Happy Mother’s Day! I apologize for getting this out so late! I’ve been quite occupied between Mother’s Day (and my much-neglected wife) and analyzing the FY20 budget and associated legislative efforts. See below for updates on the budget, reorganization, next council meeting, and a proposal for the City to use Program Open Spaces funds to join the County and State in purchasing a marina for use by wounded vets, the elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged youth.
The budget is really the big news and I’ll send more on this in the future. Despite what the paper said, there are serious concerns with the budget. It calls for a significant staff increase (15 new positions; $1.3 million increase, not counting another half million to pay for firefighters that are being weaned off their grant funding, and the un-freezing of vacant positions from last year), reverses policy decisions the Council made last year to pay for roads and sidewalks out of pay-go instead of bonds, includes a reorganization blunder that would dissolve our Environmental office and move environmental and economic policy into the Mayor’s office, would hamper our ability to secure new bond-funded Capital Improvement Projects in the future, kicks the can on replacing Hillman Garage down the road, and more. Let me expand briefly on my last two points, as they seem to be connected. By hampering our ability to secure bonds for CIP projects in the future (think Hillman Garage) this budget may force us into a Public Private Partnership that would only work if a hotel was built downtown. In other words, it would make it impossible for us to pay for a garage replacement ourselves without the P3 and hotel. That’s not a situation I can support and may not vote in favor of this year’s budget if this is not addressed sufficiently.
You are able to testify on the budget at this Monday’s meeting.
Department reorganization - dissolution of environmental office
At this point, the general consensus on the Council is that we remove any proposed reorganization from the budget. This would include the Mayor/City Manager’s proposal to dissolve the Office of Environmental Policy and move both environmental and economic policy into the Mayor’s Office. Moving all policy into the Mayor’s office is wrong for three main reasons:
- It would insert instability in those programs with every new administration,
- It puts too many environmental responsibilities in one position; too much for one person to handle,
- It goes against our charter and separation of powers. Examining the newly proposed job descriptions, the City Manager is proposing to have the new policy advisors report to the Mayor instead of to the City Council (which includes the Mayor). This deliberately cuts us out of the picture and is a power grab on behalf of the City Manager.
The way this reorganization was proposed, with no discussion with the community or entire Council, is counter to how we should run open, transparent, and inclusive government. We need to take our time and determine how to proceed from here with reorganizations. The only reason I introduced my competing proposal to create a Department of the Environment was because I got wind of the City Manager’s proposal to gut our environmental programs. Yet even with the expedited schedule I still managed to call and hold a local environmental summit to discuss organization options with the community and my colleagues. At this point I am considering what to do with my proposal. I may withdraw it or I may simply amend it after further consultation.
Thank you to everyone who came out in support of my legislation or in opposition to the Mayor/city Manager’s proposal!
Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) - Ward 7 proposal
CRAB is a non-profit that provides water access to wounded veterans, citizens with mental and physical disabilities, the elderly, and children from at risk neighborhoods. They are in need of a new facility. The State has contributed $1 million and the County $1.5 million in Program Open Space (POS) funds to be used to purchase a marina off of Bembe beach Rd, in Ward 7, which would then be leased to CRAB. Program Open Space funds come from the State to be used to improve or acquire properties that serve a public function and preserve open space for recreation and other enjoyment. The State and County have asked the City to pitch in money as well and to partner with them on this deal. The City has over $1 million of our own POS funds. Currently, the Mayor is proposing to spend only 250k for this project. I will be asking for more, probably around 750k. Moreover, I’m in favor of the City owning this property since it is in the City and needs to be connected to our communities and parks. This project would be of enormous benefit to the residents of our Ward, which has the highest concentration of seniors than any other Ward. Plus, it would prevent this marina from being developed with housing or other office buildings. Since CRAB offers its services to a select group of the public, I do not expect it to have much of a traffic impact to the Ward, especially since the former County executive’s proposal to have a full, public boat ramp has been removed from the proposal. Since the City Manager is going around politicking and stating that she doesn’t want to own a marina (as if it’s her choice), which threatens this deal, I will be introducing a Resolution on Monday to simply state the Council’s will that we contribute POS funds to purchase this property and that we own the property (not the County or State). If you have any thoughts or questions about this proposal or Resolution, please let me know.
Previous Council meeting
We passed O-8-18 (I was one of the sponsors), the school capacity ordinance. When someone wants to build in Annapolis, they first need to make sure that the school serving the development has capacity. Our new law sets the threshold at 100% for all schools (used to be 105% for Elementary and Middle Schools and 120% for our High School), but it subtracts the number of students that come to the High School from outside of the cluster. The minimum unit threshold was lowered from 11 units to 6 units (anything over has to comply). If a school is deemed closed then a developer has to wait 6 years to build (I may look at changing this in the future as well…)
Next Council meeting - 5/13/19 (agenda)
Legislation up for a final vote
- O-2-19 - Freestanding Signs - For the purpose of permitting free-standing signs and business community identification signs in certain zoning districts; removing the minimum lot width requirement for freestanding signs in certain zoning districts; amending the regulations for wall-mounted signs; and matters generally relating to updating and amending the sign code. This essentially requires that businesses get permits to put sandwich board signs in front of their businesses. I disagree with requiring permits for such a simple thing as I don’t want to add additional layers of bureaucracy, but I do agree with setting new standards. I will attempt to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations that would accomplish this. If you have any comments on this legislation, please let me know. Won’t really impact Ward 7 much.
- O-1-19 - Fair Housing - Protected Classes - For the purpose of adding protected classes to the Annapolis Fair Housing laws and including additional unlawful housing practices; and generally relating to Fair Housing. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation and am inclined to support it, pending any comments from you.
Annapolis Celebrates “Kids to Parks Day” on May 18
On Saturday, May 18, 2019, hundreds of thousands of children and families nationwide, including here in Annapolis, will take part in the ninth annual National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day (KTP Day). KTP Day is a nationally coordinated event designed to connect kids and families across the country to learn about park stewardship and outdoor recreation.
Annapolis Recreation and Parks will host a variety of activities and demonstrations on Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout Truxtun Park. Activities will include pick-up basketball and flag football on Griscom and Collison fields, a wild bird introduction, bike safety and drone demonstration, along with fishing and standup paddleboarding at the Truxtun Park Boat Ramp. A complete list of the Schedule of Events can be found at www.annapolis.gov/KidsToParksDay.
The Annapolis community is encouraged to use the hashtag #KidsToParks when sharing posts about the event. Plan to get out and celebrate this national day of outdoor play!
National Night Out
START PLANNING NOW FOR NATIONAL NIGHT OUT Organize and Encourage Communities in Your Ward to Participate in: National Night Out 2019 Tuesday, August 6 Suggested Times Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states on the first Tuesday in August. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. Annapolis Police Department will have an officer at each event and K-9 and officers from other specialized units will visit each National Night Out Event Contact Patti Norris at email@example.com or 410-268-9000 ext. 7251 to get your event on our list.
Naptown Anti-Dope Move[meant] Part 6
Saturday, May 25, 2019
The Mayor‘s Office of Public Engagement is Launching a Public Health Awareness Initiative called The Naptown Anti-Dope Movemeant. This initiative was designed in direct response to the alarming Fatal Overdose Rate of African Americans in The City of Annapolis. Take The #OpioidFreeAnnapolis Pledge https://www.change.org/p/mayor-s-office-take-the-city-of-annapolis-opioid-free-pledge