2017-11-14 Council Minutes

MINUTES

HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR MEETING

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2017

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, November 14, 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 November 8, 2017 Regular Meeting were approved by Mundie, Mope, Sosar and Gavio.  Cuozzo abstained due to her absence from the meeting.

Presentations/Proclamations/Communications:  None

Bid Opening:  None

Courtesy of the Floor (ON AGENDA ITEMS ONLY): 

Donald Leshko, Hazleton Fire Chief, said he placed Resolution 2017-86 on the agenda to apply for LSA grants for fire station upgrades.  He said the request is for an identical grant that was requested in 2016 for water proofing of three buildings.  He said it was unsuccessful last year and needs to be resubmitted.  Leshko said Resolution 2017-87 is to replace a utility truck that is used to pull a Hazmat trailer.  He said it will also be used as a snow plow.  Sosar asked what the size will be of the vehicle.  He said it is an F-350, four-wheel drive, crew cab truck.  He said it will be purchased from the Costars program. Mope asked what the price is of the truck.  Leshko said the estimated price is $69,000.  He said the grants are ready pending approval from council and will be submitted within one week.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st St., Hazleton, asked Atty. Logsdon regarding wiretapping (audio and video recording council meetings) that was discussed, at the last meeting, by Police Chief Jerry Speziale.  Atty. Logsdon said under the Sunshine Act, all recordings are allowed.  Cuozzo asked Rabo if there is a problem with recordings.  Rabo said the Police Chief said the camera located next to the press is not authorized to record an open meeting violating the federal wiretapping laws.  Sosar said all tapings are permitted.  Rabo also spoke of Ordinance 2017-22 – Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2016 and 2017 for the CD money being utilized for the pumper truck.  He said since all the money is being utilized for the pumper truck and no money is being allowed for the Blighted Property Review Committee, he is tendering his resignation as Chairman of the Blighted Property Review Committee.   Mope said Joe Zeller, Director of Community Development, stated funding will be coming in.  Mope asked Zeller to make sure there is money for the Blighted Property Committee. Sosar said he will also put in his resignation.  He said the new council members can handle this. Sosar said he paid for the last two meeting advertisements in the newspaper.  He said Mayor Cusat is to blame for stopping the meetings from being held.  Rabo said this is going on for some time.  He said he has gone to the state committee meetings on blighted properties.  He said certain individuals want to see the city “go under”.  Mope said there should be money “ear-marked” for the committee.  Rabo said he will assist people who are helping the city in a positive way.  Cuozzo said in order to have a Redevelopment Authority, the city needs to have a Blighted Property Committee.  Mope agreed.  Mope said the city has done borrowing through the Redevelopment Authority.  Cuozzo said legally the Redevelopment Authority cannot be abolished.  Cuozzo asked Atty. Logsdon to explain this to Mayor Cusat.  Rabo stated under Section 12.1 of the Urban Redevelopment code, blighted properties cannot be removed without a Blighted Property Review Committee. 

Cuozzo asked Atty. Logsdon the status of the old Phoenix Building.  Atty. Logsdon asked council if they want bids taken out in December or for the January, 2018 meeting.  Cuozzo said it should be placed on the December meeting agenda. She said it should be placed out for redevelopment.  She said the only one that can do this is the mayor. She also asked about the property on Wyoming Street.  Mope said this is all potential income. 


BUSINESS AT HAND:  RESTAURANT LIQUOR LICENSE INTER-MUNICIPAL TRANSFER HEARING @ 5:30 P.M.

A public hearing for an application for the Approval of Inter-Municipal Transfer of Restaurant Liquor License #R-2543, for Giant Food Stores, LLC, for premises located at 70 S. Locust St., Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 18201, presently held in safekeeping by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, was held at 5:30 p.m. prior to the city council regular meeting. 

Old Business:

ORDINANCES:

Ordinance 2017-22   Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2016 and 2017 (2nd READING)

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Cuozzo asked what street this pertains to.  Mope said Laurel Street for the handicapped curbs. Cuozzo asked where the money is at from the pave cuts from Laurel Street. Atty. Logsdon said he will inquire about this.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY ON 2nd READING


Ordinance 2017-22  Modifying Consolidated Plan for CDBG Program Year 2016 and 2017  (3rd READING)

On the Question:

Cuozzo suggested council hold off voting on the 3rd reading.  She said council should find out how much money is available from the street cuts. Sosar suggested tabling the ordinance. Mundie asked Atty. Logsdon if this should be tabled or wait for the 3rd reading.  Atty. Logsdon said council just needs to pass the 2nd reading.

