South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Councilman tossed out of Mt. O. meeting


Mount Oliver council voted at its April 16 meeting to ratify the three percent raise for police Chief Frank Mosesso approved by council on Sept. 20, 2010.

No other changes to the four-year contract that runs from 2011 to 2014 were voted on at the 2010 meeting. The motion at that time passed 5-1, with Dennis Obeldobel dissenting and Billie Michener absent.

At last week's meeting, the ratification of the Sept. 2010 vote invalidated the benefits added to the chief's contract, which had never come before council for a vote.

Those benefits include: additional vacation, personal, and bereavement days; enhanced hospitalization coverage; and more.

Council members Darnell Sains, Corey McGough, John Smith, and council president Michener voted to ratify the 2010 action.

Councilman George Farneth objected to Mr. McGough voting by telephone. However, solicitor Deron Gabriel said it is allowable for a "good faith reason" as was this case as Mr. McGough was calling from a hospital emergency room.

Patrick Malloy and Christine Brendel said a vote should be delayed until Mayor James Cassidy, who was absent due to a death in the family, was present. Mr. Farneth voted no, saying the chief's contract was valid.

When Mrs. Michener attempted to move on to the next agenda item and Mr. Farneth continued to discuss the contract, she asked the chief to escort him from the building.

Mr. Farneth then left of his own accord, saying the borough would face a lawsuit from the chief over his contract.

In other news, the borough's new South Hilltop Athletic Association is accepting registrations for the upcoming "3 on 3 Basketball Tournament" at Ormsby Park for girls and boys ages 8 to 18.

Registrations will be held at the Mount Oliver Firehouse from 5 to 9 p.m. on April 20 and 27, and from noon to 4 p.m. on April 21 and 28.

There is no fee. The non-profit Voices Against Violence will donate the fee cost and some prizes. The date of the tournament has not yet been set.

Another upcoming event is "Movie Night" at sunset on May 18 by the old police building in Transverse Field. The borough is partnering for the event with Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center.

Pittsburgh CONNECTS will provide the movie, as yet unknown, and projector. There will be free popcorn, and drinks will be sold.

AmeriCorps members will help with set up and clean up, and security will be present.

If successful, there will be another movie later this year.

In the engineer's report which began the meeting in the absence of a mayor's report, Ruthann Omer requested a 90-minute meeting with council about the action item list in the 2004 comprehensive plan. She wants to discuss whether the borough is on track with what council wants today.

That meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on May 23 in council chambers.

In other engineering news, Ms. Omer presented three options for decorative street lighting, ranging from doing all the lights to doing certain blocks.

While grant money would cover some costs, Mrs. Michener said more research was needed on the matter before selecting an option.

The issue is that the lights originally specified for the decorative street lighting are dimmer than what council wanted. The solution is to purchase costly conversion kits which make the bulbs brighter.

The original contract was for $61,740.

As he is not in favor of spending so much money, Mr. Farneth asked if cleaning the globes was an option.

He also said he would like to shift the $34,208 county grant awarded to help with the lighting to other programs instead of losing it, if


Mrs. Michener said "there are too many unanswered questions for me." She said in an effort to move the meeting along, she would call the engineer the next day to discuss how to proceed.

In the police report, there were 24 narcotics arrests, four DUI arrests, eight targeted patrols, and 232 park-and-walks. Of the borough's 17 nuisance properties under investigation, five are Section 8.

The police responded to eight commercial false alarms and five residential alarms.

The borough police have been "absolutely more visible" in the past two months in the main business district, said Mr. Sains. He said he applauds the chief and department for a sting operation at stop signs through which motorists "fly" during the morning rush hour as children are walking to school.

Mrs. Michener asked where the borough gets applicants for the police department. Chief Mosesso answered that applications are available at the police academy.

It costs the borough $1,200 for the SHACOG test, so the department does not use it. Newspaper ads run more than $1,000.

In the fire report, Mr. Farneth said the Lenten fish fry raised more than $5,000.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said 15 of 58 problem properties require special attention. He has given up sending the owners citations because they are non-responsive.

He would like someone to take five to seven of these cases and bring them to fruition and on a regular basis.

He, Mrs. Michener, and the zoning officer met to put such a program together. They are trying for an assistant for Mr. Wilharm who has computer knowledge and will do the leg work.

They also plan to raise the ordinance fees.

"Our goal is to make that list go away," said Mrs. Michener.

In the recreation report, an attendee asked why the new athletic association is called South Hilltop and not Mount Oliver.

Mr. Sains said recreation grants are not going to a single community.

"If we don't partner with others we will be left behind," said Mrs. Michener.

To security concerns, Mr. Sains said security will be beefed up by parents, coaches, and police.

To a question of who will assume responsibility for property damage, Mr. Gabriel said if it is borough property, it will be covered by borough insurance policies. If personal property is damaged, the homeowner will have to file a claim with their insurance company.

In the code enforcement report for March 15 through April 12, there were: 19 complaints, 16 legal actions filed, 18 rental inspections, 17 borough citations, eight occupancy inspections, one building permit, nine violation notices, and one sidewalk permit.

In economic development, Mrs. Michener said the borough website,, is a work-in-progress.

While she assigned Mr. Farneth the website task, it is not getting done, she said. The borough will look into the cost of hiring a consultant to complete the work.

Regarding Waste Management, the company was told to pick up garbage from non-payers because it becomes a health hazard. If residents spot uncollected garbage, call Mrs. Michener.

In the solicitor's report, the borough will advertise an ordinance that mirrors state Act 90. The act allows municipalities to deny occupancy permits to property owners who are behind in taxes or other municipal service accounts.

Also, if taxes are owed by a landlord, the tax collector can file papers so the tenant pays the rent to the borough and not the landlord. The owner cannot, by law, evict a tenant who pays to the borough.

"Too much money is owed to this borough in delinquent taxes," said Mrs. Michener.

The next council meeting will be on May 21.


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