South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Councilman resigns, nuisance property considered in boro


August 28, 2018

The August 20 meeting of Mt. Oliver council began with announcement of the resignation of Councilman David Beltz, whose letter cited work and family demands.

Council accepted his resignation by a 4-0 vote. In addition to Mr. Beltz, council members Barbara Keener and Justin Viale were absent.

Any resident interested in filling the position should send a letter of interest to the borough by Sept. 5. Council has 30 days from Aug. 20 to make an appointment.

In the mayor’s report, Mayor Frank Bernardini began with an update on delinquent sewage bills and their handling by Jordan Tax Service.

He said 26 properties have had liens placed on them by Jordan Tax. Of those properties, some have entered into payment plans and others have paid in full, resulting in $11,539 being collected.

A meeting is planned for later this week between Jordan Tax and borough officials. For any questions, residents should call Jordan Tax at 412-835-5243.

The mayor also reminded attendees to call 911 regarding drug trafficking and any other illegal activity. Complaints may also be filed anonymously.

Regarding the pending nuisance property ordinance, which council is working on, Mr. Bernardini said if the ACLU gets involved, he will fight for the civil rights of taxpayers as they and their vehicles and properties are being abused.

Property owners will be fined for the actions of their nuisance property tenants.

“We can’t keep on a treadmill. We’re still stuck in the mud here,” he said of numerous nuisance properties in the borough.

When the ordinance is finalized, it will be posted in the administration building and will be on the local TV channel.

In the public safety report for July, he reported there were 581 total calls for service, and 38 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia. There was one burglary and three DUI arrests.

The K-9 units were used 30 times, including for drug and building searches, arrests, warrant service, demonstration, park-and-walks, and targeted patrols. Twelve warrants were served by the police department.

The police responded to nine commercial alarms and eight residential alarms.

Parking Enforcement wrote 115 borough tickets, while the Police Department wrote 25 borough tags. There were 71 state citations issued for parking violations.

The total collected for payment of fines for tickets was $1,335.

All police equipment is operating properly.

In the fire report for July, the Mt. Oliver Volunteer Fire Company responded to 61 incidents, 42 of which were for EMS and 19 for fire.

The average response time (dispatch to arrival) for EMS was 4 minutes and 57 seconds. For fire, it was 5 minutes and 42 seconds.

In the treasurer’s report, 75 percent of the property tax has been collected so far.

In the finance report, the borough will be returning in January to Waste Management as its garbage hauler. The contact will be for five years.

In the code enforcement report for July, borough manager Rick Hopkinson reported there were 242 violations, resulting in 212 notices, 27 citations, two legal filings, and one with no mail service.

Fines collected totalled $225.

Eleven rental licenses were issued for 25 units, and three occupancy permits were issued, the latter for Hays and Onyx.

No building or zoning permits were issued.

An attendee complained about a Saint Joseph St. residence with very high grass. She said she calls 911, as do her neighbors. Mayor Bernardini said to continue calling.

In the public works report for July, Councilman Dave Lowe reported that routine facility maintenance was conducted, like emptying trash, cleaning/sweeping, and re-stocking supplies. Trash cans were emptied three times per week in the business district, and tires and TVs were picked up throughout the borough.

Personnel repaired a stop sign on Church, and a handicap sign at Transverse Park. “No Parking” signs were installed on Mary.

In Transverse and Ormsby parks, workers emptied trash cans/spot sweep three times per week. Grass was also cut on vacant properties on Anthony St., Arlington Ave., Brownsville Rd., Church St., Hays Ave., Frederick St., Ottillia St., Stamm Ave., and others.

Mr. Lowe said the borough is cutting grass on 30 vacant properties in the borough; if not, there would be rats and other problems.

In sanitary/storm sewer maintenance, 13 dye tests were performed, and inlets were cleaned throughout the borough.

In economic development, Councilwoman Tina Reft reported the new The Bakery Society of Pittsburgh’s bakery incubator at 225 Brownsville Rd, the former Kullman’s Bakery site, is now open. There are now two bakeries in the borough.

Other upcoming events are a Fall Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Transverse Park. There will be a farmers’ market, music, concessions, and more.

Up on the Hilltop will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1. Details to follow.

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted 4-0 to amend the borough code to establish regulations and require permits for the placement and use of bulk storage containers and dumpsters. Previously, a permit was not required.

Residents must now first get a permit before ordering the dumpster. The permit fee is $50.

A bulk storage container may be issued for a period not to exceed 14 consecutive days. Up to two extensions of 10 days each may be granted.

Liability insurance covering any claims or losses must be no less than $100,000.

Council next agreed to add Mary St., from William St. to Margaret St., and St. Joseph St., from Hays Ave. to School Way, to an ordinance prohibiting parking at all times.

Council also voted 4-0 to appoint Mr. Hopkinson to the position of code enforcement officer, effective Aug. 1. He will perform these duties along with his existing duties as borough manager.

The appointment will expire upon the hiring of a new code enforcement officer.

Last month it was announced that borough code enforcement officer Tom McAllister resigned to accept another job.

Council also voted to adopt the police collective bargaining agreement, effective Aug. 1, 2018, until Dec. 31, 2019. The borough police department is represented by Teamsters Local Union No. 205.

The police contract was amended to include the Teamsters as the collective bargaining unit. Other than the union language, the contract remains the same.

The last vote was to adopt the agreement with Keystone Collections. The current agreement is up in November. The borough renewed with them for a three-year term for the collection of delinquent real estate taxes and current refuse only.

The borough will be taking back the collection of the business privilege tax and delinquent refuse because both parties feel the borough is better positioned to perform these two functions internally.

Borough officials have discussed doing current refuse billing in-house, but after researching it was determined that the software expenses and the staff time that would be required did not make sense.

In questions and answers, two attendees complained their driveways on St. Joseph St. are frequently blocked by others’ cars. They were told to call 911 and the police will either make them move or will have the cars towed.

An attendee questioned the permission granted a neighbor for open fire burning in his yard. She does not feel regulations are being adhered to regarding “clean wood.”

She said tree branches are hanging where the burning is taking place, producing a foul odor. She is also concerned about a neighbor who is on oxygen.

To a question if the street and sidewalks on Hays Ave. will ever be back to normal, Mr. Hopkinson said it will happen eventually.

An attendee reported that a dog is chained to a coup, and cannot move, on Ormsby Ave. She was told to call 911. Ms. Reft said she will send someone for a health check. Residents are prohibited from keeping pets outside in extreme heat or cold.

An attendee said children in a nearby rental residence are left alone all night. In the day, they play in the family car, which is dangerous. She was told to contact the county’s Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF).

The next council meeting will be on September 17.


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