South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Chief's contract renewed, residents continue to ask questions in Mt. Oliver


It was another overflow crowd at the April 16 meeting of Mt. Oliver Council, during which it was announced that the contract of police Chief Frank Mosesso had been extended through Dec. 31, 2010.

The vote was 5 to 0, with council members Don Cornelius and Kelly Prilla absent.

Chief Mosesso, who grew up in the Carrick/Mt. Oliver area, has been on the force for 12 years. His contract was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2007.

Council President James Cassidy said the details of the new contract were private.

It was Mr. Cassidy's first meeting as council president following a March 19 late-night coup in which he replaced Mr. Cornelius as president.

During the public hearing segment of the meeting, former councilman Dennis Obeldobel, who is running in the May primary, questioned whether Ms. Prilla filed a statement of financial interest as required by law prior to being a council nominee.

Ms. Prilla was sworn into office in December after being appointed. She was the only candidate interviewed for the position.

“Under advice of solicitor, we will look into it,” said Mr. Cassidy. He was referring to the evening's solicitor, Robert Felkay, who was sitting in for borough Solicitor James Perich.

Throughout the evening, some residents expressed anger that Mr. Perich was not present to answer questions they raised at prior meetings.

Mr. Felkay said he took notes on attendees' questions and concerns that he would pass on to Mr. Perich.

Mr. Cassidy said if filing rules were violated, Ms. Prilla would be removed from council if the law required it. He will also hold back her payment as a council member until the matter is resolved.

In response to a resident's suggestion that meetings be relocated to a large room to accommodate the crowd, Mr. Cassidy said he would look into it, but that a room with taping facilities would be required.

Attorney George Farneth also used the public hearing portion of the meeting to again

ask for details on a pending complaint naming several borough council members. For the second consecutive month he asked for the information saying the residents of the borough are entitled to more information about the claim.

Mr. Farneth read from a letter he had submitted to Mr. Perich outlining 14 points that he had requested more information about including pertinent correspondence about the suit and all official and unofficial responses.

He said the solicitor didn't respond to most of the 14 requests but that Mr. Perich did cite three instances of slip and fall accidents where claims against the borough have been made.

Mr. Farneth also asked the council if and when the borough's insurance carrier was notified of the suit in question. He maintained that if the insurance carrier was notified immediately when the complaint was filed that funds would have been provided by the company for an attorney instead of having the borough pay the solicitor's fees.

In his report, Mayor Jeff Repasky called the installation of a camera system in high crime areas for security purposes “a work in progress.”

“I didn't think it was going to be this complicated,” he said of the process which involves Duquesne Light and Verizon.

There is no time table for completing the project.

All funding for the system is from a state grant through State Senator Jay Costa's office. Bidding must occur.

Warren Sullivan from Ace Electronics volunteered to help review the bids as he is an expert on the topic. Mayor Repasky and borough Engineer Ruthann Omer said they welcomed his assistance.

Next, Mayor Repasky addressed the problem of how borough parking tickets are being collected.

Motorists cited for parking at an expired meter can pay at the borough secretary offices during regular business hours, or by depositing the ticket and fine at a lock box in front of the borough building.

If the fine isn't paid, the borough is supposed to send a notice to the vehicle owner.

The problem is that the borough has not been sending such notices as it has no way of accessing the state database records for registered vehicles to find out who owns the ticketed vehicles.

For years, this task was performed by the Police Dept. But last year, to reduce in-house administrative costs, the borough turned the job over to Jordan Tax Services

Mayor Repasky said the matter will be addressed by next month's council meeting.

There is no reason why a business owner cannot come in and ask if he has unpaid parking tickets, he said, referring to a recent such incident.

Billy Michener suggested bringing back laid-off borough secretaries to do the job.

“I don't want it dumped on the Police Department,” said Mayor Repasky.

After the meeting, Mr. Cassidy said he would meet with the mayor and police chief about the matter. While he doesn't want to take officers off the street, he said, the fines are a source of revenue for the borough.

But to access vehicle ownership information, the person must be certified by the state, he said.

Like the mayor, he hopes to have a system in place by next month.

In other business, council passed a resolution granting approval to the Planning Commission to implement a senior beautification program to enhance borough neighborhoods.

Senior residents may apply until May 4 to have volunteers work on the fronts of their yards. The work date is scheduled for May 19. June 2 is the rain date.

Interested volunteers should contact the borough building. Mayor Repasky volunteered during the meeting.

Council also passed a resolution approving the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. as a non-profit organization for seeking grants. Fire chief Tom Plietz, who chairs the corp., said they will apply for 501(c) non-profit status.

He also said Whitney Brady, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, has been working within the corporation to attract businesses to Mount Oliver.

Council also accepted the resignation as of April 6 of Public Works employee Matthew Holmes.

The next council meeting will be on May 21.


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