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Williamsport City Council’s finance committee hears from accessibility specialists

Two specialists trained to look at the policy and programs and physical aspects related to public accessibility have presented proposals reviewed Tuesday by the City Council finance committee, which gave them positive recommendations for the rest of council to vote on Thursday.

The individuals hired, Janetta Green and Mark Derry, were present to answer the committee’s questions and promised to conduct their business professionally and as cost efficiently as possible.

Green said her estimated costs are $150 per hour for what consists mostly of policy work that can be done remotely, in some cases, and Derry charges $200 per hour for the physical inspection of the buildings.

“All city buildings utilized for the public must meet ADA compliance,” Mayor Derek Slaughter said.

Based on the specialists’ discussion, it was assumed about $20,000 needed to be found in the budget to cover any associated costs.

“We should probably have $20,000 to be taken from the budget in a transfer of a line item,” Councilwoman Liz Miele, committee chairwoman, said.

“Clearly the transit buildings are accessible but they must be under review,” Slaughter said.

City Hall is not included in the inspections at this time because it is condemned until further notice, he said.

“So, they are in charge of surveying existing city buildings being used by the public,” Miele said.

Green clarified her role as different than Derry’s.

“Mark is doing physical and I will do programs, compliance with practices and working with new ADA coordinator (Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator) for training, policy and how complaints are handled,” Green said.

Gerardi, in order to assume the role, will require some additional certification work to handle the type of work as ADA coordinator.

In other action, the committee gave a positive recommendation to the administration’s recommendation to hire an auditing firm to conduct audits. These audits were not done in 2019, 2020 and 2021 — when the firm of Baker Tilly stopped working for the city.

Efforts by the Sun-Gazette to find out why that happened have not been successful, however, a new firm, Zelenkofske Axelrod, has proposed an estimate of $86,600 to do the 2019 audit; $88,950 for the 2020 audit and $91,421 for this year.

The auditing firm provided the city with a proposal, not a contract, prompting Miele to ask Margaret Woodring, city controller, to reach out to the company so that council would be able to review a legally-binding contract, not just a proposal.

As such, Woodring also was asked to prepare a resolution for a contract for Thursday’s meeting.

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