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August 19, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, August 19, 2003 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Melvin Tatem, of Grace Deliverance Baptist Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, John B. Callahan, Robert J. Donchez, James S. Gregory, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
Citation – Honoring Daniel L. Meixell
President Schweder presented a Citation to Daniel L. Meixell on the occasion of his retirement from the Police Department, after 26 years of service to the City.
Citation – Honoring Robert Mulligan
President Schweder noted that a Citation will be forwarded to Robert Mulligan on the occasion of his retirement from the Police Department, after 23 years of service to the City.
Citation – Honoring Michael J. Sopko, Jr.
President Schweder noted that a Citation will be forwarded to Michael J. Sopko, Jr. on the occasion of his retirement from the Water and Sewer Resources Department, after 40 years of service to the City.
Citation – Honoring Rick D. Weaver
President Schweder noted that a Citation will be forwarded to Rick D. Weaver on the occasion of his retirement from the Fire Department, after 24 years of service to the City.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of July 29, 2003 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Opening City Hall Garage Gates
Robert Lovingood, P.O. Box 20001, thanked the Mayor for reopening the City Hall Garage to citizens.
Bill No. 30 – 2003 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Establishing Section 1304.07 – R-R Residential District Overlay Zone
Robert Lovingood, P.O. Box 20001, noted he is a resident of the City, and secretary of the Macada Association. Mr. Lovingood communicated there is a general consensus that if the proposed RR - Residential Overlay for the area of Creek and Friedensville Roads is to be adopted then the zoning in the area should be changed completely to RR Residential "because we have all single family homes out there" and the zoning has been that way for a long time. Mr. Lovingood mentioned there are people who would have liked to speak at the meeting this evening, including Robert Biery, Vice President of the Macada Association, but who was unable to attend due to his vacation. Mr. Lovingood asked City Council to please vote to keep the RR Residential zoning, put single family homes there, and change the area to another category of zoning that would be appropriate.
6. OLD BUSINESS
Unaccounted For Water
Mr. Donchez thanked Kathleen Reese, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, for providing the Leak Survey for 1986-2002 that he requested today. Mr. Donchez, focusing on the Leak Survey, noted that the City spent a total of $221,000 over the period of time for the survey. Mr. Donchez, pointing out that each year one-third of the City's water system was evaluated for a leak survey, observed that over a period of three years the City was basically reviewed. Mr. Donchez, stating that for each year of the survey the location, price, and amount of gallons per day lost were listed, advised that 1.3 million gallons was the total for 1986 through 2002. Affirming that the City spent $246,000 to have ADS Environmental Services conduct the water audit, Mr. Donchez remarked that basically the company told the City they found about a 10% improvement in the City's water system that, in his opinion, he found to be very ambiguous because they basically said it was the metering and not any specific leaks. Recalling that Ms. Reese has always used the statistic that a 10% loss would be average, Mr. Donchez thought the PUC average was approximately 20%. Mr. Donchez continued on to enumerate percentages for unaccounted for water in other cities that were obtained from the Bethlehem Authority, as follows: Allentown - 15%, Easton - 18%, South Whitehall - 20%, Northampton - 16%, Hellertown - 24%, Upper Saucon -16%. Mr. Donchez questioned whether the City has any documents from a consultant or a consulting company that states exactly what percentage of unaccounted for water should be acceptable for the City of Bethlehem based on the size of the system of 405 miles, on the age of the system, on the connections, on the joint leakage. Mr. Donchez restated that his question is whether there is a baseline rather than always stating estimates and averages. Mr. Donchez, remarking he cannot find the information anywhere, queried is there a statistic from an outside source that says the City's water system is losing x number of gallons a day and the percentage.
