2018-11-14 Regular Meeting Minutes

MINUTES

HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR MEETING

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 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:  Barletta-present; Colombo-present; Mope-present; Perry-present; Gavio-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings:  None

Presentations/Proclamations/Communications:  Greg Griffin, 42 Noyes Ave., Swoyersville, PA, spoke of the Opioid epidemic. He said he is part of a committee who has lost family members to the drug epidemic.  He stated, in Luzerne County, over 400 citizens have died, in four record years, from receiving drugs from a drug dealer.  He said over 400 families will be affected forever. In the past four months, his committee has met with County Council, Wilkes-Barre Council, a congressman, state senator, state representative, criminal justice professor, clergy, assistant district attorney, two police chiefs, two newspapers, coroners office, attended a Wilkes-Barre crime watch meeting, and met with Luzerne County District Attorney that heads the drug task force.  He said the Luzerne County coroner stated that 2018 will Be another record year of deaths.  A Wilkes-Barre community relations police officer stated, in south Wilkes-Barre, people are being put in plastic bags on a regular basis. Griffin stated Luzerne County is ranked sixth in the state of Pennsylvania for drug deaths. He said Luzerne County’s drug deaths are four times higher than New York City. He said Pennsylvania is fourth in the nation for drug deaths.  He said $5,000 people died in Pennsylvania in 2017, and 72,000 nationwide.

Griffin stated there are two new deadly drugs- Fentanyl and Carfentanil.  He said both are at least 50 times stronger than Heroin.  He said they are mainly manufactured in China, shipped to Mexico and Canada, mixed with Heroin, and then transported to Luzerne County.  Griffin said everyone knows it is wrong to use drugs.  He asked about these drug dealers who are coming from outside and ruining families and communities.  Griffin asked why they cannot be stopped.  He said the demand is here, but these new drugs are so powerful.  He said trying them once can cause addiction.  He said the youth and people seeking treatment are sought out by these dealers.  Griffin said treatment programs are not long enough due to monetary costs and the addicted are released too soon.  He said the police departments need more resources.  He said the drug dealers have plenty of funds due to their obscene profits.  He said, just to hold the line, the Luzerne County drug task force needs to be provided the resources they need to prevent this. He said Hazleton is a member of the Luzerne County drug task force. He said he has spoken with Assistant District Magistrate Joe Zola, who is in charge of the Luzerne County drug task force.  He said he knows there is help needed.  His committee has spoken to Luzerne County Council and Wilkes-Barre Council.  He is strongly asking all three councils join in an urgent request to Senators Casey and Toomey. He suggested calling Judge Zola to see what he needs.  He is asking to request federal assistance the Luzerne County drug task force needs.  He said it is a creeping epidemic that strikes in living rooms and bedrooms. He said, up until now, the police department and the coroner’s office saw this every day.  He said it is too big, and getting bigger.  Griffin said city council and administration is the government to the people of Hazleton.

He said the rest of the state is in horrible condition- Allegheny county, York county and Philadelphia county. He said Ohio is being overrun.  Griffin stated this is very dangerous.  He said a young person who makes this mistake will not wake up.

Daniel Lynch, city administrator, gave the City of Hazleton’s 2019 budget presentation.  Lynch said he would like to give the administration’s proposed 2019 budget. Lynch said he will give this as a verbal presentation.  He stated as the City of Hazleton continues to work toward financial stability through the ACT 47 program, the 2019 budget was prepared with planned compliance in mind. The budget seeks to address continued financial issues that have plagued the City and to prevent any further development of a growing deficit within the City.  Lynch said the City continues to be plagued by stagnant or falling revenues and a declining total assessed property value which has declined approximately 5% over the previous five years. Also, in accordance with ACT 47, this budget calls for no additional hired positions, though, the City was able to obtain grants that would allow for additional personnel and may continue to apply for such grants.  The overall proposed tax increase is .33 mills with .17 mills to the General Fund, and .16 mills to the Debt Servicing Fund.  Lynch stated .10 mills of the Debt Servicing Fund is to cover recalculations of the Debt Servicing millage at a proper collection rate, and .06 mills to cover a potential 2018 Lease Revenue Note for the City. 

