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October 7, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, October 7, 2003 – 7:45 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Jack
Groblewski, of New Covenant Christian Community 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.
Executive Session Announcement
President Schweder stated that City Council met in Executive Session this evening, Tuesday, October 7, 2003 at 7:00 PM in the Mayor's Conference Room for the City Solicitor to report to City Council concerning litigation and issues on which identifiable complaints are expected to be filed.
Citations - Honoring Alan J. Hoppey, Jose Ruiz, John Confalone, and Craig J. Stefko
President Schweder presented a Citation to Alan J. Hoppey on the occasion of his retirement from the Fire Department after 32 years of service to the City.
President Schweder presented a Citation to Jose Ruiz on the occasion of his retirement from the Department of Public Works after 28 years of service to the City.
President Schweder stated that Citations for John Confalone
who retired from the Fire Department after 24 years of service,
and for Craig J. Stefko who retired from the Police Department
after 21 years of service, will be forwarded to them since
they were unable to be present this evening.
Public Hearings – (1) Intermunicipal Transfer of Liquor License R-16360 from Borough of Bangor to City of Bethlehem; (2) Proposed Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2004 - Funding Under Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Programs; and (3) 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, City Council conducted three Public Hearings.
First Public Hearing – Intermunicipal Transfer of Liquor License R-16360 from Borough of Bangor to City of Bethlehem
President Schweder called to order the first Public Hearing to consider an Intermunicipal Transfer of Liquor License R-16360 from the Borough of Bangor to the City of Bethlehem.
Attorney F. Paul Laubner, 425 Allentown Drive, Allentown,
advised that his client, Elliot Matos, operates Elliot's American
Grill restaurant, 81 West Broad Street, Bethlehem at the present
time. Attorney Laubner stated that his client has entered
into an agreement of sale for the purchase of a Liquor License,
R-16360, from Sportsman Bar and Restaurant, Inc., 3-5 Messinger
Street, Bangor, Pennsylvania 18013. Attorney Laubner affirmed
that the approval of City Council is being sought for the
transfer of the liquor license to his client's place of business.
Attorney Laubner, commenting that his client now runs a real
fine restaurant, said this liquor license would help to continue
in the fine tradition of restaurants in this section of the
City. Attorney Laubner added it is hoped that the City would
view this application favorably. Attorney Laubner noted that
his client has been working with Harold Lieberman, of the
Community and Economic Development Department, concerning
transfers, financings and the like, and is "ready to
go" if approval is granted by City Council for the transfer
of the liquor license.
No one from the public spoke to the matter of the first public hearing.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the October 21, 2003 City Council Agenda.
The first Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Second Public Hearing – Proposed Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2004 - Funding Under Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Programs
President Schweder called to order the second Public Hearing to review the Proposed Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2004 that includes funding under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Programs.
Dana Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, recognized the attendance of Edward Guebtner, of Mullin and Lonergan, the City's consultants, and several representatives from various non-profit agencies proposed to receive assistance, in the event of questions. Mr. Grubb verified that the purpose of the public hearing is to review the City's Proposed Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2004 for funding under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Programs. Mr. Grubb notified the assembly that the City is submitting a plan in anticipation of receiving $2,025,000 from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, $600,000 from the HOME Investment Partnership Programs, and rolling forward $130,000 from the 2003 CDBG Program.
Mr. Grubb enumerated briefly each of the proposed 2004 Community
Development Block Grant Program activities, as follows: 1.
Acquisition/Demolition - $ 50,000 - Blighted property review,
economic development or potential code condemnation; 2. Marvine
Pool Improvements - $ 170,000 - Replace pool deck and lining;
3. Illick's Mill/ADA Improvements - $ 47,000 - Installation
of elevator, accessible restrooms, and other modifications;
4. Curb Cuts - $ 75,000 - ADA accessibility throughout the
City; 5. East Fourth Street Plaza Improvements - $ 50,000
- Redevelopment of former Bethlehem Steel Corporation parking
lot at eastern end of East Fourth Street; 6. Street Landscaping
- $ 20,000 - Installation of street trees in income eligible
neighborhoods or CDBG eligible street projects; 7. Street
Overlays - $ 100,000 - Street overlays in income eligible
areas; 8. Public Works Engineering - $ 30,000 - Reimbursement
to City's General Fund for engineering costs associated with
CDBG projects; 9. Police Services - Community Policing - $
128,000 - Pays salary and benefits of two Community Police
Officers, one at each of the two South Side Substations; 10.
Police Services - Drug Surveillance Overtime - $ 20,000 -
Payment for Overtime and Shift Differential for drug surveillance
activities in income eligible areas; 11. Health Services -
Blood Lead Testing - $ 700 - Blood lead tests for children
of Bethlehem residents; 12. Health Services - Children's Dental
Program - $ 1,000 - Basic dental care, combined with State
funding; 13. Accessibility Counseling - Lehigh Valley Center
for Independent Living - $ 20,000 - Purchase of counseling
services for community residents who deal with architectural
and other barriers; 14. HOOP - Neighborhood Housing Services
of the Lehigh Valley, Inc. - $ 5,000 - Program loan intake/processing
for the HOOP program; 15. Financial Services Counseling -
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Inc. - $
25,000 - Counseling services for first time homebuyers for
rental issues for City residents and assistance in implementing
savings program for low-income residents, ultimate goal is
homeownership; 16. Start Your Business Counseling - Community
Action Development Corporation - $ 25,000 - Microenterprise
program for small business development; 17. Housing Rehabilitation
- $ 306,000 - Staff and delivery costs; direct loans and deferred
payment loans for code correction, weatherization, lead remediation
and relocation costs; 18. Redevelopment Authority - $ 95,000
- Administration/delivery costs for ADA Compliance, Blighted
Property Review, Urban Renewal, Loan Servicing, Affordable
Housing activities, TIF/HUD Section 108 Loan management for
Bethlehem Works site; 19. Economic Development - $ 169,000
- Staff and delivery costs; 20. Economic Development - $ 200,000
- BEAR Program; 21. Economic Development - $ 200,000 - Facade
Improvement Program; 22. Economic Development - $ 223,300
- FRED Program; 23. Program Administration - $ 130,000 - Program
and staff costs including salaries, employee benefits, publications,
advertising, Single Audit, Central Services Cost Allocation
Plan, copier and service agreement, travel expenses, and other
miscellaneous program eligible administrative costs; 24. Program
Administration - $45,000 - Community Development Consultants;
25. Turning Point - $ 20,000 - Facility renovations at domestic
violence shelter. Total Fiscal Year 2004 CDBG Program - $2,155,000.
Mr. Grubb continued on to enumerate the proposed 2004 HOME Activities, as follows: 1. YMCA - $ 175,000 - Conversion of 58 grouped housing units to 19 affordable housing units for single parent families. Mr. Grubb, adding that the request was for twice that amount, informed the assembly that the organization was amenable to a multi-year commitment from the City in order to move the project forward; 2. Habitat for Humanity - $ 75,000 - Acquisition costs and site improvement costs for affordable housing opportunities for home buyers. Mr. Grubb, informing the assembly that the organization requested $150,000, advised that a proposal will be forwarded to the Finance Committee to allocate $75,000 in available funds this year to meet the request; 3. Alliance for Building Communities (ABC) - Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) - $ 350,000 total: a. CHDO operating expenses associated with HOME funded activities in Bethlehem - $50,000; b. Doorways to Home Ownership Program (first time homebuyers program) Five Points Zone - $ 75,000; c. Doorways to Home Ownership Program/ Southside area outside of Five Points Zone - $150,000; d. Doorways to Home Ownership Program/Northside area of City - $ 75,000. Total Fiscal Year 2004 HOME Program - $ 600,000.
