South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Boro residents concerned about new public comment procedures


March 29, 2011

Mount Oliver is without a code enforcement officer since Tom Plietz left for a similar position in Collier.

His last day on the job in the borough was March 18.

At the March 21 Mount Oliver council meeting, members said they expected interviews for the full-time position to be held on March 28. Mr. Plietz worked for the borough for 27 years. Council members called the move "a better opportunity" for him.

Absent at the council meeting were members John Smith, Billie Michener, and George Farneth; and Mayor Jeff Repasky.

During the public comment section, a resident complained about the five-minute limit for addressing council. He also did not like that residents are now required to submit detailed questions in writing at the borough building. The deadline is 3 p.m. on the second Monday of the month.

Council President James Cassidy said that way, council can research the question and provide a through response at the meeting on the third Monday of each month.

The resident next asked if taxpayer dollars are going toward garbage account delinquents. He was concerned about a $20,000 borough budget allocation for garbage.

Mr. Cassidy said the allocation was made in case it is needed. Last year and this year, there has been no cost to the borough because Waste Management has been pursuing delinquents.

In prior years, the borough paid Waste Management to compensate for delinquencies. Today, delinquent accounts are turned over to a collection agency by the company.

Another resident said he hoped the borough would get a website up and running, calling it "a tool that's very necessary to this age." Mr. Cassidy said he would look into get a site going.

In the engineer's report, Kurt Todd said a building evaluation company that inspected the municipal building — at no cost to the borough — will prioritize the needed repairs. The engineer will then seek grants for any needed work which would then be sent out for bids.

In other news, a building at 131 Koehler Street has been demolished.

The engineer is awaiting a report on soil materials at the Ormsby Park playground. The soil evaluation was requested by KaBOOM!, a national program for installing new playground equipment. Under the program, municipalities partner with corporations and playground equipment manufacturers.

The borough will reopen its loan from PennVest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority, to borrow another $450,000 to complete sewer repairs mandated by a federal consent decree of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The interest rate is one percent.

Jordan Tax Services collected more than $20,000 in sewage delinquencies in the past two weeks. In 2011, more than $33,239 has been collected. About $80,000 was owed the borough at the end of 2010.

In the public safety report, Councilman Patrick Malloy said in the police report for February, 649 calls were answered, and maintenance costs on the vehicles totaled $2,025 due to replacing two catalytic converters.

The police made six drug arrests, three DUI arrests, and took two missing persons reports. There were 193 targeted patrols, and 42 uses of the canine during the month. There were also six suspended investigations.

Councilman Malloy reported that of 30 nuisance properties in the borough, only four are Section 8 properties.

"Section 8 isn't really the problem," he said.

Mr. Malloy next proposed transferring the code enforcement officer's vehicle to the chief of police, and adding the chief's current car to the police fleet. The fleet's high-mileage vehicle would then become the new code enforcement officer's vehicle.

Council voted 4-0 to approve the move.

A resident commented that borough children are afraid of police vehicles due to their tinted windows. Mr. Malloy disagreed, saying he has seen children approach police cars.

The resident said if one child is afraid of the vehicle, "we have a problem."

Councilman Dennis Obeldobel said one of the reasons windows are tinted is for officers' safety.

Another resident suggested a get-together between children and officers to distill any fears.

In the public works report, Mr. Obeldobel said an emergency generator for the municipal building is being installed at a cost about $14,000. It will be used in case of a power failure.

The Mount Oliver Ambulance Service is contributing funds toward the cost.

The borough does not have a road paving program for this year because there are two active road program loans. As soon as one loan is paid off, paving will resume.

In the recreation report, Mr. Malloy said permits for Transverse Park are ready for pick-up.

The only open times for the baseball and softball fields are on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All other times are booked. Sundays are booked for the deck hockey rink. Those interested in permits should see the borough secretary for information.

Street commissioner Ron Smith suggested a payment should be required for permits. He said permit holders often tell him when to cut the grass and make other demands. Residents in attendance agreed.

In the ordinances report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said there were 58 code violations this month.

Eighty-five to 90 percent are repeat offenders, who are cited and fined but nothing changes.

In the solicitor's report, council voted 4-0 to adopt a resolution sponsored by Mr. Farneth establishing procedures for management of information regarding police activity.

The resolution disallows discussion by council members or any borough official in any public forum or private conversation of police activities, including investigations, participation in task forces, identifying personnel working undercover, or the discussion of complaints, reports, or tips received by the borough police department.

Employees who violate procedures can be terminated. For elected office holders, a violation would be sufficient cause for removal from office.

The next council meeting will be on April 18.


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