Ms. Reese clarified that she never said that 10% was the industry average. Rather, Ms. Reese verified that she said that 10% was the industry standard. Ms. Reese continued on to say "that is what the industry considers to be zero. It is not considered to be cost effective by the industry for a utility to attempt to get their unaccounted for water percentage below 10% because it's not cost effective. It would cost more to try to get that number reduced below 10% than the benefit…The Public Utility Commission in the Commonwealth [of Pennsylvania] has a standard of 20%. Those utilities that have percentages over 10 or over 20 percent are not meeting those standards. As far as what can a system this age and this size made out of this type of material be expected to accept as a maximum amount of water loss, you will not find that number very easily. However, there are books…that I have looked at that have formulas and I've worked the formulas, and anywhere between 300,000 and 800,000 gallons a day total if you work those formulas. Those formulas are all based on research which may not be appropriate to apply to our system…I've never worked for a utility that had an unaccounted for water percentage over 13%. But those were a lot of systems that were pretty new. This system is old, especially in some areas. But it's interesting that Fountain Hill only had one main break in the last five years. We do know where all the main breaks have occurred in our system for the last five years. Fountain Hill I would believe is one of the oldest, and it's only had one main break in the last five years. A lot of the reasons why our main breaks is because of the geology through which they were laid, the construction that was used at the time, weather -- freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw -- that is why we have our highest percentage of water main breaks in the winter months. And, this last winter we had as many main breaks in the first six months of the year as we had in the entire twelve months of last year. I can tell you that the PUC and their management audit in the middle 90's told us that our unaccounted for water percentage was too high…I went back and I copied annual engineering reports for about the last four or five years, and each one of those annual engineering reports had a recommendation to reduce our unaccounted for water percentage. I've asked ADS and I've asked other engineers is there a way to determine whether the City's unaccounted for water percentage is truly outrageously high, it's high, it's medium, it's average for a city our size and age, and the number of customers we serve, and engineers, being a very conservative group of people, have chosen not to answer the question straightly by saying…it's 12%, 13%, 15%, 25%. You also have to take into account the fact that I don't know how those numbers were derived from those other utilities. I only know how our numbers were derived."
Mr. Donchez, commenting that the City really does not have a statistic from Gannett Fleming or from ADS or from anyone going back at least to 1986 that gives a baseline to work from, asked whether or not that statement is correct.
Ms. Reese responded by saying "we have a target from the Public Utility Commission of 20% and we have a target from the American Water Works Association of 10%."
While remarking the City has targets but does not really have a baseline to work from, Mr. Donchez stressed that is what troubles him. Reiterating that the City has spent $221,000 from 1986 through 2002 for the leak surveys to have one-third of the water system reviewed each year, then the $246,000 for ADS, Mr. Donchez asserted "we're still basically on square one, for the most part." Mr. Donchez queried would it not make sense to have a baseline number after all these years of talking about the issue as opposed to floating numbers that may be totally inaccurate.
Mr. Donchez, asking the Mayor to provide an update from the Administration's standpoint, noted that the Bethlehem Authority has a consulting company that would review various aspects of the matter for $30,000-$35,000. Mr. Donchez inquired whether the Mayor is aware of any benchmark.
Mayor Delgrosso, communicating he is not sure there is a benchmark for Bethlehem and it has always been a problem or question, confirmed once a benchmark is established then one has to look at the unaccounted for water beyond that benchmark. Mayor Delgrosso affirmed a leak expert was brought in who has all the material that City officials received and is reviewing that. Mayor Delgrosso advised he has spoken with Ronald Donchez, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority, today to go over what the Authority's consultant, Schoor DePalma, will be doing. Mayor Delgrosso explained what was decided was to ask the leak expert to review the direction of Schoor DePalma, and perhaps split up the work while working in conjunction with each other. Mayor Delgrosso continued on to explain the consultants could work together to find out if a benchmark can be established after which it must be decided how to go about it, and a determination could be made if District 7 should be further surveyed. In addition, all the breaks could be pinpointed after which the leak expert has indicated to the Administration that is the area where the City would do its leak study. Mayor Delgrosso communicated that, among the factors he has heard, is that it is a large area, and the bidding process could be required. Mayor Delgrosso noted a question is whether the work can be done under professional contract.
Mr. Donchez queried if Mayor Delgrosso agrees it is imperative to come up with a benchmark number from which to work. Mayor Delgrosso, while communicating it would be an estimated benchmark, expressed his agreement that a number should be determined. Mr. Donchez asked if the consultant with whom the Mayor is working is considering just District 7 or evaluating the whole system, and would be working with the Bethlehem Authority. Mayor Delgrosso, responding that the Administration would sit down with the Bethlehem Authority, did not think the whole system would be evaluated. Mayor Delgrosso noted that, as he had said today to Ronald Donchez, Chairman of the Bethlehem Authority, there is no reason to rush on and make mistakes. Mayor Delgrosso, commenting that those involved should take the time and have the work done at the best possible cost to the City, felt if everyone could work together that way the job that everyone wants to see done can be accomplished and done correctly. Mr. Donchez asked if there is a timeframe. Mayor Delgrosso, replying no, expressed the hope it could be done as quickly as possible. Mr. Donchez inquired whether City Council will be constantly updated. Mayor Delgrosso responded yes.