Mr. Grubb notified the assembly that the City's Fiscal Year 2004 Action Plan is on display, and must be advertised for thirty days, and is available in the Bethlehem Area Public Library, Community and Economic Development office, and City Clerk's office.
President Schweder confirmed that the proposal was previously reviewed at a Community Development Committee meeting of September 9, 2003.
No one from the public spoke to the matter of the second public hearing.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the November 5, 2003 City Council Agenda.
The second Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.
Third Public Hearing – 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant
President Schweder called to order the third Public Hearing to review the 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant.
Police Lieutenant Joseph Kimock presented the 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program with funding of $39,795 in addition to a City match of $4,422 for a total grant of $44,217. Lt. Kimock, affirming that a committee was formed to offer non-binding advice, stated that the grant was broken down into the following categories: Equipment: $17,900 - computer, printers, computer hardware and software, and monitors; $10,300 - for Police bicycles, uniforms, parts, supplies, and tools, and additional training in maintenance, operating skills, safety and instructor certification; School Security: $6,000 - One Police Officer will be posted at Liberty High School, and one Police Officer will be posted at Northeast Middle School, Nitschmann Middle School, and Broughal Middle School for the one hour after school dismissal. Responsibilities include foot patrol of school grounds and surrounding neighborhood to prevent problems from occurring; $10,017 - Police Officers for City parks to enhance security in the parks and surrounding neighborhoods. Yosko Park will be the primary park but other City parks will be included as the need arises.
No one from the public spoke to the matter of the third public hearing.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolutions 11 F and G are listed on this evening's City Council Agenda.
The third Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:07 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of September 16, 2003 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Mayor – Vacation and Severance Pay Policy for Non-Classified Employees
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 25, 2003 from Mayor James Delgrosso to which was attached a proposed resolution setting forth a Vacation and Severance Pay policy for “Non-Classified” employees.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 H is listed on the Agenda.
B. Public Works Director – Fourth Street Reconstruction Project – Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 16, 2003 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached the Federal Aid Bridge Project Agreement No. 050006 for the Fourth Street Reconstruction Project for Fourth Street between Williams and Hayes Streets, providing for reimbursement to the State for the cost of installing electrical conduits for the City’s street light system as part of the project. Under the Agreement, the State will be reimbursed 100% of these costs, and execution of the required Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Resolution was requested.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 I is listed on this evening's Agenda.
C. Public Works Director – Fourth and Hayes Streets – Traffic Signal Maintenance Agreement
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 16, 2003 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached a proposed resolution required by the State for the Traffic Signal Maintenance Agreement between the City and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the maintenance of the signal light to be upgraded at the intersection of Fourth and Hayes Streets.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 J is listed on this evening's Agenda.
D. City Clerk – Amending Article 107 – Emergency Medical Services Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 1, 2003 to which was attached a proposed Ordinance, as a result of the transfer of the Emergency Medical Services Bureau to the Fire Department from the Community and Economic Development Department, to revise applicable Sections 107.05 and 107.08 in the Codified Ordinances.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be listed on the October 21 Council Agenda.
E. Deputy Director of Economic Development – Non-Profit Façade Program
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 3, 2003 from Diane Donaher, Deputy Director of Economic Development, to which was attached an addendum to the Façade and Building Improvement Program presented to the Community Development Committee to provide a façade loan up to $30,000 to a non-profit organization, with the first 50% as a deferred payment loan up to a maximum of $15,000.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 E, along with an Amendment to add the Non-Profit Façade Program, are on this evening's Council Agenda.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
President Schweder announced that City Council will meet as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall to review the proposed Five Year Capital Plan.
1. Administrative Order – Marlene Fowler – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor James Delgrosso reappointed Marlene Fowler to the Fine Arts Commission, effective until September 2006. Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,189 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 October 6, 2003 on the following subjects: Towing Fees – Increases; Recreation Fees – Increases – (A) Ice Skating, (B) Swimming Pools; Recycling Fee – Increase; Housing Inspections Fees – Increases – (A) Rental Inspection, (B) Housing Inspection; (C) Repeat Recheck; and Amending Article 927 – Sewer Rate Increase (8%).
D. Public Works Committee
Mr. Gregory, Chairman of the Public Works Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held October 6, 2003 on the following subject: Reorganization of Department of Public Works and Department of Water and Sewer Resources.
E. Human Resources and Environment Committee
Mr. Arcelay, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held October 6, 2003 on the following subjects: Non-Classified Employees – 2004 Proposed Salaries; and General Fund – 2004 Proposed Reclassifications and New Position – (A) Department of Administration; (B) Department of Community and Economic Development, (C) Department of Fire.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 40 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – Streets Bureau - Overtime and Supplies
The Clerk read Bill No. 40 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – Streets Bureau – Overtime and Supplies, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 40 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4213, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 41 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Insurance Reimbursement
The Clerk read Bill No. 41 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Insurance Reimbursement, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 41 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4214, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 42 – 2003 – Amending Water Fund Budget - Water Treatment Plant Residuals
President Schweder announced Bill No. 42 - 2003 has been deleted from the Agenda at the request of the Administration.
B. Bill No. 43 – 2003 – Amending Article 1302 – Height of a Structure
The Clerk read Bill No. 43 – 2003, Amending Article 1302 – Height of a Structure, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
ARTICLE 1302 OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE
CITY OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 43 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 44 – 2003 – Amending Article 1309 – Institutional District – Arena
The Clerk read Bill No. 44 – 2003, Amending Article 1309 – Institutional District - Arena, sponsored by Mr. Callahan and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
ARTICLE 1309 OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE
CITY OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED I INSTITUTIONAL DISTRICT.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 44 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 45 – 2003 – Amending Article 1318 – Front and Rear Yards – Porches and Decks
The Clerk read Bill No. 45 – 2003, Amending Article 1318 – Front and Rear Yards - Porches and Decks, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1318
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED GENERAL REGULATIONS.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 45 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
E. Bill No. 46 – 2003 – Amending Article 1320 – Signs
The Clerk read Bill No. 46 – 2003, Amending Article 1320 – Signs, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1320
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 46 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
F. Bill No. 47 – 2003 – Amending Article 1322 – Location of Buildings and Arenas
The Clerk read Bill No. 47 – 2003, Amending Article 1322 – Location of Buildings and Arenas, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1322
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED USES GRANTED UNDER SPECIAL CONDITIONS.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr.
Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill
No. 47 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
Motion - Considering Resolutions 11 A Through D As A Group
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez moved to consider Resolutions 11 A through D as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 127 East Fourth Street
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,190 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a concrete ramp at 127 East Fourth Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 516 East Fourth Street
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,191 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a flat wall sign at 516 East Fourth Street.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 4 West Fourth Street
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,192 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to retain flat wall signs at 4 West Fourth Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 13 West Third Street
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,193 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl windows instead of wood windows in the addition at 13 West Third Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 A through 11 D: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
E. Approving Façade and Building Improvement Program and Project Loans
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,194 which approved the Façade and Building Improvement Program, as contained in Exhibit A, consisting of the Building Improvement Fund, Façade Improvement Fund, Storefront Façade Fund, Sign Package Fund, and Non-Profit Program, and requiring City Council approval for each Façade and Building Improvement Program Loan that exceeds the maximum loan amounts set forth in Exhibit A. The Resolution superseded the Façade Program adopted under Resolution 13,348 on April 5, 2000.
Amendment to Resolution 11 E
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored the following Amendment to Resolution 11 E:
That the first paragraph of Resolution 11 E that reads as follows:
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Bethlehem that the Façade and Building Improvement Program, as contained in Exhibit A and made a part hereof, consisting of the Building Improvement Fund, Façade Improvement Fund, Storefront Façade Fund, [and] Sign Package Fund, is hereby approved;
shall be amended to read as follows:
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Bethlehem that the Façade and Building Improvement Program, as contained in Exhibit A and made a part hereof, consisting of the Building Improvement Fund, Façade Improvement Fund, Storefront Façade Fund, Sign Package Fund, and Non-Profit Program, is hereby approved;
Voting AYE on the Resolution, as Amended: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
F. Authorizing Execution of Local Law Enforcement Block Grant – Community Policing
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,195 which authorized the Mayor to execute the grant award documents for a $44,217 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, so as to enhance the City’s Community Policing and related enforcement efforts.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
G. Appointing Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Advisory Board
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,196 which appointed the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Advisory Board, authorized to make non-binding recommendations to the City for the use of funds under the program.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
H. Adopting Vacation and Severance Pay Policy – Non-Classified Employees
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,197 adopting a Vacation and Severance Pay Policy applicable to Non-Classified Employees, to become effective October 8, 2003, by which Non-Classified Employees are allowed to accrue not more than twenty-five vacation days per year; requiring approval for utilization of more vacation days than has been accrued at that point; providing for payment for the total vacation days accrued as of the date of termination but not used for the then applicable current calendar year only upon their voluntary termination; deducting vacation days used but not yet accrued from the employee's final pay check upon their voluntary termination; and providing for payment equal to the balance of the twenty-five vacation days not as yet used in the then applicable current calendar year only upon their involuntary termination.
Mr. Callahan asked has Council ever taken this issue up in the past. Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, responding in the negative, commented he does not remember its having been brought up. Mr. Callahan inquired how this issue has been dealt with in the past. Mr. Reichard replied it has been the prerogative of the Mayor. In further response to Mr. Callahan, Mr. Reichard confirmed that the incoming Mayor would set the policy as he or she saw fit.
Mr. Callahan queried what was Mr. Reichard's understanding of the policy under former Mayor Donald T. Cunningham, Jr. Mr. Reichard, stating there was an early retirement implemented in 2001, noted that employees were required to retire December 31, 2001 but it was made effective February 2002 so those employees, both TAMS and Union employees, could receive the vacations they accrued. Mr. Reichard added that the Director of Planning also received five weeks vacation because he was an employee of the City for over 25 years. Mr. Reichard commented there are about seven or eight employees, including him, who are now Non-Classified employees and were formerly TAMS employees prior to their promotions into the Non-Classified category. Mr. Reichard, continuing on to explain that when those employees would leave the employment of the City they would receive five weeks vacation, noted he would receive five weeks vacation because he accrued that amount in 1997. Mr. Reichard stated "that was the policy…the Mayor and myself decided that we would institute for both the Medical Director that left and also his Community Relations administrative assistant when he left." Mr. Reichard advised there were versions of the policy that the Administration was working on but it was not written and it was not signed by the Mayor. Mr. Reichard added that in his thirty years of service with the City it was always the Mayor's prerogative that he can remember. In further response to Mr. Callahan's observation that a Mayor could theoretically change the policy from week to week, Mr. Reichard highlighted the fact that there was one past Administration where the Mayor allowed the Business Administrator at the time to exceed the twenty-five days vacation upon the Mayor's consent. Mr. Reichard continued on to point out it was Mayor Cunningham's decision whether an Administration official was allowed to take vacation or not. The Mayor did not have to grant an employee five weeks, and could grant two or seven weeks, for example. Mr. Reichard, affirming to Mr. Callahan that TAMS and Union employees would receive the benefit, advised that TAMS and Union employees accrue vacation this year for next year. Mr. Reichard exemplified that, if an employee leaves next year, the employee would get paid for the vacation days accrued and vacation days not taken as part of the severance package. Mr. Reichard stated, to his recollection, that has always been the policy with the Union since he has been employed by the City. Mr. Reichard, in response to Mr. Callahan's comment that it seems the policy was evenly enforced across the board, advised that some Non-Classified employees approached him and Mayor Cunningham, and probably previous Mayors, who felt they should be considered the same way as the rest of the workforce in that, if they left, they should have the ability to receive vacation they accrue when they leave the employment of the City. Mr. Reichard confirmed that is what happened in the last few years.
Mr. Callahan observed that a Department Head, which is a Non-Classified employee, who left the City would not receive under the proposed policy the same benefit that every TAMS employee and Union employee would receive. Mr. Reichard replied that is correct. Mr. Reichard added there are three who did because the decision was made that the Administration wanted to treat them fairly as the others.
Mr. Callahan asked whether the Human Resources Director had the same recollection as Mr. Reichard. Jean Zweifel, Human Resources Director, advised that, unlike a TAMS or Union employee who earn their vacation the prior year, when a Non-Classified (NC) employee begins employment, whether January 1 or July 1, for example, the NC employee automatically gets twenty five days of vacation. Ms. Zweifel clarified that a TAMS or Union employee has to "build up" to that particular number of days.
Mr. Callahan asked what, if any, authority does City Council have over setting the vacation and severance policy for Non-Classified employees from a legal standpoint. Joseph Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, responded there is a Supreme Court case and a Commonwealth court case, one of which he handled recently involving the City of Easton. Attorney Leeson advised that the pronouncements by the appellate courts basically indicated that the City Council of a Third Class City has very broad powers involving anything that touches upon money and the subject of the budget. Attorney Leeson, continuing on to say the issue about severance pay is a financial issue with respect to the expenditure of money, stated that the Council, in his opinion, would have the authority, if it so chose, to act in this area. While observing that City Council would not have to act, Attorney Leeson noted it is within Council's discretion if it chooses to do so. Attorney Leeson affirmed to Mr. Callahan that Council can act in this area because they have almost complete control over the budget.
