2017-12-27 Council Minutes

MINUTES

HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR MEETING

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2017

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 5:00 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 December 5, 2017 & December 19, 2017 Regular Meetings were unanimously approved.

Presentations/Proclamations/Communications: Jack Mundie presented two letters of resignation.  Mark Rabo resigned from the HCA Board of Directors, effective December 26, 2017. John Nilles resigned from the HCA Water Department- Board of Directors, effective December 26, 2017.

Bid Opening:  None

Courtesy of the Floor (ON AGENDA ITEMS ONLY):  None

Old Business:

ORDINANCES:

Ordinance 2017-24 An Ordinance Providing for the Appropriation of Specific Amounts Estimated as Required for the Various Departments of the Government of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania for and during the Fiscal Year, Dating from January 1, 2018 and Ending December 31, 2018 (2nd READING)   

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Sosar. 

Roll Call:  Cuozzo-yes; Gavio-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes.

ORDINANCE PASSES 4-1 ON 2nd READING


Ordinance 2017-24 An Ordinance Providing for the Appropriation of Specific Amounts Estimated as Required for the Various Departments of the Government of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania for and during the Fiscal Year, Dating from January 1, 2018 and Ending December 31, 2018 (3rd READING)    

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call:  Cuozzo-yes; Gavio-no; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes.                  

ORDINANCE PASSES 4-1


Ordinance 2017-29  Re-Enacting Realty Transfer Tax Provisions Pursuant to Article XI-D of the Tax Reform Code of 1971, and Authorizing the Department of Revenue of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Determine, Collect, and Enforce the Tax, Interest, and Penalties (2nd READING)

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Mope,

MUNDIE MADE MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE (ORIGINALLY TABLED ON 12/19/2017).  Cuozzo seconded.

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

MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE PASSES

On the Question:

Cuozzo said the reason this ordinance was tabled was pending the city attorney’s investigating the questions involving the percentage it should be. She said Atty. Logsdon still does not have the answers.  Atty. Logsdon said he did look it up after the last city council meeting.  He said he knows there are numerous municipalities that do have the deviations from the 1% local transfer tax.  He said the only ones, in this county, are Hazleton, Kingston and Wilkes-Barre.  Atty. Logsdon stated that he had trouble finding who the specific authority was allowing this increase.  He said he is almost 100% sure that the city of Hazleton can do this.   He said Reading, Philadelphia, several municipalities in Allegheny county, Lackawanna county, and Mercer county have higher than   1% local tax.  Mundie asked if these municipalities have a rate that is as high or higher.  Atty. Logsdon said yes.    

Sosar said his only concern would be if this will be under the Home Rule versus the Default Commission Form or the Option Plan.  Sosar said Wilkes-Barre is under Home Rule.  Mope said   Scranton is under Home Rule.  Atty. Logsdon said the city of Hazleton is the only municipality, in the state, that is under Optional Plan B.  Atty. Logsdon said this should not cause a major problem for the City of Hazleton.  Sosar said the counties become irrelevant.  He said it would be the municipalities.  Sosar said an addendum should be made to state, “passage on condition.” He said this should be extended and researched further.  He said there have been a lot of changes that have occurred through the 2000’s and on.  He said what used to be option plans are now going to charter. Sosar stated the city of Hazleton is one of the few option plans that is left.  He told Atty. Logsdon to       research this. Atty. Logsdon agreed. Sosar said he would suggest making an amendment- “Pending approval for the action taken by the city solicitor’s review of said action”.

SOSAR MADE A MOTION TO AMEND.  CUOZZO SECONDED THIS.

Roll Call (On Amendment):  Cuozzo-yes; Gavio-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

AMENDMENT PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

Roll Call (On Ordinance):  Cuozzo-no; Gavio-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES 4-1 ON 2nd  READING


Ordinance 2017-29  Re-Enacting Realty Transfer Tax Provisions Pursuant to Article XI-D of the Tax Reform Code of 1971, and Authorizing the Department of Revenue of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Determine, Collect, and Enforce the Tax, Interest, and Penalties (3rd READING)

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call:  Cuozzo- no; Gavio-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES 4-1


Ordinance 2017-31  An Ordinance Approving the Sale of 2017 Tax Claims (2nd READING)

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Cuozzo.

