Wilkes-Barre city council to vote on anti-discrimination ordinance

Jerry Lynott

Sept. 14–WILKES-BARRE — City council is set to approve legislation establishing a new human relations commission to address complaints under an anti-discrimination ordinance introduced last month.
The ordinance expanding protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and other parties is up for a vote on its second and final reading at Thursday night’s regularly scheduled public meeting. It would go into effect 10 days after passage.
The ordinance gives council the authority to appoint up to 15 members to the commission. Residents and people who work full-time in the city are eligible to sit as unpaid members for overlapping three-year terms. The commission will review and address complaints regarding reports of discrimination in housing, employment and the use of public accommodations.
Wilkes-Barre would be one of a few local municipalities providing protections that exceed state and federal levels.
A similar law, Senate Bill 1306, was the focus of a hearing last month before the state Senate Labor and Industry Committee in Harrisburg. Council has a resolution pending for Thursday that urges state lawmakers “to work expediently” to enact similar anti-discrimination legislation. The state law would supercede the city’s.
Following state rules, the city will apply for a $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant authorized for Wilkes University. The university will match the grant for its Engineering Initiative Project on campus.
Much like with Local Share Account grants distributed annually from gambling revenues from the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township, the host municipality applies for the funding for a specific project. The city will prepare and submit the RACP application on behalf of Wilkes.
Other matters council will vote on at the public meeting are:
–Authorizing an annual Winter Services Agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which will authorize PennDOT to pay the city $52,571 to maintain approximately seven miles of state roads.
–Authorizing an agreement with the lowest responsible bidder for the demolition of 150-154 Kidder St.
–Authorizing the city to sell surplus police department equipment and vehicles through a yet-to-be-determined qualified auction service.
–Increasing the fee to remove a boot placed on the wheel of a vehicle for unpaid parking fines from $50 to $100.
–Setting annual cart fees at the Hollenback Golf Course to $400 for residents and $450 for nonresidents.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.