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City Council Meeting Minutes

December 4, 2007

Council convened in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, 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 absent included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner, John Senft, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator. Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt was present.

Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.

A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Smith, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of November 20, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays - 0.

Presentations: None

Public Comment:
Olphelia M. Chambliss, Manchester Twp., PA, read a statement (click here to read)(Copy of statement also attached to Minutes) expressing her concern about what she feels is an inadequate representation of the unity memorial chosen by York Arts that will serve as the symbol of the lessons learned from the 1969 race riots in York. Ms. Chambliss feels the three (3) options given by York Arts is a misrepresentation of our struggle and where we are today. Ms. Chambliss feels we need to move away from “literal, historically inaccurate, sanitized and cute imagery, and search for something that will capture the spirit of the commemoration.”

Vice President Musso thanked Ms. Chambliss for her comments and said that he agrees with many of her concerns. (For the record, Vice President Musso disclosed that his wife is a member of the York Arts committee.) Vice President Musso said he was also taken aback by the choices put forth but he doesn’t feel Council can do much about the choices made. However, he did say that this process requires more than just artists’ input.

President Texter said Council has the authority to approve the placement of monuments located in the City of York and therefore could have some control over this issue. He asked Ms. Chambliss if she approached the committee about her concerns.

Ms. Chambliss replied that she has been involved in many processes involving public art and she felt that the York Arts process was not properly open to the public. She said requests for proposals, legal advertisements, and public involvement should have taken place. She stated that it was hard for her to find out who was initiating this effort and when and/or where meetings were going to be held. Ms. Chambliss said she believes in good design and supports the concept of a unity memorial but feels we must all be clear on the idea. She said the memorial should be a symbolic piece and that 60 years from now someone should be able to look at this piece and know and feel our struggle in comparison to where we are today.

Discussion ensued on focus groups, design concepts, interpretations, and processes suggested to select a piece that thoroughly represents unity.

Councilman Smallwood said he also agrees with Ms. Chambliss and was disappointed that there were only three choices given for the memorial – all of which he too felt were inappropriate. Councilman Smallwood said he was so upset with these choices that he sat down and personally wrote a letter to the Mayor. He said the concept of the memorial should go beyond what happened in 1969. We have to look at the whole issue and create a monument that represents our true history, he said.

President Texter said this discussion is extremely important especially if we intend to implant a permanent monument that will represent our history, struggles, and healing. He said he would be sure these concerns are relayed to Mayor Brenner.

Next, Matthew Mann, 1046 Edison St., York, PA, asked about the citywide installation of security cameras. Councilwoman Smith provided Mr. Mann with a handout outlining the “ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System”. She said this is a gunshot location and detection system that has been proven to reduce violent crime by providing officers fast and accurate information when gunshots have been fired and by identifying the location of the shot.

As there was no more public comment, Vice President Musso asked for a moment of silence to pay respect to Sgt. Ronald Mehring who passed away this morning (Tuesday, December 4, 2007), at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, after fighting a courageous two-month battle with cancer.

Committee Reports:

Council Special Session: President Texter announced that Council will convene in special session on Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider final passage of the following Bills, which will be introduced tonight:

1. A Bill amending Article 345 "Occupation Privilege Tax" of the Codified Ordinances to comply with the Act of June 21, 2007, P.L. 13, No. 7, to change the name of the Emergency Municipal Services Tax to the Local Services Tax. This Bill will also amend the following: Increase the income exemption criteria for those earning less than $2,000 per year to those earning less than $12,000 per year; Establish claim exemption procedures; Amend the duty of employers; Change the dates for determining liability; Remove language pertaining to "Refunds" and "Refunds in Excess of Annual Limit"; and establishes criteria for tax relief through implementation of homestead and farmstead exclusion. The revenue expected to be received from this tax is estimated at $1.3 million. (Click to view Bill)

2. A Bill re-establishing Article 353 "Occupation Tax" of the Codified Ordinances for general revenue purposes to levy a tax upon each occupation engaged in by individuals within York City limits of $10 per year and exempting persons whose total income from all sources equals less than $1,000 per year. This Bill will also establish criteria for the following: Duty of Employers; Returns; Dates for Determining Liability; Individuals Engaged in More than one Occupation; Self-Employed Individuals; Non-Resident Employers and Self-Employed Individuals; Administration of Tax; Suits for Collection; Refunds; Refunds in Excess of Annual Limit; and establishes Penalties. The revenue expected to be received from this tax is estimated at $100,000. (Click here to view Bill)