Lynch said in regards to General Fund Revenues, real estate taxes, the City’s total assessed value, again, declined slightly to a total of $968,852,900.  The total assessed value has declined approximately 5% over the previous five years.  Due to this continued decline and increased operating expenses, the general fund budget calls for an increase of .17 mills to a total of 4.63 mills.  This general fund increase represents a 3.8% increase in general fund real estate taxes.  The median assessed value of a home, in the City, is $75,000.  An increase of .17 mills represents a $12.75 increase.

Delinquent taxes are collected through the county’s agent, Northeast Revenue.  The 2018 budgeted figure of $570,000 for this collection will likely experience a shortfall resulting in a retraction in budgeted revenue for 2019 to $487,000, a decrease of $83,000.

SPECIAL AND 511 TAXES

Line items for the majority of these taxes remain largely unchanged with the largest change affecting the earned income tax rate.   In accordance with the City’s ACT 47 plan, the EIT resident tax rate would be increased by 0.4% (pending final adoption) and an additional 0.4% reassigned to general fund from the ACT 205 fund.  This represents a major increase to this revenue line of $3,040,000.  The majority of these funds will be transferred back to the ACT 205 fund in order to ensure that the city is able to pay the minimum municipal obligation for its pension.  However, it will allow the City to have better control over its cash position, especially later in the calendar year.

The city will also complete an audit for its mercantile tax, however, mercantile tax is trending toward a significant shortfall in 2018, and therefore, any increase brought by an audit will be offset by a retraction in projected revenue.  Overall, the mercantile tax is budgeted for a $40,000, or 6.7% increase.

LICENSES AND PERMITS

The 2019 budget calls for an increase of $96,482 in license and permit revenue or an increase of about 14% over the previous year. The major drivers include increased revenue for building and alteration permits and a projected RFP for towing services in the City of Hazleton.

REMAINING REVENUE

Remaining revenue sources in the city’s budget remain largely static without an increase from 2018 budgeted figures.

GENERAL FUND EXPENSES

Major cost drivers across all departments include health insurance costs, which will rise 11.1% in 2019. Total health insurance costs across all departments total $1,914,912 and an 11.1% increase represents a total cost increase of $212,555.  The total operating expenses for the general fund after factoring out the transfer back to the ACT 205 account total is $10,736,001.  An increase of $236.510 from the total 2018 expenses or an increase of 2.25%.

COUNCIL AND CLERK

Council line item expenses remain unchanged form 2018.  City Clerk calls for an increase of $10,305 or 18%.  The majority of this cost increase is in increased advertising costs for running legal ads, as necessary.  Council and clerk budget represents 1.2% of general fund expenditures.

EXECUTIVE

Executive budget calls for an increase of $8,358 or 7% from 2018 figures. The executive budget represents 1.2% of general fund expenditures.

FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT

The total financial administration budget in 2019 decreases to $37.567 to a total of $307,545.  This decrease of 11% can be attributed to lower salaries, reduction in the number of employees requiring healthcare benefits, and insurance savings.  The Financial Administration department represents 2.9% of general fund expenses.

BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS MAINTENANCE

Buildings and ground maintenance costs are projected to decrease $7,904 or -3% buildings and grounds maintenance represents 3.4% of general fund expenses.

POLICE

Budgeted police cost increases in 2019 are $4,866,880.  This represents an increase of 7% from 2018 figures and consists primarily of increased health insurance costs and projected increases to salaries.  The police budget represents 45.5% of general fund expenditures. 

FIRE DEPARTMENT

Budgeted Fire Department increases in 2019 total is $67,163 or 3%.  The increases are attributed to increased overtime projections, salaries, and longevity.   The fire department budget represents 20.6% of general fund expenditures.

PARKING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT

Collectively, these two department’s expenses will remain largely flat in 2019.   The parking budget has an increase of $24,653 while the code department budget reduction of $22,537.  Collectively, these two departments represent $594,916.00 or a total of 5.5% of the City’s general fund expenses.