Mr. Callahan queried why, in following that line of reason, City Council would not play a role in the negotiation of Union contracts. Attorney Leeson explained that the Union contracts and the funding for them would be incorporated in the budget. Attorney Leeson stated that, in his opinion, the issue of compensation does not pertain to severance pay because severance pay has not been earned. Attorney Leeson continued on to note that compensation traditionally is defined as wages, salaries, or benefits that have been earned while a severance pay is more or less "a going away package to tide you over as a transitional matter". Attorney Leeson pointed out that, theoretically, City Council could act and say everyone would get a $100,000 severance package; and, theoretically, the Mayor could do the same thing. He added that restrictions could be placed either by the Mayor administratively or by Council as a matter of Resolution or Ordinance. Mr. Callahan expressed it seems to be a negotiated benefit between employee and employer, just as a Union contract with health care benefits would be negotiated and Council has no control over that. In further response to Mr. Callahan, Attorney Leeson advised the courts of Pennsylvania, despite that under the Optional Charter Law the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton have been described as Strong Mayor cities, have been very deferential to City Councils. Attorney Leeson, noting that he represented the City of Easton Administration on a case, stated it was felt the statutes are very clear that Council did not have the authority to act but, based in part on the Marcincin case that emanated from the City of Bethlehem, the courts have been very deferential to Council action. In this case, since it deals with a financial issue and the spending of money, Attorney Leeson said it would be his opinion that it would ultimately be upheld by the courts if it were ever to come to that. Verifying it was an entirely different issue, Attorney Leeson said the only reason he mentioned it is because the courts have been very deferential to legislative action when it comes to Third Class Cities. As an illustration, Attorney Leeson pointed out that the Third Class City Code authorizes City Council to handle all issues of contracts. However, in the past, Bethlehem's government was converted to a Third Class City - Optional Charter Law and the past City Council enacted an Ordinance that gave the responsibility for contracts to the Administration.
Mayor Delgrosso clarified that accrued means that a TAMS or other than an NC employee does not get any vacation the first year of employment and would not see any vacation days until the next year. Therefore, when those employees leave they pick up the vacation days they were owed because they have not been used but have been accrued. Mayor Delgrosso continued on to say that, a few weeks before Mayor Cunningham left this year, Mayor Cunningham did sign a letter listing the people who have accrued days who are now NC's so that, when they leave the employment of the City, they will be entitled to those days. Mayor Delgrosso stated "Mr. Bruce was not one of them, and so that was done to protect the…seven individuals [who Mr. Reichard mentioned] so that everybody would know in the future that they deserve those days…The Planning Director, as was spoken to,…was, it was my understanding, a kind of give and take situation when he was leaving that they gave him [vacation days]." Mayor Delgrosso explained that, in the situation of the former Health Bureau Director who left, that individual received vacation days because his employment started in January. Mayor Delgrosso, recounting that in 1998 there were NC employees who left and received their vacation days, said he thought that was wrong at that time and noted it was under a different Administration. Mayor Delgrosso, continuing on to note he wrote a letter on January 21, 1998 to Mr. Reichard, read that it stated "would you please advise what is the policy for payment of unused vacation days for Department Heads and Non-Classified personnel upon their retirement after the first of the year." Mayor Delgrosso, stating that letter was followed by Mayor Cunningham's policy that is still in place today, confirmed that is the policy Mayor Delgrosso used when he became Mayor because that was the policy. Mayor Delgrosso, reading Mayor Cunningham's policy, noted it states "Non-classified employees will be entitled to unlimited vacation and sick days in the calendar year" and pointed out that policy is still in place despite the unwritten rule that NC's are eligible for twenty-five vacation days. Mayor Delgrosso continued on to read from Mayor Cunningham's policy as follows: "Vacation days taken by Department Heads must be approved by the Mayor. All other Non-classified employees must have their vacation days approved by the Mayor or their respective Department Heads. Upon termination from the City employ, Non-classified employees will be entitled to no severance pay." Mayor Delgrosso, advising that he followed up with a memorandum dated February 6, 1998 to Mayor Cunningham, read from his memorandum, as follows: "This is with respect to your memorandum dated January 29, 1998 relative to…the vacation and sick leave policy for Non-classified [employees]. I would like to submit my thoughts regarding the policy. The previous policy resulted from commitments…which the former Business Administrator had to national organizations as a board member requiring his travel outside of the United States as a representative. At the time, I and other Members of Council voiced concern about the policy. It is my understanding that, after that time, one of the Non-classified employees, including the former Business Administrator, when his board responsibilities ended, took more than five weeks of vacation. I feel it would be prudent to set the vacation policy for Non-classified personnel at a maximum of five weeks for consistency. In recognition of the fact that this is an Administrative decision, I would ask if you would give some thought to a vacation policy for Non-classified employees of five weeks in a calendar year rather than unlimited vacation in a calendar year." Mayor Delgrosso said that was never done in writing. Mayor Delgrosso advised that is why he brought before City Council the proposed Resolution because he believes there has to be a written policy, and the City "cannot work on this type of give and take, when you want to, who you want to". Mayor Delgrosso continued on to say he thinks the policy should be written for the employees to know and for the citizens of the community. Mayor Delgrosso reiterated the policy right now is unlimited vacation and no severance pay which has been granted to certain individuals.
President Schweder noted the policy in place now states that Non-classified employees have unlimited vacation and sick days, as much as the Mayor decides they can have. Ms. Zweifel affirmed that is the policy at the present time. Ms. Zweifel added that none of the Department Heads have taken more than twenty-five days vacation and some have not taken twenty-five days. President Schweder exemplified that, under the current policy, if a new Mayor came into office in January of next year and decided to replace a Non-classified member of the Administration, the outgoing Mayor could decide the person to be terminated was somebody he thought had been an excellent employee and could grant the person 700 vacation days. Ms. Zweifel confirmed that is correct.
President Schweder asked how many people are covered under the policy of unlimited vacation days. Mr. Reichard replied there are approximately 15-17 NC's. Mr. Reichard clarified the policy states upon termination of the City's employ Non-classified employees will be entitled to no severance pay. President Schweder pointed out that in private business there is a difference between a severance package and accumulated vacation time. Mr. Reichard, while expressing his agreement, explained that when a City of Bethlehem employee leaves the severance pay includes vacation accrual and sick days. Ms. Zweifel noted that severance generally does indicate accrued vacation. President Schweder inquired the number of days for which the City would be liable if all the NC's at this point left. Mr. Reichard responded the City would be liable for five weeks vacation for each of the approximately 7-8 people who were formerly TAMS employees and had accrued five weeks vacation before they became NC's. President Schweder inquired about the other NC employees who were not TAMS prior to being NC. Mr. Reichard explained that, under the prior Administration, when a Department Head left the maximum five weeks vacation would be given in order to be equal with all the employees. In further response to President Schweder, Mr. Reichard stated there are about 17 TAM's or NC's employees. President Schweder queried where in the Budget is the liability reflected. Mr. Reichard responded it is in the Payroll account. Ms. Zweifel entered the conversation to note that the NC's who received the severance did not receive any accrued sick time, and only received the vacation days.
