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City Council Meeting Minutes

July 15, 2008

CALL TO ORDER: City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on July 15, 2008 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: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT

Renee Nelson, 132 Jefferson Ave., York, PA, spoke at length about her van being stolen on June 5th and her home being burglarized. She was dismayed that it took police two hours to respond to her call but was fairly pleased with the service they provided.

William Bolt, 1016 S. Pine St., York, PA, thanked Council for adopting a new curfew ordinance; which he feels is working well. However, he feels the nuisance abatement ordinance isn't working and asked when new language, if any, would be offered. Mr. Bolt then discussed a meeting his neighborhood association had with members of the police department, which he felt was very productive.

Noreen Freeland, 218 S. Hartley St., York, PA, and member of the Hartley St. Youth Initiative, was onboard along with fellow members Lauren Dorsey and Brianna Scott, and outlined the many undertakings of their group. They then thanked Councilwoman Smith for attending and taking part in their neighborhood clean sweep project.

Charlotte Bergdoll, 515 W. Market St., York, PA, suggested that the city revert back to 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. vendor meter parking on Beaver St. She also suggested “Smoke-Free Environment: Children at Play” signs be posted in city parks to alert smokers to the new public parks no-smoking ban. Ms. Bergdoll then complained about a real estate company that still has signs posted on properties where listings have expired and asked what could be done to have those signs removed.

Franklin Williams, 528 W. Market St., York, PA, relayed that he heard the county plans to hire 20 additional sheriff's deputies, and maybe more, with the principal duty of helping police officers patrol our city streets. He said this is good news for the City of York and it's residents.

There being no further public comment, President Musso 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: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

Members of the Administration in attendance included: Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner, and Randy Helt, HR Director. Also present was Donald Hoyt, Assistant Solicitor. John Senft, Fire Chief, Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator, and Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, were absent.

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: A motion was made by Texter seconded by Hill-Evans, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of June 3, 2008, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

PRESENTATIONS

YorkCounts Presentation: Carl Anderson, Co-Chair of the Public Safety Committee, YorkCounts and James DeBord, YorkCounts, were onboard to discuss support of a proposed study that would weigh the pros and cons of establishing a regional approach to public safety and if the change might produce more efficient service and head off future cost increases.

YorkCounts is York County’s community-wide, nonpartisan quality-of-life coalition. YorkCounts works to assess, sustain and enhance the quality of life in York County – building alliances, introducing partners, spotlighting issues and facilitating conversations on issues such as public safety.

Mr. Anderson said YorkCounts hasn't taken a stand on the consolidation and that their role is to support an analysis to determine if such a consolidation would be beneficial. YorkCounts is approaching the five municipalities in the heart of the county with stand-alone departments (Spring Garden Township, Springettsbury Township, West Manchester Township, West York Borough and York City), the eight municipalities of the York Area Regional Police Department and the eight municipalities of the Northern York County Regional Police Department.

PERF – the Police Executive Research Forum, a national membership organization of police executives, would collect the following data from each agency: number of employees; staffing schemes and organizational structure; location and condition of facilities and equipment; dispatch and crime reporting data; approaches to case management, traffic enforcement and administration (including planning and fiscal affairs); budgeting information; procedures for hiring, promotion and training; mutual aid agreements; union contracts; and pension and benefit blueprints. Various ways to fund a new department would also be reviewed.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. DeBord answered several questions from Council. Mr. Anderson stated that YorkCounts is asking each municipality wishing to take part in this study to adopt a resolution by the fall 2008 to that affect. He also said YorkCounts is not requesting any funding for the study though some in-kind contributions might be incurred.

Councilman Texter made a motion to participate in the study. The motion was seconded by Ray and passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.


COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED: NONE


COMMITTEE REPORTS

Community Development Committee, Councilwoman Genevieve Ray, Chair: Councilwoman Ray reported that the C.D. Committee met on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss two items: (1) Bill No. 32 (View) - "Exemption from Dwelling Improvements" and (2) Bill No. 33 - (View) "Vacant Property Registration". Only the latter bill was discussed in the two-hour meeting.

About 10 persons plus two fire department officials offered observations and opinions. The Fire chief spoke strongly in favor of the creation of a Registry as a tool to provide critical information to the City’s public safety forces. He said that the Fire Department is now engaged in a physical survey to identify all vacant properties in York. He expects the survey to be completed mid-to late August.
About half of the persons who testified questioned whether the Vacant Property Registry is needed at all.

The reasons they cited were, variously: 1) the problem is blight, not vacancy in and of itself; 2) that we should focus our energies on better enforcement of already-existing Building Code, Property Maintenance and Nuisance regulations; 3) that the registry is unnecessary because owners of abandoned and substandard properties won’t register anyway (so ongoing City-sponsored surveys will still be necessary); and 4) the fee structure as proposed is punitive and will hurt property owners who do take care of their properties.

