No mini-casinos allowed in city, says council

LOCK HAVEN — City Council voted to prohibit any “mini-casinos” in Lock Haven.

Council passed a resolution Monday that would bar such a casino from town.

The issue has arisen because a new state act authorizes 10 mini-casinos across Pennsylvania. Municipalities that do not want one are to inform the state Gaming Control Board of their decision by Dec. 31.

Both Mayor William E. Baney III and Council Vice President Stephen L. Stevenson voted against the resolution. But the mayor said their “no” votes on this resolution are NOT votes in favor of casinos.

He said he believes the concept of a mini-casino in Pennsylvania is in its infancy stage and many questions have not even been addressed yet. The issue of whether to host one in Lock Haven hasn’t been explored either, he said. A casino could bring in jobs, of course, he said, but there is much more to the subject.

Both Baney and Stevenson voted against even asking city staff to draw up this resolution in the first place. For one thing, the mayor said, the city does not have enough space for a mini-casino to be built here.

Also Monday, council voted on how its members may attend and participate in council meetings by phone. Councilman Jonathan Bravard, who has been sidelined by health issues for a year, participated in last week’s meeting by phone and his votes were counted. This type of participation is allowed by state code, council heard.

This week, council further defined phone participation, voting unanimously at the very beginning of the meeting that council members may use this method only if they are ill or disabled. Bravard did not participate in this vote, because council did not open the meeting to him until after the vote was taken.

After this issue was resolved, he was able to participate and vote as he had last week.

SEDA-Council of Governments was hired to administer the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds next year.

Longtime City Planner Leonora Hannagan will retire at the end of the month, and Maria Boileau will take over her position. Hannagan has administered the CDBG money for the past 21 years, with no fines or even any concerns raised, council heard.

SEDA-COG will be training Boileau so that she can eventually take over the administrative duties, but until then, the financial development and maintenance of CDBG-funded programs will be in the regional council of governments’ hands.

Glenda Ruch of SEDA-COG told council that the council of governments is certified through the state COSTARS cooperative purchasing program to provide this type of technical assistance for both state and federal loans and grant programs, and they currently do this for 26 other municipalities.

The city will have a team of up to 10 people working on this, and functioning as an extension of city staff, she said.

SEDA-COG will charge $11,675 to oversee the $88,996 left over from the city’s 2016 CDBG money, and $38,500 to administer the city’s 2017 grant of $269,615. CDBG dollars will be used to pay these administrative costs.

Council also met Bill Seigel, SEDA-COG’s new executive director who accompanied Ruch to the meeting Monday to introduce himself.

The city’s airport is currently buying “easements” of the air space above properties in the airport’s flight path, as required by the FAA. The goal is to remove any obstructions, like trees, from the flight path.

Delta Airport Consultants Inc. has been hired to provide the engineering services needed for this large project. These services include ground surveys of parcels, boundary surveys, appraisals, and more. The original contract with Delta was for 48 parcels at a maximum cost of $225,689. The city’s share of this cost is 5 percent, about $11,000.

Now that all of the ground survey work has been done on those 48 parcels, four more parcels have been added to the project, council heard, and Delta was hired to do the work on these new parcels for $46,775, with the city’s share again coming to just 5 percent of the total.