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A Duquesne city councilman acknowledged that recent meetings have been “lengthy and contentious,” but said elected officials are working towards a common goal.
“People need to understand the mills are gone from the city and so is the tax base they supported,” Councilman Tim Caldwell said after the Sept. 24 meeting. “It’s a different era. Once we get our finances in order we’ll be on top of our game. Despite what people are saying, Duquesne is coming up.”
Duquesne has been under Act 47 financially distressed status since 1991, but is working on a plan to exit that process by 2022. Caldwell said council also is focused on bringing in partners to redevelop blighted properties.
Both residents and city officials have been frustrated about recent council meetings that have gone on for hours at a time.
Council is trying to use its regular workshop meetings, held the second Tuesday of each month, as the forum where issues are debated and aired publicly, Caldwell said.
“So that we can show up at the voting meeting all on the same page, to avoid the back and forth that can result in a meeting lasting several hours,” he said.
In Other Business:
Councilman Richard S. Adams asked fellow council members to re-visit the water bill payment process. He said he thinks customers are taking advantage of what he calls the “$75 cushion.”
“For example, if you owe $100 on your water bill, all you have to do is pay $30 and you cannot be shut-off,” Adams said.
Although most people pay their water bill in full and on time, he believes that the “cushion” is allowing customers to routinely pay less than the full amount owed on their water bill while avoiding having their water shut off.
Adams would like the issue to be addressed at the next council workshop meeting.
A motion to authorize the proper officials to sign four documents related to the city's credit card accounts with First Commonwealth Bank was tabled for future discussion.
Council approved the following:
A motion presented by Councilwoman Elaine Washington requiring Mayor Nickole Nesby to reimburse the city the $500 deductible paid to Enterprise Car Rental for a vehicle accident in March 2019.
A motion presented by Councilman Tim Caldwell allowing the non-profit organization, A Second Chance, Inc., access to council chambers every Thursday for youth engagement services. According to Nesby, the children will be supervised by ASCI staff members.
A motion to renew the contract with Snyder Brothers, Inc., for natural gas supplies at three locations owned by the City of Duquesne.
A motion to approve $225 per councilperson to attend the Local Government Academy’s elected officials’ course as recommended by the Act 47 plan.
A motion to ratify a contract with Crawford Ellenbogen, LLC, funded by a state Department of Community and Economic Development grant, to provide bookkeeping services related to coding and entering all invoices and checks for 2018 at an hourly rate of $125 to $160 for approximately 80 to 120 hours of work.
A motion to allow the Steel Rivers Council of Governments to submit a grant application for $120,000 to the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development to fund a renovation project at the Duquesne Volunteer Fire Department.
Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who covers news from McKeesport Area School District and North Versailles Twp. for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published September 30, 2019.