Others who testified either favored or said they could live with the creation of the registry, but felt changes to the ordinance were needed to take into account 1) clearly-drawn definitions that set comprehensive legal distinctions between vacant, idle and unoccupied properties; 2) extension of deadlines for listing properties; 3) extended waiver periods for buildings being actively marketed or rehabilitated; and 4) fee structures that are tied directly to the actual costs of the program.

Among comments offered by Council members were the importance of taking action to spotlight the problems associated with vacancy; the opportunity to link current survey work to the recent Vacant Buildings study completed by John Kromer; the appropriateness of housing the program in the Fire Department; and the importance of assuring that fees are not punitive and are tied instead to the actual costs of administration.

Given that more revisions and consultations are needed on both proposed bills, the Committee voted to request additional time to consider Bill No. 32 and Bill No. 33 in Committee.

Summary by Genevieve Ray, Committee Chair

SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB

Resolution No. 103, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a permit to Todd Lowe, J.R. McKinley Construction, for work to be done at 19-21 N. George St. and 51 S. Queen St., and Frank Dittenhafer & Todd Grove, Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, for work to be done at 1 S. George St., was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 103 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

CONSENT AGENDA

Introduction of Bill No. 34, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending Article 1763.02 (Section 106) of the Property Maintenance Code to allow the City (at the City's discretion) to abate property code violations once the property owner has failed to respond to the violation notice or has otherwise failed to correct the violation, was introduced by Ray, read by short title, and deferred until the August 19 meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 35, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending Article 1763.02 (Section 109) of the Property Maintenance Code to remove most of the mandatory language (i.e., "shall") and to replace it with discretionary language such as "may" or "is authorized to", and to add language that the code official may demolish or remove property that poses an imminent threat to the public without prior notice or hearing, was introduced by Ray, read by short title, and deferred until the August 19 meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 36, Session 2008, (View) A Bill Amending Article 1728 “Vacant Property Review Committee” of the Codified Ordinances to update definitions, was introduced by Musso, read by short title, and came up for discussion.

Motion to refer to committee. A motion was made by Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, to refer Bill No. 36 to the Community Development Committee. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0. Councilwoman Ray, Chair of the C.D. Committee, scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.

Introduction of Bill No. 37, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget for the Dept. of Business Administration to appropriate revenue and expenditures in the amount of $4,000 for a Venture Grant from the York County Community Foundation, was introduced by Hill-Evans, read by short title, and deferred until the August 19 meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 38, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget for the Police Dept. to appropriate revenue and expenditures for a 2007-08 Weed & Seed Youth Academy Program Grant to increase the original award amount from $6,662 to $7,262 ($600 increase), was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and deferred until the August 19 meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 39, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget for the Police Dept. to appropriate additional revenue and expenditures in the amount of $83,629.00 for the York City Police Dept.’s Federal Gang Resistance Education & Training (G.R.E.A.T) Program, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and deferred until the August 19 meeting of Council.

FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS

Final Passage of Bill No. 28, Ordinance No. 26, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget to appropriate revenues and expenditures in the amount of $51,620 for a Bioterrorism Grant, which was introduced by Ray at the June 3 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 28, Ordinance No. 26, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Final Passage of Bill No. 29, Ordinance No. 27, Session 2008, (View), A Bill vacating a portion of N. Cherry Lane between North St. and the Codorus Creek, which was introduced by Ray at the June 3 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 29 came up for discussion.

Rob Kinsley, LSC Design, was onboard and outlined the project and answered questions from Council.

There being no further discussion, Bill No. 29, Ordinance No. 27, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Final Passage of Bill No. 30, Ordinance No. 28, Session 2008, (View) A Bill vacating a portion of Juniper St. between Curwood Ave. and a property owned by the York City School District, Block 455, Parcel 18, in the 13th Ward, which was introduced by Ray at the June 3 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 30 came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Smith expressed concerns about taxpayer costs associated with this project. Additionally, she opined that with charter schools on the rise, she feels spending millions of dollars on a new school is wasteful. Councilwoman Smith believes that student attendance at the charter schools will eventually lead to other schools, such as Smith Middle School and Ferguson Elementary School, becoming virtually obsolete thereby causing these schools to eventually become vacant. She said she couldn’t support this project because she fears the repercussions associated with this expense, as well as the possibility of schools becoming vacant in the future.

There being no further discussion, Bill No. 30, Ordinance No. 28, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Musso – 4; Nays – Smith – 1.

Final Passage of Bill No. 31, Ordinance No. 29, Session 2008, (View) A Bill vacating a portion of Grant St. between Curwood Ave. and a property currently owned by the York City School District, Block 455, Parcel 18, in the 13th Ward, which was introduced by Ray at the June 3 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 31, Ordinance No. 29, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Musso – 4; Nays – Smith – 1.

Councilwoman Smith said she voted against Bill No. 31 for the same reasons stated in discussion on Bill No. 30.

