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City Council Meeting Minutes

July 17, 2012

 

CALL TO ORDER:  City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on July 17, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 101 S. George St., York, PA, to receive general public comment, with the following Council members present: Joanne Borders, Michael Ray Helfrich, Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Vice President, and Carol Hill-Evans, President, with President Hill-Evans presiding. 
 
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT
 
Leo Lunger said he would like to know what's considered “declared events” because he basically feels that he's being held captive in his home by the traffic and crowds during events such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Bike Night. 
 
Robert Diehl shared the same concerns as Mr. Lunger but also added that overweight trucks drive down his street although there are weight limits posted. 
 
Anthony Gonzalez urged the police department to post traffic signs throughout the city alerting motorists about kids at play because our kids are getting hit by speeding cars. 
 
Ed Day complained of dog fighting in his block. He then said there is a halfway house located in the 600 block of Prospect St. where people are parking in no-parking zones. 
 
Gary Jones announced the Gates Project, which is a collaborative effort of Kinsley Construction, the York City Police Department, York County Builders Association, Habitat for Humanity and neighborhood residents. The goal is to secure alleyways between row homes in the City of York's West End neighborhood. Through grants and public funding, they are able to install up to 300 gates.
 
Robert Brunner invited residents to a job fair being held at the Jefferson Center on August 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
Joe Haberle asked that the public be provided with a list of delinquent sewer, refuse and taxes accounts. 
 
Craig Smith also asked for a report of delinquent sewer and refuse accounts as well as the amount received in collections thus far. 
 
There being no further public comment, President Hill-Evans adjourned the General Committee meeting and reconvened in Legislative Session at 7:00 p.m., in Council Chambers, 101 S. George St., York, PA, with the following members present: Joanne Borders, Michael Ray Helfrich, Renee S. Nelson, Henry Hay Nixon, Vice President, and Carol Hill-Evans, President, with President Hill-Evans presiding. 
 
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kevin Schreiber, Director of Economic and Community Development, Cpt. Russ Tschopp, Police Department, Cherie Alwine, City Accountant, and Steve Douglas, General Manager, WWTP. Also present were Assistant Solicitors Don Hoyt and Mark Elion.
 
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 June 5, 2012 and unanimously approved them as written.
 
Correspondence and Announcements: President Hill-Evans read correspondence and announcements.
 
PRESENTATIONS
 
Sonia Huntzinger, Executive Director, Downtown, Inc – Provided City Council with the 2012 first and second quarter accomplishments of Downtown Inc, which included fund-raising efforts, marketing and events, landscaping initiatives, safety workshops and business recruitment and retention strategies. (Read Report)
 
COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED: None
 
STATUS OF PRIOR COMMITTEE REFERRALS:No Reports.
 
SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB
 
Resolution No. 74, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution approving the final subdivision plan submitted by 120 York, LLC to combine lots at 210 E. York St., was introduced by Nelson, read at length, and on motion of Nelson, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 74 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
Resolution No. 75, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution approving the final land development plan submitted by York County Financial LP for adaptive re-use of the existing building into 22 residential units at 239 E. Boundary Ave., was introduced by Nelson, read at length, and on motion of Nelson, seconded by Helfrich, Resolution No. 75 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
Resolution No. 76, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness to Jim Williams for work to be done at 380 W. Market St., Matt Ream for work to be done at 134 W. Springettsbury Ave., John Rea for work to be done at 383 E. Market St., and MR Roofing for work to be done at 46 S. Pitt St., was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Borders, Resolution No. 76 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0. (Note: Due to a HARB typographical error, the application for 46 S. Pitt St. should have been for 46 S. Pine St. However, in an email received from Alycia Reiten, Executive Director, Historic York, dated 7/20/12, HARB members voted to rescind approval of the application and the applicant will re-visit HARB to discuss the issue.)
 
FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS
 
Pulled from agenda. Bill No. 17 (View) Accepting an exchange of real estate between the City of York and the Housing Authority (Thackston Park Project) was pulled from the agenda at the request of the city's Administration.
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 18, Ordinance No. 17, Session 2012, (View) A Bill accepting a dedication of land from Pullman Apartments. (238-240-242 N. George St.), which was introduced by Hill-Evans at the June 5 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Borders, Bill No. 18 came up for discussion. 
 
