City Council Meeting Minutes
November 16, 2010
CALL TO ORDER: City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 19, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, to receive general public comment, with the following Council members present: Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Genevieve H. Ray, President, with President Ray presiding.
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT
Steve Young said another person has been shot and killed within a block of where he lives. He opined that what we are doing is not working. He then questioned why a police officer is being assigned to Council meetings. He feels that assigning a one person security detail is not how we should be spending taxpayer dollars. Mr. Young then questioned the 12.8% tax increase and encouraged residents to attend the Council budget hearings to be heard. Lastly, Mr. Young fondly remembered and reminisced about the life and death of Tom Foust, former York City School Board member.
Edgar Rodriquez, owner of Wholy Chicken, announced that on Wednesday, November 24 from 12 noon to 7:00 p.m. they will be giving out 1000 free meals. They have over 100 volunteers throughout York County, with culinary skills, who will be contributing to this event.
Marakay Rogers stated that this may be a school board issue but she wanted Council to know that there is a bullying problem in all grades in the York City school system, specifically gay bullying.
There being no further public comment, President Ray adjourned the General Committee meeting and reconvened in Legislative Session at 7:00 p.m., in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Genevieve H. Ray, President, with President Ray presiding. Mayor Bracey was also present.
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kevin Schreiber, Director of Economic Development/Acting Director of Community Development, and Fire Chief Steve Buffington. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt.
Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.
Pledge of Allegiance: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Approval of Minutes: Council dispensed with the reading of the Minutes of November 3, 2010 and unanimously approved them as written.
Correspondence and Announcements: President Ray announced that Council met in Executive Session on Wednesday, November 11, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the potential purchase and/or lease of real property.
Kim Walsh, President, Inside-Out Creative (IOC), provided Council with an activities report for the period of December 2009 through September 2010. In brief, she outline IOC's fundraising efforts with outcomes totaling $105,509 to date. She also spoke about various special events held so far including Light Up Night 2009, New Year's Revolution 2010, A Taste of York City, Olde York Street Fair, Yorkfest Fine Arts Festival, Box Lunch Review and Bike Night. With successful public relations and promotional support, she said York City has had a very busy and successful year.
COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED:
General Committee, Genevieve H. Ray, Chair: Meeting scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to hear a bond issue status report from the Administration.
Future Meetings: Please see Schedule-E
Budget: Council's tentative 2011 Proposed Budget Hearings are scheduled for November 30, December 2, and December 9 beginning at 6 PM in Council Chambers. (See Schedule E)
STATUS OF PRIOR COMMITTEE REFERRALS:
General Committee, Genevieve H. Ray, Chair: Meeting held on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers to hear information on the audit report.
A motion was made by Ray, seconded by Nelson, to waive the provisions of Resolution No. 215 of 1969 to permit consideration of a supplemental agenda. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0
Resolution No. 138, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution paying tribute to city employees who are serving and have served in the US Armed Forces, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 138 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Bill Numbers 34, 35 and 36 were introduced as a consent agenda.
Introduction of Bill No. 34, Session 2010, (View) A Bill increasing sewer fees for 2011, was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred until a future meeting of Council.
Introduction of Bill No. 35, Session 2010, (View) A Bill approving the 2011 York City Budget ($40,684,793.00), was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred until a future meeting of Council.
Introduction of Bill No. 36, Session 2010, (View) A Bill adopting the 2011 Tax Rate (.01764 mils on each dollar of assessed valuation), was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred until a future meeting of Council.
Projected dates for consideration of passage of Bill numbers 34, 35, and 36 is slated for December 21, 2010.
Mayor Bracey stated that the Budget delivered to Council today is a balanced budget based on on a 1.75 mil tax increase in the General Fund, a 1/4 mil tax increase in the Recreation Fund, and a $1.00 per thousand gallons increase in the sewer fund. This budget also includes the $5,000,000 RACP grant proposal which will help to create a surplus of $3,389,520 in the General Fund. If we do not receive the grant revenue, the budget will be out of balance and in deficit by $1,610,480 at which point we would then be compelled to raise taxes by another 1.75 mils or lay off about 29 employees. She urged Council to support the $5,000,000 RACP grant application and this budget.
SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB
Resolution No. 139, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution approving the final land development plan submitted by York College of PA to construct a college dormitory at 725 Grantley Rd., was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 139 came up for discussion.
Tom Conley, Vice President, LSC Design, Neal Metzger, Project Manager, LSC Design, and Kenneth Martin, Dean of York College Campus Operations, were present and outlined the project. Having provided Council with a colored rendering of the project area, Mr. Metzger detailed that the project will include construction of a 275 suit college dorm, parking lot, rail trail extension, and various other site improvements. The parcels involved are in the City of York and Spring Garden Twp. Misters Conley, Metzger and Martin answered several project questions from Council.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 139 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 140, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution approving the final land development plan submitted by Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene to construct a new church at 350 E. Chestnut St., was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 140 came up for discussion.
