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Mayor's Report to City Council 02/17/15

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Executive Office of the Mayor
Vaughn D. Spencer
 
Administrative Report
February 17, 2015
 
 
Fire Department
 
Fire Activity
On Friday, January 30, units operated at 325 W. Windsor St. for a fire in the 2nd floor front room. The fire was brought under control 14 mins after arrival, there were no injuries to firefighters or civilians, but unfortunately several of the family’s pets perished. The family was displaced and did receive assistance from the Red Cross, the cause was undetermined.
 
Another suspicious fire occurred on Monday, February 9 at 2006 at 118 North 4th with minimal damage, this is the 8th suspicious fire at this property since the beginning of December.
 
On February 12 at 1429 hrs, units responded to 401 South 5th St. for a fire in the 2nd floor front room that did render the property unable to be occupied, the occupants declined assistance from Red Cross. The fire was under control in 15 mins and there were no injuries.
 
Office of the Fire Marshal
The Fire Marshal, one of the Lieutenants, and a Deputy Chief testified at last week’s trial from the incident at the April 2013 10th and Cotton store where the employee was set on fire.
 
Public Works
 
Digester 4&5 Rehabilitation
The cover for Digester No. 4 was removed and set on cribbing on 12/2/14. Additional tasks currently being performed are sandblasting, physical inspection, structural reinforcement and application of protective coatings on the digester cover, and sandblasting of the interior of the digester tank. The project is currently on schedule to be completed by the end of summer 2015.
 
6th Street Pump Station Renovation
In anticipation of the 90% design submittal for the 6th Street Pump Station (phase 1),T&M (the design professional) met with the “One Stop Shop” City code review board on 1/15/15. T&M received peer review comments from Hazen & Sawyer on the 60% design on 12/22/14. T&M will incorporate all 60% design review comments in the preparation of the 90% design plans and specifications for submission in February.
 
WWTP Upgrade – Liquids Phase
Responses to the comments on the 100% design were received and incorporated into the final design. The final design and specifications are currently being prepared and advertisement for bids is anticipated to be released in early February.
 
WWTP Upgrade – Solids Phase
Review comments on the 100% design were submitted to the design professional last week. Responses to these comments will be incorporated into the final design. Advertisement for bids is anticipated to be released in early March.
 
Water Authority
 
Attached is an Update on Washington Street.
 
Mayor’s Office
 
PA House Republicans plan to vote to privatize liquor sales. The House is scheduled to vote on House Bill #466 for the week of Feburary 23. House Speaker Turzai's plan would make 1,200 retail liquor licenses available, first to beer distributors - and then after that one-year window, to any interested private retailer.
 
State stores would be phased out over several years, as the private market builds. Wine and beer could be sold at supermarkets, and beer distributors would no longer be restricted to selling beer by the case, and they could be open regularly until 11 p.m. But beer would not be available at most convenience stores due to a continuance of a longstanding prohibition on sales at outlets where gasoline is also dispensed.
 
Turzai has estimated that selling the new private retail licenses could raise $1 billion in new funds up-front for the state. Recurring revenues should be maintained or grow slightly, based on license renewal fees and hoped-for increases in sales.
 
The Community Prevention Partnership reminds us that the PA Youth Survey of the Reading School district showed that alcohol was the drug of choice for our youth, with 70% of 12th graders reporting having had alcohol in their lifetime. Increased availability = increased consumption.
 
General Assembly of PA House Bill No 2266
Represenative Caltagirone is the primary sponsor of House Bill 2266 that is being reintroduced to the legislature. This bill amends ACT 101 and creates section 708 for municipal fees. State Representative Rozzi has agreed to sign on as a cosponsor. On the senate side, Senator Schwank is working on a similar endeavor. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our state legislators for their diligent work on this.
 