At Council's June 5th meeting, Director Schreiber explained that about 10 or more years ago, the city loaned Pullman Partnership $475,000.00 to assistance them in mortgaging the property. The funds were allocated from CDBG monies and was to be used to renovate the building. The loan matured after 15 years but, unfortunately, the city has not received repayment of any of those funds. As a result, the city filed judgment against the partnership for collection of those outstanding funds. An agreement was eventually reached whereby the City's Redevelopment Authority (RDA) would accept a dedication of the property from Pullman at which time the RDA will make payment on the unsatisfied mortgage. The RDA would recuperate those costs upon sale of the building (the building was appraised at more than $700,000). In the meantime, the RDA will maintain and manage the property and existing rental agreements will remain intact. (Note: See Resolution No. 82 for conveyance of this property to the RDA.)
 
Councilman Helfrich asked when funds were originally given out, was the expectation to get those funds back to use on other projects. Director Schreiber responded that that is correct. Councilman Helfrich said he just wanted to clarify that this wasn't taxpayer dollars and that it's money that was to be used to reinvest in the community.
 
President Hill-Evans said the concerns she heard was from tenants worried about management of the building once the property was transferred. Director Schreiber reiterated that the RDA will maintain and manage the property and existing rental agreements will remain intact.
 
Vice President Nixon stated that his understanding is that we will try to sell this building and recuperate those dollars and reinvest those funds back into the city. Director Schreiber said that is correct and we will work with the RDA to reposition the property to make it ready for sale. He further stated that we don't want to hold onto the property longer than we have to as we want to satisfy this debt. 
 
Councilman Helfrich requested that we not just hold out for the $700,000 the building was appraised for. If we find a buyer willing to pay $500,000, lets consider it, recuperate as much as we can, and move on.
 
Councilwoman Borders feels this is a good move for the city and the downtown corridor and doesn't feel this property will be a hard sell. 
 
Atora Anderson, Pullman Apt. resident, was concerned that whoever buys the building can do whatever they want to it. Director Schreiber stated that as long as the city has the property, we are legally bound to honor the existing rental agreements. 
 
Councilman Helfrich asked if there will be some efforts made to offer alternatives to the tenants if this building is no longer an option for renters. Director Schreiber responded that we definitely have been looking to accommodate tenants if there is a change of use and we plan to make the tenants aware of what's going on with the property throughout the process. 
 
Ed Day, resident, asked what will happen to the tenants if their rental lease runs out before the building is sold. Director Schreiber said there is nothing precluding the city from extending those rental agreements and its not in the city's best interest to evict tenants. 
 
Joe Haberly, resident, stated that perhaps the city had their hearts in the right place years ago but we obviously had our eyes closed to allow someone to take this property and not make payments for 17 years. He said we are now in a bad position and he hopes a lesson has been learned. 
 
Manuel Gomez, resident, said he is confused why the administration has submitted this proposal because a large percentage of the city's tax base is tax-exempt and now we want to take this building off the tax rolls. He stated that we have gone about 18 years without payment and now we decide this is the time to strike. He asked what are the terms of this loan with the bank because we are bailing them out and allowing Pullman Partnership to just walk away. He asked if there were any other options available because all he's heard in the media is that Director Schreiber is massaging the details of this deal. He said the more he hears, the worse it sounds. If this property does transfer, he stated that Council definitely needs to have a say and include protective language for its residents.
 
Councilman Helfrich responded that we are investing in this property and although the property will be off the tax rolls for a little while, at this sale price we would still be making money, which could equate to the amount of time the property was tax-exempt. 
 
Charlotte Bergdoll, Cherry Lane Realty, said if this property goes off the tax rolls, we will still make money off of this property through rental, and sewer and refuse payments.
 
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 18, Ordinance No. 17, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Hill-Evans – 4; Nays – Nelson – 1.
 
