• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

October 22, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

October 22, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, October 22, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 9, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

APPOINTMENTS

Laura Weldon to Request Permission to Hold Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 1st Beginning at 5:00 pm-Laura Weldon said they will be following the usual parade route of High Street, Poplar Street, and then Race Street. This is the 60th anniversary of the Cambridge/Dorchester County Christmas Parade. The theme of the parade is "An Animal's Christmas Eve" which is actually the title of a children's Christmas story about the animals receiving the gift to talk and recounting the story of Christmas. The parade is in support of the Dorchester County Humane Society. She is requesting permission to hold the parade and on the date of the parade to allow fees to be waived for one-day vendor permits for non-profit organizations. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to grant the requests. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Jackie Noller and Susan Devlin, Habitat for Humanity of Talbot & Dorchester Inc., to Request Conveyance of City-Owned Lots-Mayor Rippons said Council received information about this request 2 weeks ago. Jackie Noller said they have been before Council several times over the last 2 years as a branch of an already-established affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. She introduced Susan Devlin, the executive director of a newly-named organization. Susan Devlin said 2 years ago they were approached by citizens of Dorchester County to help them to become an affiliate of Habitat International so they could address the housing needs in this community which are similar to the needs in Talbot County. Because it was not possible for them to become an independent affiliate, they have been working in partnership for 2 years as a branch of their organization. After 2 years of working closely with Jackie and all the volunteers in Dorchester County and watching how successful they have been at gaining the cooperation, respect, and trust of this community, and that there is an understanding of the needs that they are addressing, which is people who need a decent place to live, they have entered into a joint partnership which has become a regional Habitat for Humanity in both Talbot and Dorchester Counties. They are still addressing the needs in both communities. They feel strongly that working together gives them a greater opportunity to serve a greater need. The most important thing that they can have from the City of Cambridge and Dorchester County is cooperation from the governments, businesses, individuals, and other non-profits. One of their biggest challenges is acquiring land to build Habitat homes. The families who move into Habitat homes become the mortgage holder with a zero interest mortgage. They help to build their own home and save money for their closing costs.

Jackie Noller said she provided Council with a packet of information a few weeks ago. They are on goal for having Thanksgiving dinner in their second home on Phillips Street. On their third home on Edgewood Avenue, the exterior wall system is up and the shingles are on the roof. They have funds to build more houses and buy more materials but they do not have any more land. They are requesting the city convey to them 2 city-owned lots. They are infill lots and meet the zoning requirements for those particular neighborhoods. They will keep the homes affordable. In the last 2 years, they have shown the city that they can marshal the financial and social capital to bring to reality affordable homes for deserving citizens in the county. She thanked Council for helping them with abatement from the impact fees. With this partnership, this legal commitment, of the entity called Habitat for Humanity of Talbot and Dorchester Counties, they are here to continue to do their mission which is to continue to build simple, decent affordable homes for deserving families in need. They would love to irradiate substandard housing in these counties. They cannot do it alone. One lot is located on High Street (extended) and the second lot is on Goodwill Avenue. The lot on Goodwill Avenue has an access issue that can be resolved so they could possible build 2 homes on that lot. They have had an informal discussion with DPW on this issue.

Rob Collison said the city will have to hold a public hearing to determine if these are excess properties and no longer needed for public purposes. If they are determined to be excess property, the Council could make a determination if they wish to convey them to Habitat for zero consideration.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said there was a news release on October 11th from HUD that Habitat for Humanity International received over $8 million. According to the printout from that, it says the money should be available for rural areas. She asked if they are going to apply for any of this money. They have been before Council and asked for impact fees to be waived, etc. There is money available now through the Federal government that they have to apply for and they can purchase land with this money. Jackie Noller said the grant Ms. Johnson-Ennels is referring to is for monies that were already applied for. The due date for that application was in the summer. You had to have land that you owned to apply it to. They received requests for $38 million. This was something they were not able to apply for in the summer of 2007. They will apply for it next year. Susan Devlin said they are a growing organization. They will look at those opportunities but they are in competition with 1700 other Habitat affiliates. That is one angle for them to try to find funds to use to purchase land. They have to look at every angle. They cannot focus on just shop grants or just coming to City Council or a generous donor. They have to look at it from all angles. The Council has already been incredibly supportive of the work of Habitat. This is another opportunity for them to take a step and work in partnership with them.

Commissioner Cephas made a motion to move forward to determine if the property is excess property. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Representatives from Bay Country & Parkside Village Apartments to Discuss Gang Activity, Increased Police Staffing, and Neighborhood Watch-Robert Boyd, President of Bay Country and Parkside Garden Tenant Association, thanked the Police Department and Commissioner Sydnor for an over-extended opportunity to come to their community to see how things were. When they saw the deplorable state it was in with loitering and people gathering around, it has been solved. That was no longer an issue up until this past weekend. They have had a couple of shootings out there and that was taken care of. They appreciate the work of the Police Department and are asking that if at all possible, the service continue.

Chief Malik said they are going to continue. They certainly cannot continue to the extent that they have, because they spent approximately $9,800 of a grant fund in 16 days in that area while 7 days ago they took the grant and just maintained regular foot patrol in that area. They maintain an officer out there approximately 14 hours of a 24-hour day. This is significant as far as manpower goes. They will certainly keep their officers out there as much as possible. They need the support from the community. A Neighborhood Watch program will be developed.