PUBLIC WORKS AND PUBLIC WORKS GARAGE

The Public Works budget calls for an increase of $46,230 or 4%, while the garage budget calls for an increase of $8,274 or a 3% increase.  Collectively, the Public Works and Garage budget account for $1,738,067 of the City’s expenditure budget or 16.2% of the City’s expenditures.

OTHER EXPENSES AND CONSIDERATIONS

Legal costs, engineering costs, tax collection costs are marginal to decreases in total budget with tax collection costs being a direct reflection of what the City expects to collect.  Increased revenue collection means increased tax collection costs.  As mentioned, previously, the City will transfer out revenue to the ACT 205 fund by the end of the year in the amount of $2,965,744 making the “true” operating budget of the City $10,736,005.  A total cost increase of 2.25%.

TAX BILL ANALYSIS

The Median home value, in the City, is $75,000.  With a total projected millage in 2019 of 6.18 mills, a median tax bill for a City taxpayer would be $463.50  This bill is broken down into three separate funds as follows:

Recreation-.09 mils which would be $6.95.

Debt Servicing- 1.46 mills which would be $109.39.

Further breaking down Debt Servicing is as follows:

$39.38 to the City’s 2005 General Obligation Note.

$58.30 to the City’s 2015 Lease Revenue Note.

$7.22 to the City’s 2017 State Emergency Note.

$4.48 to the City’s 2018 Lease Revenue Note (pending passage)

General Fund- 4.63 mills which would be $347.16

Further breaking down the General Funds is as follows:

$18.40 to council/clerk/executive/administration

$11.80 to buildings and grounds

$157.96 to Police Department

$71.51 to Fire Department

$19.09 to Parking/Code Departments

$56.24 to Public Works/Garage

$12.16 to all other City expenses (Engineering/legal/tax collection)

Jessica Medina, Administration Assistant, and the translator for City Hall spoke of her responsibilities. She said she is responsible for translating all the administration and city forms.


Bid Openings:  2018 -2019 Proposal & Lease Agreement- Snowplow Truck and Driver-                   

  1. TRUCK(S) with 10 FT. 2-way plow

  2. LOADER(S) with 2 Cu. Yd. Bucket

3. 600T / HR. SNOWBLOWER(S) unit/package

M & J Excavation, Inc., Bloomsburg, PA.

  • Chevy Model 7500, 2006. Hourly rate for bid is $95.00/hr.
  • Sterling Model 7500, 2003. Hourly rate bid is $95.00/hr.
  • 2001 RD 688 Mack with three axles. Hourly rate for bid is $100.00/hr.
  • 2014 DL 250 Duscon. Hourly rate for bid is $150.00/hr.

        Insurance coverage information, bid proposal and contract are included.

Franzosa Trucking, Inc. Hazle Township, PA.

  • 1996 International Model 2500. Hourly rate for bid is $90.00/hr.
  • 1994 International Model 2500. Hourly rate for bid is $90.00/hr.
  • 1996 Model 2500 International. Hourly rate for bid is $90.00/hr.
  • 2002 IT 28 Caterpillar. Hourly rate for bid is $120.00/hr.
  • 2003 WA Model 250 Komatsu. Hourly rate for bid is $120.00/hr.
  • 2002 I7 28 Caterpillar. Hourly rate for bid is $120.00/hr.
  • 2014 S60 Bobcat Skid Steer. Hourly rate for bid is $125.00/hr.

        Insurance coverage is listed with bid proposal and contract included.

Hazleton Public Transit Tree Cutting Project- New Bus Garage- at the Hazleton Regional Airport

  • Yannuzzi, Inc., Hazleton, PA.  Bid- $27,900 including labor, bond and insurance. There is a non-collusion affidavit certification included.  There was no BID bond included.
  • Fares Farhat General Construction, LLC, Halifax, PA.  Bid- $28,765.43 including materials, bond, labor and insurance.  BID bond was included.