3rd READING FOR ORDINANCE ON HOLD


NEW BUSINESS:

RESOLUTIONS:

Resolution 2017-82  A Resolution of the City of Hazleton, County of Luzerne, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Approving the Transfer of Restaurant Liquor License #R-2543 into the City of Hazleton from the PA Liquor Control Board

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

Cuozzo asked Atty. Logsdon if council can legally vote for the transfer.  Atty. Logsdon said council, legally, does not have to vote in favor for the transfer.  He said council applies the standard the city uses in conformance with the health, welfare, safety and morals of the community.  Mope said the mayor stated if council did not approve the previous license that the city would be in litigation. 

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-86  A Resolution Requesting Local Share Account Funds for the City of Hazleton’s Fire Department Station Upgrades

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Cuozzo.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Resolution 2017-87  A Resolution Requesting Local Share Account Funds for the Purchase of One Multi-Purpose/Utility Vehicle for the Hazleton Fire Department

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Gavio.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Comments from the Audience:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton, spoke of the current blighted properties in the downtown.  She said the Old Pioneer Fire House has a broken window by the garage. She said the glass door, by the railroad tracks, is smashed.  She said a window, by Chestnut Street, is broken.  She said she has had $900 worth of damage to her car.  She said the city needs to maintain their own buildings.  She said she installed her own camera system.  She also said it took the city several months to repair a street light.  Mundie asked Deakos if she called the Code Department.  She said the city is aware of the blight.  Mope said there is also blight at the old VFW building on Broad Street.  She said the windows are all smashed out.  Mundie asked the city clerk to send a memo to the director of the Code Department regarding this.

Antonio Rodriguez, 718 Muir Ave., Hazleton, asked who approves members of the Hazleton Housing Authority.  Sosar said the mayor appoints to the authority and are responsible to the city and the administration.  He asked if the members are required to be a city resident.  Mundie said yes.  Rodriquez said a current member of the board lives in Sugarloaf.  Sosar said Rodriquez needs to speak to the mayor regarding this matter.

Bob Condrick, Lincoln Street, said the Hispanic youth are driving erratically on Lincoln Street.  He said the kids smashed his wall.  He said the kids trespass on his property.  He said one kid asked him what he was doing with a camera. He said he was punched by one of the kids. He said the kid’s stole the camera from him.  Condrick said he pulled his gun out.  He said the Hazleton Police Department arrived and took a report.  He said Detective Gallagher asked Condrick to identify the kids and asked him to look at photographs.  Condrick said since then the Hazleton Police Department has not followed up on this incident.

Gavio said this trouble seems to happen when school is dismissed.  Mope asked Atty. Logsdon to investigate this episode.  She suggested getting extra police protection after school.  Mundie said Atty. Logsdon will look into this matter.  Mundie said the mayor wants to raise property taxes. 

Mark Rabo, 1st St., Hazleton, said a recent article in the Standard-Speaker regarding the budget for the airport stated their debt was forgiven.  Cuozzo stated since she has been on council there has never been a forgiveness on this matter.  Sosar said this may have been done through executive order.  Mope said there has been a Health Officer elected through executive order. Rabo said the mayor does not have executive order power. Rabo said state law declares only the president and governor have executive order power.  Mope said there was $50,000 moved into the Code Department line item to pay the Health Officer’s salary.  She said without the city having a Health Officer where did the money go.  Rabo suggested to the new council members to collect on money owed to the city before raising taxes. 

Ann Marie Kaschak, Lincoln Street, Hazleton, said she called the Hazleton Area school district after shots were fired, from the students, from Mr. Condrick’s incident.  She said the school district informed her it is their responsibility until the child gets to their home.  She said the school districts security will not leave the school property. Mope said council was promised extra patrols once school is in progress.  Mope told Kaschak to contact the Hazleton Area school district.  Gavio said the school district’s policy states once the child leaves the township that it is not their responsibility.

Comments from Mayor: None- absent

Comments from Junior Council:  None

Comments from Council:  Cuozzo thanked Atty. Sean Logsdon for all his help with council’s inquiries.  She said regarding the video/audio taping of council meetings, it is a public meeting and all taping is allowed.  She said there is no privacy.  Atty. Logsdon said audio/video tapings are allowed under the Sunshine Act.  Mope said people have recorded the council meetings from the balcony.  Atty. Logsdon said the Police Chief needs to address this issue in depth.

Sosar said the police department needs to monitor the school intersections.  He said he has witnessed fights after school.  He wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mope thanked all residents for coming to the meeting.  She said she would like to be updated on the police involvement in these incidents.  She wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mundie said Mayor Cusat has released the proposed 2018 budget with a 1.5 million income.  He said there will be a battle with the Hazleton Sewer & Water Authorities if these are sold.  He said the mayor is only interested in spending money.  He said the mayor has also hired two new employees. He wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

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