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Bethlehem Council MInutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – 7:00 PM
Pastor Gracher Selby, of St. John AME Zion Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.
PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
1. ROLL CALL
President Reynolds called the meeting to order. Present were Bryan G. Callahan, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Michael D. Recchiuti, Cathy Reuscher, Adam R. Waldron, and J. William Reynolds, 7.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of May 21, 2014 were approved.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT
4. OLD BUSINESS.
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
1.Article 112 – Campaign Finance Reports
A. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – ArtsQuest – Sabor! Latin Festival
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 29, 2014 from William P. Leeson, City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of the 800 block of East First Street for the Sabor! Latin Festival for the time period June 20 to June 23, 2014.
President Reynolds stated revised Resolution 9 G reflecting the changes in the Use Permit Agreement is on the Agenda.
B. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – ArtsQuest – July 4th Celebration
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 29, 2014 from William P. Leeson, City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of the 800 block of East First Street for the July 4th Celebration.
President Reynolds stated the Resolution will be placed on the June 17 Council Agenda.
A. President of Council
Neighbor Meeting – DAR House – Parking During Construction of New Nitschmann Middle School
President Reynolds as a reminder re-announced that he will be holding a neighborhood meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the DAR House in the Rose Garden concerning parking issues during the building of the new Nitschmann Middle School.
Mayor Donchez advised that on Friday the City received the new pothole spray truck that was unveiled to the public today. Mayor Donchez stated that if Members of Council would like to see the truck Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, would set up a demonstration. Mayor Donchez explained the truck will allow the City to repair streets with overlays for over a period of 9 to 10 months a year when the temperature is above 32 degrees. Mayor Donchez said he hopes this will reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Mayor Donchez informed the assembly that after the last City Council Meeting on May 21, 2014 concerning the discussion about parking during construction of the new Nitschmann Middle School, Police Chief Mark DiLuzio has been in contact with the Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy. They will have further discussions about the off-street parking situation around the school on the eastern side of Eighth Avenue. They will look at the possibility of using a slab in the winter time next to the pavilion and those talks will continue.
President Reynolds advised that about two weeks ago he and Mr. Evans met with a few of the neighbors, and they had brought up several ideas. President Reynolds explained that part of the purpose of the meeting tomorrow at the DAR House is for Council Members to be there and have conversations with the neighbors, and come up with some ideas for the Administration and Council to consider going forward. President Reynolds thought there are some good ideas, but obviously since City officials are not the professionals it is something everyone has to weigh in on. President Reynolds said hopefully the meeting tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM will lead to discussions of some possible ideas, and then to present that information to the Administration and Council at a future date.
Mayor Donchez reported the Administration certainly wants to work with Council and the neighbors.
7. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL READING
A. Bill No. 14 – 2014 – Amending Article 307 – Video Amusement Arcades
The Clerk read Bill No. 14 – 2014 – Amending Article 307 – Video Amusement Arcades on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. Bill No. 14 – 2014, now known as Ordinance No. 2014-15 was adopted.
B. Bill No. 15 – 2014 – Amending Bethlehem Parking Authority Articles of Incorporation – Term
The Clerk read Bill No. 15 – 2014 – Amending Bethlehem Parking Authority Articles of Incorporation – Term on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. Bill No. 15 – 2014, now known as Ordinance No. 2014-16 was adopted.
8. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Traffic Signal Approval – Elizabeth Avenue and Main Street Intersection
Mr. Evans and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution 2014-88 that authorized the Traffic Superintendent to submit and sign the application to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for Traffic Signal Approval to upgrade the intersection at Elizabeth Avenue and Main Street.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Traffic Signal Approval – Elizabeth Avenue and New Street Intersection
Mr. Evans and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution 2014-89 that authorized the Traffic Superintendent to submit and sign the application to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for Traffic Signal Approval to upgrade the intersection at Elizabeth Avenue and New Street.
President Reynolds asked Mr. Alkhal to explain what the updates will involve.
Mr. Alkhal pointed out that many of the City’s traffic signals are on the Five Year Plan, and most are slated for upgrades at intersections. He noted that PennDOT has a new requirement that, before starting that process, the City must apply for a permit, and a Resolution has to be passed. Mr. Alkhal stated basically it is to make sure that the municipal government is behind the project and will allow the funding in order to make the project happen.