President Schweder asked when did Administration officials receive any written version of a new policy that would be instituted in place of the current one. Ms. Zweifel replied she personally did not receive a new policy. Ms. Zweifel further informed President Schweder that she did not have any input in the changes brought forth with Mr. Bruce's package. President Schweder queried how did this come about. Ms. Zweifel explained that, in the instance of Mr. Bruce, she was directed by Mr. Reichard, who, in turn, was directed by Mayor Cunningham, to give Mr. Bruce the thirty-eight vacation days; i.e., the thirteen that he had not utilized in 2002 and he was given the twenty-five days that he would have been entitled to in 2003. President Schweder asked if the individuals in the past who received vacation days when they left the employment of the City were terminated by the Mayor. Mr. Reichard responded he believes so. President Schweder expressed his understanding of the situation in question was that there was no termination of the employee but rather the position was abolished by the Mayor. Highlighting the fact that the City's fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends December 31, President Schweder pointed out there was no job as of midnight January 1, 2003 so there was no one in the position and the position did not exist. Consequently, President Schweder asked "how could the policy pay somebody the twenty-five vacation days in 2003 for a job that didn't exist and there was no one in the position?" Mr. Reichard replied "it was a fairness issue. It was felt that these employees, the position you're referring to and there's a few others, should be paid equal to what the rest of the employees were paid." President Schweder, observing it obviously was in violation of the written policy, commented it was probably a unique situation. Mr. Reichard, acknowledging "it was in violation of the written policy…", continued on to explain "we were in the process of changing it. We were in the process of revising this policy [and]…it just never got done…We just never got it in writing, but we were working on it. I can attest to that. I have it upstairs. But we just never got a signature on it." President Schweder, restating that the termination situation was unique because the position was abolished, someone was given those vacation days for a year in which there was no job and in which they did not serve, remarked that while it may be a fairness question or otherwise it cannot be substantiated by any written policy or oral policy that has ever been in place. Mr. Reichard, responded there is no written policy, commented "we were looking to change that policy."
Mr. Gregory, with reference to Attorney's Leeson's comments that City Council can vote on the Resolution if they wish to do so, observed it seems up to this time it has been the Mayor's prerogative. Mr. Gregory inquired, without Council's voting on the Resolution, can Mayor Delgrosso put the policy into effect tomorrow. Attorney Leeson replied yes. Mr. Gregory noted that, if Council would not support the Resolution, Mayor Delgrosso could still put the policy in place tomorrow. Attorney Leeson stated that is correct.
Mayor Delgrosso explained the reason why he thinks the policy should be adopted by Resolution of Council rather than be an Administrative policy is because if it is a Resolution then any future Mayor would have to come to City Council to ask for a change to the Resolution. Mayor Delgrosso, exemplifying that if it is a policy of the Administration then it can be changed daily, thought that is unfair to every employee.
Mr. Gregory observed if City Council passes the Resolution the new Mayor could not put another policy into effect without coming to City Council. Attorney Leeson explained that when City Council enacts a Resolution involving a policy that pertains to an expenditure of money then City Council does set the policy of the City. As a result, if Council enacted a Resolution then a subsequent Mayor who wanted to change it would need to come to Council with the requested change and reason.
Ms. Szabo, pointing out that the Resolution only addresses vacation, asked if unlimited sick days are being set as a policy. Mayor Delgrosso, responding that vacation is being addressed because vacation and severance is one package, advised that could be clarified if desired. Ms. Szabo queried whether the decree stays in effect for sick days. Ms. Zweifel confirmed that Mayor Cunningham's policy states unlimited vacation and unlimited sick days. Affirming that TAMS and Union employees all have limits, Ms. Zweifel explained what she thinks Mayor Cunningham was saying in his policy is the NC can keep accumulating. Exemplifying they can go to 555 days, Ms. Zweifel advised that upon termination, whether the position is eliminated or they resign, they do not get paid for any sick days because they are technically not entitled to a sick leave bonus when they leave or the accumulation of their sick days whereas other employees do get paid for their accumulated sick days, but Non-classified employees never have. Ms. Szabo inquired whether there should be written into a Resolution or otherwise as to how many sick days they actually would be paid for. Ms. Zweifel replied "you could put a limit in for NC's if you chose to…". Ms. Szabo questioned how many sick days do people on an average take. Ms. Zweifel, responding very few, advised that Non-classified employees do not abuse sick days, or vacation.
Mr. Arcelay, noting there seems there was not an abuse, commented however the opportunity for inconsistencies exists. Mr. Arcelay, observing it seems City Council has the power to change the policy, queried whether it can be changed again by the Mayor. Mayor Delgrosso responded once Council passes the Resolution then the Mayor would have to come to Council asking to change it. Mr. Arcelay commented it seems that what is being presented to City Council is a package that is more accountable, does not leave such things open ended, and takes care of inconsistencies. Mr. Arcelay asked how many times has this situation come up during Mr. Reichard's more than 28 years of employment with the City. Mr. Reichard commented he has known situations that were handled by previous Mayors where the Mayor reviewed the policy, made some changes or not, but did not bring the matter to City Council. Mr. Reichard added that none of the previous Mayors for whom he has worked have ever brought the issue to City Council.
Mayor Delgrosso stated the reason he is bringing it to City
Council is because an employee was given thirteen days pay
for 2002 during which he worked after his position was not
put in the 2003 budget, and according to the policy was not
supposed to get any, and was given twenty-five days vacation
for the year 2003. Mayor Delgrosso added the person was also
given a 4% increase when other Non-classified employees got
Mr. Donchez, observing that if policy were to be adopted by City Council this evening it would become effective tomorrow, noted that all 17 NC's would be affected, no one would be grandfathered, and the policy would affect everyone as of tomorrow. Mayor Delgrosso replied except those who have accrued the days and would get those days that have been accrued. Mr. Donchez inquired if this is common with other Third Class Cities that there is a written policy dealing with this issue. Ms. Zweifel responded that in the City of Allentown the Non-classified employees accrue days so that City has the same type of accrual system as is being proposed. Ms. Zweifel continued on to say she does now know what the City of Easton does or some of the other cities.
Mrs. Belinski said she approves of the Resolution.
