South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

No tax increase in Mt. Oliver for the 16th year in a row

 

December 26, 2017



Again this year, there will be no tax increase for Mt. Oliver residents in 2018 following adoption of a $1.96 million operating budget at the Dec. 18 meeting of Mt. Oliver council. The property tax will remain at 13.5 mills for the 16th year in a row.

 Highlights include continuing to allocate more resources towards public safety and code enforcement. The borough will make its final payment on its line of credit next year, as well as some other minor vehicle and equipment loans.

The borough will also continue to fund its paving program at a sustainable level, dedicating $120,000 each year to the improvement of roads and other infrastructure.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson said the latter is due primarily to substantially reducing overhead costs through the careful evaluation of insurance, contracts, and staffing levels.

“I think we’re just basically being more productive and doing more with less. We will also continue to partner with the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation and Economic Development South on business recruitment and retention, community events, and housing stabilization,” he said.

The vote was 6-0, with Councilwoman Barbara Keener absent.

In other news, Republic Services is changing the day of garbage pick-up to Tuesdays, beginning Feb. 6. The company expects to deliver better service with the change, Mr. Hopkinson said.

The meeting began with a presentation updating the Fallen Officers project by a woman who hopes to locate relatives of two Mt. Oliver police officers killed years ago in the line of duty. She made the initial presentation in August.

The presenter, who chooses to remain anonymous, said the officers will be honored with their names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., in May 2018.

They are officers Nicholas Clemens Thome and William Paul Roth. Officer Thome died in 1938, and Officer Roth in 1963.

She is hoping relatives will be present when the officers are honored.

Relatives are encouraged to check out the Facebook page for the memorial, the nation’s monument to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. Dedicated in 1991, the Memorial honors federal, state and local law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and protection of the nation and its people.

In the police report for November, there were 532 total calls and 39 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were also seven accident reports, 11 domestics, four criminal mischief, eight fights, four burglaries, and two robberies. Both robberies involved money taken from Locust St. sites.

The police served 10 arrest warrants. All officers received firearms training.

The police arrested a male on Brownsville Rd./Moore Ave. for fleeing and eluding officers during a DUI.

The K-9 units were used 21 times, including for park-and-walks, drug search, drug arrests, warrant service, article search, building searches, traffic stops, and targeted patrols.

All computers are up and running. All surveillance cameras are operating properly.

In the engineer’s report, council voted 6-0 to approve the final payment for $10,750.56 to Independent Enterprises, Inc., for work completed on the Anthony Street sewer replacement project pending receipt of the maintenance bond and a completed punch list.

In borough financial news, 82 percent of the property tax has been collected so far, or $718,166. The total due is $878,074.

Next, Councilman Dave Beltz read the report of new code enforcement officer Tom McAllister for Nov. 10 through Dec. 8.

There were 19 violations, which include condemnation, stop work notice, squatters on property, overgrowth, hoarding, trash/debris, and early trash. To date, there has been compliance on 30 of the 41 properties.

Four cases were heard at District Judge Richard King’s office on Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, with two judgments granted and two cases abated prior to the hearing. The two judgments were $1,000 each for vacant property/condemnation (Fremont St.), and for overgrowth and debris (Koehler St.).

Twenty-three rental applications were mailed for December renewal. Ten denial letters were mailed for unpaid taxes, refuse, and/or sewage.

Mr. McAllister discussed three properties that are now secured for public safety.

One property, on St. Joseph St., has a permit for a dumpster and the cleaning has begun. A Walter Ave. property has had debris removed by dumpsters and trucks over the past week. A Margaret St. property is having debris removed. A sheriff sale action has also been initiated.

New software was installed, and the code enforcement office is in the process of updating records.

On a related matter, the new Property Stabilization Committee meets the third Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at 212 Brownsville Rd. Everyone is invited to attend.

The committee is a subcommittee of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp., and was formed in response to community concern about absentee landlords and blighted properties.

In public works, Councilman Justin Viale reported that last month department employees: filled potholes, winterized the community garden, got the trucks ready for salt, cleaned up a water main break, cleared a downed tree, erected Christmas decorations, and more.

“We have kept the streets over the past 50 years very well,” Councilman Nick Viglione said of snow removal.

“Our guys, as usual, did an excellent job,” Mayor James Cassidy said of the prior week’s snowfall.

He reminded attendees that citations may be issued for residents who shovel snow onto streets. He also asked that they try to keep hydrants clear by not piling extra snow around them.

In economic development, council voted 6-0 to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Economic Development South (EDS) for the sale of 225 Brownsville Rd, or the former Kullman’s Bakery. Council then voted to sell 225 Brownsville Rd. to EDS for $40,000 for the purpose of redevelopment.

The Borough purchased the Kullman’s Bakery property in 2016 for $79,900. The MOU commits this immediate sale amount, plus an additional $44,000 to the Borough, to be paid in the last quarter of 2018.

The MOU also stipulates that EDS will complete the renovations of the property. 

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted 5-1, with council President Amber McGough dissenting, on a new three-year contract for the borough manager. It includes a three percent salary increase the first year, and 2.5 increases the other two years.

Council also voted 6-0 for the 2018 employee salaries, which include an average increase of 2.5 percent.

The fee for the annual rental license is increasing from $75 per unit to $100 per unit. The fee for occupancy inspections is increasing from $50 to $55. The realty transfer tax remains at one percent.

In the questions and answers segment, a resident asked about the change in garbage payments from quarterly to annually.

Mr. Hopkinson said there are many people who are only paying one quarter or nothing at all, and the borough cannot begin the delinquent collections process until the end of the year.

By then the borough is already behind, and it is creating a cash flow issue because the borough still has to pay the garbage company about $13,500 each month.

He added the borough will work with anyone who cannot afford the single payment, and is in good standing. Those individuals were urged to contact the borough offices.

Another resident said the borough should send a mailer to all homes informing residents of borough news and information as not everyone has access to the Internet and therefore the borough website.

Mr. Hopkinson said he would try to do an informational mailing by the spring after funding is secured.

To an attendee’s question of what happens if residents do not shoved their sidewalks within 24 hours, the response was citations may be issued.

Mr. Cassidy said the borough should also look at commercial properties on Brownsville Rd. and other streets that do not shovel.

The meeting concluded with Mrs. McGough thanking Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Beltz, and solicitor Deron Gabriel for all of their contributions as none will be returning to Mt. Oliver government next year.

Council’s reorganization meeting will be on Jan. 2. The next regular council meeting will be on Jan. 15.

 

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