All bids were read by Atty. Sean Logsdon


Courtesy of the Floor (ON AGENDA ITEMS ONLY):  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton, spoke of the 2019 budget presentation.  She said there is a decrease in the Code Department.  She said the City does not do enough code enforcement.  She said there are a lot of illegals in the City. She also spoke of the loan documents.  She said the Redevelopment Authority is financing this. She said the Redevelopment Authority was shut down a few years ago. Deakos said it was reopened, but is not sure if it was done properly.  She asked if it is an authority or a branch of the city.  Deakos stated the audits include the Redevelopment Authority in the City’s audit.  She said the Hazleton Water & Sewer Authority’s and the Parking Authority’s are not included in the audits.  She said the $1,085,000 is a lot of money for the City’s loan.  She said the two balloon payments, at the end of the loan, are almost equal to the loan.  She said this loan “pushes” it off to the next two mayors.  She said the City had its chance to sell the delinquents.  Deakos said if these are sold every year, there would be regular income coming in. She said this is poor financing.  She said by borrowing, the City is not being responsible for its expenses. Deakos stated administration is not looking into cutting expenses.  Deakos suggested giving City employees a reward for ways to save money. She said the Code Department can be the biggest money maker in the City.  She said there are a lot of illegal apartments which creates a parking and density problem.  She said this is due to the increase in the City’s population.  She said this is not fair to the taxpayers.  

Mark Rabo, 1st Street, Hazleton, said the Redevelopment loan is a replacement for the sale of delinquent taxes.  He said the delinquent taxes are collected through Northeast Revenue.  He asked if the City has a contract with Northeast Revenue for the City’s delinquent taxes.  He said he will issue a right-to-know request.  Rabo said Lynch stated the figure was $570,000 for this collection which is a reduction.  Rabo said he didn’t know of any delinquent taxes to go down.  He said they either stay the same or increase.  He said for the Redevelopment loan, the City is paying $80,000 for the closing, and $50,000 for the sale.  Rabo said he obtained the contract with Northeast Revenue for the collection of the delinquent taxes.  He gave a copy of this contract to the city clerk to distribute to all city council members.  He stated the contract states, “Northeast Revenue in Luzerne County shall share statutory commission in the amount of 5% as follows: Northeast Revenue shall retain the statutory commission of 5% levied on municipal and school taxes.”  He said it also states, “Northeast Revenue will be authorized to charge delinquent tax payers a fee in the amount of $30.00 for the preparation and filing of each municipal lien.”  In addition, Northeast Revenue will remit to Luzerne County a fee of 5% of the delinquent taxes which represent the cost of the collection under the municipal lien law.  Rabo asked if the City is saving money, or is it favoritism.

Rabo spoke of the increase in the EIT tax.  He asked if this will be included in the 2019 budget.  Atty. Logsdon stated it is for one year. Rabo said this would be included in the 2018 budget.  Atty. Logsdon agreed.

Dan Lynch spoke in response to the residents comments.  He stated he wants everyone informed of all information.  He spoke to Ms. Deakos’s statement of a reduction in the Code Department.  He said there is no reduction in the City’s operation in the Code Department.  He stated the reduction is in the contracted services line item.  He said the City is not scaling back in the operation of people doing code enforcement. 

He spoke of the delinquent tax sale.  He said the City is collecting money for the selling of delinquent taxes.  He said the total net collectible delinquent taxes, in the beginning 2018, was $577,000.  He said it was too high, and could not be collected all at one time. He said the original draft budget was in the amount of $470,000.  He said it was changed to $570,000.  Lynch said the City is expecting another check.  He said this is not unrealized revenue.  He said it is like a payday loan.  He said this is considered a loan.  Lynch said MRS, on their website, states they do not collect taxes and does not change the collection process, and has no interaction with the delinquent taxpayers.  He stated MRS just purchases the delinquent taxes that are owed to the City. He said Northeast Revenue has a contract with Luzerne County, and not the City.  He stated Luzerne County has since contracted with Northeast Revenue, at a substantial rate, for the collection of delinquent taxes. He stated the City collects at a 95% rate. He said there are three options to address the deficit problem and they are:  1. To reduce costs in order to have a surplus budget.  2.  Increase taxes.  3.  Financing plan.  Lynch said the EIT tax increase does not affect the operating budget.  He said this will go back to the pension fund budget.  He said this was recommended in the ACT 47 plan.  Lynch said the City could have raised taxes to alleviate the deficit in “one shot”, but would have been considerably higher than what was proposed now. 

