Middletown Borough Council Minutes

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October 8, 2013

October 8, 2013 Middletown, PA 17057 The October 8, 2013 meeting of the Middletown Borough Council was called to order at 7 p.m. by Council President Christopher R. McNamara. Following the Invocation by Pastor Jerry Cowan, of the Valley Baptist Church, and the Pledge of Allegiance, the following Council members answered roll call: Barbara Arnold, Donald Brooks, John Brubaker, Robert Louer, Christopher R. McNamara, Judy Putric, David Rhen and Sue Sullivan. Scott Sites was absent. Also present were Mayor Robert Reid, Borough Manager Tim Konek and Borough Secretary Chris Courogen. Councilor Arnold moved to amend the meeting agenda to add a presentation at the beginning of the meeting and to move item number six to the top of the agenda. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Council President McNamara called Mr. Robert Fallinger forward to be recognized upon his retirement from the Borough. The members of the Public Works Committee, Councilors Louer, Brubaker and Brooks, along with Mayor Reid, presented Fallinger with a certificate honoring his 40 years of service to the borough. Council President McNamara then asked Skip Memmi, Director of the Dauphin County Economic Development to talk about the Dauphin County Land Bank. Council President McNamara explained the County is first in the state to create a land bank to deal with blighted properties. With a memorandum of understanding for the Borough to participate in the land bank under consideration, Council was invited to direct any questions about the land bank proposal to Mr. Memmi. Councilor Brubaker asked if a property on Hoffer Street would be included in the land bank program. Memmi said the County would come back to the Boroughto investigate what properties might be included once the land bank is operational. Memmi said he would also ask the Borough to help get the Middletown Area School District to concur with participating. Currently, he said, six other municipalities – Hummelstown, Susquehanna Township, Highspire, Steeltion and Millersburg -- have signed on. Council President McNamara commented the Borough is only being asked to commit to participate and that the County commissioners have earmarked $250,000 to get the program started. Councilor Rhen asked if there were any properties currently earmarked to be removed. Memmi explained those decisions will depend on whether or not a property can be rehabilitated and put up for sale. If not, the structure would be demolished and the lot would be put up for sale.

Middletown Borough Council Minutes

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October 8, 2013

With limited startup funds, the first round of the program would likely include only one or two properties in each participating municipality. Future funding will come from the municipality, the school district, and the county agreeing to put 50 percent of the property tax from the property when it comes back on the tax rolls back into the program. Councilor Sullivan made a motion to approve the memorandum of understanding for participation in the Dauphin County Land Bank. The motion was seconded by Councilor Putric and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. PUBLIC COMMENT Dawn Knull made an announcement regarding the Fall Gathering event to be held at the ferry House. She also asked for an update on the Nixle system and asked where and when the proposed ordinances on the agenda would be advertised. Council President McNamara said the ads would be placed where the cheapest rates were available, as always, and that they would appear when the Borough Secretary is able to place them. Mike Bowman commented on the police department, saying he does not see drug dealers on every corner as police claim. He also commented on the police department’s grievances, pointing out Borough Council has provided the police with new computers, new cars, new uniforms, a new police station and whatever else they claimed was necessary. Bowman also commented that those who claimed budget cuts would result in service cuts were mistaken, pointing out the library is still open, and the streets still there, the electricity is still on. He also commented on the former electric department supervisor’s performance. At 7:16 p.m., Council recessed for an executive session to discuss matters pertaining to real estate and personnel. Council reconvened at 9:12 p.m. Council President McNamara reported Council had discussed several matters regarding real estate and personnel and asked Councilor Louer to report on a real estate matter which had been discussed. Councilor Louer reported on the Borough’s acquisition of the Klahr Building. Council President McNamara added that the building’s owner had been involved in bankruptcy proceedings and the court has approved sale of the building to the Borough. Jack Raudenbush has evaluated the building and estimates it would cost more than $250,000 to repair. The building also has asbestos issues. Councilor Louer moved to proceed with the acquisition of the building and to transfer it to the Industrial and Commercial Development Authority (ICDA), with the Borough Manager and Raudenbush to begin the demolition process. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen and approved by an 8-0 vote. Councilor Brooks made a motion to assign the Elks Theater to the Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, consistent with the approval letter from the Department of Community and Economic Development. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote.