President Reynolds commented that the only reason he brings this up is that when he was coming to the Meeting tonight he thought there had been an accident where someone was crossing the street and had been hit by a car. President Reynolds asked if there are any new safety measures.
Mr. Alkhal replied there are always new improvements both for pedestrians and for traffic but it is not specific for that.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. The Resolution passed.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 9 C through 9 F as a Group – Certificates of Appropriateness
Mr. Waldron and Mr. Recchiuti moved to consider Resolutions 9 C through 9 F as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 2 West Market Street
Mr. Callahan and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2014-90 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a downspout to conceal radon mitigation pipe at 2 West Market Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 437 Main Street
Mr. Callahan and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2014-91 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install awnings at four existing openings and carriage lights on either side of the entrance doors at 437 Main Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 508 Main Street
Mr. Callahan and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2014-92 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the northern storefront, paint the existing storefront, add new open end awnings with logo, relocate existing sign bracket and install new blade sign at 508 Main Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 458 Main Street
Mr. Callahan and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2014-93 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the side panel in the vestibule at 458 Main Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 9 C through 9 F: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. The Resolutions passed.
G. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement – ArtsQuest - World Cup Soccer Fest and Sabor! Latin Festival
Mr. Evans and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution 2014-94 that authorized a Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of the 800 block of East First Street for the World Cup Soccer Fest and Sabor! Latin Festival for the time periods June 12, 2014 to June 16, 2014 and June 20, 2014 to June 23, 2014, according to the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. The Resolution passed.
H. Approval of Open Positions – Director of Recycling and Business Manager –Department of
Community and Economic Development
Mr. Evans and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored a Resolution that approved the positions of the Director of Recycling and Business Manager – Department of Community and Economic Development in accordance with the provisions of Resolution No. 2014-83 adopted May 6, 2014.
Motion – Considering Each Position in Separate Resolutions
Mr. Callahan asked if it would be possible, if it is Council’s will, to make a motion to split and consider the two positions separately that are both contained in the Resolution.
President Reynolds stated that a motion would be needed and a second.
Mr. Callahan moved, and Ms. Dolan seconded the motion to consider the two positions separately.
President Reynolds pointed out that Members of Council can have discussion on the motion to split the two.
Ms. Dolan commented she is often in favor of splitting things when they need to be discussed and considered differently. She added that although both involve hiring they are different issues in terms of the way they will have to be handled.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Reynolds, 7. The motion passed.
9 H Approval of Filling Open Position – Business Manager – Department of Community and Economic Development
President Reynolds advised the discussion will first be on the proposed hiring of a Business Manager for the Department of Community and Economic Development that is now Resolution 9 H.
Ms. Dolan noted the Business Manager position opened up because of a transfer of an employee from one Department to another so it would not require any additional funding. She observed it is just an open position that needs to be filled by someone different because Ms. Stoneback left this position.
President Reynolds asked the Administration to explain more about the necessity for the position. President Reynolds expressed the belief that City Council is supportive of the position.
David Brong, Business Administrator, explained that the Business Manager function is something that has been expanded in the past five years. Mr. Brong said there is about $6.8 million of Departmental Earnings within the $70 million General Fund Budget. Mr. Brong advised that the $6.8 million represents business done at the Departmental level, it is business conducted by the Departments, invoiced by the Departments and expedited by the Departments. The Departments interact with customers and the Business Managers of the specific Departments conduct the minutia of the day to day business associated with the $6.8 million. Mr. Brong reported this is an area that as an enterprise the City has not done too well with, and it has been very loose. In fact, it just happened and it did not happen well. Mr. Brong continued on to say that by putting these professionals in a place where they could exert some control and ownership he has more confidence saying the City is getting more than it did. Mr. Brong noted that within this area permits and licenses are being issued constantly that represents millions of dollars of revenue and business to the City. In addition, grants administration totals about $7.2 million annually and this function also has reporting and compliance requirements. Mr. Brong added this also provides the CI (Continuous Improvement) effort with a liaison and some process focus within a Department. He said the executional details of much of the business done in the City has some weight and some distance to travel, and this job, not only in this Department but in all Departments, is intended to be that process focus on behalf of the Department Heads.
President Reynolds, commenting those are things that Members of Council have heard in leading up to this, stated he appreciates the overview.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Reynolds, 7. Resolution 2014-95 (9 H) passed.