Lynch said if the City chooses to sell or monetize the delinquent taxes, Northeast Revenue is contracted with Luzerne County. Lynch said it is like a payday loan. He said it does not represent ungained or unrealized revenue that would help the City address its deficit.

Gavio said city council and administration are in weekly meetings with PEL.  Rabo said the residents are not aware of this, and it is not transparent.  Gavio said the City is in weekly meetings regarding the City’s finances.


Old Business:                                                                  

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2018-31    An Ordinance Amending Section 2 of Ordinance 2018-6, to Increase the Percentage of Tax Imposed on the Earned Income of Both Residents and Non-Residents of the City of Hazleton (2nd READING)

Presented by Perry.  Seconded by Gavio.

Roll Call:  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-no; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.   

ORDINANCE PASSES ON 2nd READING


Ordinance 2018-31    An Ordinance Amending Section 2 of Ordinance 2018-6, to Increase the Percentage of Tax Imposed on the Earned Income of Both Residents and Non-Residents of the City of Hazleton (3rd READING)

Presented by Colombo.  Seconded by Gavio.

Roll Call:  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-no; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.   

ORDINANCE PASSES


Ordinance 2018-39     An Ordinance Amending Ordinance Nos. 82-10, 82-14, 94-7 and 2003-7, regarding the Setting of Permit Fees for Cutting, Opening, or Excavating within the Cartways of the Public Highways within the City of  Hazleton (2nd READING)

Presented by Barletta.  Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

Barletta stated to make an amendment to the GIS documentation fee.  Barletta said it is listed as $15.00. She said it was never passed, and failed at the last meeting.  She said it needs to be reduced to $5.00.

Motion to Amend:

Presented by Barletta.  Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call:  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-yes; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.

MOTION TO AMEND PASSES


Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Gavio.

Roll Call (As Amended):  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-yes; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.

ORDINANCE PASSES, AS AMENDED, ON 2nd READING


Ordinance 2018-39   An Ordinance Amending Ordinance Nos. 82-10, 82-14, 94-7 and 2003-7, regarding the Setting of Permit Fees for Cutting, Opening, or Excavating within the Cartways of the Public Highways within the City of  Hazleton (3rd READING)

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Colombo.

Roll Call:  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-yes; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.

ORDINANCE PASSES AS AMENDED


Ordinance 2018-41    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 One Million Eighty-Five Dollars (1,085,000) 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 Authoring, 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 (2nd READING)

Presented by Barletta.  Seconded by Gavio.

On the Question:

Barletta asked what the borrowing is going towards.  Lynch said the borrowing is to address the running deficit in the City’s finances. He said there is a projected deficit, in 2018, of $200,000.  He said carrying, into 2018, was $550,00- $600,000.  He said there is still $370,000 owed to the ACT 205 account.  Lynch said this is a less expensive way to address the deficit. Barletta said a recent e-mail from Lynch, a response from a right-to-know, stated there was a $40,000 deficit in 2017.  He said this amount is comparing revenue and expenses.  Lynch said the last payroll and workers compensation payable was not made in 2017.  He said a balance sheet also needs to be looked at for the correct amount. 

Perry asked how the amount was determined.  Lynch said it was determined on the City’s need with an emphasis on not “shorting it”.  Perry asked why the City could not borrow enough as not to raise any taxes.  Lynch said the City cannot borrow forward.  Lynch said the amount is very accurate. Mope stated the City is borrowing to cover the deficit and the pension fund because the complete payment of $1,500,000 was not made.  Lynch said the ACT 205 fund is still owed $370,000.

Roll Call:  Barletta-no; Colombo-yes; Mope-no; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES 3-2 ON 2nd READING 


Ordinance 2018-41    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 One Million Eighty-Five Dollars (1,085,000) 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 Authoring, 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 (3rd READING)

Presented by Gavio.   Seconded by Colombo.

