Mt. Oliver to begin charging for vacant storefronts in boro
Mayor James Cassidy is concerned this utility pole on Elizabeth Street in the borough could tumble down and hurt someone, fall on a car or block the street if it’s not removed soon.
The Jan. 21 meeting of Mt. Oliver council -- which fell on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the Presidential Inauguration -- began with a moment of silence for Rev. King.
Councilmen George Farneth and John Smith, Sr ., were absent.
The evening’s first speaker was the borough’s new intern, Ricky Hopkinson, a University of Pittsburgh senior.
In his report on his activities so far on behalf of the borough, Mr. Hopkinson said he perused the minutes from 2012 meetings for ideas that were suggested but not implemented.
He also plans to work on housing and animal control issues and on a mapping project at the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC).
A few years ago, borough Ordinance 915 was adopted requiring 30 days after a building becomes vacant, the owner must inform the borough and pay a fee. Otherwise according to borough officials, the building receives fire and police protection for free.
Mr. Hopkinson said a new vacant property committee is proposing a $250 fee which is refundable if a new tenant is found within nine months. If a tenant isn’t found, the following year the fine is increased to $500.
After his presentation, council voted to ratify his six-month employment agreement.
In the mayor’s report, James Cassidy read a letter of resignation from police Officer Joseph Riley, whose last shift was on Jan. 12. His new job is with the Trafford police department.
As a result, Patrolman Matthew Toney was promoted to full-time after 15 months of part-time status. Mr. Cassidy swore him in as a borough officer.
“He has done an exemplary job,” Councilman Darnell Sains said of Mr. Toney.
In concluding his report, the mayor said the police force has two cars and two K-9 cars that are currently in service. The others are being repaired.
In the engineer’s report, council approved a $5,258 change order for the new, energy-efficient LED lighting scheduled to be installed from the 100 block to the clock tower on Brownsville Rd.
Final completion of the project is scheduled for March. The lighting was supposed to be up by Christmas.
Council President Billie Michener met with the manufacturer and installer earlier this month and gave them the new deadline. A future phase of the project will result in new lighting from the clock tower to all other lamp posts.
In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 52 violation letters, with the biggest offenders being Hays Ave. residents with 13 notifications. Anthony St. residents were next with five letters.
Most violations are for trash in the front yard, and placed outdoors too early.
Last February, he issued more than 100 snow citations for failure to clear sidewalks. He said not a single fine was received from the citations.
Residents have 24 hours to clear sidewalks after a snowfall, or else they will be cited. A citation can also be issued if snow is shoveled into the street.
On another issue, Mrs. Michener said the borough’s rubbish hauler, Waste Management, is required to pick up all the trash even if the bill remains unpaid by a resident.
Residents may put out large items and, if Waste Management has the employees and large trucks that day, the hauler will pick up the items. Otherwise, they will pass up the bulk items.
It is up to the resident, she said, to call Waste Management about picking up the items next week. In the meantime, the items must be removed from the curb.
In the fire report, Mr. Cassidy said according to the 2012 year-end report, the fire department logged 1,686 man-hours. There were 127 incidents, and eight public education classes conducted.
The department’s website, http://www.mtoliverfiredepartment.com, features information on all the activities the department is involved in.
“They’re there for more than fires,” Mr. Cassidy said.
In the public safety report for December, there were 975 calls and five narcotics enforcements. The DUI task force made no arrests.
The K-9 units conducted 19 park-and-walks, six targeted patrols, two building searches, one gun search, and one crowd control.
There were 259 park-and-walks and 206 targeted patrols.
Of the 22 nuisance properties under investigation, eight are Section 8.
In the SHACOG report, Mr. Sains said the borough is supposed to call Pennsylvania American Water Co. (PAWC) for hydrant issues as opening them the wrong way could break them. PAWC will check them also.
That was one of the informational items from a recent presentation by officials of the PAWC to SHACOG, the South Hills Area Council of Governments.
He also said the problem of Waste Management not picking up all the garbage is a South Hills-wide issue. The communities are trying to use SHACOG to straighten out the service, he said.
In the public works report, Corey McGough said Duquesne Light replaced 12 street lights in the borough from Nov. 20 to Dec. 27.
Mr. Cassidy said a light pole on his street has been broken for years will likely fall this winter and could hit a parked car and block the street.
In other public works news, Mrs. Michener said the borough is looking to hire a part-time employee for the winter to drive the salt spreader and other snow-related tasks. A full-time public works employee will be hired in the spring.
In the treasurer report, borough secretary-treasurer Diane Holzer said there is a $17,000 surplus. She said it helps taxes are now taken out of paychecks by employers and sent directly to the borough.
In the recreation report usually delivered by Mr. Smith, Mrs. Michener said he is doing better health-wise, but to keep him in their prayers.
Mr. Sains said he and Mr. Hopkinson will be setting up the schedule for the use of the parks and pavilions.
Mrs. Michener said a man has been going door-to-door for an energy service. He has a city permit. Residents should make sure sales people have a Mt. Oliver permit, or else call the borough.
On vandalism at Transverse Park, she said she cannot believe no one sees it occurring, and therefore no 911 calls are made.
Residents who live nearby are urged to call 911, or the Mayor’s hotline at 412-431-7333 extension 110, when they witness such vandalism. Callers may remain anonymous.
Regarding the Mt. Oliver Ambulance Service (MOAS), Mrs. Michener said a planned 3:30 p.m. annual meeting on Jan. 24 would have to be changed to the evening so residents can more readily attend.
“There’s too many people who work with questions,” she said.
The annual meeting went on as planned because public notice had already been posted.
In the solicitor’s report, council adopted a resolution approving a 2013 tax anticipation loan of $100,000 at 1.95 percent.
In the public hearing, a resident said he is glad for the review and evaluation of police functions by a consultant this month as it will dispel rumors.
Mrs. Michener said the review is to make sure all state laws, procedures, and regulations are being followed.
Mr. Gabriel said he believes the assessment will be made public when completed.
In the question-and-answer session, a resident complained about the snow removal saying her parked car ended up with up to two feet of snow on it. She said the plowing should consist of more than simply plowing down the center of the road.
Mr. McGough said the plow cannot drive too close to the cars or it could damage them.
The next resident asked about the percent of rental owners who are being investigated for having nuisance properties.
Mr. Cassidy said all 22 properties under investigation are rental properties as homeowners cannot be cited as nuisance properties.
Mr. Sains said Section 8 properties are not the problem people think it is, while Mr. Cassidy said absentee landlords are the problem.
Regarding the cable station, the resident said the borough information flashes past very quickly. Borough secretary Kathy Connolly said it is an old computer program, and she is working with the cable provider to remedy the matter.
The resident also said the same uncollected garbage has been sitting out on Hays Ave. since last week. She asked if the police and public works crew do not see it as they drive by.
Mrs. Michener said to call Mr. Farneth as it is his committee, and that Mrs. Connolly forwards all complaints to him.
Another resident said Locust and Sherman streets also have garbage outdoors for pick-up for days on end. He asked what Mr. Wilharm does about it.
Mrs. Michener said he sends citations, but residents should call their council members and demand action.
“Get on the people who aren’t doing anything,” she said.
The next council meeting will be on Feb. 18.