Mr. Callahan, remarking that much was said tonight about the written policy for unlimited sick and vacation time, stressed clearly that has not been the policy and it has never been the policy. Mr. Callahan continued on to say "we can talk about and refer to the old policy because it's written on paper but the fact is that it was never implemented. And the only…error is the policy that was in place that was evenly applied to all employees that left the City…was not written down on paper…". Mr. Callahan, further noting one can talk about unlimited vacation or sick days, pointed out that has never been the case, and it has never been abused and has never been a problem. Mr. Callahan expressed his understanding is that if Council took action tonight the policy could be implemented tomorrow, but if Council did not take action tonight it could also be implemented tomorrow by the Mayor. Turning to the memorandums referenced earlier by Mayor Delgrosso, Mr. Callahan, pointed out that a phrase was read by Mayor Delgrosso in which he stated "in recognition that this is an administrative decision", and remarked that tonight it would be a Councilmanic decision. Mr. Callahan said "we're here tonight to discuss a policy that's never been abused, and…changing a policy that's never been implemented, and that in the past traditionally it's always been the prerogative of the Mayor. And, so, that can be changed and not changed regardless of the action that we take tonight." Continuing on to comment that the discussion at some level seems to be an exercise in futility, Mr. Callahan communicated it seems to be a situation where an outgoing Mayor who was not duly elected by the citizens is attempting to set a policy for the next duly elected Mayor of the City, of which he disapproves. Mr. Callahan felt this is an issue that would be better left taken up with the next Mayor. Mr. Callahan, restating that traditionally the matter has always been handled by the Mayor, thought there was a bit of a gray area as to whether legally it is an issue that Council should be taking up. Mr. Callahan said he does not think the policy makes sense. Mr. Callahan observed it seems that the NC's in essence are being penalized and are not getting the same benefits as every member of their Departments would get when they leave the City's employ. Mr. Callahan saw the policy was being flawed. Mr. Callahan stressed that part of the reason why there was so much lengthy discussion and questions tonight is that Council is voting on the issue this evening, the very night it was read into the record. Mr. Callahan pointed out that, typically, when an issue that is obviously controversial comes up before Council, that issue would be discussed in Committee. While stating there is still in his mind many questions yet to be answered not the least of which is how do the NC's feel about the matter, Mr. Callahan thought that part of the reason why so much time has been spent on the issue is "we haven't given this thing at all a proper airing". Mr. Callahan said if Council really wants to set a policy that will be worthwhile it should be discussed in Committee. Mr. Callahan, explaining it is based on the four points he has just discussed that he would object to a vote on the issue this evening, expressed he would hope that it would not even have been brought up, that it would be denied, and he is not going to support it. Mr. Callahan communicated he would like to see the next Mayor craft a vacation policy they think is reasonable and would make sense. Mr. Callahan added that, certainly, if the next Mayor wants to open up the issue to discussion and negotiation with Council he thinks that would be appropriate at that time. Mr. Callahan reiterated on that basis he would object to this particular Resolution this evening. As a member of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, Mr. Callahan said he would like to review this under the Committee and suggested that the matter be sent to Committee to have a legitimate discussion of the facts.
Mrs. Belinski, stressing that Council has had a legitimate
discussion tonight of the issue, said she is at a loss as
to why Mr. Callahan objects to it. Recalling that Mr. Callahan
had said no Mayor in the past ever abused it, Mrs. Belinski
questioned why there would be a problem putting it in writing.
Mrs. Belinski felt there has not been a good reason given
for why Council should not vote for the Resolution tonight
and put it in writing.
Ms. Szabo asked what is an employee losing as a result of the proposal. Mayor Delgrosso responded that, under the former policy in place today, if an employee is terminated the person would get no vacation days or severance pay. Addressing his application of the policy, Mayor Delgrosso advised that, when he terminated an employee who was an NC, the person asked about severance pay. Mayor Delgrosso related that he checked with the Human Resources Bureau and was given the policy that basically said there is no severance pay. As a result, Mayor Delgrosso told the employee that was the policy established by Mayor Cunningham. Consequently, the employee lost some days because of the policy. Mayor Delgrosso communicated that he looked at the policy and saw an unfairness. Mayor Delgrosso continued on to exemplify that the new Mayor next year could terminate a Department Head during the first week of January. In that case, Mayor Delgrosso expressed the employee should get paid for 25 vacation days. Similarly, if an employee is terminated in the middle of the year, for example, Mayor Delgrosso felt the employee should get paid for the 10 or 15 vacation days the employee would have left. Mayor Delgrosso affirmed that was not the policy when he came into office. Mayor Delgrosso stated, however, if the employee quits, then the City does not owe that employee anything and, further, if the employee who is quitting has used more vacation days than the monthly allotment then the employee must pay back the City for the number of vacation days used beyond the monthly allotment.
Ms. Szabo, remarking that is a plus, wondered why the issue is being argued.
Mayor Delgrosso, further explaining that a TAMS employee accrues vacation days, noted that a TAMS employee receives no vacation days the first year, and the next year can take vacation days accrued the year before. In contrast, an NC employee gets twenty-five vacation days the first year from the day the employee becomes NC whether it be June or January, for example. Mayor Delgrosso, expressing he has no problem with it being an Administrative policy except when it is abused and violated, commented it was violated in that a person was given twenty-five days vacation pay when the person was not on the City's payroll versus the case of a different employee who was on the payroll. Mayor Delgrosso added that is why he thinks the policy needs to be submitted to City Council.
Ms. Szabo observed that the Resolution appears to make clearer and put into more detail what was said on a piece of paper in the past. Ms. Szabo continued on to point out that since the City is giving a terminated employee something she does not think any employee is being shortchanged. Communicating that whether or not the rules were bent for one person cannot be argued, Ms. Szabo said "we have to argue about what is going to go into effect now". Ms. Szabo explained she is not challenging Mr. Callahan and not arguing he does not have the right to speak but rather she is just saying her opinion.
President Schweder stated he would dismiss the idea that doing something like this must be delayed because there will be a new Mayor. President Schweder, pointing out he has thought through this over the past six years on numerous issues, noted the arguments advanced this evening highlighted the fact that there is a written policy but no one abused it and nothing is wrong with it. President Schweder observed, unfortunately, in a lot of ways that is the way the City government is run. Consequently, President Schweder stressed that anyone who wanted to go after any number of these policies based on the letter of the law "would have a field day in court". President Schweder expressed "we've glossed that over far too many times, and used that as a rationale not to take action on things, and I think that that is terribly important in this debate." President Schweder, expressing that the policy has very little to do with just the next Mayor, said "I believe this should be in place for every Mayor…after the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that." President Schweder communicated that the question before Council tonight in setting this policy really should not be what are other Third Class Cities doing. Rather, Council should ask "what else is done everywhere else in this City. And in the private sector there would be no policy like that…". President Schweder stressed what is at stake here is simply being consistent with all the people who are employees of all the other employers who pay the taxes in the City of Bethlehem. He remarked that no other private employer would have anything in position like this to have something written that says an employee has unlimited vacation days and to take the definition of vacation day and make it part of severance. While highlighting the fact that thousands of citizens have lost their pensions and their benefits, President Schweder remarked the City has a policy in writing which says a Non-classified member of the City Administration could have unlimited vacation time and that is tied into severance pay. President Schweder pointed out that those in the private sector also know that employees in management do not receive the same benefits as hourly and unionized employees, and has nothing to do with what is negotiated with hourly employees. President Schweder said he is suggesting that what Council ought to do is establish this policy that goes forward and makes it consistent with everybody else who lives in the City of Bethlehem, have the policy in place, and have something that is known is defensible. President Schweder further said "it needs to be done now, I think by this Council, and that it go into place, and if it needs to be changed or be made more stringent, or someone comes back before us later, then that could be adopted later on. But this is the time to act, and I think we owe it to the people who pay the taxes in this City to make it the same policy that all of them have the same things placed upon them by their employers. And, I see no inconsistency in that, and I hope that we would take action on it this evening."
Mr. Callahan commented that "once again, we've spent an awful lot of time talking about a policy that's never been implemented and it's not in place, so I don't know why we continue to waste time discussing a policy that doesn't exist in any…fashion other than on paper." Mr. Callahan, focusing on severance packages granted in the private sector, remarked that to say that is not an everyday occurrence one need only read about the astronomical packages given to people who live inside and outside the City. Mr. Callahan felt that the proposed policy is punitive and does penalize the NC's. Mr. Callahan stated that, if Council is going to put a policy in place that this Mayor, and the next Mayor, and the next Mayor should have to live by, "we should at the very least have one Committee meeting to discuss it. And, I think I have laid out a number of reasons…why I disagree with this policy…not the least of which…is I would like to hear from the NC's in public, or in private, in a Committee meeting, or between now and the Committee meeting, to find out…how they feel about this policy…". Mr. Callahan stressed in his six years on Council it is very rare that one sees a controversial issue, or new policy, set forth for years to come, that is read into the record as a Communication and voted on that same day.