I. Approval of Filling Open Position – Director of Recycling – Department of Community and Economic Development
President Reynolds affirmed that Council will now consider Resolution 9 I, the proposed hiring for the Director of Recycling position.
Mr. Recchiuti confirmed that several weeks ago there was a Department of Community and Economic Development reorganization plan, a part of which was the elimination of one position. Mr. Recchiuti asked if the Administration’s position is changing on that and if so is this something more appropriate to discuss during the Proposed 2015 Budget in the Fall.
Mayor Donchez commented that the position of the Administration is to not fill the position of Deputy Director of Recycling, Mr. Conway’s current position, at this time. Mayor Donchez affirmed it is something that could be considered and discussed during the Proposed 2015 Budget but not at this time. Mayor Donchez reiterated that his plans are to not fill the Deputy position.
Ms. Dolan stated that, just so it is clear, Council is considering the Director of Recycling position. Ms. Dolan asked if the current Deputy Director of Recycling will move into the position of the Director of Recycling, and what are the mechanics of the vision of Mayor Donchez.
Mayor Donchez, while noting he will let Alicia Karner, Director of Community and Economic Development, give a more detailed explanation, advised the interview process will begin shortly. Mayor Donchez stated that the City has received about 20 resumes for the Director of Recycling position, and Mr. Conway was one of the 20. Mayor Donchez asked if Ms. Karner wanted to make any comments. Ms. Karner stated that the Mayor’s explanation was sufficient.
Ms. Dolan asking whether Mayor Donchez wants City Council to approve the Director of Recycling position.
Mayor Donchez replied that is correct and affirmed the position to be filled was held by Tom Marshall who has retired.
Ms. Dolan commented that Council will be voting on this knowing that the Deputy Recycling position will not be filled. Mayor Donchez replied that is correct.
President Reynolds thought it would make sense for City Council to table the filling of the Director of Recycling position, and wait until the Administration is ready to fill it. President Reynolds pointed out that the follow up question is what will be the actual process for the elimination of one of these two positions. President Reynolds noted that Mayor Donchez stated he was accepting resumes and had 20 of them with Mr. Conway being one of those submitted. President Reynolds observed the conversation would be that if one of the other 19 people were picked what would be the mechanics of what would happen to the job of the Deputy between now and the end of the year.
Mayor Donchez responded that Mr. Conway’s position is a contract position so if Mr. Conway is not selected to replace Mr. Marshall then there is a very good chance at the end of the year that position would be phased out.
President Reynolds asked if it is still the hope of Mayor Donchez that Council would approve the Director of Recycling position today, and if it would be someone other than Mr. Conway that for the next 7 months the City would have both the Director of Recycling and the Deputy Director of Recycling.
Mayor Donchez replied that is correct but that position would probably not be in the 2015 budget. President Reynolds commented the Deputy Director position would not be in the 2015 Budget. Mayor Donchez replied as of today that is his plan.
President Reynolds asked what happens if Mr. Conway does not get the job. He continued on to say if Mr. Conway got the job and becomes the new Director of Recycling, the Administration would not fill the other position of Deputy. President Reynolds inquired why the Deputy position is needed through the end of the year if Mr. Conway gets the job of Director and the Deputy position is not needed for the second half of the year.
Mayor Donchez believed that the contract for the Deputy position runs until the end of the year so the contract would not be renewed because it is a contract employee position.
President Reynolds asked if Mr. Conway got the position of Director would the Administration still fill the contract position of Deputy before the end of the year. Mayor Donchez replied no.
Mr. Recchiuti inquired if the Administration is going to run the Department of Recycling with one less person starting in 2015 why do they not start doing that today.
Mayor Donchez stated if Mr. Conway is the successor to Mr. Marshall that will be the case and Mr. Conway’s position will not be filled.
Mr. Recchiuti asked at what point will the Mayor know who will be in that position.
Mayor Donchez responded probably within two weeks.
Mr. Recchiuti agreed with President Reynolds that Council should table this matter until it is decided who will be in the Recycling Director position, and Council can come back and revisit it then. Mr. Recchiuti said he knows it is hard to hire someone without the approval of Council but a conditional offer could be made. Mr. Recchiuti observed if the Deputy position is going to be eliminated in 7 months what is the difference right now, and restated maybe Council should table this to see who gets the position.
