South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Code of Conduct first order of business in boro

 

March 27, 2012



As she did last month, Mt. Oliver council President Billie Michener began the March 19 monthly meeting with news of the "code of conduct" for council members, mayor, and residents at meetings, and adopted by council last month.

Based on Robert's Rules of Order, the code of conduct was researched and written by solicitor Deron Gabriel.

Among its regulations are: no speaking on any subject other than the subject in debate; no private conversation in such a manner as to interrupt council proceedings; and no noise or disturbance while a vote is being taken and until the result of the vote is announced.

Disruptive individuals may be removed from meetings by the police at the behest of the presiding officer.

Mrs. Michener said her goal is to shorten meetings.

In his report, Mayor James Cassidy said he has received no email (mountolivermayor@aol.com) or hotline (412-431-7333, extension 110) complaints.

The police received 726 calls for service in February. There were 22 narcotics and 2 DUI arrests. Officers engaged in 160 park-and-walks, and 83 targeted patrols.

Mr. Cassidy said residents should alert him or the police chief to troublesome spots, and they will target those areas.

Maintenance on borough vehicles last month totaled $2,800.

Councilman George Farneth said he received complaints about a boarded-up, condemned house on Margaret St. in which drug activity is suspected. Entry has been gained through a rear door.

He is concerned nearby children could be harmed if they enter the unsafe structure.

The borough will investigate, the mayor said.

In the engineer's report, Kurt Todd said mandated sewer work is on-going, with the contractor notifying nearby residents of the activity.

Bids are being sought for removing contaminated soil in the Ormsby Park playground. Funding will come from a $100,000 grant from the casinos administered through the county.

Mr. Farneth said engineer Ruthann Omer said private foundation money was available for projects such as repairing the tennis courts at Transverse Park.

Mrs. Michener said in council members' rankings of projects, the tennis courts are not on the list. The list's purpose is to inform Gateway of priorities.

Mr. Todd said Ms. Omer wants council members to look over the list prior to a workshop in April, at which time a final list will be determined.

In the public works report, Corey McGough said employees have been filling potholes.

He noted in light of the unseasonably warm weather, he is concerned about the cutting of grass, whereas a month ago he was talking about salt spreaders.

In a discussion of where borough vehicles are taken for repair, Mrs. Michener said there should not be a monopoly by one or two service providers.

Mr. Farneth said it would be okay to select one auto service if it gives a good price.

Mr. Cassidy suggested putting out a proposal for service and asking for prices.

Mr. McGough said he would look into the matter, and present a plan at council's next agenda meeting.

In the fire report, chief Fran Kestner said the department responded to eight calls last month, with none of them major.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said the porch of a John St. home is in danger of falling, and a motorcycle is parked on the front porch of a Margaret St. house. He will also try to locate the owner of a vacant property on Luther St.

Mrs. Michener said the same rules are being broken month after month by the same people.

She said Mr. Wilharm needs part-time help to, among other duties, track down owners of property that are in code violation. Of the 150 citations he wrote last June for high grass, no one paid the fine. If they had, it would have brought in $7,500 for the borough.

What is needed, Mrs. Michener said, is a program in place to deal with code violators, including a tracking system to determine if citations are paid.

"I am working on a program, and this will get a hundred percent better," she said.

She wants the program up and running in April. Part of it could be increasing the fee by $10 per day if a citation is not paid within 72 hours.

Mr. Cassidy said code-enforcement used to be about cleaning up the borough, not generating revenue.

If the problem was taken care of in 72 hours, like high grass, the citation was dismissed.

Mrs. Michener said she wants council members to come up with solutions to problems, such as code violators, and not merely present those problems at council meetings.

Regarding recreation, flyers will be mailed seeking volunteers for coaching and staffing, and youngsters, for activities in a planned athletic association.

The hope is to start basketball and softball this summer. Football will likely come later.

In the code enforcement report for Feb. 20 through March 14, there were: nine complaints, four occupancies, 23 rental inspections, 20 violation/notices, three legal actions filed, one building permit issued, six borough citations, and five business registration licenses.

As of March 14, the vacant structures included: 51 residential, 15 commercial, and five vacant lots.

In economic development, Mr. Farneth said he worked on the borough's comprehensive plan recently with Deana Wuenschel and others.

During the solicitor's report, Mr. Farneth said he did not like the abbreviated nature of Mr. Gabriel's bills, for which Mr. Gabriel will submit a revised one beginning April 1.

"The bill is non-descript," said Mr. Farneth. He also said Mr. Gabriel is on pace to over-spend by $12,000 this year.

In the public comment period, a resident who lives by Transverse Park said he heard the borough is trying to bring back tackle football, which he would fight. The last time there was football his truck had $1,000 in damage when youngsters in cleats walked on the vehicle.

If sports return to the field, organizations have to take responsibility, he said, as the police cannot be there all the time.

He would have no problem with flag football, he said.

At meeting's end, Mrs. Michener said "Movies in the Park" is coming to the borough this summer once she brings the matter before council for a vote.

It will be held in Transverse Park, and include free popcorn.

Mr. Oliver Clean-Up Day will be on April 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers should meet at Ormsby Park at 9 a.m. Bags and vests will be provided, as will refreshments.

The meeting concluded with Mrs. Michener reiterating her earlier message to council: "Bring me a program and we will make it work."

The next council meeting will be on April 16.

 

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