Police reform final testimony, close boat ramp to county?

I have a number of City Council updates for you this week.

Last chance to testify on Police Reform PEACE ordinance

First of all, Monday is your last opportunity to offer public testimony (at least at a Council meeting) on the police reform and community policing legislation titled PEACE, O-12-12. You can offer testimony at www.annapolis.gov/testimony.

City Budget

Next up is the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. We are still moving forward with our review of this in Committee, but we are starting to wrap things up. To offer a bit of a summary, prior to receiving the Biden COVID bailout money, the City was facing a $6 million deficit, with expenditures growing 12% and revenue only growing 2%. With the bailout, our revenue jumped up to 9%. We are balancing the deficit with other funds, as we typically do, but a number of us are looking to take some larger steps in the future years to really close the gap on this deficit for good. The deficit is really driven by staff costs, and in particular the pay raises granted to the unions from the 4-year contracts (what a mistake that was to go to 4 years, which unfortunately was pushed by the previous City Manager), and also the pension costs of Fire and Police, who are on a different (City) retirement system than all of the other employees (who are on the State system). To Mayor Buckley’s credit, he has made it a point to honor the pensions and ensure they are 100% funded, while previous administrations often reduced pension contributions in an attempt to free up more money. The larger steps I alluded to are exploring giving up our Fire Department to the County (as other municipalities have done) and looking at siphoning off certain special operations of our Police Department also to the County (also as other jurisdictions have done, such as Bowie). This could include a K-9 program, bomb squad, or other operations where we could easily establish MOUs with the surrounding/overlapping jurisdictions. We at least need to explore this, as both our Police and Fire have grown from what used to be 14% each of our budget, to now being 24% each of our total expenditures. This is not sustainable for us and we need to figure out a solution. We also need to identify funds from those big two departments that we can siphon off to fund other efforts such as community services, which still contribute to the public safety goal.

Clarification/correction

On a related note, I want to offer a clarification to my comments about the last administration. I had said that the fire staff increased from 98 to 139 employees during the last administration. That was not entirely correct. While the last administration (Pantelides) added around 14 fire employees under the auspices of the federal SAFR grant (which was designed to decline year after year until the City was left footing the entire bill ourselves), much of the increase happened during the Moyer administration when the Council decided to go from 3 shifts to 4 shifts for the firefighters. Increasing the shifts (as they have apparently done in other nearby jurisdictions) required hiring more fire fighters. The next administration, Cohen, had laid off a number of firefighters, which were then hired back under Pantelides.

Tucker street boat ramp – reconsideration to ban County?

Also of note is that O-5-21, legislation governing the Tucker Street boat ramp, will be coming up for a motion to reconsider. The Ward 2 Alderperson is planning to make this request, and I am contemplating voting in favor of the reconsideration, though I likely won’t change my original vote as I do NOT want to ban the County residents. I’m considering supporting the motion as I feel we need to have more discussion about this for the public’s sake. The intention of the legislation was/is to create a permit process for the use of the boat ramp (not the beach), with the goal of reducing usage of the boat ramp, which frankly doesn’t’ have the infrastructure to support a very heavy use. The original intention with the legislation was to limit the usage of the ramp by restricting its use only to City residents, banning the County residents. After receiving concerns from our County neighbors, I introduced an amendment that allowed County resident to use the ramp, but still banned anyone from outside of the County from using it. Such users should really be directed to the Truxtun ramp anyway, as that has the infrastructure to support such use. All that said, the residents near the boat ramp still were not satisfied with that compromise and still want us to ban our County neighbors from using this ramp. What they seem to fail to realize is that both the permit requirement and the restriction to City & County residents will serve to reduce usage. I’m likely to stick with the compromise or perhaps even go further to re-open this ramp to anyone, as long as they get a permit. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Public hearings Monday on police reform & FY22 budget

I have a few updates for you this week. First of all, read on for a few vaccination opportunities currently available in Annapolis. Also, at this Monday’s Council meeting there is the first public hearing on my police reform/community policing legislation (called PEACE). I’ll include a link below if you would like to submit any testimony (or you can always send it directly to me, but the benefit of using the link is it goes to everyone on the Council). Lastly, there also is a public hearing on the City budget. I’m still delving into the budget myself, and we have a special evening work session on the budget on Tuesday, to accommodate those of us to have day jobs. Once I have a chance to analyze it more fully, I’ll send out more information, but I do provide some information below on what’s in the budget.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Police reform legislation & budget introduced

I would like to share with you some important updates on what I have been working on and details on our Monday Council meeting.

Police reform legislation to be introduced

As I detail below, I have spent the past 6+ months working on legislation I’m calling the Police Enhancement And Community Engagement (PEACE) Ordinance. This is nothing radical. It attempts to accomplish just what the name implies: peace between the public and the police by improving trust between the two. I looked at what other nearby jurisdictions, such as Montgomery County and Washington DC are doing on this front, and also looked at best practices documented by the NAACP and ACLU. Let me be clear, many of these standards are already being practiced by our police department. But many are not. New standards and standards enshrined in our City Code are needed to ensure that we do not have a local tragedy like we have seen happen all over this country to individuals like George Floyd and Brianna Taylor. As stated recently in The Capital, “There is no liberty without life. No pursuit of happiness without life. No free speech, no right to assemble, no freedom of the press or religion without life. We all have the right to life, as long as we’re somebody.”

You can read a summary of what this legislation would do here.