Middletown Borough Council Minutes

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October 8, 2013

Council President McNamara explained the Borough is on the hook for $500,000 related to a grant which was passed to the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corporation for the Elks building. DCED has approved the Borough taking over the building and assuming the debt, which will go into a revolving fund for economic development when it is repaid. There is no intention to demolish the building, Council President McNamara emphasized. The plan is for the Borough and the ICDA to renovate it. Council President McNamara also explained DCED has approved the Borough retaining the grant money it had passed through to the former owners of Woodlayne Court, which has been repaid. The use of that money is restricted to economic development. Councilor Putric made a motion to transfer those funds to the ICDA for use in furthering economic development consistent with the DCED restrictions. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Council President McNamara reiterated these funds were not General Fund tax dollars, but rather proceeds from a loan which the Borough would have otherwise had to repay if it were not reused for economic development. Council President McNamara also asked for a motion to direct the Borough Manager to meet with the Mayor and Police Chief Wheeler to review issues with their new station and e-mail issues. Councilor Rhen made such a motion. It was seconded by Councilor Putric and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Sullivan made a motion to approve Resolution 582 of 2013, authorizing the disposal of non-essential records. The motion was seconded by Councilor Brooks and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Brooks made a motion to approve Resolution 583 of 2013, supporting Act 111 reforms. The motion was seconded by Councilor Sullivan. Councilor Brubaker asked for a further explanation of the resolution. Council President McNamara explained it was in support of efforts to reform the police binding arbitration process. The motion was approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Council President McNamara directed the Borough Secretary to forward copies of the resolution to state Representative Payne and state Senator Folmer. Councilor Arnold made a motion to approve Resolution 584 of 2013, recognizing Fire Prevention Week and honoring the Middletown Volunteer Fire Department. The motion was seconded by Councilor Putric and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Louer made a motion to approve Resolution 585 of 2013, congratulating the Middletown Volunteer Fire Company on the dedication of a new addition to Station 88 and designating Saturday, October 12, 2013 as Middletown Volunteer Fire Department Station 88 Day in the Borough. The motion was seconded by Councilor Putric and approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote.

Middletown Borough Council Minutes

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October 8, 2013

Councilor Brubaker made a motion to authorize advertisement of Ordinance 1294 of 2013, updating the Borough’s Civil Service regulations. The motion was seconded by Councilor Brooks. Council President McNamara asked what the changes entail. Councilor Brubaker said the biggest change involved adding a lie detector/polygraph test for new police hires. The motion was approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Arnold made a motion to authorize advertisement of Ordinance 1295 of 2013, accepting and adopting the Borough’s Early Intervention Plan. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen. Mayor Reid expressed a desire for a “second opinion” on the proposal aside from the one already delivered by David Unkovic, who he suggested was biased because he works for the Borough’s solicitors. Council President McNamara said the process began when the Borough’s former Finance Director was not forthcoming with information in early 2012. After getting recommendations, the decision was made to bring in Mark Morgan to review the Borough’s finances. The state Department of Community and Economic Development reviewed the Borough’s records and confirmed Morgan’s findings. They were also confirmed by the Borough’s auditors. Unkovic was the fourth set of eyes on the report. A fifth set of eyes was the independent arbitrator in the police contract arbitration, who also confirmed the Borough’s structural deficit. Also, two Penn State Harrisburg professors met with Morgan and agreed with his assessment. Morgan commented that the only strong recommendation the professors made was to consider the sale of some of the Borough’s assets. Councilor Arnold pointed out the state EIP grant was for 75 percent of Morgan’s fees, instead of the usual 50 percent because the state felt the situation was severe enough to warrant the additional aid. Morgan also said his firm has an internal review process in which other experts in municipal finance with more than 200 years of combined experience in the firm reviewed the report. Morgan said the firm employs a vigorous quality control program due to requirements of its liability insurance. Morgan called the report the most scrutinized and reviewed he has ever prepared. He also pointed out the state has approved a Phase II grant at the same 75 percent level because of the fairly serious financial situation the Borough is in. The motion passed by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Sullivan made a motion to refer the proposed Borough zoning ordinance to the County and Borough planning agencies for review and to authorize staff to take all other measures necessary to comply with the procedural requirements of the Pennsylvania

Middletown Borough Council Minutes

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October 8, 2013

Municipalities Planning Code for adoption of a zoning ordinance amendment. The motion was seconded by Councilor Putric. Council President McNamara pointed out the proposed ordinance was the result of almost three years of work with a consultant by the former Council, which failed to follow through with action to adopt it. The motion was approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Councilor Sullivan made a motion to approve advertisement of Ordinance 1296 of 2013, instituting the new Borough police policy manual. The motion was seconded by Councilor Rhen. Councilor Arnold asked if it was already in effect. Council President McNamara said yes, but this action would memorialize it. Mayor Reid said he was concerned there was no policy in the new manual regarding weight gain by officers. The motion was approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote.

NEW BUSINESS
Council President McNamara reminded Council members to stay after the meeting to sign receipts regarding the police policy manuals. He also asked Councilors Louer, Brooks and Arnold to represent the Council at the fire department dedication ceremony. Council President McNamara also reported on behalf of the Borough Authority about HRG’s rate study. He also reported HRG is not comfortable signing the state engineering certificate due top the failure of the former engineers, CET, to advise the Borough properly on debt related issues. Councilor Brooks made a motion to adjourn. It was seconded by Councilor Rhen and approved by unanimous consent. At 9:59 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.

Borough Secretary

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