WB Council hears concerns about graffiti, garbage, finances and parking

WILKES-BARRE — Despite having no items on its agenda to vote on Thursday night, City Council and Mayor George Brown did discuss several issues in the city and heard from a few residents about problems in their neighborhoods.

Council met in work session first and then held its regular meeting immediately after.

At the work session, Council member John Marconi asked the administration to look into several issues. The first was regarding garbage piling up behind 436 North Main St. at Courtright Street.

Marconi’s next issue was high grass on a property on North Main Street and he asked the city also contact the property owner and get the grass mowed.

Marconi also offered kudos to the city’s Fire Department for its response to a recent fire at a pizza shop in Parsons. He also praised the paving project ion Austin Avenue, which is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

Marconi complimented Mayor Brown on the new action park being built at Hollenback Park. The mayor said Aug. 1 is the target date to open the park.

And Marconi asked Mayor Brown if car shows will be returning to Public Square this summer. The mayor said the shows that feature classic and antique vehicles will be back on the square soon and an added feature will be musical bands featured at each car show.

Councilman Bill Barrett expressed concern about graffiti in the city and asked the administration to remove it. Mayor Brown said he would have the DPW workers address it. Barrett also raised concern about junk cars parked on private property and asked that the city also look into having them removed.

At the regular meeting, resident Sam Troy had a few issues to discuss.

“First, let me say I am glad that council still had a meeting even though there are no items to vote on,” Troy said.

Troy then expressed concern about several financial issues in the city. He asked about the city’s pension fund, asking if there are any concerns. Troy also suggested the city fire its actuary, a move Mayor Brown quickly dismissed.

Brown explained that most pension funds have had difficulty recently because “all markets are down.” But Brown assured troy that city’s pension fund was in good shape.

“Our fund is healthy,” Brown said. “We have reduced our MMO (minimum municipal obligation). Things are not as bad as you might think.”

Brown also reminded Troy that the city has not seen a tax increase the last four years and 20% of the city’s ARP funding was dispersed to help people in need.

He also explained that the recent report of high overtime payments was due to a lack of staffing. The mayor said new employees have been hired and the OT should not be as high. He also reiterated how the collective bargaining agreements call for the employees with the most seniority be called first for overtime.

Resident Tony Thomas asked that the city add people to the Shade Tree Commission and look into helping people with trees that are in bad shape.

Resident Robert Endler of Sheridan Street asked the city to address a problem near the Mayflower Crossing complex. He said trucks are parking on Metcalf Street, making it difficult for vehicles to get through on the two-way street.

City Attorney Tim Henry suggested Endler and other concerned residents attend the next meeting of the city Parking Authority, set for May 16 at noon in the Board Room of the North Parking Garage, 30 North Main St.

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Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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