budget update - what we passed & final vote Monday

Wow, this past Monday’s Council meeting was a brutal one. 13 hours!! We went from 10AM to 11PM. The vast majority of the meeting was a deliberation on the Mayor’s proposed FY20 budget, where we had our second vote on the budget. Our third and final vote/reader on the proposed budget, as amended, will be this Monday. This will also be your final opportunity to comment on the budget before we hold our final votes. I’ll post more of an update on how this meeting went below.

Next Town Hall meeting - Outdoor event at Back Creek

I wanted to highlight that rather than having our traditional Town Hall meeting at the library, our next one will be an outdoor social gathering on July 31st at the Back Creek Park campus of the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The time will likely be from 6-8:30pm, so please save that date in your calendar.

Previous Council meeting

The primary focus of this meeting was the budget. Here are a few highlights (which, again, are still at risk of being changed depending on how the 3rd-reader vote goes on Monday):

  1. The Mayor's proposed reorganization/dissolution of the Office of Environmental Policy has failed and was removed entirely from the budget. The status quo as far as our current organizational structure has been preserved. I see this as a good thing as it gives us time to discuss potential environmental reorganizations in a collaborative manner. My introduced proposal to create an environmental department can be amended as needed, or withdrawn, to reflect the discussion. I’m hoping to amend it after having discussions with the Mayor and Planning Commission. The latter of which is having a public hearing on my proposal on June 19th at 7pm.  
  2. We successfully passed a proposal to increase our grading permit fees by 180% to ensure the developer fees are paying for the associated services and not the taxpayers. My rationale is that the purpose of these fees is to pay for the associated services, which in this case are the services our Stormwater Engineer and Environmental Compliance Inspector provide as a part of the grading permit reviews and inspections. These services/positions are directly related to development; hence, development should pay for them. These positions were being paid for out of the Watershed Restoration Fund, which means that our taxpayers were subsidizing the cost of development. The increased fees correct that. This proposal narrowly passed, so I expect some developer push back on Monday. If anyone agrees that developers should pay, you have an opportunity to speak at the Council meeting.
  3. We successfully reversed the Mayor’s proposal to house Economic Development solely in the Mayor’s Office. I discussed my reasons for opposing this in my previous newsletter, but to summarize we wanted to keep that office free from politics, ensure stability, and ensure all policy doesn’t come through Mayor’s office alone.
  4. We allocated a total of $500,000 in our Program Open Space (POS) State funds for use on the CRAB marina proposal. This was increased from the Mayor’s initial $250K proposal. This will help ensure that this project succeeds.
  5. The Council voted down one of my amendments that would have increased transparency by spending only $6,000 to ensure all of our Planning Commission and Board of Appeals meetings are recorded and broadcast. I am disappointed the Council didn’t want to contribute this small amount of money to have open government.

There were a lot of other changes, but those are the ones that I can recall off the top of my head, and that I think are some of the more significant changes.

My remaining concerns with the budget

I still have some lingering concerns about the overall budget. First of all, this budget proposes around 20 newly funded full-time civil service staff positions at a cost of nearly $2 million. Granted, a large portion of them are funded through enterprise funds (which means paid for by the associated fees), but without seeing any future projections I have no data to enable me to judge whether or not this proposed staff growth is a sustainable, sound fiscal move. Furthermore, I remain concerned about this budget’s proposed use of long-term debt (i.e. bonds) to fund roadway, sidewalk, and city facility improvements. We adopted a policy saying we should be striving to do the opposite, and many of us criticized the previous Mayor for doing this, because, as is proven by the outside consultant reports, our bond debt capacity is shrinking fast. If this budget passes, we will have zero bond debt for the next few years, which means we won’t be able to re-build the Hillman garage without a Public-private-partnership.

Next Council meeting - 6/17/19 (agenda)

Council meetings are held at 160 Duke of Gloucester St (2nd floor) at 7pm.

Public hearings

  • CA-7-19 - City Clerk - For the purpose of removing the City Clerk from the supervision of the Mayor. I am a co-sponsor of this Charter Amendment and corresponding Ordinance. Our intention is to simply make sure our City Clerk’s office, which administers elections and our council meetings, is insulated a bit from the politics of a Mayor’s office and has them being supervised by the Office of Law, not the Mayor’s Office.
  • O-17-19 - City budget. This is the main City budget legislation. If you want to comment on the budget, this is the legislation you want to focus on.
  • O-23-19 - For the purpose of transferring the City Clerk to the Office of Law. See my comments on CA-7-19 above. This is the sister ordinance.
  • O-26-19 - Rental Unit and Short-Term Residential Rental Licenses - For the purpose of mitigating significant dislocation of neighborly residential blocks; supporting the City's experience, visitor and tourist-based local economy by leveraging the sharing economy; ensuring applicable tax collection and remittances; encouraging fair competition; updating and amending the regulation of residential rental properties generally; creating operating license requirements governing the short-term rental of residential dwellings and dwelling units above nonresidential uses; defining certain terms; allowing a delayed effective date for current licensees; and matters generally relating thereto.