On the Question:

Gavio said he will vote yes for approving the sale pending Atty. Logsdon’s written opinion.  He said  if council does not approve, it would be a suggestion for the mayor to approve.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY ON 2nd READING

Ordinance 2017-31 An Ordinance Approving the Sale of 2017 Tax Claims (3rd READING)

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Cuozzo.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Ordinance 2017-32   An addition to the Hazleton Administrative Code Regarding Decisions on Delinquent Taxes as related to the City Budget  (2nd READING)

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Gavio said he will vote yes pending Atty. Logsdon’s written opinion as who has the right to approve.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY ON 2nd READING

Ordinance 2017-32  An addition to the Hazleton Administrative Code Regarding Decisions on Delinquent Taxes as related to the City Budget  (3rd READING)

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Cuozzo.

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

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


RESOLUTIONS:  

Resolution 2017-93  A Resolution Requesting Local Share Account Funds for City Hall

Presented by Mope.  Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Sosar said he will leave this resolution “as is”.   He said he will not make any amendments.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


NEW BUSINESS:

RESOLUTIONS:

Resolution 2017- 97  A Resolution Authorizing the City of Hazleton to apply for a Luzerne County Local Share Account Grant on behalf of the Pennsylvania Theatre of Performing Arts

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

 Larry Walko, Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Theatre of Performing Arts, said they are planning to refurbish their building.  He said about eleven plays are performed a year.  He said it is all volunteer work.  Mundie asked if the funding is all from private donations.  Walko said they do a couple of fundraisers throughout the year, A Taste of The Theater and A Night at the Races. Walko said most of the revenue is from ticket sales.   Cuozzo asked if Walko owns the building.  Walko said yes.  Sosar asked Walko if there could be any communication between Penn State University and Lackawanna College to work with them in utilizing the PA Theatre of Performing Arts facility for graduations.  Sosar also said he would like to see a speaker at their establishment.  Walko said they have workshops and summer camps for children. Walko said there are college kids that perform plays at their center.  Walko said without a marquee, people do not know they exist.  Sosar said an LSA grant is important in obtaining funds.  Sosar suggested putting up a marque, through the windows, in front of the center, to “sell the place”.  Walko said they are sustainable, but need money for the capital improvement projects.  Mope said she is a proponent of the theater.  Mundie asked Walko if they are trying to obtain funding from First Federal.  Walko said they tried in previous years, but have been turned down.  Mundie said this is an avenue to keep pursuing.  Walko said a lot of ticket sales depends on obtaining the “rights” to the shows.  Mundie asked how much the shows cost.  Walko said, as an example, The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, costs $2,350.  Mope said it is very beneficial and keeps the children off the streets.  Mope said a lot of the theater participants make a career out of the theater.  Walko said they are trying to upgrade their heating system.  Gavio said it is a great organization.  Walko said they need more volunteers.

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

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


AT THIS TIME, MUNDIE SUSPENDED THE RULES TO PROPOSE A RESOLUTION.  SOSAR SECONDED THIS. 

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

MUNDIE MOTIONED TO APPOINT JOHN NILLES AS SUCCESSOR APPOINTEE FOR THE UNEXPIRED TERM OF MARK RABO OF THE HCA WHICH EXPIRES 1ST MONDAY OF 2021. 

Mundie asked Atty. Logsdon if there needs to be public comment.  Atty. Logsdon said yes.

Mundie stated Mark Rabo still has three years in his term.  He said John Nilles is taking Mark’s spot.  Mundie said the new city council members will appoint a member for John Nille’s vacancy.  Sosar said it will not affect what will happen next year.  He said it will be the new city council members to decide.

Roll Call:  Cuozzo-yes; Gavio-no; Mope-yes; Sosar- yes; Mundie-yes  

RESOLUTION PASSES 4-1


Comments from the Audience:  None.

Comments from Mayor: None- absent.                                              

Comments from Junior Council:  None.

Comments from Council:  Gavio stated he does not agree with the council’s or the mayor’s budget.  He stated he wants to talk with the new council members to get their views.  He wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Cuozzo wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Sosar wished everyone a Happy New Year.  He said he will have a few more comments to make on January 2, 2018 at the City Council Inauguration.  He said he knows everyone will try their best. He said he did enjoy his four years as a city council member.  He wished the new council members luck.

Mope thanked everyone for their service to the city- Jack for all his years, David for his term and past term, and Grace for her one year on council.  She said she hopes she will have the same privilege with the new city council members.  She wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Mundie thanked the city’s voters for their confidence in him. He wished the new city council members the best.  He said he will fight Mayor Cusat if he tries to sell the Hazleton City Water Authority. He said he is against selling both the Hazleton City Water & Sewer Authorities. He said he will help the water authority survive. He said he will still fight “for what is right” for the city of Hazleton.  He said sometimes the city needs to look at any spending cuts where it will not affect people. He said sometimes it is not always an increase in taxes.   

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