Taco Bell, Town Hall, Budget, STRs, State-of-City

Ward 7 Town Hall

The first thing I wanted to inform you about is that we will be having a Ward 7 Town Hall meeting on Thursday, May 9th, at 6:30 PM at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library. My plan is to invite the Mayor and focus on discussing the proposed budget, specifically discussing impacts to Ward 7, and getting your ideas on potential amendments to address capital project needs in our Ward, followed with a general open discussion. As usual, if you can assist with informing your neighbor by dropping off some flyers, please let me know and I’ll be in touch.

State of the City & Short term rentals

At our last meeting, the Mayor gave his State of the City address . We also unanimously passed my Short Term Rental legislation that closed a number of loopholes and tightened other language that allowed people to skirt our one-owner one-licensed property rule. There is also improved language to help deal with nuisance properties that disturb local communities.

Taco Bell & drive-thrus and plastic bags

First of all, I’m introducing O-5-24, which is our plastic bag ban, which is similar to the County’s. There are only three differences between theirs and ours: 1. Ours exempts farmers markets, 2. Ours does NOT exempt schools so they will need to hand out their lunches in paper bags, and 3. Ours requires that paper bags contain at least 50% post-consumer recycled content.

Regarding the proposed Taco Bell and drive -thrus generally in the City, I fully admit that I was not a fan of the proposed Taco Bell that wanted to come into the Giant Shopping Center on the vacant lot in the corner with Edgewood Rd. Thinking about having yet another fast food restaurant with a drivethru did not appeal to me and does not fit into our long-term vision for Ward 7. I wish I had become aware of this earlier and could have spoke out against the CVS and Starbucks drivethru, but I wasn’t fully tuned into the issues with drivethrus until traveling to the Netherlands. We plan to make Ward 7, and most of the City, much more friendly to pedestrians and bikes. Such improvements build community and build place by getting more people outside with their neighbors and supporting their local businesses. Allowing drivethrus does not mesh with this. They make traffic worse, are more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, take up a lot of space that could be utilized for other purposes, contribute to more impervious surfaces and stormwater issues, and lead to idling vehicles that spew more exhaust and noise, neither of which are conducive to having people outside. Hence my effort to prohibit any new drive-thrus from being approved in the City. They have done so in other cities such as Minneapolis.

FY25 budget introduced & details

As I alluded to earlier, the Mayor introduced his FY25 budget. The FY25 budget includes $115 million in operating expenses alongside $53 million in the Capital Improvement Plan, inclusive of general and enterprise funds. The budget calls for using the final $3.5 million that remains out of the original $6.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to the City in 2022. 


Highlights in the FY25 operating budget include:

  • the return of the successful internship program which served 26 high school and college students last summer;
  • funding for a grant administrator in the Department of Public Works, the agency responsible for the work at City Dock as well as public water, sewer, traffic, and other public service and maintenance projects;
  • fleet funding for a new Annapolis Fire boat; and
  • creation of an office of Central Services, consolidating service and support to City agencies including purchasing, city buildings, office space/real estate, and the City of Annapolis TV studio.


The FY25 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) forecasts $42.6 million in general fund and $10.4 million in enterprise fund spending. The general fund includes 19 new projects along with continued funding of scores of projects already underway. Highlights include:

  • Connecting Communities: a newly funded project is Bay Ridge Bikeways ($294,000) aimed at improving safety along a route that begins in Eastport and ends at Quiet Waters Park. The Bay Ridge Bikeways project is funded 76 percent ($224,000) by grants and 24 percent ($70,000) through capital reserve. Mayor Buckley has also requested $4 million annually be reserved for Connecting Communities funding through FY30.
  • Choice Neighborhoods: Mayor Buckley has requested a $1 million City match to a proposed $1 million state contribution to the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a plan to revitalize public housing communities of Eastport Terrace and Harbour House.
  • Flood Mitigation: funding for resiliency work in Eastport ($536,000 in FY25 and $5.9 million over five years), especially at street ends where water inundations are damaging City and private property including the Annapolis Maritime Museum and Eastport Yacht Center. Both suffered damage from floodwaters during the historic flooding that took place in January of this year. This year’s funding schedule for the Eastport resiliency work includes 65 percent funding through grants ($350,500) and 35 percent in bond funding ($180,535).