President Reynolds commented that the question is if Mr. Conway becomes the Director of Recycling is the Administration comfortable with only one person for the rest of the year, but if Mr. Conway is not the person then are they comfortable with two people.
Mayor Donchez stated the Administration is comfortable with two people until the end of the year simply because he thinks there would be a transition and Mr. Conway does have the experience that would help the new person if he were not selected. Mayor Donchez, noting he would have to defer to people who have been here longer in the Administration, indicated he is not aware whether a contract employee position can be eliminated before the end of the year.
President Reynolds asked Ms. Karner about her comfort level as far as a decision for one person or two people by the end of the year.
Ms. Karner replied she always defers to the Mayor, but communicated she would be more comfortable with the reorganization plan that was presented in April which included the moving of a position within the Department from Recycling to Economic Development, a bureau that has no staff, and noted her response is absolutely.
President Reynolds asked Ms. Karner’s level of comfort with having one person as compared to having two people; i.e., Director of Recycling and Deputy Director of Recycling. President Reynolds observed the situation Council is in is that Council will not weigh in on who should be hired as the Director of Recycling since that is completely the Administration’s decision. President Reynolds pointed out the confusion Council is facing now is the fact that if Mr. Conway becomes the Director the City will have only one person doing Recycling between his hiring and the end of the year, but if not then the City will have two people. President Reynolds queried if Ms. Karner could explain how the difference would affect the day to day operation of the Recycling Bureau.
Ms. Karner stated she is never comfortable talking about people and positions versus the position itself. Instead of using names she prefers to work with the titles of the individuals. She did not think it is fair for them to read in the paper tomorrow there has been a discussion about the individual on any of these positions. Ms. Karner commented that of course it would take some pressure off her to have someone looking at the big picture at the Recycling Center, and have someone who is managing the day to day operations, which is the differentiation between the two positions. Would this continue to allow her to spend more time focusing on Economic Development, the bureau that has no staff, absolutely. Ms. Karner stated what she is hearing is a discussion by Council on whether or not it is appropriate to have two people in a Department versus one so she defers to Council and the Administration.
President Reynolds believed it was a discussion between Council and Mayor Donchez and Mr. Brong as far as the comfort level of having two people versus one from now until the end of the year. President Reynolds noted what Council is curious about is if it is Ms. Karner’s comfort level that there can be one person between now and the end of the year, whoever that person may be as compared to two people, it would seem to Council as if there is an employee who might not need to be there if there will be two rather than one, depending on who is hired.
Ms. Karner explained that in looking at the Department in its entirety it has to be remembered that the Department is made up of many Bureaus so it is a team, and it is not individual Bureaus. If there is added pressure on one Bureau it is picked up by other members of the team, whether it is her or the business manager or the secretarial staff or the planning division or anyone else. Ms. Karner expressed that, when removing staff from any of the Bureaus of the Community and Economic Development Department, especially one that is so high profile as the Recycling Center and the Compost Center since this is where the City gets a significant number of inquiries and complaints from the residents, if Council is asking whether that will add additional pressure to the other Bureaus it will absolutely and will certainly add more pressure to her position as well.
Ms. Dolan commented that for the position working underneath the Director of Recycling, the individual was brought on to handle the commercial aspects which as a City historically there have been some problems. The City has had some problems with enforcing commercial recycling contracts. Ms. Dolan noted that in the ad in the paper one of the things the City is looking for specifically is someone who has experience in that area. Ms. Dolan stated it seems to her as if the Administration was aware of that pressure and the need for someone who has that skill set and can be embodied by one person called the Director of Recycling. Ms. Dolan said she understands that any good manager wants adequate staffing, and in her years on Council she has seen many times when the City was short on monies and needed to cut back on positions, and all of the different Department Directors were upset. Ms. Dolan added that she thinks the Economic Development Bureaus was one of the departments that got hit the hardest. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that the City does have a lot of economic development on the table. It also seemed ridiculous to her that if the City has someone who is going to handle that job in the 2015 Budget and that is the vision of this Administration, why not start when hiring the new person who has these skills. Ms. Dolan said she would be in favor of Mr. Recchiuti’s idea of tabling because many things depend on whether the new person hired would embody all of these skills and would need assistance getting up to speed. Ms. Dolan pointed out the City really does not know that at this point so to make the decision now would be preemptive. Ms. Dolan observed if it is two weeks until the individual is hired then City Council probably does not need to table the Resolution, and could postpone it that is an assurance to the Administration.