Caprice Fitchett, Community Manager at Bay County and Parkside Village Apartments, said the residents have spoken to her about the substation on Cosby Avenue and their mini-substation on their property. They would like to see more presence there and more utilization of the substation. Chief Malik said he believes it is a manpower issue. They have officers who come out there on a pretty regular basis as far as Community Policing Officers. They cannot man it 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. He will speak with the Sergeant of Community Policing to see if they can get that division out there more than they have been.

Mayor Rippons asked if Bay Country and Parkside have stepped up their security efforts. Caprice Fitchett said they have explored the possibilities of fencing and extra cameras. That project would cost them in excess of $150,000. Unfortunately they do not have money to do it so they have to rely heavily on the residents to help them identify suspicious activity and they are going to have to rely on the city. Mayor Rippons asked if they had other resources that could be allocated. Ms. Fitchett said they do not have any other resources at this time. Chief Malik said he thinks they can take care of this issue if they just work together. It has been very effective thus far. If they see crime increasing or loitering increasing, or if they see these guys gathering together somewhere, they need to call the Police Department immediately so they can increase their presence out there.

Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks the Police Department, along with the community and the administration that each entity should be commended for stepping up to the plate, recognizing that there was a problem, and trying to work together in order to find solutions to that problem. He hopes they continue. The problem may move from that area and it could find itself in another area.

Ms. Fitchett said they are aware that the gangs have moved from their area because they are no longer comfortable. However, they are moving. They need to really focus on disbanding the gangs that have formed in the city. The gangs are working in the high schools and middle schools. It is only a matter of time before they leave Greenwood Avenue and expand their effort. They are trying to take over. They want the city to recognize that there is gang activity in Cambridge and we need to do something about it.

Chief Malik said he would like to clarify something. These are not gangs in the traditional sense of Bloods; MS13s; Murder, Inc.; etc. He doesn't want to leave that impression. This is basically a group and they are trying to recruit a group of punks and hooligans who live within Cambridge. They are trying to, and have to a certain extent, destroy some of the quality of life in some of these neighborhoods. The Police are well aware of the leaders of the group and they have confronted them. They are on top of that situation. He doesn't want anybody to walk out of here and think that there are Bloods or MS13s on the streets of Cambridge. That is not accurate. It is a bunch of young men and they are trying to recruit other young people. They are hooligans and punks for the most part and want-a-be's. They have spoken to the head and his entourage and they will stay on top of it.

Commissioner Brooks said she would hope so because she is not going to say that Cambridge is as bad as Los Angeles or Baltimore City but wherever there are guns and gangs and lack of activity for the youth, there will be a problem. Today, we may not see Bloods and Crypts and we may not see murders taking place, but tomorrow you may. Staying ahead of this and staying on top of it is the answer. If it means more police officers in Cambridge, then that is the direction we need to go into. The last direction we need to go into is to re-act after someone is killed and someone is dead. She has received many phone calls from residents between Greenwood Avenue and Cornish Drive and has heard stories of bullets going through people's windows with children in the bed. She doesn't call that something we need to under-estimate. She doesn't think it is something that we need to run away from with a lot of fear. That is the last thing we need to do. We need to work together as a community. The Police Department should look for grants and do whatever they have to do. She would prefer to see money made available to have someone in these substations around the clock because the presence of a Police Officer or 1 or 2 Police Officers is enough to deter this gang activity throughout the city. These are very impressionable young men and women that they are bringing into this group. This is the age and stage where we need to step in. We can change their outlook in Cambridge. We do not have to end up like Baltimore or Los Angeles or New York. We have to do it now.

Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks it is time that we begin addressing community activities that we can find for these young people rather than to have them on the street. It could be run by the community and the city can help. He can see where it is going to cost the city through law enforcement. If we can circumvent that and have somewhere that the youth will have a place to spend their time to do various structured activities, it would be a benefit to all of us. It is something the city will need to begin looking at. They could form a committee from the community to look at structured activities for our youth.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said they need to go back in time and history. They have already done what Commissioner Sydnor suggested. That is how they got started in the beginning. It was called Hot Spots. Greenwood Avenue was their problem area. The community came together. They had activities for the kids and then it came into funding. Now instead of having funding for the youth, the funding coming under C-Safe is for the overtime that Chief Malik is talking about. When they first started with Hot Spots, it was a partnership with the community, the youth, and the Cambridge Police Department. The Elks stepped in and worked with them also. As the years went by and the funding changed, the money got tight and they had to make a choice. They needed the protection from the police but their budget could not pay for that overtime. When they got to that point, they lost community support. They have tried having meetings with the community so they could come together with ideas. The one thing that was missing was community support. They had the support of government, the police department, but they didn't have the community's support. That is what they need to stress. If you do not have community support, no matter how hard you try, it will not work.

Commissioner Sydnor said he did not want this to be a city-run program but a community program. With the last annexation the city did along Route 16, one of the developers agreed through an MOU to donate a minimum of $100,000 that can be used for our youth. If we can take that and try to build upon it, maybe we will have something to get some of these kids off the street. It may save 1 life but it will be well worth it. Portia Johnson-Ennels said Caprice does not see it in her neighborhood now. They have closed 2 playgrounds because of this. Their children are not allowed to use the playgrounds that belong to the Housing Authority now because of this activity. They were camping out on their playground, having meetings, and things like that. You cannot cover everything. They are attempting to, and that is a good start. When you get one area clean, they will move to the next unsuspecting area.

