Last updated: March 21. 2013 11:58PM - 4246 Views

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HAZLETON — City Council on Wednesday failed to approve an ordinance authorizing transfer of a liquor license to a prospective restaurant at 601 S. Poplar St. in the Heights area.

Jean Mope, Jack Mundie and Kevin Schadder, voting against the transfer, cited concerns for safety and security of city neighborhoods.

Police Chief Frank DeAndrea told council that two restaurant/bar businesses “have turned into night clubs.”

“It is often necessary to increase our police presence in those areas at closing time to prevent fist fights,” DeAndrea said. “It also results in additional costs to the city.”

Resident Dee Deakus told council “our city has enough liquor licenses.”

In another matter, council approved an agreement between the city and Koro Aviation Inc. for the lease of a hangar at the Hazleton Municipal Airport for an initial one-year period. It is hoped the agreement will generate a profit for the city from from rental fees and increased fuel sales.

“This has a very limited amount of risk to it in the long term,” said Councilman Keith Bast. “We can reassess the agreement again in one year.”

On advice of Council President Jim Perry, the agreement will depend upon ascertaining clear title of the property. The agreement also gives the city the option of purchasing the property in the future.

City Engineer Dominic Yannuzzi said government grants and loans may be available to assist, should the city decide to make that purchase.

In other business, on first reading, council approved an amendment increasing its general municipal tax to be directed to funding pension benefits for its employees.

City Manager Steven Hahn said that, if passed in second reading, the amendment would result in the imposition of a 0.5 percent tax on earned income received by city residents and a 1 percent tax on income earned by non-residents.

Hahn said the city had conferred with state representatives in increasing the tax to fund pension obligations.

The city also approved on first reading an ordinance amending its earned income tax to 2.35 percent for city residents and 2.85 percent for non-residents.

Councilman Jack Mundie also moved to extend the rebate period for real estate taxes to June 1. The motion was tabled after questions on its legality in regard to advertising.

Mundie expressed concern that solicitor Chris Slusser was not at the meeting.

“We need to address legal concerns,” said Mundie, “and we need Chris here to do that.”

Councilperson Jean Mope lauded the efforts of its police and fire department in keeping the city safe during recent crisis with quick response times and “excellent efforts.”

“We have good workers and we have hard workers here in Hazleton,” Perry said. “We need to take back our city.”

The next meeting of City Council will be on April 10 at 5:30 pm.

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