Dear Neighbors: Happy Mother’s Day! Please find the following:
I. Highlights from May 10 Council meeting,
II. Agenda for May 17 Council Meeting, and
III. Notice about City Newsletter
I. Highlights from May 10 Council meeting:
– Two residents provided comments about current and future budgets. Tom Gagliardo thanked Council and provided 10 points, including 1) Council facing a fiscal crisis in future, 2) Always appropriate to challenge staff budget, 3) Use of ARPA and the Reserves can’t continue and 4) Start budget process earlier. Paul Huebner (Ward 3) noted several points including: 1) Appreciated diligence of Council, 2) Sees waste in City govt., 3) Get quarterly financial reports and 4) A runaway vehicle policy.
– A range of comments included: updated events, thanks for public comments, Council pivot to fiscal health, and thanks to staff.
Acting Dep. City Mgr. Comments
– Refund checks to be sent out shortly; described staff efforts to prepare budget and Q&A prior to Council Meetings; Code Enforcement issue at Frankly Apt. resolved; $125k MD State grant received for library, and upcoming events.
– Mayor noted four voting items: Tax Rate, Stormwater Board, Stormwater Budget and FY24 Budget.
– City Manager described need to adjust funding slightly in future for Sustainability Mgr and Grant Coordinator to add amounts for their budget to be in sync with 2% Salary increases in FY24.
Item 1: First Reading Ordinance Adopting FY24 Tax Rates:
– Unanimously approved
Council Votes to Convene as the Stormwater Management Board
– I noted the additional executive authority that this board has beyond the Council’s normal legislative role.
Item 2: First Reading Ordinance Adopting FY24 Stormwater Budget
– Unanimously approved
Item 3: First Reading Ordinance Adopting FY24 Budget
– Approved 5 to 1. (I opposed)
– I explained my no vote as follows: “First, I want to acknowledge the hard work undertaken by the Council and Staff over this budget process. I will, however, vote not to accept this budget. The constraints on time and information has meant the Council had no real option but to seek reductions at the margins. The absence of performance metrics or an alternative budget scenario are glaring omissions to effective deliberation. I will be working to make next year’s budget process more meaningful.”
– Other Council Members noted comments including the following:
– Talisha: more than one budget cycle needed; alternative revenue sought and hard choices on expenditures; revamp development, and open our borders.
– Jason: Respect for Council’s efforts, “solomonic budget”, thanks to David
– Terry: Challenging year, thanks to Council and David
Item 4: Grants Review Committee Recommendations
– HCD Director Kowler and committee member Derek Chou (sp?) described background, guidelines and recommendations for the Quality of Life Grants this year. Committee has nine members serving 2 yr.terms. Guidelines include focus on low-moderate income residents and racial equity lens.
– A few details: $110k funds from ARPA; max $10k per recipient with match requirement; 15 applications received and ; only local organization or area organizations with Takoma Park focus
– Recipient organizations:
– I think all of the Council was impressed with the grant process and the value to be provided by the recipient organizations. I was pleased to note an environment centered grant for food forest at TPES.
Item 5: Maple Ave. Connectivity Project Contract Award Recommendation and Draft Ordinance
– Dir. Roz Grigsby presented background, history, challenges and opportunities on this Infrastructure Funding project. Other details include: Grant amt. $304k, City match $76k; project focus on improved safety for multimodal (pedestrians, bikes and cars) along Maple Ave.; design completion date Dec. 2024 and proposed contractor RK&K.
– Council raised several questions. Of particular concern was the need for considerable community engagement to find common ground between competing priorities (parking vs. biking). Questions were also raised and answered on the plan’s compatibility with the Minor-Master Plan. Request was made for a detailed schedule of plans.
– The item will be voted on May 17.
Item 6: Resolution Regarding Policy Options Concerning Long Term Fiscal Health of the City and Exploration of Alternative Revenue Sources.
– Council discussed Cindy’s resolution with considerable discussion on what policies were most in need of review. There was general consensus for Cindy to revise her resolutions with minor changes, Cindy noted that prior Councils had received quarterly financial reports and the need to carefully review of a few specific financial policies such as the Vehicle Replacement policy.
– Jason recommended that a Treasurer be chosen on staff to meet MD Homerule requirements, noting that that person would be the key person on review of fiscal issues. The suggestion is under review.
– Terry withdrew his proposal with the Mayor’s agreement to include discussion of Council Priorities in June.
– My proposal to add to Cindy’s resolution was as follows: “City Council will work with the City Manager to revise the timeline for the Council’s engagement in the annual budget process by: 1) holding quarterly review and discussion of fiscal, budgetary and program data with the goal of identifying preliminary budget parameters and 2) beginning formal budget review and deliberations by April 1,”
– Jason agreed in concept but suggested that a focus on MD municipal guidelines and normalized practices would be a better approach. I agreed to work with him to revise my proposal.
II. CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA – WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2023
City Council meetings usually take place in the Community Center Auditorium. Meetings are hybrid. The public may attend the meeting or view the meeting as always: on City TV (RCN – 13, HD 1060; Comcast/xfinity – 13, HD 997; Verizon Fios – 28), on the City Council Video Page of the City Website; on YouTube, or on Facebook. Meetings may also be viewed on Zoom.
CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
CHANGES TO THE AGENDA / AGENDA SCHEDULING UPDATE
FOR THE RECORD
COMMENT ON VOTING ITEMS
· Comment in person or via Zoom.*
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS
· Comment in person or via Zoom.*
*To comment on Zoom, registration is required by 5 pm on the day of the meeting. There is no registration requirement to comment in person.
CITY MANAGER COMMENTS
City Manager Comments (PDF)
FY 2024 Budget Ordinances Cover Sheet (PDF)
1. Second Reading Ordinance Adopting the FY 2024 Tax Rates (PDF)
Council Vote to Convene as the Stormwater Management Board
2. Second Reading Ordinance Adopting the FY 2024 Stormwater Management Budget (PDF)
3. Second Reading Ordinance Adopting the FY 2024 Budget
· Budget Final Reconciliation (PDF)
· Capital Improvement Program (PDF)
4. Resolution Establishing Policy Objectives Associated with the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget (PDF)
5. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Single Reading Ordinance Authorizing the City Manager to Sign a Contract for the Maple Avenue Connectivity Project (PDF)
B. Single Reading Ordinance Approving Grant Awards (PDF)
6. 2023 Legislative Wrap Up and Discussion of 2024 Legislative Priorities (PDF)
7. Procurement – Rental Housing Licensing and Rent Reporting Software (PDF)
III. Notice on City Newsletter– Recently several residents have reported receiving multiple copies of the City Newsletter (Takoma Park News). This is not the City’s intent. Our postal route distribution agreement is to deliver one copy per household. If you received more than one copy, or did not receive any copies of the May “Takoma Park News” and have not previously reported this, please email our Communications Director Donna Wright at the email address below.
If you got extras, someone didn’t get theirs. The multiple and missed copy problem is being shared with both the Post Office and Rep, Raskins office for resolution. Note, It may take two delivery cycles to fix the issue. By the way, Eric Bond was hired to be the new Newsletter editor.