City Council Meeting Minutes
February 20, 2007
City Council convened in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20, 2007, in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Toni Smith, Wm. Lee Smallwood, Vickie Washington, Joseph R. Musso, Vice President, and Cameron Texter, President, with President Texter presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Christopher Connard. Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner, and John Senft, Fire Chief, were absent.
Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.
A motion was made by Smallwood, seconded by Washington, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of February 6 and February 13, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays - 0.
Public Comment (On items not listed on printed agenda)
Jameel Saahir, 231 Harding Court, York, PA, discussed his idea to create a device called “The Magic Wand”. He said this device would be used to detect heavy metal that isn’t detected utilizing traditional metal detectors. Mr. Saahir also suggested lobbying legislators to implement a law that would give unlicensed individuals carrying a concealed weapon an automatic 10-year prison sentence.
Sterling Von Nickerson, 264 E. King St., York, PA, objected to comments made in the newspaper by public officials about his statement at the last Council meeting regarding his concern about police calls not being logged and possible preferential treatment of an elected official. He said he is aware that a call was made to 911, which resulted in police being dispatched to an elected officials home, yet there was no record of the incident. Mr. Nickerson questioned this practice because of the repercussions that could result from not logging calls. He said improper reporting of incidents could result in the city losing grants. Mr. Nickerson stated that the city is paying a consultant to analyze the police department, however, the consultant reports 21,000 calls were made to 911 and the Police Commissioner, in a newspaper article, reports 60,000 calls were made. How can there be two completely different analyses, he asked. Mr. Nickerson again said he feels an elected official is receiving preferential treatment and asked for an investigation.
President Texter warned Mr. Nickerson to stay away from personal attacks. Mr. Nickerson continued his line of questioning. President Texter then asked Mr. Nickerson to have a seat because his five minutes were up. Mr. Nickerson continued his line of questioning. President Texter again asked Mr. Nickerson to cease commenting and have a seat. A heated exchange ensued between President Texter and Mr. Nickerson.
As President Texter’s request for Mr. Nickerson to take a seat went unnoticed, President Texter called for a recess at 7:13 p.m.
President Texter reconvened the meeting at 7:15 p.m. and read at length the Rules of Council with regard to public comment and asked that the public respect these rules.
Councilwoman Washington said she felt Mr. Nickerson’s questions were legitimate and deserved consideration. She too questioned why the Police Commissioner reports that 60,000 calls were made to 911 though a paid consultant reports 21,000 calls were made. She said she would also like an answer to this.
Vice President Musso apologized to the public about the recess. He said he is concerned about the direction the Council is taking because so far this year, there has been a recess during each Council meeting. He stated that taking the meetings off the air is causing him great concern.
(Note: Council meetings are broadcasted live on public access station channel 18).
Councilwoman Smith said she has received numerous calls from members of the public expressing concern about the lack of decorum at the Council meetings. She said residents have stated they are afraid to come to our meetings because of the three or four people who come to the meetings constantly attacking public officials.
Councilman Smallwood added that he has also received calls about Council meetings going off the air. He said many people have told him they don’t come to the meetings because of what they see. As a public official your life is an open book and you don’t argue with constituents about their concerns, you look to find answers for them, he said.
David Clarence, York, PA, complained about snow removal. He said he was disappointed by Mayor Brenner’s decision to temporarily suspend the snow removal ordinance. As a person in a mobility device, he said he depends on the sidewalks and curb cuts to be cleared and cleared wide enough to allow free movement of his wheelchair. Mr. Clarence said the ordinance reads that a 36” path should be cleared, however, residents and business owners aren’t abiding by that rule. Because the sidewalks aren’t being cleared, he said he has to ride in the street along side of moving vehicles. Mr. Clarence then briefly touched on his concern about possible censorship being practiced during the Council meetings with the constant recesses being called.
Vice President Musso said he emailed Public Works Director Jim Gross asking him to be prepared to make a statement at tonight’s Council meeting about snow removal. However, because of the snow removal schedule, he could not attend tonight. Vice President Musso empathized with Mr. Clarence because of the difficulty he is having getting around town. He said this was a devastating storm and we need to establish better procedures on how to handle snow removal resulting from storms like this in the future.
Councilwoman Washington said she would look to call a Public Works Committee meeting in the near future to discuss the snow removal issue. (Note: A meeting was later scheduled for March 6 at 6:00 p.m., prior to Council’s regular meeting, in City Council Chambers.)