Commissioner Sydnor said what he is referring to is not just for the Second Ward. It is something for activities for all of our youth. They have attempted to get a skate park which has been put on hold. They need something where the youth can expend some of their energy in a positive direction. We need to address this issue.

Caprice Fitchett said in summary, they are asking for additional policing. The city has grown to a point where they cannot be in all place at all times. They have 5 or 6 officers per shift on duty which is ridiculous. They need more. Maybe during the next budget funding, the city can put additional money in there to hire additional police officers. They need alternative things for the children to do to give them a different option. Instead of joining a gang, they can join something else. Perhaps the city can advertise to outside areas to have non-profit organizations look at a building or an area where they would like to build something like a community center so these children have somewhere to go. Maybe the organization can use the money that the city already has to help fund their proposal. She thinks they should not sweep the gang activity under the rug because it does exist. It is a powerful little organization of thugs. They have said their main goal is to try to take over an area. Having bullets coming through a second floor bedroom is proof. They are harassing other people so they won't say anything. Thank goodness the community stepped up and said it would not happen. They need the city to step up and say it will not happen here at all.

Robert Boyd said the Tenants' Association will be hosting a Halloween celebration for their children. Officer Patton will be there to help supervise it. He invited Council to attend the event on October 31st from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm.


UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Update on RFP for City Audit-Ed Kinnamon said he received a packet from 1 of the 2 companies that previously submitted proposals. Commissioner Sydnor suggested that they table this for the present time. He knows the city has a deadline to get information to the state. They will probably have to ask for an extension. He thinks they need time to review the information that was just submitted and then maybe polled by phone later this week. Mayor Rippons asked if there was something in this correspondence that explains why they did not respond within a timely fashion and then came up afterwards.

Commissioner Brooks said they did not respond to the performance audit in a timely fashion because the RFP was very confusing to them. Both auditors that submitted their reports said the same thing. The proposal that was sent to them was very confusing when they got to the performance part. They both said they did not know what to do with it. They did not know what the city wanted in a performance audit so they left it alone because of the way it was put in here. Once she spoke to both of them, they both responded and said now they understood what the city was looking for and they could now adequately respond with the information. Mayor Rippons asked where they received the additional information that they responded to at this time. Commissioner Brooks said she provided it. Mayor Rippons asked if Council had sufficient time to review the RFP before Ed Kinnamon released them. Ed Kinnamon said they were made available to the Council. He asked them to review the document and let him know if there were any questions before he sent them out. He spoke to both individuals who submitted proposals and they did not tell him the same story that Commissioner Brooks just relayed. The auditor from Salisbury called him this past week and said that after he spoke to a lady, he could still not provide us with a cost estimate. Even though he has done performance reviews in the past, he just could not give an estimated amount of money of what it would cost because he is just not familiar with Cambridge, etc. Mr. Lindsay, the auditor who submitted this package, called him and said he has done the best he could. He is making a lot of assumptions and has based his bids on certain assumptions that he hopes are proper. Mayor Rippons said it will cost $80,000 predicated on assumptions. He does not agree that Council should look at this bid and then be polled for their consideration when you are talking about an $80,000 expenditure. It seems like everybody conceives that the city can just manufacture money. That is not the reality. He is not sure it is correct procedure to contact people who responded to an RFP after the fact and then they submitted a consideration. They did not give the same consideration unless they called everybody and related to them the same information. He does not believe it is a fair consideration for the multitude of people who could have responded.

