A grab bag of complaints, fears and suggestions on how to raise more money greeted Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and his department heads Tuesday night at City Hall.
The city is facing $1.5 million more in expenses next year and a possible real estate tax increase that is presently at 2 mills if nothing happens to reverse the course.
Those in attendance were allowed three minutes to get things off their chests or ask questions related to city business. The subjects discussed ranged from landlord complaints to ideas on how to improve the financial bottom line.
Campana used much of the 90-minute session to describe his pending plan for overhauling city government, including asking for layoffs and not refilling vacancies due to attrition or retirements.
A woman from Park Avenue who identified herself only as Kathy wanted to know when the city officials will crack down on bad behavior among landlords and tenants.
She said she lives near an apartment building on Bridge Street and endures daily scenes of public urination and vomiting.
She said - to the credit of the police force - that she has a relationship with the patrol officers, but she also wants to see city officials take the enforcement of property owners and tenants to another level.
Joseph Gerardi, codes administrator, said he is aware of the problem apartment building to which she referred.
He said structurally it met the minimum guideline standards. "The way a tenant acts in public is tough for us to enforce," Gerardi added.
That's when Campana spoke about a pending ordinance regarding landlord-tenant registration that he believes can help eliminate slumlord, absentee-landlords and problematic tenants.
Police Capt. Tim Miller said he has been researching the pending ordinance before bringing it before City Council, perhaps as early as January.
But, Miller said, it must be "enforceable" and it will likely face "challenges from opposition concerned about it potentially impeding on privacy and security matters."
Mark Holt, a former candidate for City Council, said there needs to be a "contract for the (people) taxpayers" not just those among the unions. He questioned the disparity among some city employee benefits and others in city government and in the private sector.
The Rev. Dr. Ron Shellhamer, of Loyalsock Township, called for more exploration of "shared services" between neighboring municipalities that have common ground when it comes to controlling crime, fighting fires and responding to medical emergencies.
He asked the city leaders not to lock out the church communities in their discussions, saying people of faith-based organizations and churches can be valuable assets.
Another city resident asked whether the city was aware of county annual financial report information and if the controller or treasurer had access. Campana said that the treasurer, Thomas P. O'Connor, is an elected official not under his authority.
Miller also said the mayor will ask for changes that will include different methodologies and philosophies for the police.
He promised the residents will see more creativity and the introduction of technology that will bring more efficiency and effectiveness to the department.
Two people who volunteer their time helping to organize neighborhood watch groups and police assistance groups said more effort needs to be taken to get the younger officers on the department to show the same respect as the more veteran officers.
Campana said he encouraged anyone who has experienced unprofessional statements or responses from a city employee, particularly a police officer or firefighter, to get their name or badge number and turn them in.
corresponding chief of the department.