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution No. 104, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution reappointing Janis Rozelle as a member of the Albert S. Weyer Community Health Fund Advisory Committee to serve until September 30, 2011; appointing Gregory J. Roussey as a member of the Housing Authority Board to serve until April 1, 2012; and appointing James E. Boyer as a member of the York City Planning Commission, to fill the unexpired term of David McIlnay, to serve until January 1, 2010, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Musso, Resolution No. 104 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Mr. Boyer was present and thanked Mayor Brenner and Council for his appointment. The City Clerk then administered Mr. Boyer the Oath of Office.

Resolution No. 105, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution appointing Tiffany Vogel, Brian Eastman, Alexander Marek, Derek Smith, David Kelley, Michael Fissel II, Zachary Pelton, Harald Pruy, and Corey Ames, as probationary police officers effective Monday, June 30, 2008, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 105 came up for discussion.

Commissioner Whitman gave a brief biography of each candidate and outlined the hiring process.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 105 passed by the following vote: Yeas - Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 106, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing the filing of a proposal for funds with the Dept. of Justice for a JAG grant in the amount of $17,834 to fund overtime proactive officer details, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 106 came up for discussion.

Commissioner Whitman explained that the grant amount ($17,834) is somewhat discretionary and that they may or may not have to split these funds with county departments and would basically fund overtime details.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 106 passed by the following vote: Yeas - Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 107, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing the filing of a proposal for funds in the amount of $280,590 with the Dept. of Justice for a COPS Tech Grant for purchase of a records management system, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 107 came up for discussion.

Commissioner Whitman explained that funds from this grant would be used to purchase a records management system that would be used in cruisers to allow officers to complete reports in their vehicles. The system would allow other municipalities to view but not change information in the system.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 107 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 108, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer in the amount of $4,000 for the Police Department to cover 2008 travel expenses, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 108 came up for discussion.

Commissioner Whitman explained that the Police Department combined travel and training expenses but was informed by the Controller’s Office that these funds should be split. Therefore, this budget transfer is doing just that, splitting this account to move $4,000 into the travel account.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 108 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 109, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Bureau of Permits, Planning & Zoning in the amount of $52,261.60 to cover 2008 consulting and other profession services, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 109 came up for discussion.

Community Development Director Kim Bracey explained that these funds would be used to pay our 3rd party-consulting firm, JMT Consulting, as they are providing various services not being fulfilled within the Bureau of PP&Z because of vacancies. She did say that they are actively pursuing applicants to fill said vacancies. She then outlined the procedures being undertaken to recruit and interview applicants.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 109 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 110, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing an agreement with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to provide life insurance to city employees for the period of August 1, 2008 through July 31, 2011 at the rate of $.207 per thousand, was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 110 came up for discussion.

Randy Helt, Director of Human Resources, explained that we are changing providers, not benefits. He said this change will save the city approximately $34,000 over the course of 3 years. The city’s contract with its former life insurance provider, Security Mutual (who did not respond to our RFP’s), expired and we are currently operating on a month-to-month basis. After reviewing proposals, he said MetLife was the most cost effective provider.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 110 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 111, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving a Cooperation Agreement between the City of York and the York City Redevelopment Authority for administration of an RACP Grant in the amount of $7,000,000 for the Northwest Triangle Initiative Project, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 111 came up for discussion.

Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, outlined that Council previously approved this grant and that one of the conditions of the grant was that a cooperation agreement be put into place. He said this is standard language recommended by our state auditors and went on to explain that his staff did meet with the auditors to make sure we were in compliance and that all requirements were being met. Director Jackson then answered questions from Council.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 111 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS

Community Development Committee, Genevieve Ray, Chair: C.D. Committee meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, to further discuss Bill No. 32 (View) - a Bill amending Article 307 “Exemption from Dwelling Improvements” to change the definition of improvement to include construction of new dwelling units and to expand the definition of dwelling units; Bill No. 33 (View) - a Bill establishing Article 1729 “Vacant Property Registration” to establish guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the city and payment of related fees; and Bill No. 36 (View) A Bill Amending Article 1728 “Vacant Property Review Committee” of the Codified Ordinances to update definitions.

COUNCIL COMMENT

Vice President Hill-Evans commented on a successful Salem Square Neighborhood Clean-up initiative held last month. She then invited the public to attend YCCAR’s 6th Annual Multicultural Picnic titled “Jazzin in the Park” being held on July 19, 2008 in King Park.

Councilwoman Ray reported that residents in the 500 block of S. Duke St. have gathered and hand delivered debris from fireworks to the Police Commissioner and that the Commissioner said he would report these findings to patrol officers. She then announced the “Splash! - Summer Program Series” at Foundry Park on the Codorus and various events to be held at the park. For more information, please visit: www.downtownyorkpa.com. All events are free and open to the public. Foundry Park is located in the 200 block of W. Philadelphia St.

Councilwoman Smith thanked all of the children who spoke this evening and who participated in the Hartley St. Clean Up initiative.

President Musso encouraged residents to take part in the 25th Annual National Night Out being held on August 5, 2008.

ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: NONE

NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for August 19, 2008 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 July 15, 2008 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:05 p.m.