Commissioner Sydnor said Commissioner Brooks recommended that we have a performance audit on July 1st. This has been delayed for a long amount of time. Not being given the correct information, he came to City Hall on a Thursday or Friday when he got that RFP. He was to look over it and give Mr. Kinnamon a call because Monday was a holiday and he was going to send the RFP out on Tuesday. They are taking about a couple of days to look at it. He knows that 3 times it was directly given to Mr. Kinnamon what they wanted for a performance audit. People have been given the impression that they want an audit of an audit. That is not the case. They have taken care of the first auditor that they have. This new person will do the same thing they did along with additional information. It is like a penny and a quarter. If you pay a penny, that is what you are going to get. If you pay a quarter, you will get the penny and 24 more cents along with it. That is what they are asking for here. This is to make sure that the finances of the city are efficient; that we are using the appropriate accounting methods, in order to assure the taxpayers that we are using their money appropriately. Mayor Rippons said any time they had that consideration, Mr. Kinnamon asked for anyone on Council to review the document and bring back their consideration. If you could not conceivably spend enough time on that city document within the 2 days, then they could have brought it in any time after that to Mr. Kinnamon and he could have updated it. MML is willing to come to Cambridge to talk to the city before they expend another $80,000. They would talk about other cities that have similar concerns that have gone through. He does not know what the rush is. Commissioner Brooks said she contacted 1 more auditor. The third auditor was the current auditor we have been using over the past 4 years. According to them, we got what we paid for. There was only a certain amount of questions that were being asked by the city of them to perform. For the performance, they charged $19,000 which is unheard of for a correct audit. According to the auditor, the questions he was being asked, if the city had wanted him to answer those questions, he would have graciously done this; however, we got a $19,000 audit because that is what we paid for. You get what you pay for. The City of Cambridge wants a true audit now. It is for the city, the citizens, and it is not for Council. This is for every taxpaying person. It is for everybody who shops in Cambridge. With this particular audit, it will be able to come back us, how we can effectively and efficiently utilize the money and even our employees that we have in the City of Cambridge. Maybe we have some that we do not need. Maybe there are more than we need. This is the type of audit that we need to make sure we are following policy and procedure. It is no rush. If it was a rush, we would have gone with the cheap $19,000 audit that only answers questions that were asked by our City Treasurer and the Mayor. Instead we went to MML. In going to MML and graduating from the Academy, they have learned a lot. She wishes every member of Council had the same opportunity that they had. They learned enough to come back and tell the City of Cambridge that they do not know if they are being cheated but they are going to find out what is happening to the money of Cambridge, how they can better utilize those funds, and hopefully if we do this right, we will find the monies for the activities that the children need so we don't have to worry about gang activities and we can find out where we can put a skating park or something like that. There are so many more things that other cities are doing that Cambridge is not doing because we confine ourselves to this little area. She takes time from her family and from her job, which takes money from her pocket, because she made a commitment to the City of Cambridge. She is going nationally to find out what other cities are doing. If New Orleans can build up from the ground, Cambridge has all these new housing impact fees and if we cannot even put one little playground for the children here, or one little building for the teenagers to go to, then we are not doing something right and the Council and the other employees are not doing the city justice. This will do the City of Cambridge justice and tell them what direction we need to go in. Mayor Rippons said he is just asking that MML be given a consideration. He asked if Commissioner Brooks had contacted any member of MML and asked them about their involvement. Before they spend $80,000, they should send MML the document. They are there as a free resource and the city is not planning to utilize them. Commissioner Sydnor asked if this was one of the agencies recommended by MML. Commissioner Brooks said it was.

Gage Thomas asked for clarification. He asked if the audit they are talking about was originally done July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. He asked if they want to re-audit that audit. Commissioner Brooks said they do not want to re-audit anything. She said this is the audit we have done every single year. The last fiscal year has not been audited. It is not an audit of an audit. This will be the audit. Gage Thomas said the misnomer is that it is an audit of an audit when in fact, what they want is performance. That can be required. Commissioner Sydnor said performance would also include an audit. Gage Thomas said he doesn't think it is fair to accuse the Mayor and Mr. Kinnamon of not asking questions when it is the prerogative of Council to raise the questions that concern them now. They keep talking back when they are talking about going forward on the next audit. He doesn't know how they can look back and say what was not done. Commissioner Brooks said they are not looking backwards. They are looking forward. That is the reason why this was submitted to the Commissioners so they can see if they can perform the type of audit that the City of Cambridge needs. They are not looking at an audit that was done in the past and asking for it to be redone. They are planning the future of Cambridge. Gage Thomas said any audit firm engaged is going to go by generally-accepted accounting principles. There is a minimum standard that is expected and required. He suggested that they need an accountant here to review your matters of practice, too much debt, not enough debt, too risky, not risky enough, too conservative, etc. He is just trying to understand what is going on.

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion that Council table this and possibly by Friday, Ed Kinnamon can poll Council to determine what Council wants to do. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Rob Collison said obviously they are not going to make the October 31st deadline. Commissioner Sydnor said we have not been doing that anyway. We have been asking for an extension. Rob Collison suggested that Council review the material during the next 2 weeks and then voting at the next meeting. Ed Kinnamon said Council needs to move on this. There is a deadline by the State of October 31st; however, extensions can be requested and we have done so in the past. Mr. Lindsay called him today and said that if he was awarded the bid this evening, or whenever, he could get right on this and he could have it done by February 28th. That is a really quick response at this time. Rob Collison asked if this was the only formal proposal they have to consider. Commissioner Brooks said they had 2 proposals to consider. Neither of the 2 included anything on a performance audit. That is the reason that only the 2 firms that met the deadline were contacted to find out why they did not include the performance audit and asked if they would consider including a performance audit. Both said they would definitely give it a try. They had a very short time span to pull it together. They needed to submit something to us by Friday of last week. Mr. Lindsay was able to submit it. Mr. Stern called at least 4 or 5 times, but was unable to make contact and Mr. Kinnamon was out of town on Friday and that was the deadline.

