Lehigh Valley

Allentown OKs $7M fleet maintenance pact

$7 million-plus contract passed with 5-1 vote.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Prior to Wednesday night's Allentown City Council meeting, the legislative body approved a three-year, $7 million-plus contract with Centerra Integrated Services by a 5-1 vote with President Ray O'Connell dissenting.

The contract stipulates Centerra will perform municipal fleet maintenance services for all city departments, including police, fire and public works. Centerra had served as Allentown's previous contractor for the work.

By approving the deal, city council effectively rejected a counter proposal by the Service Employees International Union who said they could do the work in-house and save the city about $420,000 over the life of the contract.

However, Craig Messinger, the city's director of public works, has previously indicated the SEIU offer would be cost prohibitive and actually cost the city more money - about $300,000 each year.

Officially, only two entities submitted a formal proposal for the work. SEIU's offer came after Centerra’s.

In voting to approve the Centerra pact, Vice President Daryl Hendricks said that he "in no way put the safety of the fire department, police department, EMS, or any other city employee in danger."

He added that he was confident that Messinger's calculations on financial figures "were correct."

Prior to their vote, council went into executive session with solicitor Fran Fruhwirth for legal advice.

This act later prompted a verbal outburst by city resident and long-time O'Connell critic Thomas Hahn, who questioned the secrecy of the discussion.

O'Connell responded that council asked the solicitor a legal question and "that was it."

After an additional verbal exchange between the two men, the president told Hahn that the discussion was over. If Hahn persisted, O'Connell said police officers would remove him. Hahn offered no additional comments.

In other business, three bills were sent to committee that would amend the city's codified ordinances.

Bill 84 would add an additional $25 inspection fee on inspections of residential properties for each unit of more than three three units.

This would be in addition to the $100 fee per property.

Units with three units or less would not be subject to the additional fee.

In addition, if a re-inspection is needed on any unit after the first re-inspection, that fee would also increase from $35 to a proposed amount of $75 for the second re-inspection and $150 per unit for the third and all subsequent re-inspections. The city noted that some of the apartment complexes have more than 100 units.

Despite that fact, the city is only charging a $100 flat fee for the entire complex.

Another of the three bills sent to committee is Bill 86, which would allow the Bureau of Planning and Zoning to increase the permit application fee from $35 to $100.

It would also raise various land development and subdivision, building and electrical fees as well. The Department of Community and Economic Development said the current fees are not in line with other major cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like Pittsburgh.

In addition, DCED said the increases are meant to place the burden on the developers of the projects rather than Allentown residents, who will not directly benefit from the profits made by the developers.

In other news, council approved the reappointment of four individuals to the Historical Architectural Review Board. The four individuals were Barry Brobst, David Huber, Ellen Roberts, and Michelle Olson.

Councilman Julio Guridy was absent from Wednesday night's meeting.

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