Councilwoman Smith stated that snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain produced ice so thick that our plows had a hard time clearing the streets. She said because of the terrible conditions, scattering salt on the ice just isn’t enough.
President Texter read two press releases from Mayor Brenner outlining the snow removal ordinance (Section 302.3.1 and 302.3.2 of the Property Maintenance Code) and the snow removal scheduled, which requires cars to be moved from certain locations during certain hours to allow snow and ice to be removed from the street. The press release also warned residents of fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 for failure to remove snow and ice from their properties.
Councilman Smallwood said he is a visually and physically impaired individual, yet he dug his property out. He did say he takes issue with the parking situation because surface lots and garage entrances are piled with snow giving residents no option but to park on the street and get fined.
Business Administrator O’Rourke relayed that contractors were hired to clear the surface lots, which they did three times and salted but the plows broke because of the weight of the ice. Additionally, he said, the stability of the parking garages were in jeopardy because of the weight of the snow and ice on the rooftops. Unfortunately, he went on to say, the Public Works department is working with a skeleton crew and we have to weigh our resources and priorities. This is a difficult and unfortunate situation, he said.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 – Fire Committee, Councilwoman Toni Smith, Chair: President Texter reported that the Fire Committee met at 6:00 p.m. this evening in Council Chambers to discuss Resolution No. 21(click on Resolution No. 21 to view), a Resolution amending licensing and inspection fees associated with day care facilities as established in Article 1761 of the Codified Ordinances. He said during discussion, concern was expressed that the $100 flat fee for inspections and licensing might be unfair to those providing daycare services to low-income individuals. President Texter stated that committee members will look to create an ad-hoc committee to help establish inspection and licensing criteria for daycare facilities. Therefore, Resolution No. 21 remains in committee.
A motion was made by Smallwood, seconded by Musso, to waive the provisions of Resolution No. 215 of Session 1969 to permit consideration of a supplemental agenda containing one Bill. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Introduction of Bill No. 4, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget, which includes CDBG and HOME program funds, for the Bureau of Housing Services to reflect changes resulting from actual funding levels rolled over from 2006, was introduced by Smallwood, read in brief, and came up for discussion.
Councilman Smallwood asked Business Administrator O’Rourke to relay to Community Development Director Kim Bracey that he requests a report from Director Bracey outlining if and how these changes would affect programs, services and/or outcomes.
Administrator O’Rourke said he would relay the message and that the Finance Department worked extensively with the Bureau of Housing Services on this amendment. He explained that research reflected approximately $70,000 in unspent façade easement program funding and they are researching whether those funds were reallocated. He then briefly outlined the rollover process.
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 4 was deferred until the March 6th meeting of Council.
Final Passage of Bill No. 1, Ordinance No. 3, Session 2007, A Bill of the City Council of the City of York, York County, Pennsylvania, authorizing a Third Supplemental Lease to be dated as of March 22, 2007, amending a Lease of September 15, 1987, as supplemented by a lease dated December 20, 1990 and a lease dated December 1, 1992, under which the Sewer System owned by the York City Sewer Authority is leased to this City for operation and use; approving a Guaranty Agreement guaranteeing payment of said Authority's Guaranteed Sewer Revenue Bonds, Series of 2007 ($10,000,000); directing execution, acknowledgement and delivery of said Third Supplemental Lease and Guaranty Agreement in behalf of this City and consenting to Assignment of the said Third Supplemental Lease by said Authority to Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company; approving the preparation of certain engineering reports and authorizing certain applications to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and directing other necessary and proper action to effectuate the purposes hereof. The Bill was introduced by Washington at the February 6th meeting of Council and read by short title. On motion of Washington, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 1 came up for discussion.
President Texter reported that Council met in a general committee meeting on February 6th at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to hear from members of the York City Sewer Authority information about improvements to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and the $10 million borrowing planned to finance said improvements.
Chris Gibbons, Financial Advisor to the York City Sewer Authority (Authority), explained that the Authority is issuing a $10,000,000 bond through which the proceeds will be used to provide funds for the acquisition of materials and professional services necessary for the WWTP renovation project. The first bond payment comes due December 1, 2007 and would continue with bi-annual payments through December 1, 2019. He said this is an Authority debt, which is being backed by the City of York.
