Environmental re-org passes - Council meeting Tuesday

Good evening everyone,

What beautiful Autumn weather! It has inspired me to get outside this weekend for some hiking and I hope you find some time to enjoy it as well. Our Council Meeting is on Tuesday this next week.

I wanted to provide a few updates from our last Council meeting. We passed O-18-20 (Institutions for the Care of the Aged), CA-1-20 & O-20-20 (Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability), and O-34-19 (Appeal Procedures). I want to extend a big “thank you” to everyone who helped to get the Deputy City Manager (i.e. the environmental re-organization) passed. I am hopeful this will really provide the focus and coordination on these issues that we need moving forward. The Mayor will likely be making an appointment to this position as soon as the required Charter Amendment takes effect (I think it’s 30 or 45 days per State law).

Here are details on the meeting next week.

Rob

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Final vote on Enviro reorg & ADU legislation

This Monday we have a packed Council agenda. Rather than go through everything, I’ll just highlight some of the actionable items that you may find most interesting. We have reinstated public testimony, so if you would like to give some read on below for directions.

The big legislation up for a final vote is the environmental re-organization that would create a new Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability, and the proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation.

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Return of live public comments (audio only)

This Monday the Council will be resuming live, audio-only public comments. If you would like to sign up to do so, please go to www.annapolis.gov/testimony 4 hours before the start of the meeting, and check the box saying that you want to give live testimony over Zoom. This is also our first meeting with the new setup, where our first meeting of the month, known in the Code as our “Regular” meeting, will focus primarily on our legislative actions, with the second meetings of this month (such as this Monday’s), known as our “Special” meeting, will contain primarily public hearings. That’s why we have so many pieces of legislation up for a hearing this Monday. All that said, we will be modifying our agenda Monday to vote on at least one or two pieces of legislation outside of our Consent Calendar, just to try to get some things passed prior to our August break. Speaking of which, I’ll still be available, but the Council is on recess during August. I will be on vacation for a few long weekends so it may take me even longer than usual to get back in touch with you.

Take care everyone and stay safe,

Rob

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vote on ADU, hiring freeze, electric vehicle parking on Monday

We have two more council meetings left until our August recess. Of note for this Monday’s meeting is a final vote on the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) legislation, adjustments to the appeal process of Planning & Zoning decisions, the final vote on a hiring freeze, and the final vote on legislation of mine that would allow the city to enforce Electric Vehicle (EV) charging spaces.  

I’m also trying to find time to work on legislation outlining the Council’s desire for police reforms, legislation that would expand public water access, and legislation that would adjust our election schedule to increase voter turnout.  

Lastly, I'm contemplating holding some kind of virtual town hall, perhaps in the fallBut I much prefer an in person meeting, though that likely won’t happen for a while. In the meantime, you are always welcome to reach out to me with any comments, concerns, or other issues you need help with.  

Take care everyone and stay safe, 

Rob 

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City budget passes, rent freeze legislation to be introduced

As The Capital reported, the Annapolis FY21 budget was passed. I ended up voting no for the reasons I stated in my last email: I felt it was/is inappropriate to be giving three different pay increases to City employees at a time when so many of you are out of work, and at a time when your taxes are going up. The good news is that we took some initial baby steps towards making cuts to the Police Department (pulling money to fill their vacancies), which will hopefully give us time to discuss greater organizational changes to the Department. Over the next few weeks we will be making a number of policy changes to respond to the police violence we’re seeing around the Country. All that said, I’m glad the budget is now behind us. A few of us will likely be working on improving the process for next year to try to avoid some of the headaches we’ve had this time around.

We also have much overdue legislation being introduced on Monday, which is a rent freeze preventing increases while the City is under a State of Emergency. I’ve sponsored this along with Alderman Gay and Alderwoman Tierney.