The Budget Process:

  • On Monday, April 8, 2024, Mayor Gavin Buckley introduced the Fiscal Year 2025 City of Annapolis Budget as a City Ordinance.
  • Over the next eight to 10 weeks, the Finance Committee, a standing committee of the City Council chaired by Alderwoman Eleanor Tierney (Ward 1), with Alderwoman Karma O’Neill (Ward 2) and Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson (Ward 4), will review and make recommendations to the Operating and Capital portions of the budget. This review takes place over numerous Finance Committee meetings to be broadcast on City TV channels (Verizon 34 and Comcast 99/100), City of Annapolis YouTube, and City of Annapolis Facebook. 
  • Two resident commissions also conduct reviews and can recommend amendments or changes: the Planning Commission may review and make recommendations to the Capital Budget; the Financial Advisory Commission may review and make recommendations to both the Operating and Capital Budgets. Once these Commissions’ recommendations are sent to the Finance Committee and amendments are agreed to by the Finance Committee, a recommended budget is sent to the City Council to be further amended and adopted.
  • Council members may adopt the Mayor’s Budget as-is. The full Council will consider the recommendations of the Finance Committee at a full-day meeting in June. The City Council may elect to move money within departments or between departments. They may come up with new spending. However, the Council must pass a balanced budget. If new appropriations are added, there needs to be a commensurate revenue increase (taxes, fees, or fines) to pay for the increases - or cuts elsewhere in the budget.
  • The final date for passage must be before June 30, 2024. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2024.

Ward 7 budget updates

  • The sidewalk/path improvement project for the Moyer Park Campus of the Maritime Museum, which I had added to last year’s budget, is still in the design phase. I believe the Maritime Museum ended up submitting a bid to design-build this project, which I think is great.
  • Bay Ridge Ave sidewalks at Bay Ridge Rd – This project to add sidewalks along Bay Ridge Ave adjacent to the Shell gas station was added by me to last year’s budget, but wasn’t able to get off the ground due to staff bandwidth issues. I anticipate this getting constructed in 2026.
  • Bay Ridge Ave cycling improvements – This project looks to install a shared pedestrian-cyclist path along Bay Ridge Ave. Design should start in FY25. I need to dig into this a bit more as I hope we can at the same time reduce the lane width to slow traffic, add more paths, and potentially add some more street trees.
  • Tyler/Hilltop improvements – This project will be looking at adjusting lane sizes, installing a completely separate cycle path, installing street trees, installing raised/continuous crosswalks, and potentially either replacing or removing some of the traffic signals with micro traffic circles. Design and construction may start late this year/early next year.
  • Edgewood Rd Crosswalk improvements – This isn’t related to the budget, but we are looking to get BGE to install a street light near this crosswalk as well as potentially painting the curbs here or utilizing other technology to make it more visible so that cars aren’t running into it as often.
  • Hilltop/Tyler-Bay Ridge Ave trail connection – I added $50k to last year’s budget to conduct a feasibility study (not construction) as far as potentially connecting Hilltop/Tyler with Bay Ridge Ave via the old railroad grade. I’m not sure if it’s even feasible hence this study. I’ve asked staff for an update and will let you know what I hear back. It may have been grouped into the overall Bay Ridge Ave study that I mentioned above.

Stay healthy and stay safe,


Next Council meeting – 4/29/24 (agenda)

This Council meeting is starting at 7pm and will be televised on local cable, YouTube, Facebook, and the City website.  You can submit public testimony at http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony. This will be an in-person meeting.

Public Hearings

  • O-7-24 - Annual Budget and Appropriation and Property Tax Levy. This will just set the tax rate per the budget (once approved). There is no tax rate increase proposed in the Mayor’s budget, though the Council could propose an increase.
  • O-26-23 - Forest Conservation Plan Appeals - For the purpose of closing a loophole in the Forest Conservation Plan provisions of the City Code concerning forest clearing; changing the Forest Conservation Plan appeals body from the Building Board of Appeals to the Board of Appeals; and generally related to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act and Planned Unit Development regulations. This is legislation of mine. As you can tell by the number designation, it has been in the process for a little while now. In a nutshell, this legislation removes an old loophole that exempted planned unit developments from complying with the Forest Conservation Act, requires a stay (halting of forest clearing) while appeals are pending, moves appeals to the Zoning Board of Appeals rather than the Building Board of Appeals, and has an omnibus amendment/re-write from me that would remove automatic approvals, allow the Forest Stand Delineations to be appeals, and clears up the appeals process for Forest Conservation Plans.
  • R-15-24 - FY 2025 Annual Fees Schedule. This is the new fee schedule for the FY25 budget as proposed by the Mayor.
  • R-16-24 - FY 2025 Annual Fines Schedule. This is the new fine schedule for the FY25 budget as proposed by the Mayor.
  • R-17-24 - FY 2025 Position Classifications and Pay Plan. This is the new classifications and pay plan for City Employees as proposed by the Mayor in his FY25 budget.

