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By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

No tax increase in boro for 2014, police agree to three year contract

 


Adoption of a 2014 budget with no tax increase, and a new three-year police contract, headlined the Nov. 18 meeting of Mount Oliver council.

Council members Barbara Keener and Dave Lowe were absent.

The balanced budget of $1,824,333 retains the current tax rate of 13.5 mills, and features funding for infrastructure and for economic development.

The infrastructure includes reinvestment in roads, curbs, and sidewalks, as well as updates to the comprehensive plan.

Economic development includes strategic acquisitions and demolitions, vacant lot remediation, a business district facade program, park improvements, and recreation.

In the police contract for 2014-2016, officers will receive raises each year of, respectively, $1.50 per hour, $1 per hour, and $1 per hour.

The borough currently has 10 full-time and two part-time officers.

The meeting began with project manager Ricky Hopkinson announcing receipt of a grant to establish a community garden in Transverse Park near the dek hockey rink. Obtaining the grant was a collaborative process between Allegheny Grows and the borough, with the block group instrumental in its getting approval.

In the mayor’s report, five new police applicants passed the Civil Service test. The borough will be hiring three of the applicants.

In the engineer’s report, council President Billie Michener said work is continuing on Frederick St ., with a new street and sidewalks coming.

In July, numerous houses on Frederick St. slid from their foundations due to an abandoned underground coal mine. The borough received a county grant to demolish some or all of the five condemned properties.

Four owners accepted the county’s offer, and their homes will be demolished, while the other owner will be repairing his property.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said he issued 52 borough and seven state citations. If there are two owners of a house, he issues two separate citations.

He recently cited 14 houses on Fremont St. for putting their garbage out on Saturday morning.

Mr. Wilharm also reported Mount Oliver was featured on the county website earlier this month.

In the fire report, Mayor James Cassidy said the fire department is collecting new, unopened toys for Toys for Tots. They can be dropped off at the fire hall during open hours.

In the planning report, it was announced one volunteer is being sought for the zoning committee and one volunteer for the planning committee.

In the public safety report, there were 535 total police calls in October, a lower number than usual.

“It was just cold enough for kids to go in at a proper time, but not cold enough that it affects officers and their equipment,” Councilman Darnell Sains said.

The other statistics included 56 domestics, four accident reports, 11 criminal mischief, four fights, 14 community-oriented police details, and 29 drug related arrests.

“Heroin is running rampant,” he said of all neighborhoods.

In the public works report, Councilman Corey McGough said details in the public works contract are being ironed out, and that it will be unveiled in December.

Council next voted 5-0 to pay Sky Limit Enterprises $1,800 to repair broken curbs at 604 Otillia St ., and $4,750 to repair curbs at three homes on Church Ave. The amounts represent the borough’s portion of the repairs.

In the winter update, Mr. McGough said the borough’s tractor would be sent out for a tune-up; while the three-ton dump truck has problems, they will try to get it through the winter; the borough has plenty of salt; and the parks have been winterized.

In the recreation report, the football season ended on Oct. 19. Council then voted 4-1, with Mr. Sains dissenting, to not allow the football program to use Transverse Field for the 2014 season.

Mrs. Michener said the program did not abide by the agreed-upon contract, with a big aspect being their failure to clean up the field. There were no fights, she said.

Mr. McGough said when permits are issued in the future there will be numerous guidelines.

In the economic development report, the next meeting of the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Elder-ado senior center. It will be a combined November-December meeting.

In the Waste Management report, Republic Services will be the borough’s garbage service, beginning in January for five years. It replaces Waste Management, whose contract is up at year’s end.

The borough reported numerous problems with Waste Management over the years, the most recent being its failure to pick up garbage at homes on Frederick St. after the mine subsidence.

Mrs. Michener has said Republic offered better services at better prices compared to Waste Management.

In the question-and-answer session, an attendee asked for more information on Republic. Mrs. Michener said a mailer will be sent to residents soon by Republic outlining its services and contact information.

In new business, she said council discussed helping the four families on Frederick St. who did not have a home for half of 2013. As all of them paid their full taxes for 2013, council agreed to refund some of their money to them.

In concluding business, Mrs. Michener said she recommends new council members enroll in the Local Government Academy. The six-week course begins on Nov. 23.

It offers sessions on running a municipality, and prepares new officials to deal with policy matters and the government process, as well as legal and fiscal responsibilities.

The next council meeting will be on Dec. 16.

 

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