The following elected officials were present: R. Carlucci; M. Cheberenchick; P. Coffey; N. Kovach; J. O'Malley; M. Warhold; D. Baumgarten; S. Torris. Council Member R. Zezulewicz was absent. The following appointed officials were present: T. Hartswick, Manager; D. Biondo, Solicitor; H. Lane, Police Chief.
The minutes of the November 28, 2005 council meeting were presented. Mr. Cheberenchick motioned to approve the minutes; Ms. O'Malley seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Ms. Kovach officially opened the public comment section of the meeting.
Nancy Krebs, 4013 Lyndell Court - lives on a cul-de-sac and stated that the public works department plows only one side of the road and deposits the snow into her driveway. In past years, the driver would plow both sides and deposit the snow by the telephone poles. The plowing procedure will be discussed with the public works foreman.
Ms. Krebs stated she lives in Castle Shannon Borough in the Bethel Park School District; however her street does not receive the borough newsletter. Ms. O'Malley noted that Lyndell Court is on the mailing label list, and advised Ms. Krebs to contact the post office.
Ms. Kovach officially closed the public comment section of the meeting.
Bid Openings: Nothing to report.
Public Hearings: Mr. Hartswick presented Ordinance 850 to remove Pennsylvania Boulevard from the borough's plan of streets. Ms. Kovach opened the public hearing on Ordinance 850. No comments were received; therefore Ms. Kovach closed the public hearing. Mr. Coffey motioned to adopt Ordinance 850 at its first reading; Mr. Cheberenchick seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Civil Service Commission: Nothing to report.
Real Estate Tax Collectors Report: Ms. Torris reported November collections of $11,389.21 with an assessment increase of $1,071.41. Balance of face tax to be collected is $102,848.47. Ms. Torris reported that an additional $2,091 was collected in December and delinquent real estate tax notices were mailed.
Council Committee Reports:
Building and Grounds: - Nothing to report.
Finance: Mr. Hartswick stated the 2006 budget was properly advertised and on public display. The budget includes a ½ mill increase to 7.9 mills.
Ms. Kovach opened the public hearing on the 2006 budget and Tax Levy Ordinance 851.
Mr. George Orr, 791 Killarney Drive - questioned if any cuts were made in borough departments and added that new construction should be bringing in additional real estate taxes. Mr. Hartswick replied that Dan Onorato's roll back of assessments to the 2002 levels has radically cut the borough's projected tax base for 2006. Mr. Orr questioned if the borough would consider adopting the Emergency Management Services Tax instead of raising the borough's millage. Mr. Hartswick answered that council will consider the EMST tax later on tonight's agenda; however the ½ mill increase proposed in the 2006 budget is needed to fund capital projects such as the Rebecca Street Wall reconstruction.
Mr. Orr stated that the sewage costs will soon equal 100% of the water bill. Ms. Kovach discussed the ACO requirements through DEP that mandates sewer projects that will cost approximately $8 million dollars. Mr. Hartswick stated all communities that drain into Alcosan are under the same mandate.
Mr. Warhold noted an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette dated October 29, 2005 regarding Dan Onorato's assessment roll back to 2002 levels. Mr. Hartswick quoted Rich Fitzgerald, President of Allegheny County Council, who said that even if poorer areas of the county see assessment decreases, municipal and school officials would seek millage increases to reclaim lost revenue. Mr. Warhold added that other communities in Allegheny County are having the same problem. Dormont Borough is increasing taxes, and Mt. Lebanon is raising taxes and possibly laying off staff.
Mr. Warhold stated the infrastructure of the community cannot be comprised. The current bond issue for roads will be paid in 2014. The road program for 2006 includes $40,000 more to pave roads. The sewer project mandates necessary dye testing that limits the public works manpower to complete crack sealing on the roads for routine maintenance. The wall on Rebecca Street will collapse, and will cost the borough $100,000 to rebuild. If it is not rebuilt, the cost to the borough would be much higher. The borough garage has insufficient storage space and costly equipment is left outside. The Municipal Center entrance is leaking, and Riehl Park has a landslide.
Mr. Warhold discussed the MRTSA cost increase from 2005 of $20,994 to $75,000 in 2006, a 250% increase.
To increase revenues for the budget, council will consider adopting the $52.00 EMST tax that will affect people earning over $12,000 per year. New construction projects such as ENX and MARSA buildings will be added to the tax role in 2006; however the May Street Townhouse Project will not be added until possibly 2007. The borough will be actively pursuing all delinquent real estate taxes. Some of the funds from the sewer bond will be transferred to the capital account to try to ease the tax burden. Mr. Warhold stated if some of these revenues materialize, council is hoping to decrease taxes in 2007.
Mr. Warhold added that if the assessments were correct by Dan Onorato and MRTSA's cost had not increased so substantially, the borough would not have to raise taxes. If additional sources of revenue are realized, the borough budget could be revised until January 30, 2006.
Mr. Carlucci stated he would not vote for a tax increase when the borough has not actively pursued collection of delinquent real estate taxes. Sewage rates must be raised due to the ACO requirements, and the EMST tax may be adopted.