Ms. Szabo asked what are the NC's losing.
Mr. Callahan responded that when one looks at the old written policy he would agree they do not lose anything compared to that policy. But, Mr. Callahan communicated the reality and the fact is that, with respect to the four people who have left the City since the policy that has been written down, that policy has not been followed. "So, if you go by what those individuals got,…the policy that Mr. Reichard verbalized…earlier, the actual policy that's been implemented, they lose a great deal. So, they don't lose anything compared to the…written one, but they do lose something compared to the…real one, the one that's been implemented. And, that's the point that I'm trying to make this evening. And, if we're going to make a new policy, we should at least have a proper airing of the facts."
In response to Ms. Szabo, Mayor Delgrosso clarified that the policy before Council has been applied. Mayor Delgrosso stated he has applied the policy because that is the policy that has been in effect in the City. Mayor Delgrosso noted there is another NC employee who left and did not get any days. Mayor Delgrosso said that he thinks the City needs a policy, and stressed this issue is very important to every employee as well as the citizens.
Mr. Callahan said, as a member of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, he would like the issue taken up in the Committee.
Mr. Callahan moved to refer the issue to the Human Resources and Environment Committee. Mr. Gregory seconded the motion.
Mr. Gregory stated he accedes to the Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee. Mr. Gregory, noting that prior to this evening's meeting he discussed with the President whether or not the matter could be dealt with tonight, observed there could be a half hour or more of questions and perhaps some unresolved questions. However, Mr. Gregory pointed out that in the end it will be Council's decision. Consequently, Mr. Gregory communicated that if Council feels overall that it need not be further discussed then the Members would not support the motion. Mr. Gregory said, from his perspective, considering that it is going to be binding, if Chairman Arcelay wants to take the issue to the Human Resources and Environment Committee he would not have a problem with that.
President Schweder, noting that he will recognize Mr. Arcelay, advised that he and Mr. Arcelay did have a discussion today and it was Mr. Arcelay's belief that it was not going to Committee and it would be on the Agenda for this evening.
Mr. Arcelay stated that, in listening to all the arguments tonight, they were excellent and very good points were raised. Mr. Arcelay expressed the belief that the issue can be decided on tonight and does not have to go any further. Mr. Arcelay said, if appropriate, he would move forward with the matter.
Mr. Donchez, while commenting this is a very complicated issue, noted he is willing to cast his vote tonight. But, Mr. Donchez said out of respect for a member of City Council who makes a request for something to go to Committee, he believes out of integrity for the institution and out of respect for Council's colleagues, and since Mr. Callahan is a member of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, he believes it should go to Committee for discussion and review, hopefully within a very short period of time.
President Schweder stated that, in deference to the Chairman of the Committee who has spoken with him today, he would respect the Chairman of the Committee's wishes that he thinks supersedes those of other individuals, and he would suggest that this not be referred to Committee.
Voting AYE on the motion to refer the Resolution to Committee: Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Gregory, 3. Voting NAY: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 4. The motion failed.
Mr. Arcelay commented that the old policy leaves room for a lot of discretion, regardless of whether it was abused or not abused. Mr. Arcelay pointed out that, as the matter moves forward, Council can always make amendments to make improvements. Mr. Arcelay affirmed that he feels there should be a policy in place.
Voting AYE on the Resolution: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski,
Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6.
Voting NAY: Mr. Callahan, 1. The Resolution passed.
I. Authorizing Execution of Contribution Agreement – Fourth Street Reconstruction Project
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,198 which authorized the execution of Contribution Agreement No. 050006 with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for reimbursement by the City to PennDot for actual costs associated with the installation of the electrical conduit for the City’s street light system along the Project from William Street to Hayes Street, estimated to cost a total of $38,550, according to the terms of the Agreement.
J. Authorizing Execution of Traffic Signal Maintenance Agreement – Fourth and Hayes Streets
Mr. Arcelay and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,199 which authorized the Mayor and the Controller to execute the Traffic Signal Maintenance Agreement for the traffic signal at the Fourth and Hayes Streets, according to the terms of the Agreement.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Voting on Matters Coming Before Council the Same Evening
Ms. Szabo communicated that for a long time she has been upset by the fact that City Council is given information and is asked to vote on it the same night. Ms. Szabo thought Council should consider changing the situation in the future so that the Members have time before actually having to vote on a matter, and have a gap between the presentation and the actual voting. Ms. Szabo added it is not only on the subject that was before Council earlier but on other subjects, including other subjects that were before Council tonight that went straight through to be voted on.
Mr. Callahan, with reference to Ms. Szabo's comments, said "if that's indeed the case that you have long been bothered by the fact that we're expected to vote on things that are read in as Communications, I would have hoped that you would have supported my suggestion that perhaps we would have moved this to Committee this evening."
Ms. Szabo explained that, by then, she could not see Council
having any other arguments than the same arguments at that
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Historic Preservation - Former Bethlehem Steel Corporation Site - South Bethlehem
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, referring to the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation buildings located on the Bethlehem Works site in South Bethlehem, said he fears that the City of Bethlehem is on the verge of losing some of the nation's important historical heritage. As an example, Mr. Scheirer referred to images prepared by a professor at Muhlenberg College, one of which was the Bethlehem Steel number two machine shop in 1992, and the second which was Machinery Hall at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that equipment and artifacts from the building are in storage in Bethlehem pending exhibition after having been exhibited for many years in the Smithsonian Museum's arts and industry building in Washington, D.C. Remarking that Philadelphia did not have the good sense to preserve Machinery Hall, nor did Chicago have the good sense to preserve the manufacturers and liberal arts building of the Columbia exposition of 1893. Mr. Scheirer asserted that the mistakes of Chicago and Philadelphia imply an opportunity and an obligation for Bethlehem which is to create a National Museum of Industrial History that he felt could become the second most visited site in Pennsylvania after Independence Hall. Referring to agreements between the City and the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation pertaining to development of the Bethlehem Works site, Mr. Scheirer observed the City agreed that economic development will be paramount. Mr. Scheirer, remarking that he was not allowed to see the four agreements of 2000 because he must submit a written request, expressed that he felt "somewhat disenfranchised". Mr. Scheirer asked if it would be possible for the agreements to be placed in the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Mr. Scheirer expressed his opinion that the Federal Section 106 protections of the programmatic agreement have been undermined by the Cooperation Agreement adopted by City Council on February 18, 2002 which he said elevates economic development to primary consideration. Mr. Scheirer quoted from paragraphs 4 and 6 of the agreement. Mr. Scheirer, questioning who will decide if development includes historic preservation and if economic conditions warrant adjustment of the agreements, noted it will probably be the economic experts who will be paid by the developer. Expressing his feeling that the only reports the developer will release will agree with the developer, Mr. Scheirer stressed that the developer will decide whether historic preservation makes economic sense. Mr. Scheirer contended that the developer will likely plead economic necessity and there will be little, if any, historic preservation. Mr. Scheirer enumerated three things the City can do, as follows. The City should make clear that it wants to see preservation of all properties that have historic value; the City should explore now the use of eminent domain in the event that would be necessary; and, the City should prepare the paperwork necessary to file for injunctive relief as a last resort. Pointing out that the need is urgent and the time is short, Mr. Scheirer stressed it would be a shame if the City lost this opportunity of historic proportions.