President Reynolds asked Mayor Donchez or Mr. Brong if they had a preference as to whether or not Council tables or postpones consideration of the Resolution as to their confidence in the two weeks timeframe.
Mayor Donchez replied he is okay with tabling or postponing. Mayor Donchez pointed out he does agree with Ms. Dolan about economic development, and it is possible that 3 or 4 months from now when discussions start about the Proposed 2015 Budget there will be more clarity on the Economic Development projects and the CRIZ projects. The Mayor explained it is very possible that he may come back to Council and ask for the Economic Development position that was debated in April and that he thinks is extremely important. Mayor Donchez restated that when it is closer to the 2015 Budget preparation there may be more clarity and it is possible that he may put the Economic Development position back in the 2015 Budget if warranted.
Mr. Waldron asked if tabling or postponing would hinder the interview or hiring process.
Mayor Donchez stated that he does not believe so.
Mr. Callahan asked Ms. Karner, if the activity picks up in the next three or four months, whether there has been a discussion with BRIA as far as possibly picking up some of the expenses for a position in the Economic Development Bureau to help out. Mr. Callahan noted that he said earlier he would be supportive of filling a position in the Economic Department.
President Reynolds noted that this is a conversation about the Director of Recycling position so it would be germane to keep on topic.
Mr. Callahan explained the only reason he brings it up is because all stated they would be willing to discuss adding another position, but it was the plan at that time that if there is the full time position then the Department would not want the second position for Recycling. Ms. Karner inquired if he is asking about the plan that was previously presented to Council. Mr. Callahan replied yes.
Ms. Karner explained the plan previously presented to City Council and reviewed by the Community and Economic Development Committee on March 26, 2014 included a number of components and nuances as with any recycling plan when picked apart do not look exactly the same when they are not connected. It also included $30,000 from KIZ and $30,000 for BEDCO that will not be drawn upon. Ms. Karner noted the conversations with BRIA have not occurred but she has been to Harrisburg on several occasions and spoke with the Department of Revenue and the Governor’s office, and she met with representatives of the State Office of the Budget and DCED. Ms. Karner advised it is the State’s desire to limit the amount of administrative dollars allocated to the authority for activities that they view are the responsibility of the City, so there will not be the funds to expend on staff anyway.
Mr. Callahan observed the funding for the position for an executive director for BRIA, if it gets to that point, would be the responsibility of the City of Bethlehem.
Ms. Karner responded the City continues to lobby for changes to the legislation, and there are five key points that would be better suited for review at a Committee Meeting. Ms. Karner advised that, depending on what happens by the end of June, the conversation can be revisited.
Motion – Postponing Vote on Filling Director of Recycling Position – June 17 City Council Meeting
Mr. Recchiuti believed the City will definitely need a Director of Recycling, and Ms. Dolan’s idea of postponing consideration of the Resolution until the next City Council Meeting is the most expedient way to make sure the position is voted on. Mr. Recchiuti moved to postpone the vote on the Resolution to hire the Director of Recycling until the next Council Meeting on June 17, 2014. Ms. Dolan seconded the motion.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Ms. Reuscher, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, and Mr. Reynolds, 6. Voting NAY: Mr. Evans, 1. The motion passed.
10. NEW BUSINESS.
Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) - Report
Ms. Dolan presented a brief report on the Environmental Advisory Council. Ms. Dolan noted the EAC thanked City Council for supporting the appointment of Lynn Rothman to the EAC. Ms. Dolan commented she believes Ms. Rothman will be a terrific member. As she had shared at a previous Meeting, Ms. Dolan noted the EAC is working on proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance for regulation of the use of solar power. Ms. Dolan noted there is a section in the Zoning Ordinance that speaks to regulation of wind power but there is not anything beyond a single sentence regarding solar power. Ms. Dolan observed that solar power can be a great thing and the City would want to encourage it, but it also can become an area for complaints or a nuisance between neighbors if it is not regulated properly. Ms. Dolan thought the proposed changes from the EAC have been done well, and a lot of work went into finding other cities that had similar Ordinances and how they were working. Ms. Dolan believed that a meeting with Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, and the EAC President has been held or is being planned before the proposed changes will go to the Administration, first the Mayor’s office after going through Ms. Karner’s office, and then to Council for approval.