Mayor Rippons said we knew that we had the financial statement audit. That basic audit could have been performed this year for $19,000 to $21,000. Mr. Kinnamon said it was in the low 20s. Their estimate this year, if Council accepts it, just for that base is $35,000. They have just cost the city, roughly at a minimum $12,000 to $15,000 because of the base audit. The cost of the base audit already exceeds the cost that was already in the books. He said the Commissioners think that the performance audit is needed, simply allow the agency that we have now to continue to do the base audit for $19,000 and then he has indicated distinct costs for each audit. Instead of paying $35,000 for the next 2 years for a base audit that they know they can get now for $21,000 or the low 20s, why would they consider allowing him to do it, when they already have an auditor? There are a lot of things that are not understandable. There are a lot of assumptions that are being made. He said they think the consumers and the citizens are not aware of ineptude in office, but they are aware, and the basic audit is going to cost a minimum of $12,000 to $15,000 more. They never even consulted MML as a primary resource to see what they can do as it relates to performance audits and the resources they can bring to the table. Commissioner Brooks said MML was not only contacted but they relied on them heavily on what direction we should move in prior to even bringing this to the table. Mayor Rippons said he would like to have Mr. Hancock or a representative from MML attend the next meeting to address some of these issues. Rob Collison said it sounds as if this approval is a 2-step approval. The first is to approve the audit and he assumes it would require a budget amendment. Those 2 items will have to be done in a public session. If Council does not want to do it at the next scheduled meeting, they have to call a special public meeting. He suggested next Monday night. Commissioner Brooks said Monday night would be fine if everybody can make it. Mayor Rippons said he would like to have Mr. Hancock present. Commissioner Sydnor changed his motion to call a special meeting on Monday, October 29th. Commissioner Brooks said the meeting will be just for the purpose of voting on the audit. Mayor Rippons said it will be for a discussion of the audit. Rob Collison said he will be out of town. He will arrange to have legal counsel present. The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm. Mayor Rippons asked if anybody had any trouble with having MML present. Commissioner Brooks said her goal is to move forward with voting on this and they do not need to delay it. Mayor Rippons said they are not delaying anything. They will be having a perspective from somebody who is there as a resource. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons called for a role call voted. Commissioner Knox voted no. Commissioner Sydnor voted yes. Commissioner Cephas voted yes. Commissioner Brooks voted yes. Commissioner Travers voted no. The motion passed 3:2.

Discuss Handicap Ramp for the West End Police Substation-Commissioner Knox made a motion to table this item because he is scheduled to meet with Chief Malik, Steve Johnson, and Mr. Keating at 4:30 pm tomorrow. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss Lap Top Computers for Council-Commissioner Sydnor requested that this item be tabled until later in the future.

Final Ordinance and Resolution for Dog Ordinance and Violation Fines-Rob Collison provided Council with a schedule of fines and a resolution that would accompany the ordinance. This will be consistent throughout the county because the county enforces the dog control ordinances. He also attached the recommended guidelines for minimum care of animals which can be provided to citizens as a warning before the county start issuing citations. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the ordinance and resolutions. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss Building Sprinkler System Ordinance 954-Mayor Rippons said Chief Hurley and Steve Johnson sent Council a memo asking for an extension .

Ron Colbourne said it is his understanding that there has been a moratorium on sprinklers for new buildings in the city. He has all his paperwork into DPW to build a 3200 sq.ft. pole building. It is not required to have a sprinkler system. From his standpoint, this moratorium is holding up the building. He has invested a lot of money into it and wondered if something could be done. A sprinkler is not required in his building per State law. Rob Collison said our sprinkler ordinance went beyond the State's law requiring all commercial construction to have sprinkler systems. Council can decide if they wish to place a moratorium on the requirements of the ordinance until there are recommendations made amending it or keep the moratorium and give the property owners their choice of either constructing their building with the sprinkler system or waiting until something is resolved. His understanding is that there is going to be some type of compromise proposed as an amendment to the ordinance. Mayor Rippons said there will be considerations made but they have not been fully finalized. Commissioner Cephas said if this gentleman's building does not require a sprinkler system at all, then he should not have to wait. Rob Collison said the ordinance that the Commissioners approved requires a sprinkler system in all commercial and retail construction. Mr. Colbourne said it is his understanding from DPW that this is being looked at and rewritten and under the new guidelines, that will not be the case. Commissioner Sydnor said Council will have to vote to extend the moratorium since it is the enforcement of this, which will mean it is not going to be enforced. Rob Collison said right now he thinks they are just withholding acting on any building permits. The sprinkler ordinance is still in effect. Unless a property owner wants to put it in, they are saying they are holding up the permit because it might change what type of properties are requiring sprinklers. Rob Collison said Council could adopt an emergency reading that requires 1 reading instead of 2 readings but they did not have any forewarning to do it this evening. It would have to wait for the next meeting.

Commissioner Knox said he read all the information that Jim Chaney gave Council. The information that was given to them at the very beginning has certainly changed. He thinks they should leave everything the way it was before Council adopted the new ordinance. He felt like it was shoved down his throat that Council needed to do this. After reading all the information that was presented to them, and looking at the expense, it was a minimal expense at first. All of a sudden these expenses tripled if not quadrupled. There are hundreds of thousands of recalls for this equipment. He feels they need to go back, strike all these new ordinances from the city, and wait until the State of Maryland mandates the city to do it. That way there will not be a lot of confusion. Steve Johnson and Chief Hurley may have a better solution than what Council is looking at right now. Commissioner Cephas said he feels the same way. He knows several people who were personally affected by this. They are not even able to move forward with building their home because of it. When Council was first told about the sprinkler systems, the cost was minimal and for some strange reason it escalated. There are major problems with the sprinkler systems.

