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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first full virtual Council meeting Monday - other Ward 7 COVID updates

After our trial run on doing a virtual Council meeting, we will be holding our second virtual meeting this Monday, with a packed agenda. I’d recommend tuning in as the Mayor will be giving his State of the City Address and introducing this year’s budget. 

Take care and stay well during this pandemic. If you should have any questions or concerns please let me know. 

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Ward 7 COVID information, Council meeting tomorrow

I hope you and all your loved ones are staying well during this COVID-19 crisis. Our lives and economy have certainly been upended by the pandemic. This will likely make this upcoming City budget quite a difficult one to work through for us. If there is anything I, or the City, can do to help during this difficult time please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  I’ll include some resources below. If you’d like updates on the actual pandemic, I advise you to tune into the Mayor’s or County Executive’s virtual town halls and to listen to our County Health Officer, Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. I would like to commend Mayor Buckley and Executive Pittman for their stellar leadership during this crisis. 

And please don’t forget to complete your Census survey online or through the mail. 

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Council update for Ward 7 - enviro dept ord withdrawn, traffic & development requirements

There aren't any major pieces of legislation on the agenda for this Monday’s Council meeting. I will be withdrawing my proposed legislation that would create a Department of the Environment. The Mayor and I have come together to create a new proposal that I believe will meet both of our goals and continue to make the City the leader in the environment. Below I also comment on legislation that would update our adequate public facilities review to ensure development can’t occur if our roads are inadequate (currently they can proceed).

Also, please hold April 8th for our next Town Hall meeting at the library (7-8:45 PM). 

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Hearing on plastic bag ban Monday - other Ward 7 updates

This Monday brings another Council meeting, as well as an opportunity for you to testify on the plastic bag ban that I’m proposing for Annapolis. There are details on that below, along with other updates for the meeting and other happenings in the City. 

Also, please hold April 8th for our next Town Hall meeting at the library (7-8:45 PM). 

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Plastic bag ban, STR moratorium, & more on Monday meeting

I have two pieces of important legislation being introduced on Monday. The first is a moratorium on the issuance of all new Short Term Rental (STR) licenses, which would be in place while we update our zoning code to regulate the number (in some cases excessive number) of such businesses. The second is a “plastic bag ban” that would prevent all retail stores from providing plastic bags at checkout (this would not include trash bags, pet bags, or other bags that are not provided at the point of sale). Furthermore, it would assess a fee on paper bags to cover the retailer’s costs, to help the City pay for cleanup of all the legacy plastic pollution, and to provide reusable bags to those of lower income (this fee would only apply to retailers over 20,000 square feet). I have more information on both pieces of legislation below. 

Also, please hold April 8th for our next Town Hall meeting at the library (7-8:45 PM). 

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Ward 7 Council update - new P&Z director, tattoo parlor ban, sprinklers

For this Monday’s Council meeting, the issues of note include legislation that would ban Tattoo parlors from the entire City (except for parts of West street) the appointment of a new Planning & Zoning Director, and the introduction of legislation dealing with sprinklers in the Historic District. 

Also, please hold April 8th for our next Town Hall meeting (7-8:45 PM).

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