By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

No tax increase in boro for 2019, trash rate will go up


Last updated 1/2/2019 at 10:24am

There will be no tax increase for Mt. Oliver residents in 2019 following unanimous adoption of a $2.3 million budget at the Dec. 17 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

The property tax rate remains unchanged at 13.5 mills. The millage rate has remained the same since 2006.

The meeting began with public safety report for November as presented by Mayor Frank Bernardini.

He reported there were 626 total calls for service, and 14 drug arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia. So far this year, there have been more than 300 drug arrests.

Traffic stops conducted during the month totaled 103.

There was one burglary on Giffin Avenue, which is on ongoing investigation. There was a robbery at the Northwest Savings Bank, with the actor arrested.

There were no DUI arrests in November.

The K-9 units were used 22 times, including for drug searches, arrests, warrant service, park-and-walks, traffic stop, and targeted patrols. Four warrants were served by the police department.

The police responded to 10 commercial alarms and 12 residential alarms.

Parking Enforcement wrote 95 borough tickets, while the Police Department wrote 56 borough tags. There were 45 state citations issued for parking violations.

The total collected for payment of fines for tickets issued in November was $1,781. In magistrate ordered fines, $375 was paid.

All police equipment is operating properly.

The total miles on all vehicles for November was 2,617 miles. Vehicle maintenance and repair totaled $1,823.76.

The mayor next reiterated his opposition to a proposal to turn the former Mt. Oliver School building on Hays Avenue into a health and care giving facility operated by the human service agency Auberle. The faith-based organization has operated programs for 60 years dealing with substance abuse, job training, counseling, and more.

“You do not bring gasoline and dynamite to a bonfire,” he said.

At prior meetings he stated the police department is overloaded with all of the drug activity in the borough. At this evening’s council meeting, he said the police and fire departments are opposed to the plan.

The proposal was scheduled to go before the borough Zoning Hearing Board in a public hearing the following evening. However, prior to the zoning hearing, the proposal was withdrawn and will be rescheduled at a later date.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson said the property lies in a commercial district with use by special exception.

“This meets the zoning ordinance requirements,” he said.

Mr. Bernardini previously presented county Executive Rich Fitzgerald with a 200-signature petition opposed to the facility.

Under Auberle’s substance use disorder program proposed for placement in the borough, families impacted by a caregiver’s addiction will move into one of the facility’s apartments for four to six months with treatment focused on everyone challenged by that addiction.

While the addicted caregiver will receive treatment by Auberle and UPMC addiction specialists, the children will have access to tutoring, mental health services, recreation activities, enrichment programs, and other services.

“I’m not against helping anyone. But we have to help ourselves first,” the mayor said.

He has also accused the zoning hearing board of being “comprised,” referring to a telephone call to a member from the Auberle CEO, and which may be an ethics violation, he said.

Solicitor Emily Mueller has said an ethic violation would depend on the content of the conversation, which she does not know.

The mayor quoted the borough code of favoring the “public interest” over any “private interest.”

In the fire department report for November, there were 55 incidents, of which 43 were for EMS and 12 were fire related.

A “Stop the Bleed” class held at the fire hall on December 6 drew about 25 attendees who learned how to act quickly to stop traumatic blood loss, such as during a shooting, and more.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel reported the committee is working on updates to the zoning ordinance, with a goal of completion by January.

In the treasurer’s report, 82 percent of the borough’s property tax has been collected so far, or $711,765. In delinquent taxes, $130,311 has been collected this year.

In the code enforcement report for November, Councilman Aaron Graham reported there were 30 violations, and 46 of 696 open cases year to date.

There were 13 hearings in front of District Magistrate Richard King.

Thirty-five rental licenses were issued for 73 units, and 21 rental applications/notices were mailed out for licenses expiring Dec. 31.

No building or occupancy permits were issued. One zoning permit was issued.

There are continuing legal proceedings for the demolition of 253 Ormsby and 118 Penn.

Mr. Graham said the committee is working on a revised rental ordinance.

The code enforcement report is available on the borough website.

In public safety, Councilman Justin Viale reported the Police Dept. is looking to hire a full-time and a part-time police officer. The force is short two officers.

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

In Transverse and Ormsby parks, workers emptied trash cans/spot swept three times per week. They also cleaned leaves on Margaret, Rustic, Transverse, clock tower, and the back side of Walnut. Potholes were patched around the borough.

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

All tools and equipment were winterized.

The public works department put up the Christmas Tree and hung wreaths along Brownsville Rd.

In economic development, Councilwoman Tina Reft reported “Up On the Hilltop,” was a success, drawing more than 100 participants.

“It was a wonderful, positive community event,” she said.

In other borough news, garbage bills were mailed out the first week of December. Waste Management will also be sending out a mailing related to the service change. The borough will be returning in January to Waste Management as its garbage hauler.

Residents pay the borough, and the borough pays Waste Management. Billing is by Keystone Collections.

The garbage bills are up $6, but there is a 5 percent discount if paid by Feb. 15.

The ambulance service fee is $35 per year.

In the question-and-answer period that concludes council meetings, an attendee asked if people are still being cited for putting their trash out too early. The resident said he sees trash on his street placed outside days early.

The answer was yes, citing does occur.

The next council meeting will be on January 21.


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