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Firms open for questions at council meeting

Representatives of two economic development consultants are expected to be available tonight for City Council, as each firm seeks a contract not to exceed $84,000 a year.

Staff members for Thomas Keller and Associates and Delta Development Group are expected to be available for council to question on Zoom at the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

Mayor Derek Slaughter told members of the council finance committee they would be asked to be at the meeting since they are asking for contracts to help the city to obtain state and federal grant money for numerous projects, some ongoing and others that are in the planning stage.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz noted how the grant professionals might be able to be used in the improvement of Park Avenue Neighborhood, a plan that was forged in the prior administration and has had a study done and a consulting firm recommend a steering committee be formed consisting of council, administration and area stakeholders.

Delta, Katz said, was helpful in obtaining the grants for East Third Street Old City Redevelopment Project. Katz also believed the company might be useful in the Park Avenue plan, which is eyed improvements from Campbell Street to Hepburn Street, and Little League Boulevard north to Brandon Avenue.

Keller, meanwhile, remains successful in its work with Lycoming County on the levee recertification project funding. Thus, Keller might be able to be used in the effort by the city to obtain funding for the flood mitigation of Grafius Run, Katz said.

The consulting firms agree not to exceed $7,000 per month in their work and have promised to provide council and the administration with an itemized list of work done.

If approved, it would mean the city has two full-time economic development consulting firms working on various projects to find funding and grant sources.

Councilwoman Liz Miele said she felt more comfortable if the contracts would have clauses added that would enable the consulting firms extensions for more than a year so the projects could be fully funded.

The council also is expected to take action on a project that won’t cost the city a dime, according to Fire Chief Mark Killian.

It is to have the city work with The Compliance Engine, a company that ensures third-party fire suppression inspection work at commercial buildings is done and turned over to the city Bureau of Fire.

The cost falls mainly on the contractors who would, based on the proposal before council, be charged $20 for uploading each report on any deficiencies found in fire suppression compliance such as non-working sprinkler systems and fire alarms, Killian said.

The work by the company would free up the firefighters who do not have time to manage inspection by third-party contractors looking at commercial fire suppression systems.

The department continues with its regular fire inspection of buildings, but the fire suppression equipment is a different matter, he said.

Any revenue from the charges assessed to the contractors will be used toward city firefighters’ efforts to educate public and schools during fire prevention week and will help the department in overall insurance ratings and thus costs, Killian said.

The proposed working agreement with the city and the company, which does work for other fire companies in the state, was given a positive recommendation by the finance committee.

A pickup truck for the streets and parks department is also on the council agenda.

The meeting is accessible by going to the city website and looking for the prompt to the YouTube channel. It is then rebroadcast immediately after its conclusion.

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