Final Passage of Bill No. 19, Ordinance No. 18, Session 2012, (View) A Bill mending Article 1751 "Nuisance Abatement” to transfer authority to enforce the code from the Police Chief to the Building Code Official, which was introduced by Nelson at the June 5 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Nelson, seconded by Nixon, Bill No. 19, Ordinance No. 18, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
NEW BUSINESS
 
Introduction of Bill No. 20, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending the 2012 Budget to eliminate $750,000.00 for the Market St. 2-way Project, was introduced by Borders, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 21, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending the 2012 Budget in the amount of $150,000.00 for the Roosevelt Ave. Channel Project was introduced by Borders, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 22, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending the 2012 Budget by Correcting grant revenue and appropriating expenditures for the Human Relations Commission, was introduced by Hill-Evans, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 23, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending the 2012 Budget in the amount of $100,000.00 for the purchase of police vehicles, was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 24, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending the 2012 Budget in the amount of $4,400.00 for building repair for the Department of Fire/Rescue Services, was introduced by Nixon, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 25, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending Article 1700.01 "Enforcement" of the Building & Housing Code to update language was introduced by Nelson, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 26, Session 2012, (View) A Bill amending Article 1701 "BOCA National Building Code” to ensure compliance with current national codes and guidelines, was introduced by Nelson, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Introduction of Bill No. 27, Session 2012, (View) A Bill establishing Article 1714 "Change of Ownership/Tenant Certificate of Compliance” of the Codified Ordinances, was introduced by Nelson, read by short title, and deferred to the August 21 meeting of Council.
 
Resolution No. 77, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution appointing W. Craig Zumbrun from an alternate member of HARB to a regular member of HARB, which term shall expire the first Monday of January 2017, was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 77 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans, - 5; Nays – 0.
 
Resolution No. 78, Session 2012, A Resolution appointing and reappointing members to various boards and authorities as follows:
 
Albert S. Weyer Community Health Fund Advisory Committee
Reappointment of Michael J. O'Rourke which term shall expire September 30, 2014
 
Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals
Reappointment of Jack Nagle which term shall expire March 1, 2015
 
York City General Authority
Appointment of Pam Zerba to fill a vacancy which term shall expire January 1, 2017
 
Housing Authority of the City of York
Reappointment of Gregory J. Roussey which term shall expire April 1, 2017
 
York City Human Relations Commission
Reappointment of Theodore Miller which term shall expire July 16, 2015
 
Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals
Reappointment of Larry Homsher as a regular member which term shall expire April 1, 2015
Reappointment of Noreen Freeland as an alternate member which term shall expire April 1, 2013
 
York City Planning Commission
Reappointment of Jessica Fieldhouse which term shall expire January 1, 2016
Reappointment of Heather Klinefelter which term shall expire January 1, 2016
 
Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority
Reappointment of Carolyn J. Van NewKirk, Ed.D. which term shall expire January 5, 2017
 
The Resolution was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Helfrich, Resolution No. 78 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
The City Clerk administered the Oath of Office to Pam Zerba for her appointment to the York City General Authority. 
 
Resolution No. 79, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution awarding a contract to Washington & Dowling Contractors in the amount of $100,042.00 for the S. Pine St. Streetscape Improvements Project, was introduced by Borders, read at length, and on motion of Borders, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 79 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
Resolution No. 80, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer in the amount of $130,000.00 for WWTP to cover unanticipated costs for engineering, other repair services, other contractual services, WWTP process improvements and machinery supplies, was introduced by Borders, read at length, and on motion of Borders, seconded by Nixon, Resolution No. 80 came up for discussion. 
 
General Manager Steve Douglas, WWTP, explained each transfer in detail. (A memo outlining said transfer is attached to Resolution No. 80 located in the City Clerk's office. Read memo.) 
 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 80 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0.
 
Resolution No. 81, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer in the amount of $3,000.00 for salary expenses for the York City Human Relations Commission (HRC), was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Borders, Resolution No. 81 came up for discussion.
 
President Hill-Evans said she has concerns about this transfer request because during the budget process, Council specifically reduced the salary line item. She said it is her understanding that HRC Director Stephanie Seaton was in conversations with someone from finance but she doesn't have any information about why this transfer is being requested. Therefore, President Hill-Evans said she would like to refer this to committee.
 
Vice President Nixon agreed and said we are owed an explanation as this is contrary to the budget process. 
 
President Hill-Evans asked that someone from the HRC and/or finance be present during the meeting to explain. 
 