Mrs. Belinski, asking about the 111 meters that the owners have not changed, noted some of those meters are very old and no longer accurately measure the amount of water going through them. Consequently, Mrs. Belinski thought the individuals who are not changing their meters must be getting water at a cheap rate and for less than they are actually using. Mrs. Belinski stressed that it should be determined how much water is unaccounted for due to the 111 meters that are not being changed.
Mayor Delgrosso informed Mrs. Belinski that a letter will be sent to the 111 customers noting the dates they were sent certified letters and telephone calls were made. In addition, the letter will state that if the customers do not change the meters by a certain date then the water will be shut off.
Mr. Callahan, focusing on the formula for a water system the size, age, and material of the City's to calculate unaccounted for water and the figure mentioned of 300,000-800,000 gallons per day, asked what the figure would be on a percent basis.
Ms. Reese responded that for 2002 taken as a percentage of send-out flow from the plant unaccounted for water was approximately 4.2 million gallons a day. Ms. Reese continued on to say that two different formulas, in a book on water loss, take into account not necessarily the City's specific type of system but rather how many miles of mains, how many service lines, distance of service lines from meters. Accordingly, Ms. Reese pointed out there are a number of measuring points to insert into the formula. Ms. Reese advised that, calculating it out based on what she thought were rather liberal numbers, she came out with a 800,000 gallons per day number. Ms. Reese explained that the other formula is based on main breaks and service line breaks that are reported and not reported. Based on those numbers, Ms. Reese stated she came up with a number of about 368,000 gallons a day. Ms. Reese added this is supposed to take into account all water losses through leaks. Ms. Reese, while communicating it is not a number that is close enough, said it will help. In further response to Mr. Callahan's question as to what it would be on a percent basis, Ms. Reese commented that approximately 4.2 million gallons a day cannot be accounted for and that would have reduced it to about 3.8 million gallons a day under the one formula and about 3.4 million under the other formula. Ms. Reese, acknowledging these are estimates that come out of a book, affirmed "we are looking more deeply into it".
A. Deputy Director of Community Development – Highway Safety Project Grant
The Clerk read a letter dated August 6, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed resolution to authorize the Mayor and the Controller to sign grant documents for Highway Safety Grant Project No. J8 04-01-1 for continuation of the City of Bethlehem Sobriety Checkpoint and Expanded DUI/Underage Drinking Enforcement Program.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 C is listed on the agenda.
B. Assistant City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Controller’s Office
The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 12, 2003 from William Alexander Karras, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution for the destruction of records requested by the Controller’s Office in accordance with the Municipal Records Retention Act.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 I is listed on the agenda.
C. Assistant City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Financial Services Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 12, 2003 from William Alexander Karras, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution for the destruction of records requested by the Financial Services Department in accordance with the Municipal Records Retention Act.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 J is listed on the agenda.
D. 2000 Parking Authority – Refunding Issue
The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 15, 2003 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, stating that Bill No. 34 – 2003, 2000 Parking Authority Refunding Issue, listed on the agenda for Final Reading, was discussed and approved by the Finance Committee, and gives the Administration the direction to proceed with the refunding if the net present value savings are 2% or greater of the amount of bonds being refunded. This equates to a net present value savings of at least $167,000. The Ordinance authorizes the Mayor, Council President and Controller to execute the bond purchase agreement by October 1, 2003. If the target savings are not achieved by October 1, then there is no authorization to sign the bond purchase agreement, and the Administration would have to go back to City Council for a new Ordinance authorizing the refunding.
President Schweder noted that Attorney Peter Carlucci, Bond Counsel, is at the meeting this evening to respond to questions.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Neighborhood Pride Program
Mayor Delgrosso affirmed that, as had been reported in the newspaper, the Administration conducted the Neighborhood Pride program in the 600 block of Fifth Street, Atlantic Street, and Laufer Street. Mayor Delgrosso advised what has come out of the program are that 45 violations have been filed by Michael Palos, Chief Housing Inspector, concerning some of the houses in the area. In addition, 150 violations have been filed by Scott Sterner of the Health Bureau in the four block area on weeds, garbage, debris, etc. of the 130 households that were contacted. The Police Department will visit the area 4-5 times an hour, and had 21 calls there over the weekend for such matters as noise violations and littering. The program will continue for 3 weeks after which it will be evaluated.