3. A Bill establishing Article 355 "Realty Transfer Tax" of the Codified Ordinances for general revenue purposes to impose a tax upon the transfer of real estate or interest in real estate situated within York City limits regardless of where the documents making the transfers are made, executed or delivered, or where the actual settlements on such transfer took place as authorized by 72 P.S. §8101-d, et. Seq. This Bill will also establish definitions and criteria for the following: Imposition of Tax/Interest; Exempt Parties; Excluded Transactions; Documents Relating to Associations & Members, Partners, or Stockholders/Shareholders; Acquired Company; Credits Against Tax; Extension of Lease; Proceeds of Judicial Sale; Duties of the Recorder of Deeds; Statement of Value; Civil Penalties; Liens; Enforcement; Regulations; and Severability. The revenue expected to be received from this tax is estimated at $150,000. (Click here to view Bill)

4. A Resolution Authorizing the York Area Tax Bureau to collect Local Services Tax. (Click here to view Resolution)

Supplemental Agenda

A motion was made by Smith, seconded by Musso, to waive the provisions of Resolution No. 215 of Session 1969 to permit consideration of a supplemental agenda containing one item. The motion passed unanimously.

Introduction of Bill No. 46, Session 2007 (Supplemental Agenda Item) (Click here to view Bill), A Bill authorizing a Guarantee Agreement to post a bond backed by third party surety in the amount of one million eight hundred thousand dollars ($1,800,000.00) for the premises owned by Ohio Blenders, Inc., was introduced by Texter, and read at length. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 46 came up for discussion.

Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt explained that the York City Redevelopment Authority (RDA) is engaged in a redevelopment project known as the Northwest Triangle (NWT). To assure progress on this project, the RDA requires a General Indemnity Agreement in order to provide a surety bond for the Ohio Blenders property, which was taken by eminent domain (property is situation between N. Beaver St. and N. Pershing Ave. in the City of York).

In the Court of Common Pleas, Jude John C. Uhler ordered that:

“Pursuant to authority under 26 Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 303(c) it is within the Court’s discretion, upon preliminary objection, to require such security by the condemnor (RDA) as it deems proper if it appears the bond of the Condemnor is insufficient security. Predicated and conditioned upon the Condemnee (Ohio Blenders) reserving one million, two hundred thousand dollars ($1,200,000.00) available through RACP grant funds to be dedicated to fund the taking of Ohio Blenders property, and considering additional issues regarding valuation of the property, the Court directs that an additional bond backed by third party surety be established by the Condemnor, Redevelopment Authority for the City of York, for the Condemnee, Ohio Blender’s property, in the amount of one million, eight hundred thousand dollars ($1,800,000.00) to further ensure that Ohio Blenders receives just compensation for the taking of its property in the event an affirmative award is rendered. The bond and reserved funds totaling three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) shall remain in effect for as long as the Condemnor maintains the instant action. The Plaintiff shall post the additional one million, eight hundred thousand ($1,800,000.00) bond within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this order. “

Assistant Solicitor Hoyt said Judge Uhler made this ruling on November 13, 2007, which means the City must act on this guarantee agreement (or one substantially similar thereto) by December 13.

After much discussion, Council agreed to hold an Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, to discuss Bill No. 46, to immediately be followed by a Special Session to consider final passage of Bill No. 46.

Legislative Agenda

Final Passage of Bill No. 19, Ordinance No. 39, Session 2007, (Click here to view Bill) A Bill amending Article 1751”Abatement of Public Nuisances” to clarify language, which was introduced by Texter at the May 1, 2007 meeting of Council, and referred to the Police Committee (mtg. held May 29, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.), came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 19 came up for discussion.

President Texter explained that this Bill amends Section 1753.01 “Assessment of Points” with regard to various citations to Title 18 of the PA Crimes Code relating to points assessed for violations to certain sections of Title 18. This Bill also will give a property owner five (5) days after receiving notice of assessed points to request the city to reconsider imposition of those points and gives the city five (5) days to decide whether to waive the points or reinstate them. He stated that the police commissioner had discussed the proposal with the attorney representing the real estate investors association and that group should therefore know of the amendment.