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-44-18 - This ordinance adjusts our Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) code. Our MPDU program requires a certain amount of “affordable” housing be included with new development. However, there are a number of loopholes. There’s a future ordinance coming to close these loopholes. What this Ordinance does is remove the automatic density increase/bonus developers get when they build MPDUs, and changes it to something the P&Z director MAY do if certain criteria are met. It would also require that developments over a certain height have to go to the Planning Commission for review. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation. I intend to support it, however, if you have comments you want me to consider, please send them to me.
  • O-17-19 - City budget. See my comments above on the budget.

Community updates

Yard waste pickup change

Effective July 1, the City of Annapolis will collect yard waste on the same collection day as refuse and recycling.

Yard waste may include grass, leaves, tree limbs and branches. Unacceptable items include dirt, sod, gravel, rocks, flower pots, bamboo, broken lawn tools and trash.  Containers may weigh no more than 50 pounds. Bundled materials should be no longer than 2 feet by 4 feet. Please tie branches, vines and brush together with natural fiber rope or twine so that it can be collected as a bundle.  Branches may be no larger than four inches in diameter.

“An eco-friendly option for yard and food waste is to start a compost pile, where you can return your organic matter to the soil in usable form. It makes an excellent fertilizer,” Jarrell said. “Check the City Public Works website at https://www.annapolis.gov/877/Yard-Trim-Collection for details on ways to go green with your yard waste.”

“Hope and Remembrance” Concert to Honor Capital Gazette at Community Gathering on Freedom of the Press Day

ayor Gavin Buckley announced that the City of Annapolis, in partnership with Maryland Hall and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis will host a “Hope and Remembrance” community gathering and concert on Freedom of the Press Day, Friday, June 28, 2019 at 7 p.m. at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

The program:

  •         Musical performances by Eastport Oyster Boys, Gary Wright and Leah Weiss, First Christian Church of Annapolis Gospel Choir.
  •         Speakers will include Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, State Senator Sarah Elfreth, Delegate Alice Cain, Ryan Simmons of Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT), Capital Gazette Editor Rick Hutzell and Mayor Gavin Buckley.
  •          Annapolis Poet Laureate Temple Cone will read an original poem.
  •         Annapolis’ Filmsters Academy will offer a video slide presentation.
  •         Family, friends and colleagues will share their favorite memories of the victims.
  •         Special guest Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg will present “Amazing Grace.”

At the conclusion of the program, a candlelight illumination in the Maryland Hall Labyrinth will take place.

Tickets to the event are free, but reservations are recommended. Visit https://marylandhall.org/hope-remembrance-annual-community-gathering for tickets.

‘Transition Tuesdays’ at Stanton Center to Address Challenges of Reentry

“Transition Tuesday” is the first phase of the Future Initiatives Sustaining Humanity (FISH) Tank, a community incubator initiative that will be housed  in The Stanton Community Center, starting June 4. The program, in partnership with the Maryland Reentry Resource Center, (MRRC) will help formerly incarcerated individuals with the skills, tools, and resources necessary to re-establish a life and career goals following a period of incarceration.

The mission of the programs offered are to empower and equip individuals by eliminating barriers that often face people seeking a second chance. In addition to individual assessments and case management, monthly workshop session topics will include: Goal Setting, Financial Literacy, and Work Readiness.  The fourth workshop will alternate and cover topics including conflict resolution, anger management, entrepreneurship, and parenting, among others.

Vanessa F. Bright, Executive Director of the Maryland Reentry Resource Center will conduct the workshops and provide the necessary resources. Ms. Bright can be reached at 240-245-0229.

The Transition Tuesday program will start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at the Stanton Center located at 92 Washington Street, Annapolis. The first orientation will begin at 10 a.m. The program will then run each Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m.

Individuals interested in these personal assessments should bring identification, if available, and a notepad and pen.  The program will maintain an Open Door admission (no reservations or RSVPs are needed).

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