City Council

Bethlehem Council MInutes

10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Wednesday, January 2, 2013 – 7:00 PM



The Reverend Don Garrett, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.


President Evans called the meeting to order. Present were Jean Belinski, David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Michael D. Recchiuti, J. William Reynolds, and Eric R. Evans, 7.


The Minutes of December 20, 2012 were approved.


Appointment to Sister City Commission

Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, stated that he is concerned that an appointment of a non-resident of the City to serve on the Sister City Commission is being considered, stating he thought a qualified person from Bethlehem could be found. Stating the person being appointed may be highly qualified, Mr. Antalics said he feels that politics in Bethlehem should be handled by the people who live in Bethlehem.


A. Old Business – Members of Council


B. Tabled Items


C. Unfinished Business



A. Business Administrator – Audit Proposal

The Acting Clerk read a memorandum dated December 28, 2012 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, stating that the Administration solicited proposals for auditing services for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Six proposals were received and continuing with Maher Duessel is being recommended. The auditing fee proposal from Maher Duessel was included in the memorandum.

President Evans stated the Resolution will be listed on the January 15, 2013 Agenda.


A. President of Council

1. Annual Report

President Evans presented the 2012 Annual Report of the President of Council as follows:

City Council conducted more than 17 Committee Meetings, adopted 45 Ordinances, and passed 208 Resolutions in 2012.

Ordinances adopted by City Council in 2012 included:

? A New Zoning Ordinance to re-enact and replace the Zoning Ordinance adopted in 1970

? In addition, related Zoning Ordinances were passed regulating:

? The reuse of corner commercial uses in RT and RG Residential Districts
? Parking Commercial and Recreational Vehicles in Residential Districts
? New Floodplain Ordinance

? Continuing the LERTA Program through December 2017, and changing the boundaries to include the Eastern Gateway area on the South Side

? Changing the titles of Police and Fire Commissioners to Police Chief and Fire Chief

In the areas of Water and Sewer Resources, City Council adopted Ordinances approving:

? Water and Sewer Rate Increases
? PennVest Note in the amount of $9,429,730 for improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant
? A General Obligation Bond in the amount of $6,818,000 for Sewer Capital Projects

At the request of Freemansburg Borough, an Ordinance was adopted ending Freemansburg’s contract as a representative municipality on the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Area Public Library

Among the Resolutions passed by City Council in 2012 were the following:

? A Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the existing street signs in the Historic District, colored brown for the background with white block letters and logo.

? A Redevelopment Assistance Capital Grant in the amount of $1.5 million to assist Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg with renovations for the Emergency Department

? A Resolution declaring support of the Administration’s request of a voluntary financial contribution from the non-profit institutions of Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Lehigh Valley Hospital

? Allowing the City to administer a self-insured Worker Compensation program beginning January 1, 2013

? The 2013 CDBG Program that included funding for the South Side Library renovations, and a new housing assistance program for the City of Bethlehem’s employees.

? Approving the sale of 13 City Parking Lots to the Parking Authority for the purchase price of $1,200,000

? Transferring $30,000 in the Community Development Budget for the Armory Building Planning Study

Use Permit Agreements were approved for various City events including the Harvest Festival, VegFest, a Fashion Show, and a Civil War Road Show.

Several Fee Increases proposed by the Administration were approved including Event Permit Fees, Ice Rink Fees, Golf Fees, and Zoning Hearing Board Fees.

A Resolution was adopted to eliminate the right hand slip ramp onto Center Street from the north end of the Fahy Bridge at New Street, and create a right-hand turn at the signalized intersection where pedestrians and bicyclists can cross.

Resolutions were adopted approving Liquor License Transfers for:

? Corked Wine Bar - 515 Main Street
? Envy – 217 Broadway
? Steel Pub – 320 E. First Street
? Twisted Olive - 51 West Broad Street

The appointment of individuals selected by the Mayor and by City Council were made to the Human Relations Commission.

After several meetings conducted by City Council, Robert Pfenning was selected by Northampton County Court to fill the Controller vacancy as a result of the resignation of Meg Holland.

The adoption of the 2013 Budget was finalized at the rescheduled City Council Meeting on Thursday, December 20, 2012. Compromise solutions were reached that achieved a real estate tax of 15.89 mills for City of Bethlehem residents of Northampton County and 5.02 mills for City of Bethlehem residents of Lehigh County. The difference in millage rates was due to the reassessment that occurred in Lehigh County.

B. Mayor

1. Administrative Order – Valerie McLendon – Bethlehem Housing Authority

Mayor Callahan appointed Valerie McLendon to membership on the Bethlehem Housing Authority effective through March 2014. Mr. Donchez and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2013 – 1 to confirm the appointment.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.