Jim Chaney said he recently spoke to a lot of insurance agencies and got a lot more information. He was told by the fire marshal that you do not have to do maintenance on the system. That is not true. The insurance companies require yearly maintenance including a flow test. He said Steve Johnson agreed to the moratorium for an additional 30 days so they could do more investigations. Rob Collison said he can draft an ordinance for the meeting next week in which they can deem it an emergency situation and they can rescind the city's sprinkler system ordinance. If that ordinance is rescinded, we will not have a sprinkler ordinance until Steve Johnson and Chief Hurley come back with a recommendation. Commissioner Knox said it gives Council a lot more opportunity to do their homework. Council agreed. Commissioner Knox made a motion to have Rob Collison prepare an ordinance for an emergency vote next week. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Commissioner Travers said he is opposed to sprinkler systems. Commissioner Knox said with the impact fees, excise taxes, and all these other fees, it is just one more step of getting affordable housing out of reach. The motion passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from The Friends of Stanley Institute for City to Fill-In Ditch on Bayly Road Next to Their School-Herschal Johnson, President of The Friends of Stanley Institute, said they are asking the city to fill in the ditch on Bayly Road next to their school like was done further back up on Bayly Road. It is a dangerous situation where they are located. They held an open house on July 28th and had to park their visitors across the road on Rock Drive and the guests had to cross Route 16. There is not much room for parking on their lot and there is only one entrance and exit onto Route 16. In front of the school is the turn lane for Bayly Road and Dailsville Road. Years ago when they widened Bayly Road, it took part of their property. There was an outhouse out back and when they widened the road, they cut that off. At that time it wasn't being used but it took the property that the Stanley Institute owned. If the ditch is filled-in like it is further up toward the city, they would have room for people to park on their property and also they could exit on Bayly Road instead of on Route 16. The property owner next to them would not agree to sell, lease, or donate property for parking. They have tried everything to solve their problem. Mayor Rippons suggested that someone from the Department of Public Works visit the property and talk to Herschel Johnson about this situation. The DPW representative can then report his findings to Council. George Hyde said he will do it. He said the ditch on that side of Bayly Road is not nearly as deep as on the other side of the road.

Request from Wal-Mart to Place Temporary Storage Trailers on Their Property for the Upcoming Christmas Season-Portia Johnson-Ennels asked how many trailers Wal-Mart is asking for since they no longer have lay away and that was the purpose of the trailers. Mayor Rippons said he believes it is not to exceed 6 trailers. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she doesn't think they should need more than 3 trailers since they no longer have lay away. They have taken that service away from the community. Mayor Rippons asked Chief Malik if they have had any trouble with the trailers in the past. Chief Malik said they have not. Mayor Rippons said Council can only give them permission for 30 days. Council could allow them to do it for 30 days with the contemplation that since they have taken away one of the amenities for the city, they could ask Wal-Mart to supply supporting rationale as to why this many trailers is still needed. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request from Wal-Mart and ask them to supply supporting rationale for the necessary number of trailers that they have. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request to Refer to Traffic and Safety Committee a Request from the Richardson Maritime Museum on High Street for Directional Signs-Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the request to the Traffic and Safety Committee. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 4199 - Cambridge Travel - $2,248.20 - Transportation to National League of Cities Convention (Commissioners)-Portia Johnson-Ennels asked the purpose of this trip. She has the agenda of what is being offered there and it seems like these are some of the things offered each year by MML. Mayor Rippons said they are similar in scope but this offers a different angle. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she can see if this was their first or second year of being in office but asked the purpose of going at the end of term. She asked how many Commissioners were going. Commissioner Brooks said 3 Commissioners are going. Her purpose in going is that she is in the process of arranging meetings with different city officials and other members to discuss personally with them how they are meeting the challenge of rebuilding a city that was not only poor but devastated. In a little city like Cambridge we are unable to do a lot of things and we have more money coming in now than we did when they first came into office in 2004. Her goal is to learn what they need to do to meet some of their own demanding needs from people from cities all around the United States. They will meet with officials from all 52 states in this one location to discuss their challenges and how they overcome them. It is their hope to bring back a lot of knowledge to Cambridge just as they did with MML. They will take about grants. It is going to be an exposition so they will be able to walk around and talk to different vendors, different organizations, and different committees from all over the United States. They will also talk about affordable housing. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they applied for the scholarship for first-time attendees. Commissioner Brooks said this is not her first time. Portia Johnson-Ennels said with all the talk about funding, she is wondering if this is a necessary expenditure. Commissioner Brooks said she feels it is necessary and one of the things they decided to do is to delete all of the conferences and sessions that would cost the City of Cambridge additional money. Most of the sessions they will be attending will be outside traveling sessions. They are free. It is just for the cost of attending this training session.  They deleted everything from the purchase order that they could for a cost savings. Last year she gave Mr. Kinnamon back the city's cell phone to help meet the expenditures of this trip. They did not take the trip last year so they could take it this year because it looked like this year's location will have more to meet their needs. Right now, everyone who wants to contact her, does so on her own personal cell phone and she pays for it herself. She has made contributions toward this trip and will be paying for her family to attend along with her. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the cheapest thing is a luncheon for $40. The other workshops are either $105 or $165 per person. Commissioner Brooks said they are not attending those workshops. They are attending the free sessions that came out after that. Mayor Rippons said he sees Portia Johnson-Ennels' point. Perhaps they did not need to have multiple members attend. He does not attend MML functions and he does not stay overnight. As an elected official, instead of attending the seminars, he reviews the handouts. He believes the National League of Cities has the same thing where you can review the handouts of the sessions. This trip will cost in excess of $7,000. He agrees with Portia Johnson-Ennels on this issue but as an elected official, anyone can accept to go that route if they believe that it is in their best interest. Ed Kinnamon said on that particular purchase order, approximately $1000 will be reimbursed to the city for the family members who are attending. Not the whole $2200 will be an expense of the city. Commissioner Sydnor has already reimbursed his portion of the additional cost.

