Mount Oliver inks new contract with police
The drug dealing, gunshots, death threats, vandalism, and around-the-clock noise tied to a handful of rental properties on Frederick St. may be history due to evictions, relocations, and the citing of landlords which took place in the past few weeks.
The news was announced by council President James Cassidy at council's October 19 monthly meeting. All the actions, he said, were based on borough ordinances.
The other big news was the adoption of a new, four-year police contract effective January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2013. The vote was 6-0, with Christine Brendel absent. Mayor Jeff Repasky was also absent.
The new contract was agreed to by the police. It calls for raises of 2.5 percent each of the four years for the force's three sergeants and two corporals. Patrolmen will receive 3 percent raises each year.
The force is comprised of nine full-time officers and the chief.
The evening began with a resident extending her services to help with quality-of-life issues in the borough.
"Do you think anyone will choose to live here who is decent and hard-working?" she said, referring to the Frederick St. problems and similar negative stories, many of which involve Section 8 tenants.
Mr. Cassidy said council instigated ordinances the borough never had before in order to better the neighborhood.
But the borough cannot tell landlords they cannot engage in Section 8 housing. There is also no legal limit to the number of Section 8 tenants in one neighborhood.
Then we have to come up with creative ways to deal with it, the resident said.
Councilwoman Billie Michener said there are many positive things occurring in the borough, such as the Hilltop Economic Development Corp.'s efforts to revitalize the business district, volunteer street clean-ups, and more.
"I'm here one hundred percent to do whatever it takes," said Mrs. Michener.
"We're doing what we can do, and we're still trying to do more," said Mr. Cassidy, who assured the resident they welcomed her help and would work with her.
The next resident complained of loud car stereos, and asked what the borough policy was on the issue.
Police Chief Frank Mosesso said the offender can be cited, but it is up to the magistrate to impose or throw out the penalty. Even then, the offender can appeal to Common Pleas Court.
When the resident suggested towing cars for loud stereos, council members and the chief said that opens the borough to lawsuits.
Councilwoman Sara Kudasick said it is a quality-of-life issue "that probably needs a creative solution."
The chief told the resident to write down the license number and the time the motorist tends to appear and blast music, and then fill out a complaint form.
The police will watch for the car, said Mr. Cassidy.
During the report of engineer Justin Wagner, council voted 6-0 to adopt the commercial revitalization plan of the Hilltop Economic Devel-
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opment Corp. While funding is required for many of the initiatives in the plan, there are actions the borough has the power to carry out now, like supporting volunteer clean-ups and enforcing ordinances.
Work on the new deck hockey rink in Transverse Park should begin this year if the borough's $18,000 match of a $91,000 grant is approved by council. Council asked Mr. Wagner to find out from engineer Ruthann Omer if she found funding before council commits to the project.
At the September 21 meeting, Ms. Omer said the matching funds will come from the 2010 sanitary sewer account as sewer work will be involved.
In the public safety report, Councilman Patrick Malloy said 841 calls were answered last month, and maintenance costs on the seven police vehicles totaled $2,995.17. Police vehicles logged 6,960 miles. All the equipment and surveillance cameras are up and running.
There were seven drug arrests, two search warrants with drugs confiscated, one controlled buy which lead to two arrests, and three DUI arrests.
The canines were used 66 times. Officers conducted 17 park-and-rides in the borough.
Mount Oliver will not be reimbursed for the 156 hours of overtime for borough officers who helped secure the Hilltop during the G-20 summit.
In order to be reimbursed, the officers would have had to be under the city commander's jurisdiction. Then, if litigation arose involving the officers, say with protesters, Mount Oliver would be on its own to deal with it.
We did not want to lose control, and be sued if something happened, said Mr. Obeldobel.
He said Chief Mosesso spent 20 additional hours at work during the summit for no extra pay.
He also said that after a council member suggested the chief was turning in an excessive amount of overtime and court time, he reviewed his time card for the year. He has been paid no overtime, and is within the allotted allocation for court time in the budget.
"The chief goes above and beyond his duties to serve and protect us," he said.
Mr. Malloy said new police vehicles are needed for the force. The committee recommended buying one new one with a $32,000 grant, and lease/purchasing three others over four years.
A total draft price of $95,695 is still being negotiated, he said.
The vote was 5-1, with Mrs. Michener voting against "until we can balance our budget."
Council then agreed to a new car for the code enforcement officer by a 6-0 vote. Payments will be over five years.
In the public works report, Mr. Obeldobel thanked street commissioner Ron Smith for volunteering his services at the prior Saturday's cleanup sponsored by the Hilltop Economic Development Corp.
Mrs. Michener added that more than 30 Pitt students and adults volunteered. In addition to Mr. Smith, firefighter Andy Marsh picked up bags. She thanked Miller Hardware for its donation.
In other news, Mr. Smith will be documenting all deficient streetlights and reporting them to Duquesne Light.
In risk management, Ms. Kudasick discussed the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information system that collects publicly-available information and provides it to stakeholders for analysis. It is web-based, and free to municipalities and non-profits.
She said the borough hopes to make use of the service.
In the economic development report, Tom Plietz said the Oct. 1 meeting at St. John Vianney Parish for those seeking positive change on the Hilltop drew about 100 people.
Future gatherings will include discussion of public safety, educational and social issues, quality-of-life matters, and more.
"We realize the area has been neglected," he said, adding change will take time. "Rome wasn't built in a day," he said.
The next meeting of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. will be October 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Elder-ado senior center on Brownsville Rd.
During "unfinished business" to end the meeting, Mrs. Michener said she is opposed to two ranking police officers riding in one car.
"We need our manpower out on the street," she said.
Solicitor James Perich said she must talk to the mayor if she wants a change made.
"The shift has worked for years," said Mr. Obeldobel, adding the borough's safety record is "extremely good" since the chief took charge.
Mr. Cassidy told them to take the matter to executive session.
The next council meeting will be November 16.