LATROBE CITY COUNCIL
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2013
Mayor Griffin called the Regular Monthly Meeting of Latrobe City Council to order at 6:30 P.M.
Mayor Griffin asked all to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The City Secretary read Roll Call:
Fabian Giovannagelo - present
Richard Jim - present
Rosemarie Wolford – present
Michael Skapura - present
Deputy Mayor Kenneth Baldonieri - present
Robert Forish - present
Mayor Barbara Griffin - present
Also present were the following: Alexander J. Graziani, City Manager; James E. Kelley, Solicitor; Joseph Bush, Public Works Director; Ann Powell, Code Enforcement Officer; John Brasile, Fire Chief.
Mr. Baldonieri moved to adopt the October 14, 2013 minutes, second by Mr. Jim. Vote 7-0.
Total Expenses $472,815.63
Total Payroll 135,940.22
GRAND TOTAL $608,755.85
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Mrs. Wolford moved to approve the reports and bills presented for payment, second by Mr. Baldonieri. Vote 7-0.
Mr. Skapura stated we need to change our system so when we go over budget council should be aware before paying invoices.
Jim Gebicki of 821 Chestnut Street stated he is here about issues with parking tickets and the decision the City Manager made to go ahead with a program not approved by Council. Mr. Gebicki referred to a Tribune Review article, after the Haas’s Parking Study was complete, that said not to forgive tickets. Mr. Gebicki said at that time the City Manager said nobody will dismiss tickets. Mr. Gebicki stated we need to address parking problems and stop revisiting the same situations. He said in 2009, 5,863 tickets were written with 217 voided or excused and in 2013 within ten months, 2,834 tickets were written with 215 excused. Mr. Gebicki said we need to take a closer look and council should be first and foremost in making these decisions. He also said council approved the removal of meters at the Latrobe Bulletin in lieu of reimbursement in like-kind services. This should equate to $225 month in advertising and we have not received.
Mrs. Wolford asked Mr. Gebicki were he got the data for the excused tickets. He replied from Councilman Giovannagelo. Mrs. Wolford asked if Mr. Giovannagelo completed a Request to Know Form and Mr. Giovannagelo replied that he asked the City Manager for the data and that as Council he does not have to complete a form.
Mrs. Wolford said this is using city staffs time. Mrs. Wolford stated that the practice of forgiving tickets goes way back and the City Manager has the ability to forgive tickets for a lot of different reasons. She stated we need to be friendly to the people who come to the City and she trusts Mr. Graziani to run the City. Mrs. Wolford stated that as a result of this issue, the City Manager has requested a council policy and she does not think people should have to go to the Magistrate.
Mr. Forish stated that the same vehicle was excused twenty-four times.
Mr. Graziani stated if someone had a parking pass, we would dismiss it.
Mrs. Wolford said she had a PANGO misfire, and paid it because she did not want to be part of this witch-hunt. Mrs. Wolford stated we would fix the problems and develop a policy.
Jennifer Forish of 517 Weldon Street asked about a comment Alex just made that he is not from Latrobe, and she wants to know why.
Mrs. Wolford stated it is not written in the City Code that the City Manager has to reside in Latrobe.
Craig Bryson of 711 Weldon stated that on November 1, 2013 at midnight he was awakened by loud noise and the smell of smoke. It was coming from 713 Weldon Street from a bonfire. He said he called 911, the Police arrived and they put out the fire. He had to call again at 1:00 A.M. for loud noise again at 713 Weldon Street. He asked if the Fire Chief had been notified.
Fire Chief Brasile stated he was not notified and no open burning is allowed per City Ordinance.
Solicitor Kelley said the Fire Chief does not have to be there; the Police can issue the citation.
Rae Ann Tronetti of 717 Weldon Street stated that at 11:45 on November 1, 2013 she noticed a major fire in backyard of 713 Weldon Street, and when she went out on the sidewalk two residents came over, and she told them burning is against an ordinance. They asked her if she wanted to join them. She did not and said she should have called the Fire Department, but did not. Instead, she called a friend that is a firefighter at Chestnut Ridge who told her to call the police. She called the Police, and said after they were warned, continued to burn.
Jim Bolton of 225 Irving Avenue stated that investments in the City are in jeopardy. He said you can make up a budget but when you overspend, it is a deficit budget. Mr. Bolton said we are fortunate to have the Transfer Station as it can make you a good profit and bailed the City out couple of years ago. He said we should have reinvested the profit by purchasing two new roll off trucks. Mr. Bolton stated that there are twenty commercial properties that have changed hands and only one is still paying taxes. The rest are non-profit, and unless you made a deal you are not going to get zip from the new school. He stated we have to start cutting, because if you raise taxes the property values will go down. He stated that the employees take full advantage of days off and the Police are a sacred cow that we can no longer afford to feed. They deserve it, but the officers’ salaries are over $70,000 a year and the medium income for Latrobe is $35,000. He stated we should let five officers go, cut $50,000 from electric bills, and look at benefits and we could end up with two part-time secretaries with no benefits at the front office. He said we already took $100,000 from the General Fund balance, that brings it down to $300,000, and if we hit it again we are done. He asked where you are going to get the money. Mr. Bolton said God bless the new council people.
James Miller of 127 E. 4th Avenue stated that all but one person voted to give dental to some employee’s family members and that it was not negotiated. He said a lot of people do not have dental care in this town.
Mr. Giovannagelo asked the City Manager to find out the officer in charge of the fire on November 1, 2013, and find out why the fire was not put out.
