Here are a few notes regarding the Council meeting coming up tomorrow. Of note, we have legislation supporting local journalism, the nomination and possible confirmation of Jackie Guild to our newly created Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability (she is our current Director of the Office of Environmental Policy, which has been dissolved), and a vote to reconsider housing commission legislation we passed at our October regular Council meeting. Also read on for information on electric bill support being offered through the County.
I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween. Enjoy the weather this weekend!
Next Regular Council meeting – 11/9/20 (agenda)
This Council meeting is starting at 7pm and will be televised on local cable, Facebook, and the City website (www.annapolis.gov). Due to COVID-19, our meetings are now being held virtually. http://www.youtube.com/CityofAnnapolis http://www.facebook.com/CityofAnnapolis
Anyone needing reasonable accommodation to be able to participate in a public meeting held by the City of Annapolis should contact Regina Watkins-Eldridge at 410.263.7942, by MD Relay (711), or by email at email@example.com at least five days prior to the meeting date to request assistance.
If you would like to submit public testimony, we have included a link allowing written testimony to be submitted into the recorded minutes of the meeting. Submit written testimony: http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony.
We now are allowing audio-only testimony by the public, via Zoom, at the beginning of our second (the Special Council Meeting) meeting each month. Those who wish to testify must submit the request through www.annapolis.gov/testimony at least four hours before the start of the meeting (3pm for Council meetings). All those offering public testimony must dial in at least 15 minutes before the start of the meeting. Per code, you will have 3 minutes to provide testimony.
Since this is a “regular” Council meeting, there is no legislation up for a public hearing. All public comment periods are reserved for our special meetings (2nd of the month). This regular meeting is dedicated to legislative actions.
Legislation being introduced on First Reader
- O-44-20 - Employee organizations- For the purpose of removing the deadline for employee organizations to petition the City for recognition as an exclusive bargaining agent for eligible government personnel. Currently, City law only allows employees to petition to join a union in one month out of the entire year. I encountered this barrier when I worked for the City and our union drive had difficulty because of it. This legislation would allow such a petition to be filed at any time during the year. This is sponsored by Alderman Schandelmeier and I.
- O-46-20 - Public Health and Safety - For the purpose of removing obsolete provisions; authorizing the Department of Public Works to establish regulations governing garbage and refuse; reassigning certain enforcement. This appears to strike an incredible amount of our regulations in this section of our code and gives the power to create such regulations to staff. While in some cases that is entirely appropriate, I have concerns about taking all of this out of the hands of the Council (and out of the public eye) and will keep an eye on this as it goes through our committee process.
- O-47-20 - Local Zoning Map Amendment - During the course of a permit review, it was discovered that the Department of Planning and Zoning erroneously rezoned the property located at 21 Maryland Avenue. This local zoning map amendment addresses this mistake. The zoning will be changed back to Conservation Residence, (C1) which is what it had been zoned prior to 2016. In 2016, it was changed to Special Conservation Business (C2A) district.
Given that this is a “Regular” Council meeting, it s dedicated entirely to legislative actions. All public hearings will be held during the “Special” Council meetings, which are the 2nd meeting of every month.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-41-20 - Alcoholic Beverages - For the purpose of updating citations to the Maryland State Code in Chapter 7.12 of the Code of the City of Annapolis. There’s nothing substantive with this change. Just corrections to references. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this.
- O-42-20 - Emergency Medical Services - For the purpose of modifying the provisions of the Annapolis Emergency Medical Services program. This ordinance modifies the Annapolis Emergency Medical Services program by adding provisions for “treatment” in addition to “transport” of patients. Currently, the program addresses only ambulance transport in Code Section 6.28.020 – Financial arrangements. The proposed change will allow billing for treatment if the patient isn’t transported. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
- R-56-20 - Emergency Medical Services - Fees - For the purpose of clarifying certain fees charged for Emergency Medical Services. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
- R-58-20 - Local Journalism - For the purpose of supporting local journalism, including fair economic investment in newsroom staffing and resources. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation. If it passes, it would make it clear that the Council believes it’s important to have a strong local newspaper and encourage The Capital owner (Tribune Publishing) to consider selling the newspaper to return it to civic-minded ownership. Personally, I feel it is of utmost importance to have an independent local media that will inform the residents and hold elected official accountable. They provide a necessary civic duty, and we need to preserve that to have a functioning democracy.
- O-38-19 - For the purpose of renaming the Housing and Community Development Committee. While this legislation passed at our last regular Council meeting, there are apparently at least one of the “aye” votes that want to make a motion to reconsider our vote on this. Since I voted “no” last time, given that my amendments failed to pass, I’ll support any motion to reconsider so that I can again attempt to introduce my amendment. I am inclined to support this legislation if my amendment passes. I have an amendment that would remove the Council from being on this Commission. Typically, we don’t serve on Commissions, as they are intended to be bodies of residents that provide recommendations to the Council. My amendment would still allow the Council standing housing committee to appoint three members, but I feel it’s inappropriate for the Council to serve on Commissions.
- O-28-20 - Building Code Updates - For the purpose of adopting certain building codes in accordance with the Code of Maryland; updating building code standards; correcting technical errors; specifying enforcement procedures; specifying appeal procedures; and generally related to the Annapolis Building Code. This proposed ordinance simply updates Title 17 in accordance with the 2018 version of the International Building Code. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
- R-44-20 & R-45-20 – These just update the fees and fines for the changes to be made via O-28-20. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
County Executive Pittman Announces New Energy Assistance Relief
With the state moratorium on utility cutoffs set to expire on November 15, County Executive Steuart Pittman today announced an energy bill relief program that will allow qualified families and individuals affected by COVID to apply for special assistance through Anne Arundel’s Community Action Agency (CAA). This program further supports BGE’s flexible payment program and other options announced earlier by the utility to help customers manage billing challenges and remain in service.
CAA’s Energy Assistance Department provides assistance to qualified Anne Arundel County residents to help lower their cost of heat and electricity during the winter months and ensure that families are able to keep their electricity for lighting, meal preparation, and personal safety. In addition to assistance from the CAA, the County has partnered with BGE to offer assistance to families and individuals struggling with past-due balances through a Deferred Payment Arrangement Plan. This plan allows customers to pay the balance off over time in installments with no required down payment.
Community Action has launched an emergency hotline to assist Anne Arundel County residents who have experienced a power shut-off, are low on or out of bulk heating fuel, or are facing an imminent shut-off. The new hotline is manned 24 hours per day, 7 days a week by Agency staff ready to serve households in emergency circumstances with their heating. The number to call is 833.888.0401. TTY users should call via Maryland Relay 7-1-1.