Mr. Cheberenchick stated that he is not in favor of raising taxes; however there is little room for trimming the borough budget with the exception of laying off staff. Mr. Cheberenchick is considering Mr. Warhold's comments.
Mayor Baumgarten stated that MRTSA is an extension of public safety, along with the police department and fire department. Ninety percent of MRTSA's cost is payroll and equipment. The borough has the best service in the state of Pennsylvania due to training and state of the art equipment. The ambulance response time is way below the national average. MRTSA's revenues are fixed, and costs continue to increase.
Ms. Kovach closed the public hearing on Tax Levy Ordinance 851 and the 2006 budget.
Mr. Coffey motioned to adopt the Castle Shannon Borough 2006 Budget; Mr. Warhold seconded. Ms. Kovach called for a roll call vote: Ms. O'Malley- yes; Mr. Carlucci-no; Mr. Warhold-yes, Ms. Kovach-yes, Mr. Coffey-yes, Mr. Cheberenchick-yes. Motion passed five to one.
Mr. Coffey motioned to adopt Tax Levy Ordinance 851; Mr. Warhold seconded. Ms. Kovach called for a roll call vote: Ms. O'Malley- yes; Mr. Carlucci-no; Mr. Warhold-yes, Ms. Kovach-yes, Mr. Coffey-yes, Mr. Cheberenchick-yes. Motion passed five to one.
Mr. Hartswick discussed the need to increase the borough's sewage rates by 80 cents to $3.80 per thousand gallons to provide funding to comply with the ACO requirements. Ms. O'Malley made the motion; Mr. Warhold seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Mr. Coffey motioned to ratify the November treasurer's report; Ms. O'Malley seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Library: Ms. O'Malley reported a very successful Santa breakfast with eighty-three attendees. Mrs. Santa also attended.
Planning and Codes:
The agenda contained the November 2005 building permit report.
Public Safety: November reports: District Court Fines - $2,675.31; Parking Citations - $190.00; Report Fees - $90.00; Meter Fines - $110.00; Alarm Fines Received - $400.00; Special Services - $1,882.77.
Chief Lane presented the annual truck safety inspection unit report: 72 inspections with 210 violations. Citations written were $10,000. Most violations are due to the vehicles' owners and not the drivers. The unit has become so effective that many companies have requested the unit come to their facility to inspect the trucks.
Public Works: Nothing to report.
Editorial Board: Nothing to report.
MRTSA: Nothing to report.
Allegheny County Boroughs Association: Nothing to report.
Allegheny League of Municipalities: Nothing to report.
South Hills Area Council of Governments: Nothing to report.
Police Pension: Nothing to report.
Earned Income Tax Collector's Report: November distribution analysis: EIT-$71,209.70; EMST-$719.40.
Engineer's Report: Nothing to report.
Manager's Report: Mr. Hartswick presented the proposed collective bargaining agreement for the Service Employees International Union Local 3 from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008. Mr. Carlucci motioned to approve the agreement; Ms. O'Malley seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Mr. Hartswick presented Change Order 2 for the CDBG-Y31 Walnut Avenue Sanitary Sewer Improvement Project reducing the contract by $3,030. Mr. Coffey motioned to approve the change order; Mr. Cheberenchick seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Mr. Hartswick presented Resolution 506 reducing the police pension contribution for 2006 to 4%. Mr. Cheberenchick motioned to adopt Resolution 506; Ms. O'Malley seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Mr. Hartswick discussed the change from the occupational privilege tax to the emergency management services tax which allowed municipalities to increase the tax from $10.00 to $52.00 with $5.00 contributed to the school district. The solicitor must draft the ordinance for advertising once a week for three consecutive weeks. Ms. O'Malley motioned to authorize the solicitor to draft the EMST ordinance; Mr. Carlucci seconded; all in favor; motion carried.
Ms. Kovach questioned if the $52.00 could be deducted in quarterly payments. Mr. Biondo stated an employer may choose to make quarterly deductions.
Mr. Carlucci questioned if there are guidelines where the EMST revenues could be spent. Mr. Biondo responded the EMST revenues must be used for fire or emergency services, road construction and/or maintenance, and reduction of property taxes.
Mayor: Mayor Baumgarten noted that one-half of the expenses for the school crossing guards are reimbursed by the school district.
Planning Commission Report: Nothing to report.
Solicitor's Report: Nothing to report.
Keystone Oaks: Nothing to report.
Zoning Hearing Board: Nothing to report.
Other: Ms. O'Malley thanked Mr. Hartswick for contacting PAWC to have the water leak repaired on St. Annes Street.
Ms. O'Malley listed concerns that Berkheimer and Associates may not be collecting all earned income tax available.
Mr. Coffey stated that it is hard to raise taxes; however the EMST tax should be raised to help with the MRTSA costs.
Mr. Cheberenchick questioned if an agreement has been signed with Steel City Collision for borough towing services. Chief Lane stated an agreement will be prepared in January. Steel City Collision was temporarily hired to fill the vacancy left from Feller's Towing Service.