Attorney Stacey MacNeal of Blakey, Yost, Bupp & Rausch, LLP (bond counsel), was onboard to answer questions. She said contributions toward bond payments would come, in part, from sewer revenue generated by the city and surrounding municipalities for their share of sewer capacity.
Administrator O’Rourke asked for clarification related to the term of the lease, shared debt, and municipal consent resolutions, which were answered by Attorney MacNeal.
Sterling Von Nickerson, 264 E. King St., York, PA, asked if this bond would result in sewer and refuse fees being increased. President Texter responded that sewer and refuse fees were increased in December 2006, which became effective January 1, 2007. Mr. Nickerson then asked project construction questions and cost effectiveness, which were answered by Peter Schmidt, Chair of the York City Sewer Authority Board.
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 1, Ordinance No. 3, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Final Passage of Bill No. 2, Ordinance No. 4, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 budget for the York City Police Department to appropriate revenues ($119,290.00) and expenditures ($42,290.88) associated with a 2004 Department of Justice grant award for in-car cameras to reflect unspent funds to be used in 2007, which was introduced by Texter at the February 6th meeting of Council and read in brief, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 2 came up for discussion.
Manuel Gomez, 202 Pattison St., York, PA, asked if the in-car police cameras will carry audio. President Texter said to his knowledge, they will.
Sterling Von Nickerson, 264 E. King St., York, PA, asked if the cost to maintain the cameras was included in the 2007 Budget. President Texter asked Mr. Nickerson to contact the Police Commissioner to answer his question.
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 2, Ordinance No. 4, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Final Passage of Bill o. 3, Ordinance No. 5, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 budget for the York City Police Department to appropriate revenue and expenditures in the amount of $4,500 for the York Police Academy ($1,000), Travel for the Youth Police Academy ($500) and Police escorted sporting events ($3,000) related to a Delinquency Prevention Grant award from PCCD, which was introduced by Texter at the February 6th meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 3, Ordinance No. 5, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 21, Session 2007 (Remains in committee - click on Resolution No. 21 to view), A Resolution amending licensing fees in accordance with Article 1761 “Enforcement, Licensing & Appeals” of the Codified Ordinances relating to daycare facilities to become effective retroactive to January 1, 2007, as follows:
Group I-4 operating as day care facilities only, and Group E, day care facilities: $100 flat fee. All other Group I-4: $50 per individual served; and
Inspection fees for Group I-4 operating as day care facilities only and Group E, day care facilities: $100 flat fee.
The Resolution was introduced by Texter at the February 6th meeting of Council, and referred to the Fire Committee, which met tonight (Feb. 20) at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. President Texter reported that during the committee meeting, concern was expressed that the $100 flat fee for inspections and licensing might be unfair to those providing daycare services to low-income individuals. President Texter stated that committee members will look to create an ad-hoc committee to help establish inspection and licensing criteria for daycare facilities and would, therefore, request that Resolution No. 21 remain in committee.
Motion to remain in committee. A motion was made by Texter, seconded by Smallwood that Resolution No. 21 remain in the Fire Committee for further discussion. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. A committee meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Introduction of Bill No. 5, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Police Department to appropriate revenue and expenditures in the amount of $246,661.00 for the purchase of in-car cameras as part of a Law Enforcement Technology grant received in 2004, was introduced by Texter, read in brief, and deferred until the March 6th meeting of Council.
Resolution No. 29, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications submitted by Alpine Sign & Lighting for work to be done at 142 S. George St., Raymond Ferrer for work to be done at 219 S. Pine St., American Tower Corp. for work to be done at 90 N. Newberry St., Lance Howard for work to be done at 56 S. Pine St., YWCA of York for work to be done at 222, 224, 226, 228 & 230 Prospect St., and Sherilyn Gibbs for work to be done at 122 S. Pine St., was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 29 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Requests for future meetings
Tuesday, February 27, 2007 – Business Administration Committee, Councilman Wm. Lee Smallwood, Chair: Committee meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers to hear from representatives from Prime Buchholz (city’s consultants) information on the city’s current pension outline. He said this meeting would serve as an information session.
Council comment: None
Administration Comment: None
Next Meeting: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.
Adjournment: There being no further discussion, the February 20, 2007 meeting of Council adjourned at 8:27 p.m.