Motion to amend. At the request of Vice President Musso, President Texter made a motion to amend the five (5) day city obligation to decide whether to waive the points or reinstate them to “thirty- (30) days“ and to change “Building Code Official” found in Section 1751.06(b) to “Code Official” as requested by Fire Chief Senft. The motion to amend was seconded by Musso, and came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Washington said she heard from landlords that they still do not feel Section 1751.06 “Notice” provides proper notice, it violates due process of law, and allows for subjective enforcement. Councilwoman Washington said she supports the concept of this Bill but has problems with the wording of the Bill.

Vice President Musso said he’s not crazy about this legislation but said this Bill is being provided based on recommendations made by landlords and the Administration.

President Texter again explained the intent of Bill No. 19 and outlined each amendment at length. He then answered questions from Council.

Assistant Solicitor Hoyt said he sat in on several nuisance abatement court hearings and was impressed with staff’s performance in defending this law; however, he said he also understands some concerns made by landlords. Solicitor Hoyt did bring to Council’s attention that Nuisance Abatement Office Wentz is doing a superb job in enforcing Article 1751; however, disgruntled violators are unfairly targeting him for doing his job.

Vote on amendment. There being no further discussion, the motion to amend Bill No. 19, Section 1751.06(b) to change the five (5) day city obligation to decide whether to waive the points or reinstate them to “thirty- (30) days” and to change Building Code Office to “Code Official” passed by the following vote: Yeas – Musso, Smith, Texter – 3; Nays – Washington, Smallwood – 2.

There being no further discussion, Bill No. 19, Ordinance No. 39, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Musso, Smith, Texter – 3; Nays – Washington, Smallwood – 2.

Introduction of Bill No. 47, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget by appropriating revenue and expenditures in the amount of $30,000.00 for a DCED Community Revitalization Assistance Program Grant award for the Police Department, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and deferred until the December 18th meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 48, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget by appropriating revenue and expenditures in the amount of $50,776.00 for a Bioterrorism Grant for the Health Bureau, was introduced by Musso, read by short title and deferred until the December 18th meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 49, Session 2007, (Click to view Bill) A Bill changing the Title of Article 345 from “Occupational Privilege Tax” to “Local Services Tax” and changing the requirements for the “Emergency and Municipal Services Tax” to the “Local Services Tax” to meet the conditions established by the Act of June 21, 2007, P.L. 13, No. 7, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and deferred until the December 27, 2007 Special Meeting of Council.

Note: President Texter explained that the law requires legislation dealing with implementation of certain taxes must be advertised for at least three (3) consecutive weeks prior to consideration of final passage. Therefore, Bill No.’s 49-51 will be considered for final passage at a special meeting of Council scheduled for Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.

President Texter stated that this legislation is required since the name of this tax has changed from the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax to the Local Services Tax so that we may continue to collection this tax. A special Council meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider final passage of Bill No. 49.

Introduction of Bill No. 50, Session 2007, (Click here to view Bill) A Bill re-establishing Article 353 “Occupation Tax” of the Codified Ordinances, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and came up for discussion.

President Texter provided Council and the Solicitor with a copy of the “Local Tax Enabling Act” and explained that Bill No. 50 is being presented for general revenue purposes to help fund public safety positions while attempting to keep down tax increases for our residents. He said the expected revenue that could be generated from this tax is estimated at $100,000. President Texter asked that Solicitor Hoyt provide Council with an opinion as to whether this tax could be imposed on non-city residents.

Referred to Committee. Councilwoman Washington made a motion to refer Bill No. 50 to the Business Administration Committee for further discussion. The motion was seconded by Smallwood, and passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. Councilman Smallwood, Chair of the B.A. committee, scheduled a meeting for December 18, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers (prior to the regular meeting). A special Council meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider final passage of Bill No. 50.

Introduction of Bill No. 51, Session 2007, (Click here to view Bill) A Bill establishing Article 355 “Realty Transfer Tax” of the Codified Ordinances, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and came up for discussion.