1. Administrative Order – Dennis R. Cunerd – Redevelopment Authority
Mayor James Delgrosso appointed Dennis R. Cunerd to the Redevelopment Authority, effective until March 2008. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,148 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Callahan, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held August 7, 2003 on the following subjects: Officers’ and Employees’ Pension Fund Retirees – Proposed Monthly Pension Increases, Transfer of Funds – Water Maintenance – Overtime, Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Overtime, Transfer of Funds – Tax Bureau - Overtime, Utilization of Savings – Recycling Bureau – Purchase of File Cabinets, Utilization of Savings – Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – Purchase of Replacement Backhoe. The Committee also received the Auditors presentation on the draft 2002 Audit and Report to Management on the 2002 Audit.
Chairman Callahan also presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held this evening prior to the City Council Meeting on the following subject: Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau – Tobacco Grant.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 30 – 2003 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Establishing Section 1304.07 – R-R Residential District Overlay Zone
The Clerk read Bill No. 30 – 2003 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Establishing Section 1304.07 – R-R Residential District Overlay Zone, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 30 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4205, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 31 – 2003 – Amending Article 1733 – Car Repairs at Residences
The Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2003 – Amending Article 1733 – Car Repairs at Residences, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 31 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4206, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 34 – 2003 – Parking Authority – Advanced Refunding – 2000 Bond Issue
The Clerk read Bill No. 34 - 2003 – Parking Authority – Advanced Refunding – 2000 Bond Issue, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 34 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4207, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 35 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – Police Department, Recycling Bureau, and Health Bureau
The Clerk read Bill No. 35 – 2003, Amending General Fund Budget – Police Department, Recycling Bureau, and Health Bureau, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 35 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4208, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 36 – 2003 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – TANF Program and Illick’s Mill
The Clerk read Bill No. 36 – 2003 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – TANF Program and Illick’s Mill, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 36 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4209, was declared adopted.
F. Bill No. 37 – 2003 – Amending Community Development Budget – HOME Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 37 – 2003 – Amending Community Development Budget – HOME Program, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 37 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4210, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 38 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau - Tobacco Grant
The Clerk read Bill No. 38 – 2003, Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau - Tobacco Grant, sponsored by Ms. Szabo and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 38 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Authorizing HOME Funding – New Bethany Ministries and Housing Rehabilitation
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,149 which authorized $289,170 of the total 2003 HOME Program funding to be allocated to the following 2003 HOME Program projects: New Bethany Ministries - $118,000 and Housing Rehabilitation - $171,170.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Approving Monthly Pension Increases – Officers’ and Employees’ Pension Fund Retirees
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,150 which granted an increase in pension for certain Officers’ and Employees’ Pension Fund retirees in accordance with Exhibit A, effective October 1, 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Authorizing Execution of Documents – Highway Safety Grant Project
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,151 which authorized the Mayor and Controller to sign the grant documents for Highway Safety Grant Project No. J8 04-01-1.
D. Transfer of Funds – Water Maintenance – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,152 that transferred $40,000 in the Water Fund Budget from Water General Expenses – Unforeseen Contingencies Account to the Water Maintenance – Overtime Account to pay overtime to the end of the year.
E. Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,153 that transferred $40,000 in the Sewer Fund Budget from the following accounts: $10,000 from Wastewater Treatment – Salaries and $30,000 from Sewer General Expenses – Unforeseen Contingency, to the Wastewater Treatment – Overtime Account to provide additional funding in the Account to pay overtime to the end of the year.
F. Transfer of Funds – Tax Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,154 which transferred $3,800 in the General Fund Budget from the Tax Bureau – Temporary Help Account to the Tax Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the Account.
G. Utilization of Savings – Recycling Bureau – Purchase of File Cabinets
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,155 which utilized $500 in savings in the General Fund Budget from the Recycling Bureau – Equipment Account for the purchase of two filing cabinets for the Recycling Bureau.
H. Utilization of Savings – Liquid Fuels Fund – Purchase of Replacement Backhoe
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,156 which utilized $65,000 in savings in the Liquid Fuels Fund Budget from the Liquid Fuels Fund – Equipment Account for the purchase of a replacement backhoe.
