WILKES-BARRE — City council Thursday approved hiring the law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP at a monthly cost of $2,250 to assist with the possible sale of the sewer system as the administration searches for ways to put Wilkes-Barre on the road to financial stability.
The Philadelphia-based firm will defer payment of its monthly retainer until mid-January 2018 and also will not bill the city for costs above the retainer if there is no deal reached to sell the asset as early as next year.
The city’s financial consultant, PFM Financial Advisors LLC of Harrisburg, said it looked at other firms before recommending Dilworth Paxson, which has expertise in the legal issues dealing with the sale or lease of the system.
Council’s unanimous 5-0 vote in favor of the hiring came after resident Sam Troy urged caution before considering a sale.
“I don’t know if this is the right thing to do,” Troy said. He wondered if council should look into activating the Sewer Authority former Mayor Tom Leighton set up for the purpose of charging municipalities a fee for using the lines maintained by the city to carry sewage to the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority’s treatment plant in Hanover Township.
During public comment, Nicholas Dye, a partner in D&D Realty Group that’s developed luxury apartments downtown, asked for help from council to resolve a problem involving illegal dumping and garbage containers on Livingston Lane behind his Alleghany Lofts building on South Main Street.
Neighbors have complained about the trash and D&D has been cited for violating a city ordinance prohibiting the placement of garbage containers on streets. “I’m willing to have conversations over the next few weeks with members of council for alternative solutions,” Dye said.
To stop the dumping, Dye said he’s added a second container, doubled the amount of weekly pickups and is in the process of installing security cameras.
City Administrator Ted Wampole said he’s had conversations with Dye and asked for council’s help.
Council agreed to get involved and include the administration, the city’s legal department and neighbors in discussions.
Also Thursday, council authorized city officials:
• To hire the most qualified firm for engineering services for the first phase of 2017 street paving to be paid out of the Office of Economic and Community Development budget.
• To award a contract for the demolition of 32-34 O’Neill Ave. to the lowest responsible bidder. The contract will be paid out of the OECD budget.
• To accept a $117,791 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health for a comprehensive immunization program.
• To enter a Right-of-Way agreement with PPL Electric Utilities for access to land near the railroad crossing on Parrish Street to maintain two poles for overhead power transmission wires and a fiber optic cable.
City council also approved the first of two readings of an ordinance prohibiting the parking of vehicles in front and side yards.