 Take care everyone, and enjoy the nice weather,

Rob

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final budget vote Monday

This past Monday we had a 14-hour Council meeting focused primarily on discussing and voting on budget amendments. Out of about 16 amendments, only a handful passed, but were deemed significant and thus require another public hearing. In short, the vote to reduce your taxes failed (I voted in favor), the Unions said no to making any sacrifices this year, and we had to find money elsewhere to balance the budget.  

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Requesting your input on budget: raise taxes? de-militarize police?

We will be voting on the Mayor’s proposed budget at this Monday’s special Council meeting, to take place at 10AM. I have several important questions I’d like to get your feedback on. I’m still determining what amendments I’m going to propose and how I’m going to vote on what has currently been proposed, as unfortunately much of the needed information has gotten to us late, leaving us little time to determine our actions moving forward.  

Here are my questions for you regarding our budget:

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Accessory dwelling units, no tax rate increase, local COVID updates

So much is going on right now between COVID-19, the City Budget, and our proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation. I hope you are staying healthy and find a way to enjoy the weather today. Also, there is a virtual One Annapolis festival today at noon (see more below).

First there is the budget. I am in general support of what was proposed by the Mayor, as it was very reasonable. There is no tax rate increase, though, with property values going up your actual real taxes (what you pay) would go up. The administration was banking on freezing salaries for half a year to help us balance our budget in these difficult times. Unfortunately the unions have balked thus far and won't support that. I find it utterly reprehensible and short-sighted for the unions to expect a raise, when we have unprecedented levels of unemployment. Is that really what you, the public, want us to do during this time: give raises to our employees? This would be on top of a likely "hero pay" bonus that may be granted if we get covid bailout funding from elsewhere. I know they are working hard during this time, but it seems wrong to grant raises when so many are out of work. Not to mention that if we don't make cuts now, in anticipation of a very bad year next year, that will increase the likelihood of layoffs and furloughs in the future. Are the unions really so shortsighted as to not realize this? Not to mention the fact that we have a $5 million (if I recall correctly) structural deficit, which I'll get into in the future. 

We also may have a vote on the Accessory Dwelling Units legislation. See more on that below. 

You also will have an opportunity to submit testimony regarding the proposal to reorganize our environmental offices and moving some of those positions, at no cost, into a deputy city manager for resiliency and sustainability position. I also comment more on this below, but find it a promising approach that compromises between what the Mayor and I have proposed separately in the past. 

Take care everyone, and stay well,

Rob

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Development update, enviro re-org, Council meeting Monday

Here is some information on our Monday Council meeting. I have a few pieces of legislation that are going through the process. One deals with the proposed Bay Village independent living facility that would be located on the Quantum Sails lot and the cleared lot to the west, right across from the Giant on Bay Ridge Rd. I go into a lot more detail about this below and have included some images of their current proposal. There is also legislation that introduces the new environmental re-organization that the Mayor and I have come together on. Lastly, read on for information on how to vote in this June’s primary election.

Take care everyone, and stay well.

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Council meeting Monday, hearing on budget, more COVID updates

Our third virtual Council meeting is coming up this Monday. The big issue up for public hearing is our City budget. In a nutshell, there are virtually no enhancements (i.e. additions) to the budget, except for one for the Fire Department to replace breathing apparatuses, and perhaps a few others (I haven’t finished analyzing the budget myself yet). There is no change in the tax rate in the proposed budget. City employees would have to go half a year without a cost of living increases, though this is still being negotiated with the Union. In all likelihood, next year is when we will really feel the pressure of a tight budget due to COVID-19. We may at that time need to consider furloughs, layoffs, and of course that means service reductions. Hopefully I’ll be wrong and we will have a quick recovery or we will receive some rescue funds from the federal government.

We will be withdrawing two pieces of legislation due to the economic impacts from COVID-19: the plastic bag ban I had introduced and an ordinance that would have dealt with adding fire suppression sprinklers in buildings on Main Street. 

Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed already, you’ll see in tomorrow’s Capital Gazette that I’m not too happy with how the appointment of our D30A delegate replacement went down. You can read my opinion piece here

 

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