City Council Minutes
June 11, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on June 11, 2001, in City 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 Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, Atkinson and Travers.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the June 4, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Proclamation for Merger of United Fund of Dorchester and United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore-The proclamation was read, signed, and presented to Gage Thomas, Vice President for Dorchester United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore and Kathleen Mommé, Executive Director of the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore.
Proclamation for Juneteenth Day--The proclamation was read, signed, and presented to Evelyn Townsend of the Harriet Tubman Organization.
Constant Yield Tax Rate-The constant yield tax rate is established by the assessments throughout the City limits on real property. A constant yield tax rate public hearing is held each year because the current tax rate exceeds the constant yield tax rate. A notice was published in The Daily Banner on Monday, June 4, 2001.
The Commissioners of Cambridge propose to increase real property taxes.
For the tax year beginning July 1, 2001, the estimated real property assessable base will increase by 2.074% from $362,437,875 and as of October1, 2000 to $369,956,183 as of July1, 2001.
If Commissioners of Cambridge maintains the current real property tax rate, effective October 1, 2000, of $0.676 per $100 of assessment, real property tax revenues will increase by 2.074% resulting in $50,824 of new real property tax revenues.
In order to fully offset the effect of increasing assessments, the real property tax rate should be reduced to $0.662, the constant yield tax rate.
The City of Cambridge is considering not reducing its real property tax rate enough to fully offset increasing assessments. The City of Cambridge proposes to adopt a real property tax rate of $0.676 per $100 of assessment. This tax rate is 2.115% higher than the constant yield tax rate and will generate $50,824 in additional property tax revenues.
As there was no public questions or comments, the public hearing was closed.
Public Input and Comment on the Draft of the Proposed Request for Letters of Interest (RFI) Regarding the Possible Development of the Marine Terminal at Sailwinds Park-Rob Collison reported that the Maryland Port Administration is the owner of the port property. The City is now the tenant of the festival grounds and Governor's Hall. The State is in the process of developing a "Request for Letters of Interest". This is at the State's request, not the City's. The State has requested that the City have a public comment session with regard to the draft RFI. The notice of public hearing was published in The Daily Banner on June 1, 2001 and in the Dorchester Star on June 8, 2001. It set forth the draft RFI that the Maryland Port Administration will be issuing. There have been meeting between the City, the County, the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation. This does not mean that development will happen. The RFI is to solicit letters of inquiry to see what proposals may be forthcoming. There will be a committee developed that will then review any proposals and make recommendations to the State and the City.
Effie Elzey (5418 Moose Lodge Road) wants to keep the deepwater port at Long Wharf and Sailwinds. Cambridge is the second and the only other deepwater port besides Baltimore. Rob Collison responded that at the last meeting with the State, the importance of keeping this a deepwater port was addressed.
Rob Collison recommended adding in a provision that it is the desire of the community to maintain Governors Hall and the festival grounds on a waterfront site and to keep Sailwinds as an official port of the State of Maryland.
The Council will consider any comments this evening and next week will approve an official response to the State. The State will then incorporate the response into their official RFI. The RFI will be adopted and approved by the Board of Public Works. Their timeframe is to advertise by mid-July and to have all applications and requests for interest back by mid-September.
As there was no other questions or comments, the public hearing was closed.
Ron West to Discuss Sanitary Fee Increase-Mr. West lives at 2949 Third Street in the Jacktown/Lovejoy area in Sanitary District No. 4. They got hit with a 60.26% increase in their sanitary bill. He would like to know how you could go up that much for a utility in one billing period. . His understanding is that the City is asking for a 38.10% increase because of two major construction projects but that County residents are supposed to be paying operation costs only. He feels the City is passing construction costs to the County residents.
David Pritchett responded that there are two projects-one is the upgrade of the plant itself as mandated by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The City met with the State to see what increases are permitted. The State's recommendation to the City was to increase rates to a higher percentage rate than what they went with. The City has to remain revenue neutral on the operation of the plant. The sewer separation project is indirectly a part of the BNR upgrade. On the BNR portion, the remaining cost to the City is $9,292,000 after low interest funds and grants. The CSO portion is $1,755,000 for Phase 1, which is about 80¢ of the annual average person's rate towards funding the actual separation part that many people feel should not be a part of their cost.