Mr. Richard Jim reporting for the Municipal Authority said he will wait to make a statement until the Act 537 Resolution is brought up.
Fire Chief Brasile stated he responded to a call on Oak Street and told them no open fire pits are allowed. He said the resident told him an Officer said they could use a fire pit if they are cooking. Chief Brasile said they should call him not 911.
Public Works Director Bush reported that there is a lot of confusion with the garbage pickup changes. He explained that everyone will receive a 65-gallon toter with black bottom and orange top. This will be for single-stream recycling including newspaper, telephone books, etc. By November 22 you have the option to choose a 95-gallon toter for garbage, with an additional quarterly charge, and will not have to use stickers unless you put bags outside of the toter. Those that choose to not have the toter will still use the sticker system.
Mr. Jim asked for a resident that asked him, would neighbors be able to use one 65-gallon toter for recycling.
Joe Bush said as long as both agree and this is for recycling only.
Mr. Forish made a motion to amend the agenda to add Item #6 under Public Works for a resolution to authorize the City Manager to sign an indemnification agreement with Lehigh Steel to store recycling containers until distributed, second by Mr. Skapura. Vote 7-0.
ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE DEPARTMENT
Amending the Code of Ordinances of the City of Latrobe regarding various fees and establishing one or more fee schedules in the Administrative Code. Mr. Baldonieri moved to enact this ordinance, second by Mr. Jim. Vote 7-0.
Authorizing participation in the update of the Westmoreland County Hazard Mitigation Plan. Mr. Skapura moved to adopt this resolution, second by Mr. Baldonieri. Vote 7-0.
PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
An Ordinance to authorize and require the vacating and closing of a portion of Avenue B situate in the Fifth Ward of the City of Latrobe bounded on the south, east, and north by property of Latrobe Specialty Metals Company and on the west by the easterly right of way line of a 15-foot alley. Mr. Baldonieri moved to enact this ordinance, second by Mr. Jim. Vote 5-Yes, 1-No (Giovannagelo), 1-Abstain (Wolford due to being an employee of Company).
Authorizing City Engineer to apply for Community Development block grant allocation for repaving of certain streets in the City of Latrobe. Mr. Skapura moved to adopt this resolution, second by Mr. Baldonieri. Vote 7-0.
Amending municipal waste disposal rates. Mr. Skapura moved to enact this ordinance, second by Mr. Baldonieri. Vote 6-Yes, 1-No (Giovannagelo).
Approving consent order and agreement of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection regarding Act 537 update. Mrs. Wolford moved to adopt this resolution, second by Mr. Forish. Vote 6-Yes, 1-Abstain (Jim as Solicitor for LMA).
Mr. Jim stated this consent order and agreement was produced by the General Counsel for DEP and consists of three meetings with Engineers from the Unity plan and the Latrobe plan. Mr. Jim said the first meeting the Managers may attend, but the rest of the meetings are just for the Engineers. Unity agreed to withdraw their appeal of DEP’s denial of their plan.
Approving contract for winter snow removal. Mr. Skapura moved to adopt this resolution, second by Mr. Baldonieri. Vote 7-0.
Authorizing the City Manager to sign an Indemnification Agreement with Lehigh Specialty Melting Inc. for storage of recycling containers.
Mr. Baldonieri congratulated the three winning candidates and told them their efforts will have his unequivocal support. He said it is your good fortune you have excellent leaders; Mayor-elect Rosie Wolford is smart, well spoken, and dedicated to having no agenda except for the success of this town. Mr. Baldonieri said their crowning achievement is having Alex Graziani whose only intent is to see Latrobe flourish. He thanked Mayor Griffin for completion of her term and said may she have a happy and healthy retirement. He thanked Stuffy and Richard, who came on at the same time and spent the last four years together on council. He thanked the voters for electing him to two terms and will always consider it an honor and privilege to serve the people of this great little town.
Mr. Skapura made a motion to authorize the City Secretary to advertise for applicants for vacancies on Boards, Authorities, and Commissions, second by Mr. Forish. Vote 7-0.
Mr. Baldonieri made a motion to authorize the City Secretary to advertise for a vacancy on City Council as a result of the election of Council member Wolford to the Office of Mayor, second by Mr. Skapura. Vote 7-0.
CITY MANAGER’S REPORT
Alexander Graziani reported that since 2006 the city budget has hemorrhaged with overspending and the City has raised taxes. Latrobe is in a long line of local governments who are finding the same scenario. Mr. Graziani stated we can no longer continue the same level of service. His budget contemplates two scenarios and will be available for review including online and at the November work session. Council should be able to adopt the 2014 budget at the December 9, 2013 meeting.
Mayor-elect Wolford asked Mayor Griffin about the current budget committees and if she would consider Mr. Skapura stepping in for the budget committee. Mrs. Wolford plans to put committees together to follow at task on a month-to-month basis.
Mr. Skapura said he would accept the appointment to the budget committee and would like to see monthly reporting of actual budget versus paper and to change the policy so an item that is not budgeted, such as furniture and carpeting for Park & Recreation, would first be brought to Council for approval. Mayor-elect Wolford agreed.
Mayor Griffin thanked all Veterans for all they do. She thanked the Fire and Police, said she believes in them, and said we do not need to get rid of any of them. Mayor thanked Ken, Stephen and Richard, who all came on council at the same time as she did, for serving with her.
Mr. Baldonieri made a motion to adjourn the Regular Meeting of Council, second by Mrs. Wolford. Vote 7-0.
Meeting adjourned at 8:08 P.M.
Barbara J. Buck, Secretary