Kent Vandervort, Associate Pastor for Administration and Facilities, Stillmeadow Church, explained that they will demolish the existing building, which sits across from the old county prison next to Goode Elementary School. They will then construct an 11,500 sq. ft., one story building. Mr. Vandervort stated that they have been renting this space for many years and now wants a permanent home that will be much more functional. He did say they would be participating in the city's PILOT program (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) although they are a tax exempt entity. Mr. Vandervort answered several project questions from Council.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 140 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 141, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution approving the final subdivision plan submitted by the York City Redevelopment Authority to subdivide one parcel into six at 320 N. George St., was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 141 came up for discussion.
Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber stated that this subdivision plan is part of the Northwest Triangle project area. They will be dividing one parcel into six to allow them to transfer parcels as outlined in the NWT development plan. This will allow them to begin construction on the Thomas Sommerville property as they move forward with development.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 141 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 142, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness to Craig Zumbrun and Ted Vedock for work to be done at 119 S. Pine St., was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 142 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS: None
Introduction of Bill No. 37, Session 2010, (View) A Bill authorizing a Bond Note in the amount of $14,000,000.00 for capital improvements, which will include improvements to City Hall, Arch St. and Poor House Run Interceptors, Community Centers and Ohio Blenders, was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred until a future meeting of Council. (Projected date for consideration of final passage is slated for December 7, 2010.)
Resolution No. 143, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution appointing Rijelle Kraft and Eric Orr to the York City Human Relations Commission with terms to expire July 16, 2012, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Nelson, Resolution No. 143 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Ms. Kraft and Mr. Orr thanked the Mayor and Council for their consideration. The City Clerk then administered the oath of office to both appointees.
Resolution No. 144, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution awarding a contract to Doug Lamb Construction in the amount of $54,600.00 for renovations to Eagle Fire Station, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 144 came up for discussion.
Public Works Director Jim Gross stated that improvements will include construction of a handicap ramp, new doors, and additional lighting and electrical work; basically, improvements will be made to meet the standards for public accommodations.
President Ray said she met with Director Gross and asked why improvements were being made to this facility (which serves as a police outpost), when improvements are being proposed to turn City Hall into a police station. She said Director Gross explained that Eagle Fire Station is used as an outpost to allow easier access for residents to reach our local police force.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 144 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 145, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution authorizing agreements with PennDot for use of the dotGrants system, an online reporting system used to file required liquid fuels forms, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 145 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 146, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution authorizing the filing of a proposal for RACP funds in the amount of $5,000,000.00 as part of the York Downtown Historic Preservation Municipal Investment Grant, was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 146 came up for discussion.
Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber explained that in August of 2010, Mayor Bracey and staff met with Governor Rendell to discuss the critical needs of the municipality’s infrastructure and seeking funds from the Commonwealth to pursue capital improvement projects including but not limited to the purchase of the new administrative City Hall (101 S. George St.) and the renovation of the existing City Hall (50 W. King St.) into a stand-alone City Police Department. As as a result of those discussions and completions of the “Needs Assessment Feasibility Study Report” and “Office Relocation and Space Planning Study”, the city is desirous of obtaining RACP funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the amount of $5,000,000 for the acquisition, construction and renovation related to the aforementioned capital improvement projects.
President Ray asked if 101 S. George St. was appraised. Director Schreiber said it was appraised and those figures are part of the application. He said this grant program requires a 50% match – meaning we will have to spend $5 million to get $5 million from the state. President Ray asked if we currently have half of the 50% match as required. Director Schreiber said we do not have the complete amount at this time but they anticipate securing those funds. President Ray expressed concerns as the application clearly states that half of the 50% match must be secured at the time of application. Additionally, she said if we do not have those funds secured, that could cause a problem as we'll basically be carrying the funding for this project over the next 3 years because RACP funding comes with a 36-month draw down schedule.
Discussion ensued on estimates and cost analysis related to 101 S. George St.
Councilwoman Nelson said she's concerned about security at 101 S. George St. She wants to be sure files and staff are secure when the public passes through from one department to another.
Director Schreiber stated that in 2008, an assessment and layout of the property was done and they have looked at those plans and how the space could function appropriately. The building has key card access capability for added protection. He said they have begun to reevaluate the layout to meet the city's current needs.
Councilman Nixon added that the building doesn't have bearing walls, which will allow them to restructure offices. He said he trusts that the $500,000 proposal appropriated to cover such costs will be sufficient.
