Outdoor burning at public demonstrations and the destruction of old city records were the main items on a short agenda at Lebanon City Council’s Feb. 22 monthly meeting, held remotely via Zoom.

Council unanimously passed an ordinance to amend Article 1501 of the International Fire Code, which is part of the city’s code of ordinances. The amendment places restrictions on open burning at public demonstrations, including a fee-free permit requirement, burning inside suitable containers, and minimum distances from buildings and combustible materials.

The amendment specifically mentions flags because burning them, including the United States flag, has been declared protected free speech by the U.S. Supreme Court. The changes enacted Monday night limit the size of flags burned at public demonstrations to four by six feet.

In anticipation of the upcoming relocation of city offices from the Municipal Building to downtown Lebanon, council also passed a resolution authorizing the destruction of a large amount of old paper records, in line with schedules set by Pennsylvania municipal record retention laws. The records are from the city’s finance department, and include a variety of receipt and disbursement documents, audit worksheets, payroll and time records, budget worksheets, and year-end compilations.

Mayor Sherry Capello discussed the city’s finances for January. While the month comprised 8% of the budget year, receipts for the period were only 3.8% of the annual projection. The mayor explained that the lag is expected. “Our revenue from taxes hasn’t started coming in yet,” she said. “That won’t happen until mid-March. Our tax bills start going out in early March.”

Expenses for January were “better than budget” at 4.7% according to the mayor.

“All-in-all,” she said the January numbers were “in line for the first month of the year.”

Mayor Capello informed council that she has approved the appointments of Christopher Gebhard and Horace Ehrgood to fill vacancies on the Lebanon Community Library Board of Directors. They will serve two-year terms effective as of Jan. 1, 2021.

After Councilman Wayne Carey observed that “apparently we’re having a normal winter for the first time in a couple of years,” the mayor reported on snow removal efforts following the morning’s storm which dumped another three or four inches on the city. As of 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, she said all the main streets were “looking good,” but “we typically don’t plow alleys unless we get six inches or more.”

Capello pointed out that “we did do plowing in the alleys [after the last snowfall], so it was not our intent to do the alleys [today].”

Crews were still out clearing sidewalks as council was meeting, and were expected to go back out this morning to clear intersections and missed spots.

The next Lebanon City Council “pre-Council” meeting will be on Thursday, Mar. 18, at 4:45 p.m. Pre-Council meetings are used to set the agenda and procedure for regular monthly meetings, and, like regular monthly meetings, are open to the public.

Council’s next regular monthly, meeting will be on Monday, Mar. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Monthly council meeting agendas and minutes can be found on the city’s website.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...