Roll Call:  Barletta-no; Colombo-yes; Mope-no; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES


RESOLUTIONS

 None


New Business:

ORDINANCES

None


RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2018-75    Awarding Contract for 2018-2019 Winter Emergency Snow Removal Equipment

On the Question:

Barletta asked Atty. Logsdon if this needs to be tabled.  Atty. Logsdon said yes.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Gavio.  Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call (Motion to Table):  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-yes; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes

RESOLUTION TABLED


Resolution 2018-78    Recommendation of Award for Hazleton Public Transit Tree Cutting Project New Bus Garage at Hazleton Regional Airport

Presented Barletta.  Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Mope asked if the proposal was chosen.  Atty. Logsdon stated he and Mr. Ralph Sharp reviewed the proposals.  He said the lowest bidder is Yannuzzi, Inc.  Mr. Sharp said PENN DOT has contacted him. Mr. Sharp said there is an issue with Indiana bats at the site.  Sharp stated the trees can only be cut down between November 15th  and March 31st.  He said come spring, bids will go out for site work and preparation for the building site.  Mope asked if there is a bid bond required. Sharp said he believes this is required, and will contact them to let them know there is a bid bond required.  Mope said there is a time constraint, and this needs to be passed.  Gavio agreed.

Roll Call:  Barletta-yes; Colombo-yes; Mope-yes; Perry-yes; Gavio-yes.

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY


Comments from the Audience:  Fred Kudlick, 28 Laurel Hill, Hazleton, said his house is on Stockton Road and Broad Street, next to the Elk’s Lodge on Broad Street. He thanked all the members of city council and Police Chief Speziale for their cooperation and time in investigating, and trying to alleviate, the constant loud noises emanating from the Norfolk Southern Train engines located at the Hazleton Rail yard.  He said he has spoken to members of city council, this past weekend, and Police Chief Speziale regarding the loud noises the train engines make.  Kudlick stated the loud noises started 11/9/2018 at 4 p.m. until 11/11/2018 at 11 p.m.  He said this is 50+ plus hours, constant, with no let up.  He said the problem existed weeks prior, and could not sleep for several weekends.  He said the only time he has peace is when the trains travel to Lehighton, Monday thru Thursday.  He said the noise starts at 7 a.m. on the weekdays.  He said he is asking city council, council attorney Logsdon, and Speziale to write up an ordinance to stop this loud noise and constant idling emanating from the Norfolk train station.  He said he spoke to all of city council members except Miss Barletta.

Gavio stated he has Atty. Logsdon working on this matter.

Atty. Logsdon said he deals with all of the railroads in the area.  He said with drafting a local ordinance that would deal with this noise, the railroads are regulated by the federal government.   He stated the federal government delegates some of its powers to the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission. He said he would file an informal complaint with the PUC, and then would assign an investigator that will speak to the railroad and to Mr. Kudlick.  He said then they could alleviate the problem. He said he will contact the PUC, and see what they can do.  Kudlick asked how long this will take.  Atty. Logsdon said the PUC are generally “pretty quick” in their response. 

Colombo said he and Brian Mandak met and spoke with the railroad company.  He was told that the problem is not the engine.  The problem is a leak going back up into the horn on top of the unit, causing the whistling and noise.  He said he and Assistant Fire Chief Brian Mandak were promised this situation would be corrected.

Kudlick said the problem is still not corrected, and thanked all for their considerate help.

Mark Rabo, 1st Street, Hazleton, stated if there is no contract between the City of Hazleton and the tax collector as it is a professional service, he said it is not “kosher” for having someone collecting delinquent taxes that is not contracted with the City. He suggested the city solicitor looking into this matter.

He spoke of the parking and code issue.  Rabo said he agrees with Ms. Deakos in the conversions.  He said he doesn’t understand why the Planning Commission is not meeting on these subjects.  He said regarding parking, he asked if this is included in the 2019 line items for parking and subsequent towing mentioned in the Standard Speaker by Mayor Cusat.  Lynch said towing is included, but parking is not.  Rabo asked if the towing companies have been notified that this is being “bidded-out”. He asked if the vacant property ordinance would be included in the budget. He said this is a good source of revenue.  He suggested city council to look into.  Rabo asked about the Hazleton Airport fees.  He stated the last time the fees were looked into being increased was in the late 1990’s.  He said he never heard a report of uncollected fees or tie-down fees. 