I. Authorizing Records Destruction – Controller’s Office
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,157 which authorized the disposition of records from the Controller’s Office listed on Exhibit A in accordance with the Municipal Records Manual.
J. Authorizing Records Destruction – Financial Services Bureau
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,158 which authorized the disposition of records from Financial Services listed on Exhibit A in accordance with the Municipal Records Manual.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Weeds - Third and Fourth Streets
Mrs. Belinski advised that she has been getting many complaints from residents of the Third and Fourth Streets corridor about weeds taking over the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation parking lots. Mrs. Belinski inquired who should be called about the problem and who is responsible.
Tony Hanna, Director Community and Economic Development, responding that Bethlehem Steel Corporation no longer has responsibility for the parking lots, informed Mrs. Belinski that ISG has the responsibility. Mr. Hanna stated that ISG has been requested to clean up the property. Noting the City has some responsibility for some of the properties in the Bethlehem Works project area following the development of the infrastructure there, Mr. Hanna advised that Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, and his staff have cleaned up some of that property. In addition, the City has been working with Norfolk Southern Railroad because some of the property abuts theirs. Mr. Hanna added that the railroad has done a very good job in the last week or so cleaning out some heavy brush in the corridor.
Lights on Fourth Street
Mrs. Belinski, relating that neighbors are very happy with the installation of the new lights on Fourth Street, noted they are wondering when the lights will be turned on.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, replied in about four weeks.
Ice Rink - Bethlehem Works
Ms. Szabo inquired about the status of the ice rink project in the Bethlehem Works area.
Mr. Hanna explained that construction is progressing very well, and the expectation is that it might be ready by the end of the year.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Police Department - Additional Dogs
Pennie Barron, 626 Fifth Avenue, inquired about funding for an extra K-9 dog and some needed equipment for the Police Department. Ms. Barron advised that she attended the Civilian Police Academy and hopes to enter the formal Police Academy in January. Ms. Barron related that she learned the City's Emergency Response Team needs about 15 gas masks that cost approximately $200 a piece. Adding she has spoken to Mr. Callahan and Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, Ms. Barron said they are trying to find out about possible available grants. Ms. Barron said she would like Council to support this, and informed the assembly that she would like to do some fundraising activities.
Carol Mark, 634 Fifth Avenue, informed the Members that she also attended the Civilian Police Academy. Ms. Mark advised she asked Officer Jack Fliter why the City has only two dogs since it would make sense to have three dogs in view of the fact that there are three Police shifts. Ms. Mark noted it comes down to lack of money. Ms. Mark, stating she has been told the working span of a dog is around 7-9 years, felt the span would be longer if there were a third dog. Ms. Mark advised that the initial cost of a dog, which is $12,000-$13,000, covers the dog, training, veterinary bills, and food, after which the maintenance cost is $2,500 per year. She commented that a new cruiser car would not be needed but rather a Police car could be easily converted. Ms. Mark, saying that Police Commissioner Donchez is backing the project, asked if Council would back it. Ms. Mark queried if there is any way this could be worked into the budget, or perhaps over a period of two or three years, and added that some fund raising could be done to purchase another dog.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, noted the Patriot Act, that comprises about 347 pages, was rushed into passage after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Mr. Crownfield, saying "most congressmen and senators admitted that they never even had a chance to read it", stated it turns out the act "has provisions threatening our rights…against search and seizure without notice, and numerous other provisions." Mr. Crownfield affirmed he has provided each Member of Council with further information on this and a proposed Resolution that he said he "would like Council to place on the Agenda for a future meeting at which the City of Bethlehem could take an opportunity to protect the rights of the people living here." Mr. Crownfield expressed the hope that Council would put it on an Agenda for a meeting soon.
President Schweder, affirming that the Members of Council did receive Mr. Crownfield's letter, advised that he asked the City Clerk to obtain seven copies of the Act. At that point, President Schweder stated a determination will be made if there is an interest by Members of Council to sponsor something with respect to the matter.
Unaccounted For Water
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, referring to Mr. Donchez's remarks, expressed the opinion that Mr. Donchez and Ms. Reese were talking about two different things. Mr. Scheirer thought that Mr. Donchez's question could be formulated as a statistical question. Mr. Scheirer notified the Members that, if he could be provided with data on comparable systems and percentage of unaccounted for water, he will attempt to develop, pro bono, a relationship based on municipal experience rather than industry standard.
