the EIP was done and the plan was followed. He said he does not believe the city is ready for Act 47. He said there needs to be an Early Intervention with a plan being followed by both the mayor and council that can be agreed upon, with the state overseeing. Rabo said there is a 3 million dollar property value increase. He said what about the 80 million dollar property loss since 2013. He said we are 77 million dollars in the hole. He said the residents are going to “foot the bill”. He said there are still tax claims that need to be sold. He said there is a $290,000 repayment from the Broad Street Business Exchange that needs to be repaid by Luzerne County.    

Bob Condrick, 770 Lincoln St., said he wanted to address Mayor Cusat or the police department. He said he heard nothing from the police department regarding neighborhood kids vandalizing his property. He also said the police chief offered a $1,500 reward but has not seen it. Rocco Petrone came to his house and said the kid does not go to school “down there”. He said he never saw any pictures from the police department. He feels he is getting the “round around”. 

Comments from Mayor: None

Comments from Junior Council: Joshua Narrow said Act 47 is utilized by a lot of municipalities because of their financial situation. Mundie agreed. He said a lot of municipalities go into Act 47 and stay there because of spending. He said Scranton is still in Act 47. He said Pittsburgh has just come out of Act 47.

Comments from Council: Gavio commended Josh Narrow and all Junior Council. He said they are a credit to the community and their families. He gave his condolences to LA Tarone’s family. He said he always had a kind word. Also, Cindy Donlan was a pioneer for lupus. Mope agreed. Mundie said she was a tireless advocate for lupus.

Cuozzo congratulated Josh Narrow. She said she will miss Josh terribly. She said Josh made a good point. She said that is one reason why Act 47 is a viable plan. She said there was $1.7 million left over in the EIT account as of December 31st. She said that is where he borrowed the $1 million as a TRAN note, in January, and paid it back in March, without a transfer. She said the residents don’t know where the money goes. She said she has no problem with the state overseeing this program. She said council could pass all the ordinances they want. She said the mayor does what he wants to do. She said they keep “burying us” and this is wrong.

Sosar said he knew LA Tarone when he started working in city government. He said he was a fair man and a Libertarian. He said he had a way about him. He said he had a famous voice. He spoke of Cindy Dolan. He said she was a positive person. He said she suffered from lupus and he salutes her. He is very concerned about the finances of the city. Sosar said he goes back to 1985 with people wanting control of the money. He said money is being spent, for all different reasons, and council not being notified of the expenditures. He said there is no control of the money. He said council has had their disagreements with the mayor in the past. He said it is not the form of government but the people running the government. He looks forward to the recommendations. Sosar said he has nothing to hide. In Act 47, the state will monitor how the city spends the money. He said council will take it serious.

Mope offered her condolences for all that passed. She said LA Tarone will be missed greatly. He was a vast knowledge of history for the city. She said Cindy Dolan had a positive attitude and her work with lupus was wonderful. She said there are differences of opinion with the city’s money and the budget.

She said these are the normal battles. She is approving the measure going into a RFP study. She said the recent PEL study was done very well. She said the study needs to be followed. She said she cannot force the administration to do this. She said Mayor Cusat has inherited a lot of problems. She said it is not on the mayor. She said it goes all the way down the line, i.e. borrowing and spending. She said the hole just gets deeper. She said there needs to be an agreement on a solution. She wants real oversight. Mope said the study was no good because it was not followed. She said the residents cannot afford a tax increase. She said the city cannot spend more than is brought in. She said if council and administration work as a group, then a solution will be agreed upon.

Mundie said he spoke with Mayor Cusat and the Deputy Director of DCED, Marita Kelley, who gave the council and administration their options. He said Mayor Cusat is spending money that council is not aware of. He said the mayor should be coming to the council with his expenditures.

Mundie said council received a termination letter for the Director of Office of Community Development, Fallon Fermin, from the Mayor’ office. He read the letter to the public. Cuozzo asked if she is being terminated or being moved to a different position. Atty. Logsdon said she is being removed as the head of the department. He said the mayor has to answer if she is being transferred to another position. Mope asked Atty. Logsdon what positions are open in the city. Atty. Logsdon said the mayor has to answer that question. Mundie said council is not in total agreement and possibly an executive session will be scheduled to discuss this matter. Mundie and Mope said there is a potential of legal litigation.  

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

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