2. Administrative Order – Katherine Burd – Sister City Commission

Mayor Callahan appointed Katherine Burd to membership on the Sister City Commission effective through October 2013. Mr. DiGiacinto and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2013 – 2 to confirm the appointment.

Councilwoman Dolan, stating that Council sometimes receives resumes for appointments, asked what triggers receiving resumes. President Evans responded that resumes are forwarded for new appointments. Councilwoman Dolan questioned if Ms. Burd is a reappointment. President Evans said there was a resume for this new appointment and Councilman Recchiuti affirmed that he recalled seeing the resume two weeks ago.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.




A. Bill No. 1 – 2013 – Establishing Article 304 – First Responder’s Fee/Amusement Tax

The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 1 – 2013 – Establishing Article 304 – First Responder’s Fee/Amusement Tax, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Recchiuti, and titled:


Councilman DiGiacinto, stating that since no committee meeting is going to be held on the subject, said he had some administrative questions. He asked Mr. Reichard if a report will be sent every quarter to verify, for example, the Event Center, 30 concerts all over $30.00 each, $1.50 for every person who buys a ticket. Mr. Reichard said yes. Mr. DiGiacinto then asked if the money comes in at the same time. Mr. Reichard stated that he believes the money will come in with the report. Councilman DiGiacinto then asked who will be doing this. Mr. Reichard explained the process is now being set up, it will be through Financial Services, and he will be working on it with the Solicitor. Mr. DiGiacinto asked, with regard to the 10 percent penalty levied for failure to pay, will that be parallel with the violations and when would the violations kick in. Mr. Reichard said there is a 10 percent penalty if not paid and if the City has to go after them there is another penalty similar to our other taxes. Councilman DiGiacinto asked if there is any separation there, if they do not pay now they are in default and there is a 10 percent penalty. Mr. Reichard said if they do not pay that the City has to follow up with proceedings on that plus costs. Mr. DiGiacinto asked if there should be a grace period before the second part kicks in. Mr. Reichard said they will take a look at it. Mr. DiGiacinto, stating there is 10 percent penalty and there is a violation, said the question is when does the violation kick in.
Mr. Reichard explained if they do not pay by the end of the quarter, that is when it is due, then the penalty would kick in. Councilman DiGiacinto asked then when do you go after the violation part. He said if he reads it correctly there is a daily fine and said maybe it should be defined better.

President Evans asked Mr. Reichard when the Ordinance will take effect since $600,000 is in the budget to be generated by this. Mr. Reichard replied after the second reading, in February.

Councilwoman Dolan, comparing Sections 304.08 Fine and 304.99 (a) Violations, said she thought the time required in 304.99 (a) would be the grace period after it is due. Mr. Reichard stated the payment is due one month after the quarter, so they do have thirty (30) days as in Section 304.06 (a) to pay the tax, so if it is not paid at that point they are in violation. Ms. Dolan asked if it is thirty (30) days to pay the 10%. Mr. Reichard said no, thirty (30) days to pay the tax itself. Councilwoman Dolan said she thought a grace period is missing, possibly a change in 304.99 (a) by adding “after the thirty day period” that would make it clearer. She said it is minor but some clarification would be good.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 1 – 2013 passed on First Reading.


A. Approving Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – St. Luke’s University Health Network – 2013 Boutique at the Rink – Municipal Ice Rink

Mr. Donchez and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-3 that authorized a Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between the City and St. Luke’s University Health Network for use of the Municipal Ice Rink for the 2013 Boutique at the Rink for the time period April 26, 2013 to June 5, 2013, according to the Agreement.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.

B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 333 South New Street

Mr. Donchez and Ms. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013-4 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a blade sign and window signs at 333 South New Street.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.

C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 225 East Fourth Street

Mr. Donchez and Ms. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013-5 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to upgrade and replace outdated cellular equipment on the roof at 225 East Fourth Street.

Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.




City Tax/Budget Process

Charlie Tommor, 505 Sixteenth Avenue, addressed Council with regard to the Ordinance for the City taxes and said he hopes that Council would think about changing the methodology to a zero base budget when the department heads compare next year’s budget for approval by Council. He explained that means forgetting about what the budget was last year since that would not be a consideration for the coming year. The department head would go through item by item and justify each proposal and develop a rationale for consideration by City Council to see whether they approve the spending of money in that fashion. Mr. Tommor recalled what happened with the budget when he worked for PP&L before they had zero base budget and 5 or 10 percent would be added for the coming year. He said he strongly recommends moving away from that way of budgeting and that raises should be given based on performance. He said he hopes Council would go through each and every department and ask them to submit to Council an appropriate budget for the coming year based on need, item by item. Mr. Tommor expressed his hope that Council would consider this as a new way of budgeting for the administration of City funds of the income brought about by taxes. He commented that he feels lucky to live in Bethlehem and thinks it is a wonderful, beautiful city.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:28 p.m.