Mr. Scheirer, stating that ADS Environmental Services estimated that five percent of the water was not being measured by meters due to their age, communicated that the company did not focus on the amount of water unmeasured because of the age of the meters. Mr. Scheirer thought that professional or trade organizations have estimates that vary by the age of meters. Mr. Scheirer felt it would be fairly simple to write a computer program that would look at the age of each customer's meter, estimate the corresponding percentage and volume of water being unmeasured, add the volumes, and divide the overall missing volume by the volume of water estimated to be going into the system in order to obtain an estimated percentage that would be more accurate than the five percent estimate. Mr. Scheirer recited an example of the calculation.
Fire Department - Newspaper Article
Howard Aubrey, 2105 Iris Place, noting he has been a member of the Fire Department for nearly 23 years, said he would like to comment on a recent newspaper article about sick leave and overtime that he felt was misconstrued information. Mr. Aubrey, advising there has always been at least one person but sometimes three, four, or more on long term injury or illness, remarked that to take long term sickness and illness, put it into a group of all the Firefighters and divide that into an average "is unfair and ridiculous". Mr. Aubrey, expressing the opinion that when morale goes down sick leave increases, continued on to say it is his opinion "that the morale of the Bethlehem Fire Department is at the lowest I've ever seen in my career" and the downhill spiral began about eight years ago. Mr. Aubrey recounted that several years ago there was a scandal, the repercussions of which continue today. Mr. Aubrey, relating it was revealed in the local press that the City had hired illegal candidates for the Fire Department, noted State law required candidates to live in the City for at least one year prior to applying for the Fire Department. Pointing out that Fire Departments in Allentown, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre had the same situation and immediately fired such individuals, Mr. Aubrey stressed that the City of Bethlehem did not. Mr. Aubrey, noting that one individual was suspended for six to nine months during which the City paid overtime to replace him, advised that the individual was reinstated. Mr. Aubrey further advised that nothing happened to any of the others and asserted there were at least ten individuals who violated the law, some of whom have become officers. Mr. Aubrey said "having to come to work with these people who we know were hired illegally is very disturbing to morale", and added "some of these individuals are downright arrogant about this." Mr. Aubrey informed the assembly that, under the current Fire administration, members of the Fire Department have been encouraged and rewarded for coming to work on their days off for no compensation which he noted is a violation of a Federal labor law under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mr. Aubrey, citing the case involving Montgomery County, Maryland where this practice occurred, advised that the County had to pay back ten years of overtime and had to sell a fire station to pay the fines and IRS related fines. Mr. Aubrey highlighted the fact that designated smoking areas are in areas where Firefighters are forced to work and train and is in the workout area at one of the Fire Stations. Mr. Aubrey, pointing out there are no physical fitness standards, stressed there are some Firefighters who in his opinion are "in absolutely horrendous physical condition", felt they would be incapable of climbing a flight of stairs dragging a hose line. Mr. Aubrey, saying "individuals like myself are forced to do their work for them", queried "how's that supposed to boost morale." Mr. Aubrey, noting that Firefighters receive $5 a day for unused sick leave at the end of the year, calculated that is $88 with taxes. Mr. Aubrey exclaimed he would rather be with his sick child than receive $5 a day. Mr. Aubrey, remarking there is a sick leave increase within the Fire Department, asserted it should not be blamed on contract loopholes. Mr. Aubrey stated that "describing Bethlehem Firefighters as self-serving is unfair, too, unless all the facts are laid out." Mr. Aubrey said "if you want to fix alleged sick leave abuse you have to fix the Fire Department. Firefighters are not stupid. They know when important issues are being covered up instead of dealt with. Heal the Department and you'll heal the men."
Shawn O'Hearn, 1220 Center Street, noting he is a Firefighter, said when he read the newspaper article he was angered and disappointed that the City Administration would let something like that get in the newspaper. He added it was very misleading and erroneous. Mr. O'Hearn, stating the majority of Firefighters do not take sick days, communicated that the vast majority are dedicated professionals. Mr. O'Hearn, expressing his feeling that it is a direct assault about contract negotiations not going too well since there is not yet a contract, communicated that Firefighters feel the City somehow thinks this will give them an upper hand. Mr. O'Hearn expressed his disappointment with that tactic and the newspaper article. Mr. O'Hearn remarked that the dedicated Firefighters feel those individuals who are taking sick days and bending the rules should be dealt with rather than letting the vast majority of Firefighters suffer. Mr. O'Hearn asserted it does hurt morale. Mr. O'Hearn said he would like to see the City Administration perhaps come forward with a retraction for some of what was in the newspaper which he declared was misleading. Commenting that "a very small minority of guys [are] taking off a lot of days", Mr. O'Hearn contended that to paint the entire Department as taking advantage of the taxpayers is not fair.
