The City Council had its second and final budget worksession on Saturday. We made a number of amendments to the budget – the largest of which was a substantial increase for additional City contract police, which we are using the speed camera revenue to pay for. Most of these items will be paid for with revenue we were able to reallocate due to the additional public safety funding from the speed cameras. Funds that we would have otherwise spend on contract police this year will go into undesignated reserves, and then be available to spend next year.
The draft budget allocates an additional $150 thousand for part-time contract police coverage, and includes about $35,000 for the hiring of a part-time public safety coordinator, to assist the Neighborhood Watch coordinators and act as a liaison with the police. We also added the following items:
–$25,000 for a feasibility study for a Community Center in Hollywood
–$10,000 additional for College Park Day to hire an event coordinator
–$10,000 to do a study to look at the rental market in College Park to help the Council decide whether to extend the rent stabilization ordinance once it sunsets in 2012
–$10,000 additional to support public education grants for schools outside the City boundaries that serve College Park kids
–$10,000 to design, engineer and print new City district maps after redistricting
–reduction of City Council snacks at meetings from $1,500 to $600, and reduction of staff coffee, snacks, supplies and paper products from $4,800 to $1,000
–$40,000 (maximum) for software to track and handle complaints and work requests from residents and staff. The staff is currently investigating options, and this could go so far as to allow residents to submit complaints online and track their progress and City staff investigate those complaints.
–eliminated the adoption fees
–eliminated the lunch portion of the City’s wellness programs
–decreased travel and training for the Mayor and Council by $2,000
–increased the City’s contribution to the College Park City-University Partnership by $25,000, in order to expand the Partnership and give it more of a role coordinating collaborative activities between the City and the University (the University is also increasing its contribution)
Let me know if you have any questions about these items.
We will introduce the budget formally next week, at the April 26 official Council meeting, and we will be holding a public hearing on the evening of Tuesday, May 10 at 7 pm. Councilmember Nagle and I will be holding a town hall meeting to answer questions about the budget on Saturday, May 7 at 10 am at Davis Hall.
Here’s our agenda for the worksession tomorrow night:
1. PROGRESS REPORT ON 2011-2030 UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND FACILITIES MASTER PLAN UPDATE BY BRENDA TESTA, U-MD FACILITIES PLANNING. The University is currently undertaking an update of its Facilities Master Plan, which sets forth all of the physical improvements that the University campus undertakes over a 20-year period. The University has shared a preliminary, incomplete draft of the plan, giving us a glimpse into what the University intends to accomplish over the next 20 years. The biggest issue that the University confronts is lack of space – both the lack of space to build new buildings and the lack of building space for classrooms, offices and other facilities. The University System plans to expand by about 20% over the next decade, although much of this will be absorbed by other campuses. Priorities for the plan are to make use of the limited space in a way that satisfies the demands of the University, to promote connectivity across campus through use of public transportation, walking corridors, bike paths and roadways, to encourage stewardship of the campus’s natural resources, and to establish a forward-looking and flexible plan for land use. The plan mentions encouraging the use of public transportation and strengthening community relations, in order to coordinate land use and transportation with the jurisdictions surrounding the University. After reading the draft of the facilities master plan, many of the University’s ideas sound promising, and I look forward to watching how they turn out.
2. SOLAR INSTALLATION ON CITY HALL. University Park Solar, which put together the funds necessary to install solar panels on the University Park Church of the Brethren, has approached the City about possibly putting solar panels on the roof of City Hall. This is good timing, because we are currently looking into the possibility of obtaining funding to expand City Hall in its current location. If we can find a way to fund a project like this, it could help protect the environment and save the City money by reducing our utility costs.
3. SPEED ENFORCEMENT REVENUE. The Council is going to have a discussion tomorrow night on how to spend the revenue we received this year from the speed cameras. As I noted above, a portion of this revenue will be carried over to the next fiscal year to help expand our contract police program and hire a part-time public safety coordinator. Other ideas we may discuss include providing additional support for the volunteer fire departments that serve the City, and finding additional ways to add pedestrian and traffic safety measures on busy roads in the City. Please let me know if you have any ideas along those lines.
4. FY 2011 BUDGET AMENDMENT. As often happens toward the end of the fiscal year, due to conservative budgeting, the City has funds left over to spend on additional projects or pay off City debt. This year, we already decided to allocate some of our remaining funds to pay off the Bank of America loan that we used to renovate City Hall about 7 years ago, and to pay off the taxable portion of the bond anticipation note we purchased to build the downtown parking garage. The City staff has also proposed transferring $45,000 to a capital improvement program to upgrade the City’s radio communications system, and putting some amount of money to the capital improvement project to improve the public works facility behind Davis Hall.
5. INTRODUCTION OF FY 2012 BUDGET ORDINANCE. At next week’s official meeting, the Council will formally introduce the proposed FY 2012 budget. The budget is available online at here, with the changes listed above.
6. DISCUSSION OF PETITIONS FOR REFERENDA IN 2011 CITY ELECTION. I’ve sent around information about two possible referenda being proposed for the upcoming 2011 election. Either of these referenda, if it were to pass, would do serious damage to the ability of the City to conduct its business. The first referendum would prevent the City from ever collecting any property tax revenue above what it is collecting in fiscal year 2011, regardless of inflation, additional development within the City, annexations or anything else that might naturally increase the property tax revenue that the City receives, and without considering the impact that this might have on City services down the road. The second referendum would prohibit the City from distinguishing in any way between different types of housing it regulates, and would require the City to treat rental properties in the same way it treats owner/occupied properties. This would prohibit the City from licensing and making annual safety inspections for rental properties, and prevent the City from limiting the occupancy of rental properties to five unrelated persons. It would also prevent owner-occupants from claiming the Homestead Property Tax exemption, and hurt owner-occupants in the City. The referenda petitions are being circulated by Petition Partners, a for-profit signature gathering firm from Arizona.
If you are approached by a signature gatherer, you may request a copy of the petition and the person collecting petition signatures is required to give you a copy of the petition. If you have signed the petition and wish to withdraw the signature, you may do so by signing a statement to that effect. Please let me know if you would like assistance withdrawing your signature or if you have any questions about the petition drive.
7. PGCMA REQUEST RE: ENVISION PRINCE GEORGE’S RESOLUTION. The Prince George’s County Municipal Association has asked that all Prince George’s County municipalities pass a resolution in support of the Envision Prince George’s process. This is an effort that the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has undertaken to create a new vision for development in Prince George’s County. Envision Prince George’s is developing a broad range of policy recommendations, and the proposed resolution states that College Park would pursue these. More information about Envision Prince George’s is online at here.
8. FOUR CITIES AGENDA ITEMS. The next Four Cities meeting, between College Park, Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights and New Carrollton, is scheduled for April 27 in New Carrollton. This will be the next opportunity that we will have to discuss the Greenbelt area sector plan with the other two cities involved, Berwyn Heights and Greenbelt, so I will propose that we add this to the agenda to discuss the other cities’ recommendations as to the boundary of this plan, and any preliminary thoughts as to the content of the plan.
9. BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. Board and committees with vacancies available to District 1 residents include the Airport Authority, Animal Control Board, Animal Welfare Committee, Cable Television Commission, Committee for a Better Environment, Education Advisory Committee, Rent Stabilization Board (landlord position), Tree and Landscape Board, and Veterans Memorial Improvement Committee. Please let me know if you have any questions about these or are interested in serving.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions or comments.