Legislation being introduced on first reader

  • O-6-24 - City-wide Prohibition on New Drive-through Windows - For the purpose of prohibiting new drive-through window facilities that allow people to remain in vehicles while receiving products or services; eliminating City Code references to drive-through windows and facilities; and generally related to drive-through facilities in Annapolis. This is legislation I’m introducing with Mayor Buckley and Alderman Schandelmeier that would prohibit the construction of new drive-thrus in the City. My rationale is this: 1. Drive-thrus are not safe for surrounding pedestrians and cyclists as they don’t fit into pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development, 2. they lead to increased air pollution from idling vehicles that is bad for the environment, bad for our health, and not conducive to creating areas for people to gather, 3. they contribute to development patterns that are not friendly to seniors, given that drive-thrus exacerbate mobility issues especially for seniors (i.e. seniors become dependent on cars, then when they can’t drive anymore become mobility-limited and isolated. If we have pedestrian friendly development with multimodal transportation access it creates a better situation for seniors), and 4. they compound vehicular traffic issues on nearby roadways. Also, prohibiting drive-thrus will ensure we don’t get auto-centric development like the proposed Taco Bell that wants to come in on the Bay Ridge Giant site.
  • O-9-24 - FY 2025 Changes in Exempt Service Job Classifications - For the purpose of updating the classification grades for City employees in exempt service positions; adding the Director of Central Services to the exempt service classification chart; and generally related to City employee salaries for exempt service positions.
  • R-1-24 - Eastport and Maritime Operations Work Group - For the purpose of creating an Eastport and Maritime Operations Work Group to analyze the impact of Ordinance 25-21 on maritime operations and properties in the Waterfront Maritime Eastport (WME) zoning district, and to recommend how the City Council can support such operations and properties. I believe this will be postponed.
  • R-18-24 - Comprehensive Plan Consideration Extension - For the purpose of extending the time that the City Council has to consider the City's comprehensive plan, Annapolis Ahead 2040.
  • R-19-24 - Eastport Choice Neighborhood Initiative Transformation - For the purpose of adopting the Eastport Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Transformation Plan, which was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and approving the use of the former City of Annapolis Public Works Property on Spa Road to meet the Plan's goals. While I’m supportive of the overall CNI redevelopment project, I do have reservations about this development extending to the Spa Rd site. For example, we still haven’t completed our environmental assessments of that property, so we don’t yet know if it’s safe for future residents (there used to be an incinerator or landfill on this site; I forget which at the moment but my point is there is contaminated soil) nor do we know what MDE will allow. Second, with our staff out-growing our downtown offices, I’m hesitant to give up or commit City property to such a re-development activity when we clearly have a need to add space for our staff. I’ve asked for more information on the CNI grant requirements that seem to be driving the expansion of this project to Spa Rd and will keep you posted.
  • R-20-24 - Public Service Recognition Week 2024 - For the purpose of honoring the contributions of Annapolis public servants by recognizing Public Service Recognition Week in the City of Annapolis, May 5-11, 2024.
  • R-21-24 - International Firefighters Day 2024 - For the purpose of the City of Annapolis recognizing International Firefighters Day on May 4, 2024, and the extraordinary service that Annapolis firefighters and Annapolis Fire Department staff provide to protect our City.
  • R-22-24 - National Police Week 2024 - For the purpose of honoring the Annapolis Police Department and the City's law enforcement community, including the families of our APD personnel, for their service to the City and recognizing May 9 through May 18, 2024, as National Police Week in the City of Annapolis.
  • R-23-24 - Emergency Management & Public Safety - For the purpose of recognizing April as Maryland Flood Awareness Month and the efforts that City of Annapolis public safety experts make each year, both personally and professionally, to protect our residents from flooding and other natural emergencies.

Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)

There is no legislation up for a second reader at this meeting.

Community & Political updates

No updates this week. Please don’t forget about the upcoming Town  Hall!

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  • Rob Savidge