Running again

As I stated in my last email to you, I am running for re-election this November. Thanks to all of you who have already donated. If you haven’t, please consider donating $25 or $50 to my campaign, or signing on to be a sustainer by donating $5 or $10 a month. I would be honored and privileged to continue serving you and the City. www.robsavidge.com/donate

State of the City & Budget introduction

Stay tuned! At this Monday’s meeting the Mayor will be giving his State of the City address and introducing the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget. Don’t worry, based on what I’ve been told thus far, there will be NO increase to the tax rate, and thanks to the Biden pandemic bailout money it looks like we will NOT have to lay anyone off this year or enact furlough days. More on the budget later as we get fully briefed.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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PEACE (Police Enhancement And Community Engagement) summary -

Police Enhancement And Community Engagement (PEACE) ordinance

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Running for re-election & details on Monday Council meeting

Did you miss the virtual Ward 7 Town Hall?

First of all, I wanted to thank those of you who attended the Ward’s first virtual town hall. If you missed it, and would like to hear the updates and remarks from myself and the Mayor, you can view the meeting here. I hope to hold another one in late April or May.

I’m running again!

You may have noticed in yesterday’s Capital Gazette that I’ve declared my run for a second term. I have enjoyed serving you during my first term and I hope I can count on your continued support. Please consider donating $25 or $50 to my campaign, or sign on to be a sustainer by donating $5 or $10 a month. www.robsavidge.com/donate

Next Council meeting

There isn’t anything too exciting on the agenda for Monday’s Council meeting. New legislation is being introduced that attempts to allow greater numbers of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). If you recall, an earlier version of this legislation was withdrawn about 12 months ago. Other than that we have a number of pieces of legislation up for a final vote but nothing too controversial. I’ll provide full details below.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Ward 7 virtual Town Hall Tuesday & legislative updates

Before I get into the details about this Monday’s Council meeting and let you know about things that may be of interest, I wanted to remind you about the first virtual Ward 7 Town Hall meeting, coming up this Tuesday, March 9th, from 6-7:30 pm. Mayor Gavin Buckley will be our special guest for the first half hour, and we will both give you updates on things in the Ward and City and answer any questions you may half. After that we are welcoming Eileen Fogarty with the Maritime Advisory Task Force, who will tell us about the work the task force is doing, which could greatly impact Ward 7’s industrial maritime district (i.e. the area down Edgewood Rd on the west side). I’ll paste the login information for the Zoom meeting below.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Virtual Ward 7 Town Hall - March 9th w/ 2 special guests

I would like to invite you to our first virtual Ward 7 Town Hall event, coming up on Tuesday, March 9th, from 6-7:30pm. We will be having two special guests: the Mayor Gavin Buckley and Eileen Fogarty, with the Maritime Advisory Task Force.

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Town Hall scheduled, Lidl update, council compensation

I miss holding the in-person town hall events for Ward 7. After Alderman Arnett held a virtual one for Ward 8, it has encouraged me to give that a try for this Ward. I have a tentative date of March 9th from 6 to 7:30pm. I’m going to try to get the Mayor to join us for this first one, and after I give a few updates we can just dedicate the rest of the meeting to open questions & answers. I may also invite Planning & Zoning to present on the Comprehensive plan, but rather than pack all of that in a single meeting I may just schedule a second town hall for April or May that is dedicated to that topic. I’ll send out more details on the 9th when I have them.

This Monday’s Council meeting is dedicated to public hearings on a number of pieces of legislation, which I’ll detail below. Of particular note is R-3-21, the resolution accepting the report and recommendations from the Charter-required Council Compensation Commission. They are formed every 4 years to make recommendations on if and how the Mayor or Council’s compensation should be adjusted. I certainly have my own opinion on that but it’s all a moot point since I see zero chance that we would give ourselves a raise during a fiscal year where we may very well be furloughing and laying off City employees. Regardless, even if this Resolution passes at our next meeting, it only accepts the recommendations and doesn’t act on them. To actually enact the pay changes we would have to introduce a separate ordinance to do that no later than 4 months prior to the next election. Again, virtually zero chance of that.

When you get to the end of this email you’ll see a more detailed update on the budget as well as an update on the proposed Lidl development that is slated to be built on the old C&C Liquors site across from the Giant.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Ward 7 Council update: medical marijuana dispensaries, leash law change

We have a lot of legislation being introduced at this meeting. Not all of the staff reports have been posted so I’ll keep an eye on them as they work their way through the process. The only legislation up for a final vote are the proposed leash law adjustments that would send the enforcement of those laws to the Police Department, which I have concerns about, but fortunately I think this legislation is being withdrawn. Also of note is legislation being introduced that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened in the same zoning districts that allow pharmacies.

It is still on my to-do list to setup a virtual town hall meeting in either late February or early March. Could you let me know what topics you would like to discuss and whom you may like to attend? I’m thinking of inviting the Mayor, since we haven’t heard from him in a while in this Ward, and also someone from either the City Office of Emergency Management or the County Health Department to talk about the pandemic.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Ward 7 legislative update - public hearings, COVID info

As you may have noticed in The Capital, at our last meeting we passed R-61-20 , the short-term rental license moratorium (for non-owner-occupied units), but it was amended to only last for 3 months. I’m also pleased to say that we passed R-17-20 , the annual performance standards, with my proposed amendments to create standards for our environmental programs.

Our next meeting will consist primary of public hearings on a few pieces of legislation. Read on to see if there is anything you would like to testify on.

I’m hoping to schedule a virtual town hall meeting for Ward 7 residents sometime in late February. I will see if we can get the Mayor and a representative from either the County Health Department or the City’s Emergency Management Department to participate as well. Once I get some dates from them, I’ll send out an invitation.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

 Rob

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