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Mayor's Report to City Council 11/10/14

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Executive Office of the Mayor
Vaughn D. Spencer
 
Administrative Report
November 10, 2014
 
 
Administrative Services
Information Technology Steering Committee established
The Department has established an Information Technology Steering Committee to evaluate the business case and feasibility of implementing major information technology projects and to consider how these projects align with the City’s strategic goals. Among its duties, the Committee will provide feedback to the Information Technology Division on the prioritization of projects, project budgets, project schedule, and risk management.

Flu Shots Provided to City Employees
The City recently completed its annual employee flu shot immunization campaign, providing flu vaccination to 150 employees on a first-come, first-served basis. According to the National Institutes of Health, each flu season, nearly 111 million workdays are lost due to the flu. That equals approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity. The Spencer Administration is a strong proponent of providing this important vaccine to employees, and would also like to encourage members of the general public to get a flu vaccination from their healthcare provider.

Bond Refinancing Completed
The City recently completed the refinancing of its 2008 Series C & D General Obligation Bonds. The City had projected to save approximately S1.9 million dollars in interest costs as a result of this refinancing. However, with the City’s recent credit upgrade to Baa1, the Spencer Administration is pleased to report that the City was able to realize an additional $2 million dollars in savings, for a total savings of $3.9 million dollars.

Public Works
Recycling Updates
  1. The Department of Environmental Protection approved our Act 101 Recycling Program Performance Grant in the amount of $98,682. This grant reflects the 12,625 tons of residential and commercial materials recycled by the citizens and businesses in Reading in 2013.
  2. The city of Reading’s application for Pennsylvania Technical Assistance grant has been approved.

Wyomissing Park Streetlight Project
This project has begun. The first step in the process is the removal of all existing light poles followed by replacing existing and installing new underground wiring. Some of the light pole bases will be replaced.

Project updates will be posted to the City’s website regularly. For the latest information regarding this project, visit the Home page and click on Wyomissing Park Streetlights on the Residents Navigation bar on the left side of the page.

Pagoda Project
The repair of the Pagoda’s retaining wall began this week. The preliminary work consists of clearing the work site for access to the construction area.

Fire Department
The 8th and Oley fire is still under investigation.

During the early morning of Nov. 2nd the Department responded to 111 W. Elm for a suspicious fire on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a vacant property, this fire is under investigation. While companies were still on the scene of the W. Elm, the remaining City Companies along with County Companies responded to a fire in a store on the NE corner of Mulberry and Greenwich. This fire appears accidental, but has displaced the residents living above the store as well as having a costly effect on the business. It should be noted that during this same time period, in addition to operating at the Mulberry and Greenwich St. location, additional County Companies responded to a fire alarm and a motor vehicle accident.

On Saturday morning Nov. 2nd, City Fire began operating on the new County wide radio system. While there have been some difficulties encountered the system is working, some of the difficulties are attributed to the users, and others are due to system adjustments that are being made by the County and Motorola.

Last week, the Fire Marshal’s Office along with the on duty Fire Suppression Companies, have conducted a dozen school and daycare Fire Prevention/Educational sessions. Around half were conducted at the McKnight and Spring, and the 3rd and Court Fires Stations, while the other half were conducted at the elementary schools and daycares.

Mayor’s Office

Due to market conditions and business needs, Bottom Dollar Food Stores is permanently closing two retail facilities in Reading by the end of 2014. The store on Lancaster Avenue currently employs 6 FT people and 26 PT. The store on Perkiomen Ave employs 6 FT and 23 PT associates.

I recently started working with Mayor Nutter and the PML to advocate for a fair and full funding formula for schools across Pennsylvania. The cost to educate each student in the district is $12,213. The Reading School District receives $6375 per student for basic education. This full and fair funding formula calls for basic education dollars to be based on the student enrollment of a school district as well as the needs of it students.

Members of my staff, Ralph Johnson, Linda Kelleher, and myself met with Deb Galan regarding her concerns with the intersection at McKnight and Windsor Streets. The group discussed several solutions. The immediate plan is to repaint the yellow lines on the corner and I spoke with Chief Heim regarding traffic enforcement at this intersection.

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee meets for the first time on Thursday to begin the next Ten-Year Plan. Key interviews with community and business leaders have already begun.

Last week, I visited the businesses on the 900 block of Penn Street to speak to owners and find out their concerns. Most of their concerns were related to parking, DID fees, and inspection fees.

Community Events Attended over the Last Two Weeks
  • The Mission Leadership Task Force of the Reading Health System and the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service held a Community Leaders Forum on October 29th that my staff attended with Brian Kelly of ReDesign Reading.
  • Member of staff, as well as Community Development staff, attended the Community First Friends of the Fund Event. Mary Kay Bernosky of Berks Women in Crisis was given the Community Development Award.
  • My staff attended the NAACP Freedom Fund Gala and presented Hamid Chaudhry with the Image Award.
  • A member of my staff spoke at the Northeast Community Springboard Coalition’s panel discussion on the dangers of K2 at RACC. Other panel members included Senator Schwank, Captain Winchester from the RPD, and members of the Council on Chemical Abuse, the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the DEA, and the Reading Hospital.

Upcoming Community Events
  • Veteran’s Day Memorial Service will take place in Veteran’s Grove at City Park tomorrow at 11:11 AM.
  • Queen City will be feeding the homeless tomorrow all day.
  • The Berks Conservancy will be holding their State of the Environment Breakfast on November 13 at the Crowne Plaza.
  • The City of Reading will be hosting a Reading Sustainability Working Summit directly after this event. We will be collaborating with local people and organizations to work toward the City being certified as a 3-Star Community.
  • Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Fifth and Penn is on November 21 at 6:30.
  • Annual Holiday Parade on Penn Street is on November 22 at 9:00 AM.
  • Hillside Playground annual Holiday Lights Display will open on November 23 and will remain open until January 1.
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