South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver Boro hires first manager, gets update economic development


Last updated 4/27/2015 at 5:56pm

The hiring of the borough’s first ever manager -- project manager Ricky Hopkinson -- kicked off the April 20 meeting of Mount Oliver council.

He was sworn in by District Justice Richard King.

Mr. Hopkinson’s contract begins on May 1 and runs through 2017. His annual salary will be $55,000.

Council members Billie Michener and Nick Viglione, and Mayor James Cassidy, were absent, although Mr. Viglione was on speaker phone to vote for the borough manager and his contract. The vote to hire Mr. Hopkinson was 6-0.

The vote to adopt his contract was 5-1, with Councilwoman Amber McGough dissenting as she felt the time off was excessive.

Council President Darnell Sains said he investigated borough manager contracts in the area, and consulted with state officials on the matter, and concluded the contract is not egregious.

Mr. Hopkinson, 24, began his municipal career in Jan., 2011, as a volunteer with the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC), and was eventually elected to its board of directors.

He was hired by the borough as an intern in Jan., 2013. In April, 2014, he was promoted to project manager.

While working for Mount Oliver, he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Judge King next swore in new part-time police officer Jordan Phillip Ross, and police officer Jacob Alex upon his promotion to police corporal.

In her special presentation, borough engineer Ruthann Omer said the HEDC, of which she is board president, meets the second Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh -- Knoxville, 400 Brownsville Rd.

As the library will be closing this summer for about a year for renovations, she said the HEDC would like to meet in Mount Oliver’s council chambers.

At the next meeting on May 12, the architects will be present to discuss the library project.

In updates, she said $2.1 million is coming over the next five years to the Hilltop as community revitalization investment.

A former pet shop on Brownsville Rd. which the borough owns for nonpayment of taxes by its former owner, will become an office of Economic Development South (EDS) following $100,000 in renovations.

The HEDC will own the building, and EDS will pay rent to HEDC to cover the debt service.

The HEDC is providing $40,000 for energy-efficient LED lighting, and $9,950 in grants to groups like the Pittsburgh Christian Fellowship, Hilltop YMCA, and the Mount Oliver block watch for trash receptacles at Transverse Park.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel said the second meeting on a comprehensive plan would be held on April 27 in council chambers.

In the code enforcement report for the past month, Councilman Frank Bernardini reported there were nine complaints; 16 citations; 47 rental inspections; 107 units; one building permit; and one demolition permit issued.

In parks and recreation, it was reported 25 youngsters signed up for baseball, with most residing in Mount Oliver. The league is for all Hilltop youths.

Mr. Sains said he is open to all suggestions to help local children.

“Our funds are low but our hopes are high,” he said.

An inexpensive idea from an attendee was a “walking night” for families. Mr. Sains liked the suggestion, and said he would also like to start a biking program.

In the public safety report, Police Chief Matthew Juzwick said police beats will be out soon, and in the business district primarily.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener reported a parking meter increase in the 100-200 blocks of Brownsville Rd. It will cost 25 cents to park for 15 minutes.

The purpose is to fund commercial district investments to revitalize the corridor.

She said everyone should an keep an eye open for cars that are being broken into. Mr. Bernardini said the police cannot do it alone, and residents should report vehicle break-ins or vandalism.

In the public works report, Councilman Dave Lowe said 98 termination notices were sent to those delinquent more than $250 on their sewage bills. About half of those accounts owe between $250 and $300.

Mr. Lowe said 40 of the 98 delinquents have reconciled their accounts or signed on for a payment plan, and thereby will not have their water shut off.

Next, council voted to recommend that SHACOG award the Joint Municipal O&M Excavation Repairs -- Year 4 contract to Roto-Rooter Services Co. for $327,307.50, with a borough share of $20,910.

It also recommended SHACOG award the Joint Municipal O&M Lining Project -- Year 9 contract to Jet Jack, Inc., for $469,058, with a borough share of $32,914.50.

Council also voted to award the decorative street lighting phase II contract to Allegheny City Electric for $26,485

In the question-and-answer session, an attendee asked if the fire hydrants are owned by the water company, which they are. He said if they are not being maintained, and are tapped into and found to be dry, it would be a big problem.

Mr. Sains asked Mr. Hopkinson to check with inspector Chuck Knaus on the last time they were checked.

Next, an attendee said she received a very high sewage bill which, because she fell behind, keeps growing despite making partial payments.

Mr. Sains told her to talk with Mr. Lowe after the meeting about how he may help.

To the attendee’s question about the borough’s high sewage rates, Ms. Omer said the money is used to help fund Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates, maintain sewer lines, and more.

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) is the borough’s treatment plant, and the borough owns the lines on the street. ALCOSAN has raised its sewage rates the past few years, with the borough absorbing the increase.

Ms. Omer said residents can buy sewer lateral insurance from their homes to the main.

The meeting ended with Mr. Sains briefly detailing the chain, or organization, in the borough. He said the seven council members have an equal vote on everything.

If the president is not present, the vice-president conducts the meetings. If neither is present, it falls to the president pro tempore, who is Mr. Lowe.

The next council meeting will be on May 18.


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