Councilwoman Nelson asked what will be the tax implications if the $5 million RACP grant is not approved. Director Schreiber said we cannot let that risk prevent us from moving forward with the application.
Councilman Nixon said that this Resolution is merely approving the filing of an application for funds – that doesn't mean we have to accept it.
President Ray asked several questions about the debt enabling act and whether a one year general obligation note meets those requirements. Director Schreiber responded that since the City of York is a tax entity, we do not need a 20 year loan because we're considered to exist in perpetuity.
State Representative Eugene DePasquale explained that this application process is merely the beginning step. He said this money has been set aside for York City and if it's not used, it will just sit there. The city must have a contract with the state, which has to be approved by the Governor in order to secure funds. He stated that even if Council votes yes to this application, Council and the Administration will still have a lot of work ahead of you if you want this funding. Representative DePasquale said now is the time to apply and that this action tonight does not commit the city to this project.
Steve Young, resident, asked if the city is filing this application with improper figures because if we do not have the 50% match as required, this application could be fraudulent.
Director Schreiber said this application is not fraudulent. We are making projections and those figures will be finalized once bids are actually received for this project.
President Ray asked if we will have $2.5 million secured by the application deadline, which is tomorrow. Director Schreiber said we will not have the $2.5 million secured by tomorrow. (Note: $2.5 million is 50% of the city's $5 million match.)
Joanne Borders, resident, stated that we have trusted our employees to provide us numbers for other projects in the past and they didn't have to undergo this line of questioning. She said she cannot believe staff is being beaten down behind a grant application that was put in place for us to use. Ms. Borders said it was clearly explained that we are not obligated to accept this money. It's not rocket science – we need to think about what's good for the city, she said.
Councilwoman Nelson said it's easy for you to say because you're not sitting on this side of the table. She said she was just told tonight that we can back out of this project. So details are being shared with Council sparingly, which is unfair. She said she's not prepared to spend $5-$10 million on a project when members of our community are jobless.
Representative DePasquale asked why invest during hardship? He said you have a police station that needs more technology to help catch the bad guys. The police station project will make this a better and safer community. Additionally, these projects will employ residents and put money back into our community. He said not investing money is not a way to make the community grow. The long term benefit is that the city and its residents will gain a great City Hall and police station.
Vice President Hill-Evans said her concern is why are we sending an incomplete application. Assistant Solicitor Hoyt responded that this is not an incomplete application. This is a moving process and we must submit information as best as we can and answer questions as they come.
President Ray added that her interest, in part, is based on the regulations for filing, which requires half of the 50% match, which Director Schreiber clearly stated we do not have. I'd to review the budget and these projections at the same time to assess the affect on our taxpayers. She said we are committed to trying to work through this but information has not been forthcoming. She said Council couldn't even get into 101 S. George St. at one point. It is our job to be responsible and ask these questions and we are not attacking our staff by doing so. She said we still have inadequate information and she sees no problem holding this application until we have time to review the budget and the impact this project may have on our residents.
Mayor Bracey said she encourages Council to approve and support this application. Council has never grilled an applicant like this before. She said this is just an application and if its not complete, the state will tell us and we will not get the money.
Councilwoman Smith said she agrees with the Mayor. We need to move forward and I don't understand why all this questioning behind an application. She said if we do nothing, we will lose this opportunity. The Administration are the professionals and to drill them behind something that makes senses is ridiculous. I'm embarrassed, she said.
Manuel Gomez, resident, read Article 115.01, which in part requires the Solicitor to review all ordinances and resolutions. He asked if the solicitor has reviewed this Resolution. Assistant Solicitor Hoyt said he read the Resolution and sees no problem. Mr. Gomez said he feels a breath a fresh air that these questions are being asked. He said there is no need to move in haste. He urged Council to take a conscientious approach.
Councilman Nixon outlined what this bond note and grant would give us. He said to him, to decline an application for a $5 million gift, which will give us a better police station and city hall, is unconscionable. He urged Council to support.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No.146 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Nixon, Smith – 3; Nays – Hill-Evans, Ray – 2.
Resolution No. 147, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Fire Department in the amount of $7,425.50 for fire academy training, was introduced by Nelson, read at length, and on motion of Nelson, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 147 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 148, Session 2010, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Health Department in the amount of $16,099.71 to cover expenses for the remaining year, was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 148 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Nelson, Hill-Evans, Nixon, Smith, Ray – 5; Nay – 0.
REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS: Meetings established as outlined in Schedule-E.
COUNCIL COMMENT: None
ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: None
NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. (Public Comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the Tuesday, November 16, 2010 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:27 p.m.