Accomplishments

Nearly $10,000,000 in funding awarded to Hazleton

As one of his administration’s objectives, Mayor Jeff Cusat has worked in partnership with council, State Rep. Tarah Toohil, Senator John Yudichak, Congressman Lou Barletta, and Congressman Matt Cartwright to successfully bring nearly $10,000,000 in funding to Hazleton.

“Partnering with our council, state legislators and our congressmen, this administration has been exceptional in our collective efforts to ease the burden of the taxpayer. I pledge to continue our aggressive efforts to seek and obtain every able grant source to help move Hazleton forward” commented Mayor Cusat

The wide variety of projects that are underway or have already been completed include multiple grants for renovation projects, a comprehensive crime prevention grant, emergency vehicle upgrades, parks & recreation improvements, recycling grants, technology upgrades and multiple grants that supported the efforts of community organizations to better the quality of life for Hazleton residents.

“Community Oriented Policing Services”

Hiring of 2 Police Officers

COPS Grant $614,747.00

“Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Responders”

Hiring of 3 firefighters

SAFER Grant $360,612.00

Comprehensive crime prevention grant

LSA $170,000.00

“Justice Assistance Grant”

2016 $10,427.00

2018 $10,460.00

Recycling grants

Paper Shredding & Electronic recycling

Street light (safety) grant

LSA $200,000.00

State Fire Commissioner Grant

$13,789.70

Emergency Response Vehicles

LSA $100,000.00

Fire Chiefs Response Vehicles

LSA $105,114.00

Fire Department Utility Rescue Vehicle

LSA $50,000.00

LSA Grant

LSA $112,960.00

Fire Station Restoration

LSA $182,944.00

State Fire Commissioner Grant

$15,000.00

State Fire Commissioner Grant

$14,811.36

Volunteer Fire Company Grant

$260,000.00

Personnel Grant

Act 47 Grant $40,000.00

Technology & Info structure

Act 47 Grant $ 130,000.00

Cost Allocation Consultant

Act 47 Grant $30,000.00

Codification

Act 47 Grant $20,000.00

Capital Plan Consultant

Act 47 Grant $30,000.00

Parking Study

Act 47 Grant $30,000.00

City Hall Renovations & Improvements

LSA $350,000.00

LSA $35,000.00

LSA $250,000.00

City Arts Center

LSA $475,000.00

Catholic Social Services Restoration

LSA $30,000.00

Helping Hands Society Expansion

LSA $100,000.00

Fire Station Renovations

LSA $113,000 

Department of Public Works Renovations

LSA $75,000.00

Hazleton Area Boxing Club

LSA $174,460.00

PA Theatre of Performing Arts

LSA $74,500.00

Comprehensive Crime Prevention Initiative

LSA $170,000.00

Wyoming Street Streetscape Improvement

LSA $300,000.00

Alter Street Streetscape Phase 1

LSA $209,415.00

Downtown Hazleton Business Incubator Phase 2

LSA $150,000.00

Safe City Initiative

LSA $150,000.00

Altmiller Park Basketball Courts

Greenways, Trails, Recreation $102,135.00

DCNR $115,000.00

Center City Park

Greenways, Trails, Recreation $115,000.00

LSA $150,000.00

DCNR $200,000.00

RACP $135,000.00

CanDo $65,000.00

LSA $100,000.00

Downtown Revitalization

RACP $1,000,000.00

Keystone $500,000.00

West Court Playground

DCNR $23,500.00

East End Playground

DCNR $50,000.00

Recreational Equipment & Turf

LSA $50,000.00

Parks & Playgrounds Planning

DCNR $47,500.00

LSA $47,500.00

Wiltsie Center Equipment

LSA $38,000.00

Airport Hangers

Grant 1 $45,000.00

Grant 2 $40,000.00

Grant 3 $80,000.00

Airport Runway

$1,000,000.00

Airport Fencing

$150,000.00

PAPI Runway #10

$300,000.00

Airport Maintenance Equipment

$112,000.00

LSA $37,500.00

ARLE Grants

5th and Church Street Traffic Signal $180,030.00

Diamond Avenue and Cedar Street $63,500.00

CNG facility upgrade at the Hazleton Public Transit

$100,000.00


 

Hazleton saves $480,000.00 annually with Arbitration ruling

A recent ruling handed down by arbitrator Walt De Treux’s sided with the City of Hazleton on whether overtime should be factored into the formula for calculating police pensions. De Treux’s ruling dismissed the grievances filed by retired officers over timeliness issues and on merit.

This ruling clarifies the pension calculation discrepancy that was brought to the attention of Mayor Jeff Cusat and his administration about three years ago. “We finally got a ruling on an outstanding issue so that the city can move forward,” Cusat said upon the announcement.

The grievances are the result of a pension calculation dispute between the City of Hazleton and Fraternal Order of Police Power City Lodge 18 according to arbitration.

