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Duquesne Looks To Crack Down On Landlords

By Tom Leturgey
The Tube City Almanac
February 14, 2024
Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne City Council is again talking about cracking down on landlords whose rental properties have code or property maintenance violations.

At this month’s meeting, City Councilman Aaron Adams reiterated his desire to bill property owners for occupancy permits and create a line-item for collecting inspection fees in Duquesne’s budget moving forward.

Adams and City Solicitor Myron Sainovich said that a policy to enact the occupancy permit program had been discussed in the past year, but no formal action had been taken.

The plan would be to recognize all of the rental properties in the city and send letters to the property owners.

Officials say the move would be designed to make property owners more responsible for the conditions of their rental units.

As an example, Adams noted that the city wouldn’t be responsible for water fees on neglected properties, and inspections would be completed before issuing occupancy permits.

Once an updated tenant registration list is completed, officials plan to mail out letters for the permits. There should be an update at the next meeting, including the proposed cost for the permits, city officials said.

In Other Business

By a 3-0 vote, with councilmembers Derek Artim and Elaine Washington excused from the meeting, officials approved a new contract between the city and unionized members of the police department.

The agreement covers the period from Jan. 1, 2024, through Dec. 31, 2026. Police officers are represented by Teamsters Local Union 205. Details of the agreement were not immediately available at the meeting.

Police Chief William Shaw asked for an update on enforcing “no parking” signs on some streets that had been previously discussed. Sainovich said he’d get back to Shaw at the next meeting.

Mayor R. Scott Adams asked Shaw to get a count of jukeboxes, cigarette machines and other coin-operated devices that are subject to amusement device permits.

New City Councilwoman Denise Brownfield, along with City Manager Douglas Sample, introduced Duquesne’s revamped website. Council accepted the new website by a 3-0 vote. “It’s an easier way to navigate what’s going on in Duquesne,” said Mayor Adams.

Sample reported that he will be meeting with the state Department of Community & Economic Development to discuss the next steps for the city to consider a Home Rule Charter.

Sample also discussed a job opening in Duquesne for an administrative executive. According to the job posting, candidates will “perform a variety of clerical tasks directly related to the operation of the city, including administrative, community development and finance.”

He said the new administrative executive would work under the direct supervision of the city manager.

According to the job posting the salary ranges between $38,000 and $45,000. Mayor Adams said the position has “generous benefits” that include health care and pension. Interested parties can find more information on the city’s website.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 23.

Council voted 3-0 to appoint Jake Zabelsky to the city’s planning commission to fill a vacancy for a term to expire Dec. 31, 2025, and Robert Yoder to fill a vacancy for a term to expire Dec. 31, 2027.

Zabelsky fills the seat previously held by his father Lee “Spanky” Zebelsky, who passed away unexpectedly in October.

Mayor Adams noted that all of the vacancies on the planning commission are now filled.

Council voted 3-0 to cancel the July 23 and August council meetings for the annual summer recess.

Fire Chief Frank Cobb reported the volunteer fire department responded to a total of 467 calls in 2023. He added that the department responded to 46 calls in January 2024.

The department recently received 21 air packs, Cobb said. The self-controlled breathing apparatus is equipment the department has needed for a while.

Cobb said the fire department will now have enough reusable air packs to last “15 years.” The department received a compression system the year prior to help with keeping the new air packs charged, he said.

Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.

Originally published February 14, 2024.

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