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,
Next Council meeting – 4/26/21 (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 protected] at least five days prior to the meeting date to request assistance.
If you would like to submit or give public testimony, you can do so at http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony.
- O-47-20 - Local Zoning Map Amendment - For the purpose of rezoning parcel 1340, Grid 0008, Tax Map 052A, known as 21 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland, to be zoned in its entirety as C1, "Conservation Residence" Zoning District. This legislation would simply correct a mistake with a certain property downtown that had the incorrect zoning applied.
- O-10-21 - Annual Budget and Appropriation and Property Tax Levy – This is the main fiscal year 21 budget ordinance. There is no proposed increase in the tax rate, but it is proposing a constant yield (i.e. tax rate remains the same but what you actually pay may change, depending on your property value). While we were at first expecting around a $7 million dollar budget deficit, largely due to COVID impacts, the Biden recovery act has given us around $5 million to help close this gap. We are planning on using a portion of that this year, and rolling over a portion of the money to help with next year’s budget, as we anticipate some lingering impacts. I think this carry-over is incredibly wise for the administration to propose. The tricky part is making sure the Council keeps their hands off this pot of money! I will be voting against any effort to use this money. I think we need to maintain a collective effort to hold that line. The administration has also not granted most (if not all) of the department budget enhancements. This again is a wise move. Essentially the administration is largely holding the line on new expenses, holding vacant certain positions, in an effort to not ove- rely on the federal money. I’m also pleased that the City Manager has stated that his top goal is to address the long-standing structural deficit where our expenditures outweigh our revenue (this has been the case for multiple administrations). Here’s an example: before we received the federal bailout money, our revenues grew only around 2%, yet our expenses grew around 12%. This is largely due to the pension costs of fire and police, where we are contributing 34% of their salary to the pensions. The problem is their pensions are City-run pensions. Compare this to all of the other employees who are on the State pension system, where we are only contributing around 9% of their salaries to the pension. This is a clear, unsustainable problem. We need to either lay off some of the public safety staff in the future (or eliminate vacant positions), or we need to get them to agree to moving their pensions to the State system. As a public servant myself who will get a pension, such a benefit is something that needs to be protected, but clearly we need to figure out a different way forward as the current setup is not sustainable. There has also been some rapid growth in the fire department over the past two decades that I want to look into further. For example, since fiscal year 2000, the fire department has increased their staff from 98 to 139 (this increase happened during the last administration - not very fiscally responsible). That's a 42% increase! I know part of it was due to a change in shifts, but I wonder if it's really all needed. I want to look to see if we can perhaps reduce some of our stations or equipment where there is overlap with other jurisdictions, and in the case of Police look at where we may need to remove certain capacities where, due to economies of scale, it doesn't make sense for us to do ourselves, where we could simply enter into a partnership with the County for certain programs.
- O-11-21 - Compensation of the Aldermen, Alderwomen, and City Manager - For the purpose of adjusting the compensation and allowances to be paid to the Aldermen and Alderwomen for the term of office commencing on the first Monday in December, 2021; and for adjusting the compensation to be paid to the City Manager. This legislation would implement the pay changes recommended by the Council Compensation Commission. This would constitute a $1,000 increase in the second, third, and fourth year of the next Council’s terms, and allow the City Manager to get a cost-of-living increase with the rest of the staff. No change to the Mayor’s salary.
- O-12-21 - PEACE ordinance - Police Enhancement and Community Engagement – This is legislation I am introducing that is a police reform and community policing omnibus. This legislation takes a commonsense approach by pulling best practices from elsewhere. My goal is to bring peace to the community. Many of these “reforms” are already being practiced by our Police Department, but others are not. Regardless, myself and the sponsors want to enshrine these reforms, have them set in stone, so that a new Chief cannot change them without consulting the Council, and therefore the public. Having that transparency is essential to improving the trust between the police and the public, which in turn is essential to having a successful police force and a community with reduced violence. This legislation accomplishes quite a bit. For a full list you can find that here or on my website.
- R-12-21 - Position Classifications and Pay Plan - For the purpose of approving the Fiscal Year 2022 position classifications and pay plan; and specifying an effective date. This would add 4 positions to the civil service (i.e. converting them from contractual to full-time-equivalent employees). It would also give employees a 2-3% COLA (cost of living allowance).
- R-13-21 - Fiscal Year 2022 Fees Schedule - For the purpose of specifying fees that will be charged for the use of City services for Fiscal Year 2022; and providing an effective date.
- R-14-21 - Fiscal Year 2022 Fines Schedule - For the purpose of specifying fines that will be charged for Fiscal Year 2022; and providing an effective date.
Legislation being introduced on First Reader
- O-14-21 – Resilience Authority of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County – This legislation would establish this authority of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and sets its powers and authority. The purpose of this authority is to help both the City and County finance the large infrastructure projects that are necessary for us to complete in order to adapt to sea level rise resulting from climate change. I generally think this is a good idea but we need to dig into the details. My primary concern is accountability. This is an appointed body (i.e. unelected), that would have 9 members from the County and 3 from the City. I’ll probably look to add something, as long as the state law allows, that would give the 3 City members the ability to essentially veto any proposal that would impact the City. That way the County members can’t dictate something that would go against the three City member wishes. But we will get into this legislation in detail when it gets to Committee.
