Dear Neighbors: Below please find: Highlights from March 22, 2023 Council Meeting. Note next Council Meeting scheduled for April 10 at 6:30 to focus on the Minor-Master Plan.
I. Highlights from March 22, 2023 Council Meeting
1. Presentation: CY 2022 Annual Police Report (Chief DeVaul)
A few highlights: 1) 23% annual increase in Part 1 Crimes (mostly thefts) noting that crime is up in the region, 2) Police have responded with increased patrol details in target areas, 3) Part 1 Crimes down 1st qtr. ’22, 3) High profile arrests made, 4) Police training a priority, 5) Officer misconduct complaints only 6 in ’22, 5) Staffing at 42 of 43 positions; 6) Diversity of staff representative of City, 7) Many community engagement events, and 8) Guardian approach to Policing.
Follow-up comments by Chief: 1) MOU needed with Washington, DC police, 2) Would like to revisit Canine issue, 3) Takoma Park direct number (301) 270-1100 for non-emergencies, 4) Pending meeting with DHSS re. Mental Health Counselor MOU and 5) His focus will be internally to support staff.
· Link to report: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/Reimagined%20Public%20Safety/TKPK-Resources-and-Documents/Takoma_PD-Documents/2020_AnnualReport-Final.pdf
2. Youth Council Update
· Two members reported on the successful Clothes Drive and noted plans to coordinate Easter Egg hunt.
· Planned Youth Forum rescheduled to Ap. 27 at 5:3-7:30pm
3. Item No. 2: Ten Year Financial Forecast (Mike Burton of Raftelis)
· “General Fund Financial Sustainability Analysis”.
· Introduction: 1) General Fund sustainability faced by uncertainties such as inflation, 2) Model provides 10 year Forecast of status quo w/alternate assumptions such as cost, growth, tax rates, 3) Cost primarily driven by staffing, inflation and capital project costs. 4) Revenues bases on taxes and other sources, 5) Financial policies, such as reserve levels guide the balancing, and 6) Primary measure of financial sustainability is “unassigned fund balance.
· Some Model Scenarios:
o 1) Status Quo w/current tax rate (0.5397) the unassigned fund balance falls below target in FY26 and Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) borrowing first required in FY25.
o 2) Constant Yield w/tax rate (0.5185) the unassigned fund balance falls below target in FY25 and CIP borrowing first required in FY25.
o 3) City Mgr’s Recommended rate (0.5185) the unassigned fund balance falls below target in FY30 and CIP borrowing first required in FY26.
o 4) City Mgr’s Recommended Rate (.5705) with Reduced CIP to avoid borrowing, the unassigned fund balance Never falls below target and CIP borrowing Never required.
o Council raised several issues and questions. Several of us asked about other scenarios including reduction of services or one that added ECI (Employment Cost Index) to constant yield. Council was given the opportunity to provide up to three scenarios for use in modeling by end of March. (Please send me your suggestions by Mar.30)
· Link to report: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2023/supplemental-documents/Financial%20Forecast_Presentation-revised.pdf
4. Public Comments
· Karen Elrich highlighted rising evictions as result of end of Pandemic protections, and advocated on behalf of proposed County bill “Home Act” that would hold rent increases to 3%.
· Megan Scribner highlighted potential negative impacts of EYA Metro development plans including nearly eliminated parking, noting research showing nearly full parking lots at both Takoma and Ft. Toten.
· Tom Gagliardo highlighted an affordable housing crisis noting Purple Line and Adventist Hospital plans. Reminded Council of importance of citizen comments.
· Jim Giacoma highlighted the Police Report and the need to maintain high quality through appropriate levels of taxes.
5. Council Comments
· I thanked public commenters and noted Ward 3 Budget Discussion on Sunday March 26 at 2pm in Spring Park. (More than 20 attended.)
· Jason noted Purple Line walk-thru March 31st on Univ. Blvd.
· Cindy noted Montgomery County Energy summit and Belford Place Sidewalk design.
· Shana noted Ward 1 Budget Meeting this week.
· Cara thanked public commenters and noted Playground event this Sunday.
· Talisha noted meeting w/WMATA on Friday and Hillwood Ave. Playground celebration on Saturday.
6. MD Legislative Update (Ann Ciekot)
· “Safe Roads Act” (HB70) still being negotiated with commitment anticipated by SHA is to agree to do most of what the bill would ask for. One continuing element of the bill is interim safety measure required after 12 mo. of inaction.
· Still moving through legislature are: Unlawful Restriction Covenant, Packaging Materials and Low Income Energy Target.
7. City Managers Comments (Acting CM David Eubanks)
· Update on Direct Cash Assistance: 1300 household, adding more in-person assistance.
· Laurel Ave. Traffic Closure: Delayed until more complete study can be done.
· Minor-Master Plan: Several meetings planned: Ap. 10, Ap. 17 and Ap. 18.
· Susan Chueng: Not available due to family emergency.
8. Discussion of Council Priorities
· Council reviewed earlier document and focused on possible edits to a list of “Priority Priorities” that would be highlighted in proposed resolution. I lobbied for including reference to stormwater under the Environmental Priority. Council seemed to accept wording that would include Resilience which would imply inclusion of stormwater. Final version to be voted at next council meeting.
· Draft – Council Priorities (PDF)
· Council Priorities Draft Resolution (PDF)
9. Overview of the FY 2024 Budget Process
· Schedule in link below. (Note Public Hearings on Ap. 19 and May1. (If you recommendations or concerns please attend and email me as well.)