Mr. Recchiuti pointed out that, traditionally by this time of the year, the City receives its final Community Development Block Grant allocation, and wondered if the City received it yet.
Ms. Karner replied yes. Mr. Recchiuti asked if it is at budget, over, or under. Ms. Karner, noting she just talked to Mark Sivak, Director of Budget and Finance, about bringing it to Council, advised additional funds have been allocated to the City. Ms. Karner, informing the Members that the decision is to replace as much General Fund money as possible with the CDBG dollars, said that is the plan Council will see.
11. PUBLIC COMMENT
Declaration of Independence – Annual Reading on July 4th
Tom Carroll, 248 East Union Boulevard, informed the assembly that on July 4, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. the annual public reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place at Payrow Plaza at City Hall.
Continuous Improvement Program
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, stated that since the CI (Continuous Improvement) program was implemented in the City’s government he has literally listened to hundreds of comments and complaints about it from more than 100 current and former City employees. Mr. Grubb, explaining that their concerns are centered on the individuals running the program, said, to use the words of people who have contacted him, the individuals who run the CI program are described with words such as vicious tyrants, and who use interrogation methods to indoctrinate and force co-workers into abiding by their directives about how City Government should be run. Mr. Grubb advised that after receiving several complaints about the City’s Health Director spending too much time on CI and too little on public health programs he brought it to the attention of the Pennsylvania Department of Health in March. Mr. Grubb added that employees had concerns that the City was in violation of Act 315 which funds the position and requires in a certain subsection that the Health Director devote their time to public health duties. Mr. Grubb advised that subsequently he received a forwarded email from a City employee that had been sent to Mr. Grubb without any knowledge that Mr. Grubb had contacted the Health Department. It showed to what extent the Health Director was involved in CI which Mr. Grubb said he can only describe as considerable. Mr. Grubb related that in April he sent a second letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Health with that email attached to reiterate everyone’s concerns and to demonstrate the breadth of the involvement. Mr. Grubb informed the Members that the Department of Health apparently initiated an investigation by contacting the Health Director and providing copies of his communications. Mr. Grubb thought the Health Director must have immediately gone to the CI Administrator who, on his own and without any knowledge or approval by the Mayor, began investigating to discover who could have forwarded the Health Director’s email to Mr. Grubb. Mr. Grubb noted when the sender was determined that person was confronted. Mr. Grubb said to the Mayor’s credit he has since implemented administrative policy that requires his approval before this kind of unauthorized email investigation can happen again. Ironically, Mr. Grubb commented he recently read dozens of emails between the CI Administrator and his minions including both the Department Business Manager and an individual who is now the Acting Human Resources Director. Mr. Grubb said he has never seen emails like this in City Government containing uncomplimentary nicknames for other City employees. Mr. Grubb added there were also references made to how a female employee dresses and he finds this disgusting. In addition, Mr. Grubb related that in a missive to a female employee who has taken advantage of the City’s Employee Assistance Program the CI Administrator had remarked that the counselors are a bunch of “expletive”. Mr. Grubb stated he is much less concerned about one employee’s innocent attempt at transparency than he is about a small group of CI missionaries’ unprofessional, nasty, and demeaning emails in an obvious abuse of the City’s email system. Mr. Grubb added it is equally disturbing that these are the kinds of public servants City Government employs, and there is certainly little wonder why City employee morale is very low given the distain and disrespect with which they are treated. Mr. Grubb pointed out that perhaps CI should stand for continual intimidation and maybe someone needs to file a Right to Know request for all of these emails.
Recycling Bureau Positions
Mr. Grubb, turning to the Recycling Bureau, commented the Mayor is right not to eliminate the Deputy’s contract position immediately if he is not selected as the Director of Recycling, because it is a good idea to keep that individual in the position through the end of their contract. Mr. Grubb stressed a value cannot be placed on the institutional knowledge of the individual that will be able to be transferred to a new Recycling Director. Mr. Grubb pointed out that there is the option at the end of the year of not renewing the individual’s contract. Mr. Grubb thought if the contract position is eliminated now with that incumbent leaving City service it would be a real disservice to the recycling program. Expressing his belief that it needs to be considered, Mr. Grubb reiterated there is no replacing institutional knowledge.