Motion to refer to committee.  A motion was made by Nixon, seconded by Helfrich, to refer Resolution No. 81 to General Committee. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Nelson, Hill-Evans – 5; Nays – 0. The City Clerk said she would send available dates to Council for consideration. 
 
Resolution No. 82, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution conveying land from the City of York to the RDA known as Pullman Apartments located at 238-240-242 N. George St. (See Bill No. 18, Ord. No. 17, for deed acceptance), was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Borders, Resolution No. 82 came up for discussion. 
 
Manuel Gomez, resident, asked if there is any interest in adding oversight or a time-frame to when this property will be sold so that the RDA doesn't just put this into their land bank and we end up stuck with it. He feels the longer the RDA sits on this property, the more of a liability it becomes.
 
President Hill-Evans said she does not see placing timetables as economically feasible. She stated that we are looking to sell this property as soon as possible but that she's in favor of monitoring the situation with a reporting process implemented. 
 
Councilwoman Borders thanked Mr. Gomez and said we can count on him to share his ideas and concerns, however, she said she does not feel the need to put a timetable on this process. 
 
Councilman Helfrich said he has expressed the exact same concerns as Mr. Gomez but he is leery about the housing market and he's not sure a timeline would work.
 
Councilwoman Nelson asked how long properties sit with the RDA. Director Schreiber responded that we have properties that date back to the 1972 flood. He said either no one owns them or they are owned by the city and the RDA tries to determine the best way to deal with the properties. He added that sometimes they dispose of the properties either through demolition, redevelopment or sale. Furthermore, he stated that if the RDA can touch a property, it will try to restrict future use of the property such as socially undesirable uses. 
 
Councilwoman Nelson suggested placing a 5 or 7 year timeline on the sale of this property. President Hill-Evans rejected the idea and said she is against placing a timeline because she doesn't feel it would make any difference and she's not going to just include that language because it would be senseless.   
 
Councilman Helfrich asked that we think about the expense of keeping a building 5-7 years because at some point we'll end up losing our investment and taxpayer dollars. He said his expectation is to get rid of this property within 2-3 years. 
 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 82 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders, Hill-Evans – 4; Nays – Nelson – 1.
 
Resolution No. 83, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution authorizing the leasing of 11 vehicles from York Mitsubishi for use by the Police Department detectives and support staff at at cost of $269.00 per month, per vehicle, was introduced by Nixon, read at length, and on motion of Nixon, seconded by Borders, Resolution No. 83 came up for discussion.
 
Police Captain Russ Tschopp outlined that we are replacing our current vehicles which are coming off of lease. He said the 2012 Budget reflects this anticipated expenditure and that the cost is actually lower than anticipated.   
 
President Hill-Evans asked where is the documentation supporting this purchase. Captain Tschopp apologized and said he does have the figures with him at this time but that he would make sure she gets that information. 
 
Vice President Nixon asked why we need 11 vehicles. Captain Tschopp answered that he believes there are 12 personnel on staff so the vehicles will be used by them. Vice President Nixon responded that they don't all work at the same time so he doesn't understand why 11 vehicles are necessary. Captain Tschopp said they have a consistent schedule with some coming in at night, and during the week there is a ton of running around by staff so there is a need for these vehicles. 
 
Vice President Nixon said he just wants to know why we need 11 vehicles and what they will be used for. He said he knows we help surrounding municipalities but do they compensate us for that. Captain Tschopp responded that there is no monetary compensation but our detectives don't normally spend a tremendous amount of time outside of the city limits. 
 
Director Gross added that he feels this is a good agreement. He said the police are hard on vehicles so from a maintenance perspective, it's a good idea to roll them over after the lease period. 
 
Manuel Gomez, resident, feels we are not doing due diligence in budget oversight. 
 
Jeremy Holtzapple, resident, asked why we are choosing SUV's instead of sedans. He asked what the down payment and buyout costs are for these leases. 
 
Councilman Helfrich said there are obviously several unanswered questions and as such, he would like to refer this Resolution to committee. 
 
Motion to refer to committee. A motion was made by Helfrich, seconded by Nelson, to refer Resolution No. 83 to the Police committee. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nelson, Hill-Evans - 3; Nays – Nixon, Borders – 2. (Note: Council later decided to hold a special meeting instead. The meeting is scheduled for July 26, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.)
 