President Schweder, communicating that all share Mr. Scheirer's interest, commented it is important to note that, when one talks about the City taking the steps to designate historic preservation on the South Side, there were many who wanted to do so. However, the covenants expressly prohibited the City from making any historic designation over the Bethlehem Works property. President Schweder, expressing that in a sense it is disingenuous to imply the City is somehow responsible, pointed out that the City has probably taken every step requested by the National Museum of Industrial History including the TIF, the parking, and other requirements. President Schweder expressed the hope that, shortly, Stephen Donches, President of the National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH), will come back with funding of $250 million to complete phase one of the project and it will be able to advance. President Schweder expressed he does not think anyone has changed their position on the matter.
Mr. Scheirer queried whether it would be possible to revise the cooperation agreement approved last February in order to give greater importance to historic preservation.
President Schweder, while noting that legal negotiations continue, explained there were alternatives involved with various developers, and a determination was made that the outcome would be more favorable with an organization brought to Bethlehem three years prior by Stephen Donches. President Schweder, expressing his confidence that what was envisioned will happen, restated he thinks everyone is committed to that.
Mr. Scheirer, remarking he is "a bit scared", commented that perhaps he has gone through some historic preservation battles in Washington that the City has been spared. Mr. Scheirer observed that City Council could pass a Resolution emphasizing the importance of historic preservation.
Vacation and Severance Pay Policy - Non-classified Employees
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, stated he is speaking as a citizen, not as a City administrator. Mr. Grubb, noting he has worked for the City for approximately 26 years, said he wants to speak as a tax-paying, life-long resident. Mr. Grubb, commenting he resents that any elected official can have the discretion to say yes or no on a severance and vacation package, said as a taxpayer he thinks it allows for double standards, negotiations, and all of the issues that were discussed this evening. Mr. Grubb, expressing he thinks it is a matter of fairness, stated "the fairness is in the proof of the Resolution being passed." Noting that standards have been set, Mr. Grubb observed there is no room for negotiation or discretion. Mr. Grubb felt that too often in city government a lot of things are done in "shooting from the hip and not well thought out, and not attended to through policies that should be in force". Mr. Grubb, communicating that removing the discretion will be fair to any Non-classified City employee in the future, thought that is the way it should be. Pointing out that Non-classified employees do have a difference when they are hired in that they get twenty-five days vacation at the start but other City employees do not have that advantage, Mr. Grubb remarked "when they walk out the door their advantage came at the front end. It didn't come at the back end." Mr. Grubb, complimenting City Council for acting in the fashion they did this evening on the issue, thanked Council for establishing a policy that will be applied equally in all cases.
Various City Policies and Actions
Baron Chase, 817 Hess Street, inquired whether policies for muzzling vicious dogs and leash laws have been established to protect children.
President Schweder informed Mr. Chase that requirements under a leash law were passed about a year ago. President Schweder noted there is additional language that is under review to address some of the other problems related to dogs.
Attorney Leeson advised that the Department of Community and Economic Development constructed some policy proposals for placement in Ordinance form that were forwarded to him on September 22, and were returned today in final form to the Department for review. Attorney Leeson anticipated that a draft Ordinance may be released soon for Council's review.
Mr. Chase asked that the City keep up with DUI checkpoints and drug initiatives, as well as seatbelts, especially for the safety of children. Mr. Chase, observing he noticed a lot of City employees not wearing seatbelts, said this has to be addressed, and City employees should set examples.
Mr. Chase, expressing he is glad the Mayor came up with the do not litter campaign which he felt was a good idea, stressed that City workers, Council Members, and citizens should pick up litter when they see it and the City will be beautiful.
Mr. Chase mentioned his opinion pertaining to impeachment of President Bush.
Mr. Chase commented that the City should keep up the good work in giving the Police and Fire Departments the best equipment and vehicles available as they are important first responders.
Mr. Chase, saying he noticed a lot of street lights are out, thought that the Police could call PPL in order to have the lights fixed since that prevents crime.
Mrs. Belinski, focusing on the issue of street lights, highlighted the fact that this has been an issue she has addressed previously. Mrs. Belinski related she has been told that PPL cannot get bulbs from their supplier. Mrs. Belinski, advising that the City is in the process of buying back the lights from PPL, pointed out it is a long process.
Expression of Appreciation - Citation
Allan Hoppey, 1303 Beverly Avenue, thanked City officials for the Citation he received this evening in honor of his service to the City upon his retirement from the Fire Department.
Historic Preservation - Former Bethlehem Steel Corporation Site - South Bethlehem
Michael Kramer, 1288 Roundhouse Road, Quakertown, spoke in support of Mr. Scheirer's earlier comments concerning historic preservation and the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation site. Stating that he feels it is a very important issue, Mr. Kramer expressed his understanding that these decisions are not solely the City's and the hope that a high importance is placed on the issue.
In response to Mr. Kramer's comments, President Schweder advised that he and Stephen Donches, President of NMIH, have been the best of friends for thirty years and he apologizes for any inference of negativity that may have been implied. Rather, President Schweder explained it needs to be noted the reason why there is not historic protection at the site is that it was a conscious decision made by Bethlehem Steel and NMIH as was written into the agreements.
Mr. Kramer commented that historic preservation and economic development are not mutually exclusive and in fact go hand in hand for everyone's best interests.
Dave Sanders, 69 E. Goepp Street, noted that he attended a meeting for the preservation of historic structures at the former Bethlehem Steel site, and said he wanted to remind everyone that "we have a one of a kind situation" at the site. Mr. Sanders related he recently visited the Kinzua trestle, the highest in the world at the time, that was built with steel from Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Mr. Sanders continued on to highlight the fact that there are pieces of equipment from the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation steelmaking operations that are one of a kind, and will never be duplicated, including the only blast furnaces left. There is also a railroad trestle along the river donated by the Roosevelt family that is one of a kind. Mr. Sanders asked that City leaders write a letter emphasizing the need for historic preservation. Mr. Sanders pointed out there were over 300 people at the meeting he referenced earlier, including Councilmembers Belinski and Szabo, who care about preservation of the former Bethlehem Steel site. While recognizing the difficulty in saving historic artifacts at a time when economic development is also needed, Mr. Sanders expressed that perhaps a part of it or one building can be saved. Mr. Sanders highlighted the fact that there is everything on the South Side to teach children about the history. Mr. Sanders pointed out that an engine built in England was duplicated and preserved in the power house at Bethlehem Steel, a model of which is used to teach children about steam power. Mr. Sanders observed "how nice it would be to take our children to see the real engine that's right across the river [at the former Bethlehem Steel steelmaking site]." Mr. Sanders repeated his request that a letter be written.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:01 p.m.