Mr. Reichard said "our records don't lie, our records are accurate. They were off our payroll records…When the Morning Call asked me for the information, that information goes to the Solicitor. It's under the right to know law. There is nothing that the City Administration can do with keeping that information private. That is public information. The Solicitor [,Attorney Leeson,] did review the information, he sent me a…memo…and said that that information shall be distributed to the Morning Call. Again, the records are accurate. I invite any Member of Council to review those records. We have not supplied any false information."
Mayor Delgrosso pointed out the newspaper article was started almost a year ago, not during Fire Department contract negotiations. Mayor Delgrosso noted that the newspaper made the decision about putting the article in the newspaper and the City had nothing to do with it.
Unaccounted For Water - Process
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, notified the assembly that he went through an exhaustive examination to get a sense of the process involved in the issue related to the study of unaccounted for water. Remarking that the process is very complex, Mr. Antalics said he was impressed with the cooperativeness of City employees in helping him to understand the situation. He highlighted the fact that there were various checks and balances throughout the process including the receiving of bids, signing of contract, paying of purchase orders, etc. Mr. Antalics stated that the last invoice from ADS Environmental Services dated June 16 in the amount of $37,000 showed "total to date billings percent work completed to be 100%". He continued on to say that the invoice went to the Treasurer and Controller for payment and apparently the check was issued on June 30. Mr. Antalics said he has a readout starting with "December 01 for $275,000 was approved and the total expenditures as of 6/23 was $258,398 which was a pretty good portion of the total contract." Mr. Antalics recounted that, after the July 29, 2003 City Council Meeting, an article appeared in the Morning Call on July 30, 2003 containing statements of the Controller. Mr. Antalics indicated that the matter seemed to have broken in June or July so that actions seemed to be taken in August. Mr. Antalics, communicating he is impressed with the ability for checks and balances from the early contract down to almost yesterday, said he is concerned with "an invoice coming out and saying that they did 100% of the work and which was not the case." Mr. Antalics queried "where did the check and balance break down at that point".
President Schweder observed the answer would have to come from the Controller's or Treasurer's offices.
Mr. Antalics remarked he finds "it troublesome that the red flag didn't come up sooner", and is "a bit disturbed by the timing of this". Mr. Antalics, expressing the "hope that we're not going to be throwing more dollars after bad dollars and end up zero", said by that he means "incurring legal fees over and above what we've already paid for things not done based upon the City saying everything was done to their satisfaction."
President Schweder, stating that all share Mr. Antalics' concern, noted he was advised that the investigation in the Controller's office continues and it would be the Controller's responsibility to go after the agency or individuals to see if there is restitution to be made back to the City.
Mr. Antalics advised that he spoke with the person at ADS Environmental Services in charge of the project who said "he was not free to comment because he implied it was in litigation already".
City Council Seat - County Committee Nominee
Mr. Antalics congratulated Mr. Arcelay on his appointment for the City Council seat on the November ballot by the County Committee and added that he was impressed with the process.
Disturbances at Hawthorne House
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, informed the Members there have been a lot of disturbances on Hawthorne Road particularly in the playground area. Adding that Mr. Donchez has been investigating that and has been very helpful, and Mr. Gregory has helped with having automobiles removed from the Milham lot, Mr. Bruch noted that the stop signs are up, and the Police are present. Mr. Bruch communicated that more Police presence is needed because of some vandals who are throwing bricks and stones for no reason. Mr. Bruch advised that the neighbors are looking for three individuals on bicycles and hope that soon the culprits can be found and the neighborhood can be good and clean again.
Comments By Firefighters
Mr. Gregory commended the Firefighters for their courage in speaking up tonight. Mr. Gregory expressed the hope that Council may ask the Fire Commissioner for a response in writing to the issues that were raised.
Mayor Delgrosso indicated that the Fire Commissioner will be contacted.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.