President Texter explained that this legislation will give the city the ability to implement this tax and that this legislation does not necessarily mean that this tax will be imposed. Bill No. 51 is being established for general revenue purposes and if enacted, revenue expected to be received from this tax is estimated at $150,000. Article 355 (Bill No. 51) would impose a tax upon the transfer of real estate or interest in real estate situated within the City of York.

Referred to Committee. Councilwoman Washington made a motion to refer Bill No. 51 to the Business Administration Committee for further discussion. The motion was seconded by Smallwood, and passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. Councilman Smallwood, Chair of the B.A. committee, scheduled a meeting for December 18, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers (prior to the regular meeting). A special Council meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider final passage of Bill No. 51.

Councilwoman Washington asked that Councilman Smallwood contact the School District and ask that a representative be present at the committee meeting to add to discussion.

Resolution No. 161, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing the York-Adams Tax Bureau to continue serving as taxpayer administrator (as established per Resolution No. 5 of Session 2005) and hearing officer for the collection and enforcement of Local Services Tax (formerly referred to as Emergency and Municipal Services Tax) and shall continue to have the responsibilities as set forth in the original Agreement approved on January 18, 2005 (Res. No. 5), was introduced by Texter, read at length, and deferred until the December 27, 2007 (1:00 p.m.) special session of Council.

Resolution No. 162, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing the purchase of one 2008 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor Package vehicle for use by the Police Department, which said vehicle shall be purchased through the PA Costars contract in the amount of $23,633.00 with said vendor being Winner Ford of Cherry Hill, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Musso, Resolution No. 162 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 163, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer in the amount of $17,830.00 from the Information Services Bureau to Central Services to cover telephone and wireless communications expenses, was introduced by Smallwood, read at length, and on motion of Smallwood, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 163 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 164, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications filed by Carol Kauffman, Crispus Attucks, for work to be done at 443 S. George St., and Karin Krebs for work to be done at 327 E. Market St., was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 164 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 165, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness for work to be covered in the application as submitted by Ben Schick, United Realty & Development, for work to be done at 100-102 S. Beaver St., was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 165 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Note: President Texter explained that Resolution No. 165 was introduced separately from Resolution No. 164 in that HARB informed Council that the applicant for the property at 100-102 S. Beaver St. might appeal HARB’s decision; however, no one was present for the appeal.

Requests for Future Meetings

The following Council meetings have been scheduled:
· Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. – Economic Development Committee (followed by a Special Session of Council)
· Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. – Business Administration Committee
· Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. – Special Session of Council

Economic Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, to discuss Bill No. 46, to immediately be followed by a Special Session to consider final passage of Bill No. 46. (Click here to view Bill) Bill No. 46 - A Bill authorizing a Guarantee Agreement to post a bond backed by third party surety in the amount of one million eight hundred thousand dollars ($1,800,000.00) for the premises owned by Ohio Blenders, Inc.

Business Administration Committee, Wm. Lee Smallwood, Chair: Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss Bill No. 50 (Click here to view Bill) A Bill re-establishing Article 353 “Occupation Tax” of the Codified Ordinances, and Bill No. 51(Click here to view Bill) A Bill establishing Article 355 “Realty Transfer Tax” of the Codified Ordinances.

Special Council Meeting: Council will convene in Special Session on Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to consider final passage of Bill No. 49 (Click to view Bill) A Bill changing the Title of Article 345 from “Occupational Privilege Tax” to “Local Services Tax” and changing the requirements for the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax to the Local Services Tax to meet the conditions established by the Act of June 21, 2007, P.L. 13, No. 7; Bill No. 50 (Click here to view Bill) A Bill re-establishing Article 353 “Occupation Tax” of the Codified Ordinances; Bill No. 51(Click here to view Bill) A Bill establishing Article 355 “Realty Transfer Tax” of the Codified Ordinances; and Resolution No. 161(Click here to view Resolution) A Resolution authorizing the York-Adams Tax Bureau to continue serving as taxpayer administrator (as established per Resolution No. 5 of Session 2005) and hearing officer for the collection and enforcement of Local Services Tax (formerly referred to as Emergency and Municipal Services Tax) and shall continue to have the responsibilities as set forth in the original Agreement approved on January 18, 2005 (Res. No. 5).


Council Comment: None

Administration Comment: None

Next Meeting: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

Adjournment: There being no further business, the December 4, 2007 meeting of Council adjourned at 8:45 p.m.