Continuous Improvement Program
President Reynolds asked Mr. Brong or Mayor Donchez if the City is still doing the CI program and asked if either one wanted to make any comment on the future of the CI program. President Reynolds, recalling this is something that has come up before at Council Meetings, explained they may want the opportunity to state whether or not CI is something that the City is planning on doing again in the future because it had not been heard about yet in the first six months this year.
Mr. Brong, stating yes, said CI is a process with training at this point. About 285 of the City’s 620 employees are trained with the tools to help identify opportunities for optimization of revenue, expense, and quality. Mr. Brong, advising he has not been in government for his entire career, informed the Members that he was in industry. Mr. Brong affirmed that he can tell City Council that Continuous Improvement is mainstream, it is not a fleeting notion in industry, and it is the way industry does business. Mr. Brong remarked that Bethlehem’s government has been slow to use it due to a lack of urgency, complacency, and perhaps an overabundant focus on policy and not on execution. Mr. Brong commented that in his world, based on 35 years of learning it, it is all in the execution, not in the policy, and that is what the City has been missing. Mr. Brong pointed out the other thing the City has been missing is the profit motivation, the need for survival, and to be knocked off the block by competitors. Highlighting the fact that the City does not have a competitor, Mr. Brong said the urgency in this environment has been slow to get off the dime. Mr. Brong, informing the Members that the process has made people feel uncomfortable, stated he does not really care about that because when he looks at the projections for the financial statements he gets uncomfortable. Mr. Brong expressed people can either be uncomfortable based on the accountabilities the City is placing on people or the City can be uncomfortable based on the financial realities that have to be dealt with. Mr. Brong asserted that either way there needs to be plenty of urgency. Mr. Brong thought that CI needs to be part of that. Mr. Brong continued on to say without it what do we have, what is there, some vague sense of service. Mr. Brong, querying will that fix the City’s problems, stated it will not fix the problems. Mr. Brong exemplifed that the supervisor of Utility Maintenance is as tough as nails and more likely to argue against change than he is to embrace it. Through supervisory training that involved CI the employee was asked to identify gaps in his area of responsibility. Mr. Brong explained the employee identified that the City never exercised its in-line valves in the water system that were there in the event they were needed, the City hoped they worked, but was never sure. The employee was tasked with developing a program to begin cycling valves during routine maintenance which he did and now the City accesses thousands of valves every year and knows that they work. Mr. Brong added that if the City needs to access them during a water main break or some other emergency they will be there. Mr. Brong remarked that would not have happened without the CI program. Mr. Brong provided a second example involving a function with the City’s computer system known as Community Plus where there is the ability to define every parcel owned within the City and every unit permitted to be occupied. Mr. Brong explained the problem was around the early 2000’s when Community Plus was implemented but the unit function was never engaged. Parcels were defined for a decade but the City really did not know the usage or on what parcel. Mr. Brong explained one can probably ask how can the City tax when it does not know what the usage is, exactly how many units are on a piece of property, and what those usages are. Mr. Brong advised the reality is that the City did not do it well but through the CI effort the City identified it, started working with it and it is about 85% to 90% done recovering the fact that the City never used the unit functionality. Mr. Brong pointed out that CI fixed this matter and stated the City needs CI.
President Reynolds asked Mayor Donchez if he wanted to add anything about CI, and the Mayor replied no.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, stated he was quite interested in the exchange at the last Council Meeting between the Mayor and a Member of Council about when the Mayor was a Member of Council and rejected a Mayoral candidate to a City Commission. Mr. Antalics commented that the exchange was rather lengthy and back and forth, and he did not see the reason why a past rejection of an appointment was a concern at that Meeting since it seemed to involve an appointment to the Parking Authority. Noting he felt this required some research, Mr. Antalics reported the appointment that was made reference to was of Arif Fazil, a contract engineer for the Bethlehem Area School District, to the Planning Commission. Mr. Antalics advised the vote was 6 to 1 against the appointment so the vast majority of Council Members disapproved it. The reasons were that Mr. Fazil is an accomplished person but as the only engineer for the School District and being on the Planning Commission there could be a very clear conflict of interest in the sense that some School District issues could come before the Planning Commission. Mr. Antalics stated the one vote wishing to confirm the position was by a Council Member who at that time had a good relationship with the Mayor. Mr. Antalics communicated that he thought the Member of Council at that time who is now the Mayor acted wisely.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.