The overtime calculation could have increased the city’s annual pension payment by up to $488,000 per year, based on estimates from the actuary.

“We appreciate the efforts of our police officers and all our first responders. There is a variety of procedural matters clouding our pension documents and it’s good to have a decision made that validates our position and saves taxpayer dollars” concluded Mayor Cusat.

Under the direction of Chief of Police Jerry Speziale, the City of Hazleton has a full time 24 hour a day state of the art Police Department staffed with 42 officers and includes a Special Operations Group.

Audits of Rental Properties, forces out of state landlords to pay their fair share.

With a major concern of out-of-state landlords and renters not paying their fair share, there was a public outcry for an unlawful renter’s tax. Mayor Cusat authorized an audit of all properties located in the City of Hazleton. This audit may have drawn some criticism as it flagged any property owner with multiple properties deeded to the same name. This minor inconvenience to some owners has proved to be very valuable to the City’s Code Enforcement and Licensing office. This audit uncovered hundreds of undocumented rental units and multiple improperly zoned non-owner occupied residential properties. These properties are now listed on the rental registration list for licensing and inspections which forces the owners to pay for the services that are provided by the City.

Updates in Licensing process creates uniformity

Being a small family business owner himself, Mayor Cusat recognizes the frustration of those unlicensed businesses that are not paying the same costs as those operating lawfully. 

A more extensive business license questionnaire was distributed asking for verification of account numbers and required professional services. This process has uncovered several undocumented places where business was being conducted. 

Another neglected ordinance is the very unpopular merchandial tax placed on retail, service, and rental businesses. The city has recently prepared for an audit of all business that was conducted within the city limits in accordance to the ordinance. There is a large amount of business conducted in Hazleton by businesses without a City license that has gone unreported. Mayor Cusat expects this to generate a large amount of unreported and unpaid taxes .

Towing Release Policy brings in $$$$ of outstanding fines and warrants

Mayor Cusat increased the parking enforcement staff from 2 full-time employees to 3 full-time office staff and 4 part-time enforcement officers, constructed a dedicated ticket processing office and created a Tow Release Policy. This new policy has been successful in requiring vehicles that are towed for unlawful reason to be held until the owner can be checked for outstanding parking tickets.

An additional feature of this policy includes a search for outstanding warrants to aid in the reduction of criminal on the streets of Hazleton.

“This policy is a key part of our continuing effort to focus on improving the quality of life in Hazleton. My administration will continue to aggressively enforce outstanding warrants and collect any unpaid violations” said Mayor Jeff Cusat.

Hundreds of outstanding parking tickets have been paid under this new policy generating thousands of dollars in fines in addition to multiple warrants being served.

“Our officers continue to work diligently to protect the citizens of Hazleton and the Tow Release Policy is a new tool that allows for a more efficient delivery and collection of fines and to serve process” concluded Police Chief Jerry Speziale.

Mayor Saves $50,000.00 annually

Mayor Cusat has taken a stand and put an end to Hazleton squandering income by halting the yearly decision to sell out the outstanding collectable delinquent taxes, which puts an end to high closing costs and fees.

Mayor calls for safer traffic in school zones

The City of Hazleton has recently purchased an ENRAD (Electronic Non Radar Device) system to monitor speed in school zones and in other areas. This system can be set up and moved to areas with concern for pedestrian safety.

Mayor Negotiates Healthcare Saves City $425,000.00 annually

Mayor Cusat was able to secure yearly savings by meeting with, interviewing, and negotiating with multiple healthcare and insurance companies. The City will see a savings of over $300,000 annually on retired healthcare, $48,000 on Vision and Dental insurance, and a savings of over $80,000 by working with a new Workers Comp Insurance Company.

Property Values are on the Rise!!

With so many positive things happening in the City of Hazleton, we are seeing economic growth on the rise allowing businesses moving in and make and investment. Businesses are being retained and blighted properties are being repurposed which has property values soaring. As crime rates continue to decrease, People are feeling safer and are moving into the city causing available residential properties to disappear off the market.

Pin Point Accuracy

The City has purchased a G.I.S. system to log and inventory everything in the city from City owned assets, lights, and signs, to businesses, rental properties, and vacant properties, to complaints and incidents that happen throughout the City.

Permanent SNOW BAN signs save thousands annually!

Recognizing that the City of Hazleton wasted thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours each fall and spring Mayor Cusat decided to come up with a permanent solution. Not only did the former black and green neon signs lack vital information and confusing to new residents, they were expensive and required valuable time to put and remove each snow season. Since the installation of these signs there has been a noticeable decrease in violations occurring during each snow storm. The biggest advantage that the City and its citizens have received is increased and proper now removal times. Without the need to issue snow ban tickets the Police, Fire, and Parking Enforcement can go about normal business.