Wendell Foxwell said he thinks what Mrs. Johnson-Ennels is talking about is maybe also the timing. A lot of people who are attending this meeting will only have a few more months to go and they may not be re-elected. It may be better to attend them in the first year or second year of office. Some of them will not get elected again and they will not have much time to bring much back to the table. It could be a waste of the taxpayer's money if they do not get elected again.

Gage Thomas asked why the city should be advancing the money for the families. Ed Kinnamon said this is actually the travel portion. They were purchased at one time on the city's credit card a few weeks ago. Commissioner Brooks said she will reimburse the city prior to travel. Ed Kinnamon said he already has part of it. Commissioner Knox said he has never had a city cell phone. He has a hard time with financing vacations. When he looks at the purchase order he sees that Commissioner Brooks is taking 3 members of her family and Commissioner Sydnor is taking 1 member of his family. He understands that when purchasing this together there were probably some discounts in it. His concern is when the city will be reimbursed. It is good to hear that Commissioner Sydnor reimbursed his money. He does not think it is necessary to have 3 people going. He would like to get a report back on what takes place at these conventions. He has never heard of any news coming back from these conventions. Commissioner Brooks said she is going by train because it is the cheapest. Commissioner Knox said when the Commissioners return, he would like to have a full report of their activities. He thinks a copy of their expenses should be made public as well. Commissioner Cephas said he spoke to Mr. Kinnamon earlier and told him he will not be going on this trip-not because of public comments, but because something came up and he does not want to cancel it anymore. It is a medical reason. Therefore, only 2 Commissioners will attend the conference. Mayor Rippons said the reduction in Purchase Order 4199 will be in the amount of $658.60. Mr. Sydnor has already pre-paid his son's cost which is $307. Commissioner Brooks said her portion of the travel expense is $322. Ed Kinnamon said approximately $2700 will be coming off the total bill. Mayor Rippons said roughly the total for the purchase order for the 2 Commissioners will be $628.80. He asked if Mr. Kinnamon would like the purchase order amended and brought back to Council. Mr. Kinnamon said it can be amended by motion and then he will adjust it. There may be additional cancellation fees. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve amended Purchase Order 4199 to reflect a total amount of $700. Ed Kinnamon said he will put a copy in the Council's books next week. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:2 with Commissioners Knox and Travers opposed.

Approve PO 4200 - Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown - $4,517.40 - Lodging During National League of Cities Convention (Commissioners)-Mayor Rippons said this purchase order will also be adjusted. He was reading the brochure about the convention and found that the convention will be for 4½ days. He asked why 1 Commissioner was staying for 6 nights and 1 Commissioner was staying for 7 nights. They are arriving on a Sunday for a convention that starts on a Tuesday. Commissioner Brooks said Kathy Foster had the latitude to make that correction. She telephoned Mr. Kinnamon on his day off and informed him that the reservations were being made at his direction. He said to make the reservations. She asked Mr. Kinnamon to allow Kathy Foster to make the reservations the very next day which would have the correct information. However, Mr. Kinnamon said no and she should go ahead. They went ahead, and in going ahead, it was the wrong date. Kathy Foster and Mr. Kinnamon had every opportunity to make the correction. It was put back in their hands. It was up to them to make the corrections. Mayor Rippons said each Commissioner was asked to make their own reservations. Commissioner Brooks said they were not. They asked her to make them. Ed Kinnamon said Kathy Foster asked him if it would be appropriate for each Commissioner to make their own reservations for simplicity sake in case there was questions about what flights that they wanted, etc. It made sense to him. Mrs. Foster spoke to Commissioner Brooks who made reservations for all 3 Commissioners. The call he got from Commissioner Brooks was in reference to the credit card number. He assisted her with that. He was not aware of the mix-up on dates until later. Kathy Foster brought it to his attention. Commissioner Brooks said she brought it to Kathy's attention. Ed Kinnamon said he did not keep track of the days they were going or how long they were staying. Commissioner Brooks said when she spoke to Kathy Foster, Kathy told her she already made the corrections she was going to make. It had already been taken care of. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve Purchase Order 4200 in the amended amount of $2,936.31 assuming there is no cancellation fee. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Travers asked Commissioner Brooks if she felt this trip is very important. She said she does. She feels we are very isolated and that may be the reason why the city has taken so long to grow. In her opinion, when it grew, it grew in the wrong direction-all houses and no economics. If they spread out and learn what other cities are doing in towns similar to what we live in throughout the United States, meeting with people together is powerful in knowledge. She believes the knowledge they bring back and present to the City of Cambridge will not only benefit the Commissioners but will also benefit any newly-elected Commissioners. The information will already be here. The contacts they make are very valuable and last throughout the entire time. Coming up with this audit, she was able to go back through maybe 7 or 8 contacts of people that they met throughout the years attending MML and came up with the type of audit that the City of Cambridge was having was actually pennies to the type of audit that the City of Cambridge should have had. This is the only audit and it is the first audit. These are the things they learn at MML. They also learned very early on, Roberts' Rules of Order so you know when to make a motion and what to say and what not to say. There are lots of things that they have learned in these conventions. She feels by attending this convention and exposition, they can learn some things. She hopes that when they learn these things, instead of sitting up here and arguing over what they do not want to do or who they got the information from, maybe they can learn how to utilize what they have learned so it can help the city. Getting the knowledge is one thing. They can bring it back and present it to Council but doing something with it is another thing. That seems to be where they have the road block. That is why she feels there are more members of Council who need to attend meetings like this-especially one called "Team Building and Consensus Building" so they can work together as a team. If they stand together, they will make it. Once they divide, they fall. A lot of times there is a 3:2 vote. That is divided; it is not being together and it is not being united. It is her hope that everybody will listen so that before they leave office or before the end of this term, they begin on some things and see things eye-to-eye. They agree to disagree but they need to learn how to get along and communicate. These are the things they have learned and the things they are presenting and things they are trying.