Administrative Manual – Voters approved Ballot Question 6 regarding clarification of the separation of powers between the Mayor and City Council and limits City Council’s power to make legislative changes to the Administrative Code and provide the Mayor will the sole power to issue administrative regulation and procedure. Representatives from my office, the Managing Director’s office, administrative services, and City Council are working to create a new administrative manual that reflects these changes.
 
The 2015 State of City Address was held this year at the Goggleworks and was attended by over 150 guests. The speech focused on strong fiscal management, economic development and job creation, safer and cleaner neighborhoods, working toward a higher quality of life, and creating a more open and transparent government. The full text of the speech can be found on our city’s web site www.readingpa.gov on the left hand side of the Mayor’s office home page.
 
The Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks is putting together the NHS Operation Renovation program for this July. This program is a community collaboration organized to help veterans and their families by making home repairs they are unable to make on their own. This week-long event will involved 250-300 you and fault volunteers from faith-based organizations around the country. Veterans may apply for this program on the NHS website.
 
Some of the events my staff and I have attended in the end of January and the first two weeks in February:
 
February 3 - The State of the Community Breakfast, hosted by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce featured a moderated panel to discuss how Berks County aligns with the newly released PA Competitiveness Score Card developed by the PA Business Council. They focused on eight factors based on metrics of economic competitiveness validated by survey research with Pennsylvania business leaders.
 
We swore in 6 officers – 3 lieutenants and 3 sergeants.
 
The Keystone Crossroads reporters were at the Reading Intermediate High School hosting a forum to discuss the future in the City of Reading. Their report can be found on the Keystone Crossroads website under the article entitled “We get in our own way.” Community forum brings together residents in Reading.
 
We hosted our first Complete Streets Workshop on February 5. We will develop a Complete Streets policy to improve the safety and usability of all roads for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers.
 
Lenin Agudo, Peter Rye and I attended a CRIZ conference in Lancaster on January 13. The agenda for the conference included a discussion of the concept and original ideas for such a zone. There was a presentation on the Lancaster and Bethlehem experiences and discussion of the two widely different models chose for each. A presentation on the problems encountered and possible solutions, together with a discussion of future actions and corrections concluded the conference.
 
Upcoming Meetings
 
The Kiwanis Club of Greater Reading -- Berks County has sponsored a Key Club at the Reading High School for many years, and we are very excited to be now be chartering a Builders Club at the Reading Intermediate High School. 
 
The official Club Chartering Ceremony is tomorrow, February 18th beginning at 4PM. It will be held in the 4th Floor Black Box Theater at the Citadel. Guests should arrive between 3:45 - 4PM, and we plan to start promptly at 4PM. The ceremony will last about 45 minutes.
 
The Make the Road PA Group will be visiting City Hall on Thursday to discuss several initiatives they would like to work with the city on including:
  1. Creating a task force to analyze the impact of fees on property owners (water/sewer, inspections, others), that includes some representatives of our group who are owners of 3 properties or fewer in the city, that would work intensively for 3 months with city officials to develop some proposals for easing the burden on property owners of these fees.
  2. Launching a municipal ID in Reading
  3. Engaging Reading as a member of Cities for Citizenship, a national effort to provide supports to immigrants eligible for naturalization in becoming citizens.
 
Judy Schwank’s Berks Delegation Meeting is this Friday at 8:30 AM.
 
The Central Pennsyvlania African American Museum will be hosting its annual awards luncheon this Saturday at 11:00 at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel.
 
The Awards Reception for the 15th Annual Reading School District Black History Month Art Exhibition at GAPS begins at 2:30 on Saturday, February 21.
 
I am a Legacy & RIZE present: Shades of You, Unity in the Community Fashion & Vendor Show fundraiser being held at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel on Saturday, February 21. The doors open at 5 and the show starts at 8.
 
There is a fair housing meeting on February 23 at 1:00 at Pendora Park for all landlords and property managers. There will be a panel discussion intended to equip and empower guests to help make Reading more beautiful.

 

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