Mope asked Lynch about a separate budget for the airport.  She said, in previous years, this was always attached to the back of the budgets.   She asked if city council will receive this budget. Mayor Cusat told Mope this report is on Page 41-43 in the 2019 budget.

Rabo said a non-producing asset should not be paid for by the taxpayers.

Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton, asked if the residents will get a copy of the 2019 budget. Lynch said it will be available for inspection. Deakos asked what the city portion is for the Hazleton Airport for the public transit garage project.  Mr. Sharp said it is being funded 100% by the state.

Dave Sosar, 338 West 2nd Street, Hazleton, said he saw the resolution for the bids, coming in, for snow removal.  He said there is a storm on the way.  He asked if the snow ban is going into effect this year.  Mayor Cusat said yes.  He suggested the local new stations announce the snow ban.  Sosar said the residents need to be ready for this storm.

Ralph Sharp, Director of Hazleton Transportation Department, spoke of his project at the Hazleton Municipal Airport.  He stated he will be paying the airport a land lease.  He said for the size of the building, he said the payment will be about $34,000/year to have the building on this land.  Sharp said the land leases increase 1% each year for hangar spaces.  He said he is working on filling the vacant PA State Police hangar to make up the lost revenue.  He said fuel sales make up a lot of income from the airport.  Sharp said a company from Canada, a surveyor, will be basing them self out of the Hazleton Airport, for one month.  He said they own a DC-3, jet-propelled prop plane.  Sharp stated this plane uses 1,000 gallons of jet fuel each time it flies.  He said the fuel will be purchased through the Hazleton Municipal Airport.

Perry stated the Hazleton Municipal Airport is the only self-sustaining airport in Pennsylvania.

Sharp agreed.  He said there are no City funds used.  Sharp said any funds that are used are only from what the airport receives.

Comments from Mayor:  Mayor Cusat said if there is 1 inch or more of snow, the snow ban will be in effect, and for residents not to park on red or yellow sign side of the street.

He wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Comments from Council:   Colombo asked Mayor Cusat if there is 1 inch or more or snow how the residents will know of the snow ban.  Mayor Cusat said this information is sent out to the media. 

He said the snow ban is in effect, each year, from November 1st –March 31st.

Gary Perna said WYLN is already scrolling the snow ban information on their station.

Barletta stated with the recent issues with the bid openings, council has instructed the city clerk to secure and tape the bid openings when she receives them.  She also spoke of the recent Parking Authority employee being hit by a car.  Mayor Cusat said the employee has returned to work and is okay.  He said there were a few pedestrians hospitalized.

Barletta said she has received several calls regarding school buses parked on the City’s streets.  She asked if the city solicitor can send a letter to them not to park after school hours.  She said there is a city code that states there is a certain weight the school buses must be to be parked on City streets. Mayor Cusat said some employees do drive these buses to their homes.

She commended the recent Hazleton Recycling event.  She asked Mayor Cusat how much money was brought in for this event. Lynch said the vendor is paid $15,000, and the county reimburses the City. Lynch said the net cost, to the City, is $5,000. He said it is a great service to the City. Mayor Cusat said it cost $17,000 to remove the equipment, $10,000 from County Recycling, and received $7,000 for the day.  He said the City broke even for this event.  He said the Hazleton Water Authority is very good with paying for the advertising.  He said the residents were happy with the outcome.

Perry asked about the 5.6% increase, noted in the Standard Speaker, and a $25.00 fee with a $75,000 assessed home value.  He stated Lynch said there would be a 3.8% increase and $12.75 increase in his presentation.  Lynch said this is specific to the general fund.  He said the newspaper article reflected the total.  Lynch said it is .17 to the general fund and .16 to debt service.

Perry wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mope thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.  She wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Gavio spoke of the recent borrowing.  He said this has been done, in the past, for immigration. He said the borrowing is being done to give the residents some relief.  He said this is not to burden the taxpayers.  He said the EIT tax increase is enough for them. 

He wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Gavio stated the Hazleton City Council meeting on November 28, 2018 is canceled.  He said the next city council meeting will be on December 5th, 2018.

Comments from Junior Council:  None.

Adjournment:  Gavio motioned to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned

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