Commissioner Sydnor said recently he attended the MML meeting in Greenbelt, and one of the sessions that he thought was very interesting was with the State Department of Assessment and Taxation. He shared some of the information with Mr. Kinnamon today. In this session they discussed the annexation of property. He learned of something that is going to happen with the State's Homestead Tax Credit program. They will find that 97% of the property homeowners will be available for this tax credit. It will be based on the assessment. Information will be mailed out on December 28th. Along with it, they discussed the constant yield rate. The city will be getting an update of their constant yield rate-the assessment-the amount they are actually collecting the taxes on. That will be delivered in November. This information will show us what additional incomes we have from July 1st up until the present time. He believes we will also get it again in February. It will help us work within the confines of out budget. He found out some things that are going to happen to our citizens so that we will be able to be prepared and when they have questions, we will hopefully be able to answer them or to direct them to where they can get answers. The Council receives a weekly newspaper from the National League of Cities letting them know what is going on in other cities throughout the United States. The motion passed 3:2 with Commissioners Knox and Travers opposed.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison said the National League of Cities conference will begin on November 12th. Council scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, November 13th and he has run some advertising. He asked Council if they will not be having their meeting on November 13th, when would they like to have the first meeting in November. If Commissioners Knox, Travers, and Cephas will not be able to attend the meeting, they will move it to November 19th.

Commissioner Cephas thanked everyone for their kindness, cards, flower, phone calls, when he lost his father prior to the last meeting.

Commissioner Cephas asked if the city is going to pay for Mr. Collison to attend the Municipal Attorney's Conference. If so, he asked why this was not included in a purchase order along with the Commissioners' trip to New Orleans. It is a definite expense of the city including travel and lodging. Rob Collison said it was budgeted. Ed Kinnamon said if they are paying for it, it probably fell under the amount they bring to Council by purchase order. Purchase Orders over $2000 are brought before Council. Commissioner Cephas said the meeting is in Nashville, Tennessee from October 26th to 31st. Rob Collison said he is required to submit the bills 7 days after he returns. That is what the practice has been. His contract provided that the city would send him to IMLA in Ocean City. All the prior city attorneys would go to Ocean City. Of those 4 days, there is probably only 1 session that is really for city attorneys. He gave up going to that because he found it is much more cost-effective to go the other conference. Commissioner Cephas said he thinks Rob Collison should go, but he was just wondering why it wasn't brought up tonight. Rob Collison said expenses will be submitted when he returns. He said he does not have a city credit card. He charges it to his personal account and gets reimbursed afterwards.

Commissioner Brooks said he was visited by Herb Robinson and he asked her to deliver a message to the city. Apparently he has some property that is not too far from our public safety building. He is in the process of getting ready to sell the property and would like to know if the city would like an access road from the public safety building through his property that would put them on Woods Road in the even there is a traffic jam or whatever. There would be 2 ways that the fire trucks, ambulance, and police could get out to get the residents. He is willing to do this for free but the city has to make a decision whether we want it or not prior to the time when he has his lawyer draw the paperwork up for the sale. She gave Rob Collison the paperwork. Commissioner Knox said he spoke to Mr. Robinson as well and Mr. Robinson is not interested in giving this property away to the city. What he made clear was that he is willing to have the city entertain to have an option on this stretch of property that goes through there with the option to buy the property. He is not going to give the property away. The property would come along side of 84 Lumber and roughly go behind the public safety building and go down behind Mr. Robinson's storage facility and it will come out adjacent to the Wawa entrance. He made it clear he is not interested in giving any of the property away. He would be willing to entertain the city having an option on it for purchase. Commissioner Brooks asked Rob Collison to call Mr. Robinson. He visited her on Friday and emphasized more than 1 time that this access and right-of-way would not cost the city anything. The only thing they would need to do is let him know before he had his lawyers draw his plans up and have Rob Collison take a look at it. Commissioner Travers asked if it crosses over to where Western Printing was. Commissioner Brooks said it does. There is another gentleman who is in agreement with him that is also saying that he would not charge the city anything to come through there. Commissioner Sydnor said they definitely need to look at it.

George Hyde said over the last 1½ weeks, all the city inspectors and all the department heads have been at the public safety building doing their final inspections to prepare a punch list of items to be completed. It looks like we will be in there before too long. The Police Department has scheduled their training on the new 9-1-1 communications equipment. That has to take place before they can actually occupy the building. It is scheduled for the end of November and then they can move in the following week.

Gregory Kane, a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, said he is working on a report on the 7 cities that had riots with disturbances in the 1960s. His part of the report is the future. He would like to talk to as many people as possible.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:55 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, October 22, 2007, insofar as I personally am aware.

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Edwin C. Kinnamon

                                                                                    Clerk & Treasurer