Resolution No. 84, Session 2012, (View) A Resolution appointing Maillie Falconiero LLP to audit the city's financial statements for years 2011-2013, was introduced by Helfrich, read at length, and on motion of Helfrich, seconded by Borders, Resolution No. 84 came up for discussion.
 
City Accountant Cherie Alwine explained that responses to RFP's were received from two firms with the Audit Committee's recommendations being to appoint Maillie Falconiero to perform said audits based on prior performance, price and familiarity with the city's records.
 
Vice President Nixon suggested that we look at other firms because after a long period of time having one auditor there might be too much familiarity. Council President Hill-Evans and Councilman Helfrich agreed.
 
Craig Smith, resident, stated that he doesn't want the city's financial people to be too comfortable with its auditors. He said he's not saying this firm has not done a good job, however, familiarity in relationships is not good when dealing with audits.
 
Manuel Gomez, resident, agreed with Mr. Smith. He said he doesn't like that some people are too complacent and familiarity is something we shouldn't be proud of. He suggested we throw a wrench into the process and have a fresh set of eyes look at our finances just as a matter of general principal.
 
Councilwoman Borders said we are required, in most circumstances, to take the lowest bid but that's not always the case.
 
Motion to refer to committee.  Councilman Helfrich suggested we discuss this in further in committee and, therefore, made a motion to refer Resolution No. 84 to the Business Administration Committee. The motion was seconded by Nelson, however, no vote was immediately taken on this motion.
 
Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt said professional services are not subject to bidding and, therefore, this service is not subject to bidding. He added that although our Business Administrator is on vacation, he's sure he and our city accountant have discussed this at length. Furthermore, he said Maillie Falconiero is a boot-shaking entity and they are far from complacent. He said we are here tonight on the city Administration's proposal to retain this firm. 
 
Vice President Nixon feels this might not be the appropriate time to have this discussion since we are so close to budget season. However, he said he is in agreement to having future discussions on this topic but he doesn't want to compromise the upcoming budgeting or auditing process.
 
President Hill-Evans asked if Council votes against this contract, does the RFP process start over again or do we just take the rejected bid. Assistant Solicitor Hoyt responded that as a matter of legality Council can pick whomever they want but he would think the Administration has picked appropriately. 
 
President Hill-Evans feels we would be shooting ourselves in the foot to start this process over again. In light of there only being two firms that responded to RFP's, she said she's hesitant to prolong this process this late in the game.  
 
Councilwoman Borders said she supports the recommendation made by the Audit Committee.
 
Motion to refer to committee withdrawn. After hearing discussion, Councilman Helfrich withdrew his motion to refer to committee. 
 
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 84 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Helfrich, Nixon, Borders – 3; Nays – Nelson, Hill-Evans – 2.
 
REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS 
 
Special Meeting: A special meeting of Council has been scheduled for July 26, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider passage of Resolution No. 83 (View), A Resolution authorizing the leasing of vehicles from York Mitsubishi for use by the Police Department detectives and support staff at at cost of $269.00 per month, per vehicle.
 
General Committee Meeting: To further discussion Resolution No. 81 (View), A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer in the amount of $3,000.00 for salary expenses for the York City Human Relations Commission. Meeting date to be determined. 
 
COUNCIL COMMENT
 
Councilman Helfrich announcements:
*Thanked those involved with the Codorus Creek Cleanup
*West Nile Virus is a huge problem and is affecting York City residents
*Box Tops For Education: An initiative where some schools are making as much as $90,000 for collecting box tops. Join the cause.
*Creek Fire event to be held July 20
*Penn Park “Take My Hand Summer Fest” to be held July 21
*We Care Giveaway scheduled for August 4
*Martin Luther King Park residents are looking to form a neighborhood association and will host a picnic in the park on August 18 from 4-8 p.m. (For neighborhood residents only)
*Encouraged businesses to hold more job fairs
 
Councilwoman Nelson announcements:
*Last year at budget time she said she would come back with financial information from White Rose Community Television (WRCT) She read figures and asked the public to share their feedback. (WRCT Budget).
 
 
ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: None
 
NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for August 21, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. (Public Comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in City Council Chambers, 101 S. George St., York, PA.
 
ADJOURNMENT:There being no further business, the July 17, 2012 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:10 p.m.