- R-16-21 – "Fowlkes Community Park" - For the purpose of designating certain City-owned property as a Pocket Park; naming the Pocket Park the "Fowlkes Community Park"; and generally relating to dedicating said Pocket Park. This simply renames an existing City park and adds a bench.
- R-17-21 – Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis - Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant - For the purpose of partnering with the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis in the application for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant; and approving a matching contribution of the application filing fee. This is a grant the City would partner with HACA on to pursue. It would aid in their planning and cost the City around $32,000.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-5-21 – Tucker Street Launching Facility - For the purpose of providing procedures for use of the Tucker Street launching facility; providing certain definitions; establishing acceptable proofs of residency for issuance of certain permits; and providing penalties for violations. This legislation would restrict the use of the Tucker Street boat ramp to ONLY City residents (would not apply to the small beach for light craft launching) and would ban industrial/commercial use/access at this location. The reason for passing this limitation is that this boat ramp is simply not improved enough to handle a lot of traffic, heavier boats, industrial uses, etc. Nor is the community since it’s right in a residential neighborhood. I support this because quite simply the infrastructure we have in place cannot handle such activity. I am not concerned that we would be limiting non-City access to the water, given that the Truxtun Park boat ramps will remain open to anyone. This would also create a new requirement that any City resident who wants to use the boat ramp must have a permit from the Harbor Master. Note that this does not apply to light craft that are directed to use the nearby beach. Pending any comments from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
- O-6-21 – Agency Regulations - For the purpose of establishing a procedure for the adoption of regulations by a City of Annapolis department, board, or commission; requiring public notice; providing an appeal process; and generally relating to City of Annapolis regulations. We worked extensively on this in Committee. It would create a clear process for the creation, adoption, and public review of any new regulations that staff creates to implement our adopted ordinances/code changes. We felt this was important to do to give the public, and council, an opportunity to see what regulations have been adopted, to make sure they align with the intent of the legislation. Pending your comments, I intend to support this effort, and also plan on adding myself as a co-sponsor.
- R-10-21 – Charter Revision Commission - For the purpose of extending the term of the Charter Revision Commission; and all matters relating to said Commission. Pending any comments from you, I intend to support this extension.
- R-11-21 – City Sponsored Special Events in Fiscal Year 2022 - For the purpose of identifying City Sponsored Special Events; and waiving certain related City Fees during Fiscal Year 2022. This is a routine piece of legislation that lists City-sponsored events (essentially the ones where we waive fees). Pending any input from you, I’m inclined to support this legislation.
- R-15-21 - Short Term Rental Licenses - Extension of Moratorium - For the purpose of extending the moratorium on the issuance of new non-owner-occupied short term rental licenses in certain conservation residence districts; extending the moratorium on the transfer of existing non-owner-occupied short term rental licenses in certain conservation residence districts; and providing for the termination of the moratorium, subject to a certain contingency. This extends the 3-month moratorium to have it expire with final action on O-7-21. This is a wise move as we don’t want a rush of applications with folks trying to get in before the Council takes action on this issue. However, I believe the primary sponsor wishes to withdraw this, and if she does, I will support her effort given that is her legislation.
Vaccination opportunities at Navy stadium
Navy/Marine Corps Stadium Walk in Vax Clinic.
From the hours of 9am through 11am, the Navy/Marine Corps Stadium Mass Vax Clinic offers a walk up clinic. 200 doses are reserved for the walk up clinic. Currently there has not been enough community participation in this program to use the 200 doses dedicated to the walk up clinic. There is no pre-registration needed for the walk up clinic. You must present a photo ID. This is another good opportunity for folks to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
End of the Day Extra Vaccine
On a daily basis, the stadium vax site has vaccine doses left over at the end of the day that have to be used. At 4:45 pm, the site coordinators will make these vaccines available on a first come first serve basis. Typically the overage will be 10 shots or less. There is no pre-registration needed. You must present a photo ID.
If interested in either of the two options, arrive at Gate 6 of the Navy/Marine Corps Stadium at the correct time. Have your photo ID available. The Navy/Marine Corps Mass Vax Clinic is open from 9am - 5pm Wednesday through Sunday. The site is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. As of today, the vaccine is Moderna. If you have any questions please call 410-216-9167
Pip Moyer Vaccination Clinic
The City of Annapolis has partnered with the Health Department to host a Thursday vaccination clinic at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center. Presently the clinic hours will be from 10 am - 2 pm. Each of the Thursday clinics will have the capacity to give 200 doses. The vaccine type will vary. Typically it will be the two dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Annapolis Fire Department personnel will be administering the vaccine. Residents can sign up for the Thursday clinic at Pip Moyer through the Anne Arundel Health Department OR residents can call OEM at 410-216-9167 Monday through Friday from 9 am- 4pm for registration assistance. To expedite registration, residents will need to provide their email and phone number. The clinic is open to non Annapolis residents.