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Pat Malloy resigns from Mount Oliver Boro Council

—David Lowe appointed to council after Farneth’s resignation—

 

District Magisterial Judge Richard King administers the oath of office to David Lowe. Mr. Lowe will fill the seat left vacant when George Farneth resigned.

The resignations of two council members, and the appointment of a new member to fill a vacancy, is the lead story from the March 18 Mount Oliver council meeting.

Council member John Smith, Sr ., and Mayor James Cassidy were absent.

While George Farneth tendered his resignation in an email to council President Billie Michener in late February, Patrick Malloy announced his decision at the start of last week’s meeting.

In a prepared statement, he stated his decision, effective immediately, was due to “unforeseen circumstances and mounting issues that I have little or no control of.”

Mr. Malloy most recently served on council since 2008. He was council president from Aug ., 2011, to Jan ., 2012.

When Judge Richard King arrived, council voted to accept the two resignations, and to appoint Dave Lowe to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Farneth until December.

Mr. Lowe, 63, who is a candidate in the next election, has been a borough resident since 1996. This will be his first time on council.

Residents interested in filling Mr. Malloy’s term until December should send a letter of interest to the borough offices.

After Mr. Lowe was sworn in by Judge King, council President Billie Michener said regardless of the reasons Mr. Farneth outlined in his email, he resigned because he moved out of the borough.

“You cannot collect money and live elsewhere,” she said.

She said he relocated in January, and council only learned of it in March.

“He wasn’t allowed to be here,” she said of his council seat.

In outlining his reasons for resigning, Mr. Farneth cited an “extremely hostile work environment”; violations of the Sunshine Act and the civil rights of residents and council members; and the decimation of the police department -- all of which he blamed on Mrs. Michener.

He also accused her of failing to recognize the financial issues the borough is facing, and of mismanagement resulting in a record number of lawsuits filed against the borough.

The evening’s first speaker was the borough’s intern, Ricky Hopkinson, a University of Pittsburgh senior. He reported a borough map is in the printing phase, and will be distributed to all business and property owners.

Surveys he distributed to business owners asking what the borough does well, and can improve upon, are trickling in from the 100 block of Brownsville Rd.

Mr. Hopkinson said beginning in April, the police reports will include highlights and not merely numbers.

He is working with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy on the Hilltop Alliance’s Green Toolbox strategies for the Hilltop communities. While street trees are a good idea, he said, a community must first have a shade tree commission before it can receive trees.

Residents who want to be on a Mount Oliver shade tree commission or a volunteer with the commission should contact him.

Last month, Mr. Hopkinson announced he wrote policies and procedures on the use of the Transverse Park field. The new permits will include a field permit application, facilities agreement, and optional concessions agreement. There is also a new fee schedule.

At last week’s meeting, council voted 4-0 to approve the concession agreement and the fee schedule.

The schedule for the parks will be posted at the field house, with a copy at the municipal building.

In the engineer’s report, council voted to apply for grants for repairs to the fire station; asphalt and additional lighting for the parking lot beside the municipal building; and re-decking in the adjacent parklet.

Council also voted to put a garage door on the mini police station at the top of Transverse Park. Once completed, it will house borough maintenance equipment.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 25 borough citations, two state citations, 34 violation letters, one state citation pending, and six building inspection citations.

Residents are putting trash out too early, he said. It should not be put out before 6 p.m. on Sundays (does not apply to private haulers).

Mr. Wilharm said he will give citations for second offenses.

“It looks a mess. There’s a reason we have an ordinance not to do it,” Mrs. Michener said.

She said a former council member has put it out on a Saturday; an attendee said a Sherman St. resident puts garbage out on Fridays.

In the fire report for February, the department responded to four fires, three smoke detectors, and a vehicular accident on Brownsville Rd.

In the public safety report for February, Darnell Sains said there were 367 calls, 10 narcotics arrests, and the DUI task force made two arrests. The K-9 units conducted 26 park-and-walks, one warrant served, and one drug search.

There were 59 park-and-walks by officers, and seven targeted patrols. Of the 22 nuisance properties under investigation, six are Section 8.

To a resident’s query last month about the amount of crime committed by Section 8 residents, Mr. Sains said it is 12 percent of all borough crimes.

The police department will be receiving new laptops in four vehicles, with funding from a $3,500 Columbia Gas grant. The current laptops are 10 years old. The department will also receive $3,500 from Columbia Gas next year.

In the public works report, Corey McGough said primary streets are addressed before secondary streets when it comes to snow and freezing rain.

The borough will continue to compare fees when it comes to having vehicles serviced. Estimates will be sought for big jobs.

During the recreation report, Mrs. Michener said the borough is sticking with Comcast as Verizon does not want to give the borough anything. She said Mount Oliver wants what Verizon is giving other communities, or it won’t be in the borough.

In the Waste Management report, Mrs. Michener reported she met with two district supervisors for the company. She showed them the ordinance that garbage must be picked up even if the customer did not pay.

She was assured the garbage would be picked up going forward.

The officials suggested another ordinance requiring bills be mailed to property owners instead of their renters, but the borough already has such an ordinance.

Ms. Michener is awaiting the company’s response. Waste Management’s SHACOG contract is up this year, at which time other companies may bid on it.

Residents may put out large items and, if Waste Management has the employees working that day, the hauler will pick up the items. But the company will not pick up a roomful of large items, such as materials placed outside by a landlord from an evicted tenant. For the latter, residents must call Waste Management and make arrangements.

Residents can no longer leave TVs, computers, printers, and other such items at the curb, according to a new state law. Instead the items must be taken to an electronics retail store or collection location where they will be recycled.

Regarding sewage, Mrs. Michener said she will have the solicitor work on a new ordinance requiring all sewage bills be sent to the homeowner, and not the tenant.

In single public hearing, business owner Romulus Bryant, who owns 214 Brownsville Rd. and other properties, said he would like to acquire 212 Brownsville Rd.

The building at 212 Brownsville Road is the former pet store the borough owns because the prior owner did not pay taxes. For now, it is used for borough storage.

Mrs. Michener told Mr. Bryant that council’s vision is to turn the building into a resource center, manned by volunteers, in which people can stop in for information, like applications for the Dollar Energy Fund. Grant money must first be obtained, however.

In new business, ideas are being sought on how to deal with stray cats in the borough.

Mrs. Michener said she will look into traps -- prices and number -- and if the Humane Society will lend them any, if necessary.

Next, council voted to appoint Mr. Sains to replace Mr. Farneth as the borough’s representative on the school board; and voted to allow Mr. Hopkinson and solicitor Deron Gabriel to work together on legal matters.

In the question-and-answer session, Frank Bernardini complained -- as he has for years -- about a problematic 14-unit building on Stamm Ave. This time, it was about broken windows.

Mr. Hopkinson said it is the kind of issue his new block watch will address.

Two months ago, Mr. Bernardini asked when he could see the police review report by a consultant hired by the borough to make sure all state laws, procedures, and regulations are adhered to by the department. He received the report after the meeting.

He also said he would like to be appointed to the Civil Service Commission.

Mrs. Michener said the borough will stay legal and not promote any officers until the commission is in place.

Mr. Sains told Mr. Bernardini he was told it would not be good for him to be on the commission due to his relation to the police chief. Mr. Sains said he would vote no to his appointment.

The next council meeting will be on April 15.

 

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