Mr. West wanted to know if the City included the Sanitary Commission increase when they spoke to the State about what percentage rate was allowed. Mayor Rippons responded that the City does not have any jurisdiction on the Sanitary District. These representatives are appointed by the County Commissioners. The State was talking about a 50% to 60% increase. The City worked on it and got it down to 38%. This is not only for out-of-City users; it is for City residents also. The audit for the Sanitary District for last year shows a $796,000 surplus for the entire district. The people will be paying $500 a year. It's just over $300 that will come to the City. Two-thirds of the amount is for administration. Mayor Rippons feels the questions should be presented to the County Commissioners even thought the County Commissioners told the people to talk to the City. The increase was State mandated. Mayor Rippons offered to go with Mr. West when he meets with the Sanitary District. The City approved the rates on January 22, 2001. The Sanitary District was notified of the increase in February.
Phil Rice to Discuss Tourism-Mr. Rice referred to the article in the paper last week of the County Tourism Department requesting funds from the hotel room tax to support tourism. The City Commissioners in the 1992-1996 era and the County Commissioners from 1996-2000 began negotiations with the State and Quadrangle to bring the Hyatt resort to Cambridge. During Mr. Rice's term in office, the Council moved forward with the Hyatt project rather dramatically. For a project of this nature, tax abatements are necessary. In order to get financing, the County was asked to give a 20-year tax abatement, which they did readily. They also gave a low-interest loan, which would be repaid. The 20-year tax abatement required $0 out of their budget because they provide no services. The City was asked to give a 25-year abatement. The City will have to provide some services to the Hyatt. The Council felt there is no way that our taxpayers should subsidize a profit-making outfit for 25 years. Jeff Powell, who was County Commission President at the time, suggested a 5% room tax with the City receiving 4% of the 5%. They worked with the Department of Public Works and the Governor's Office of Budget and Management to come up with the projected costs for these City services. The County was in favor of the room tax so the City moved forward. Before this could get started, the new-elected County Council and their Tourism Director decided that maybe 4% of the 5% needed to go to tourism because they were in need of funds. The City showed the County and State the documents which stated the City would be more than happy to give the Hyatt a 25-year tax abatement but it would be contingent upon the 4% room tax. If the 4% room tax disappeared, the tax abatement would disappear. The County is asking the City to give up 25% of that money to subsidize a County department. This is double taxation to support the Tourism office. Inasmuch as the reason for the 4% room tax was to offset costs, he strongly urges the Council to take measures that will protect the 4% room tax for the 25-year tax abatement life.
Text Amendment: Creation of the Following as a Special Use in an R3 District: "The Conversion of a School to Residential Condominiums"--Rob Collison reported that last week the City held a public hearing on the proposed text amendment that was proposed by Tony Thomas for the conversion of a school in an R3 district to residential condominiums. There were two open issues. The City was to receive a survey plat and the City was to obtain information on how other communities provide for the conversion of existing structures that do not comply with the zoning code at the time. Mr. Michael contacted three municipalities for their procedures. Easton has a planned redevelopment comprehensive ordinance, which addresses redevelopment on an existing structure in any zoning district. This goes through the Board of Zoning Appeals granting variances and special exceptions. Chestertown does not have anything for redevelopment of existing buildings. Denton had this occur. They don't have a special comprehensive redevelopment ordinance. They have one school that was recently converted. They rezoned it for the proposed use. Several letters were received and read as part of the public record. Hubert Wright was opposed to the amendment as it is proposed. Ms. Linda Nabb goes into detail about adding specific criteria for this type of proposed development. Tony Thomas provided a survey plat.
Commissioner Weldon is concerned that this would create "spot rezoning". The Council is trying to protect Mr. Thomas' interest as well as the community's. Mr. Thomas is will try to get an extension on his contract. This text amendment will be further investigated.
Request from Dorchester Service Associates for Refund for Building Permit-DSA applied for a permit in the amount of $432.50. Due to a death in the family, the residents no longer needed the addition. The Department of Public Works had already completed the planning and site review. David Pritchett's recommendation is to refund 85% of the $432.50 and retain 15% for the services rendered. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to refund 85% of the fee for services rendered. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Further Discussion on Alarm System for Empowerment Center-David Pritchett found a supplier for the alarm system for $2,480.00. In accordance with the City's procurement policy, he is requesting to handle this in-house by receiving three estimates and then reporting back to Council. Mayor Rippons agreed that this was the procedure to follow.
Second Reading and Decision on Adopting Stormwater Management Ordinance-This revision, which was requested by the State, will amend the entire Article IV "Stormwater Management" of Chapter 7 "Grading, Erosion and Sediment Control". Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve adopting the Stormwater Management Ordinance. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. This ordinance will become effective in 60 days.
Approve Budget Amendment for CEMS-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendments for CPD-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Meeting for Next Week/ Discuss Canceling Meeting for June 25th -Because the Mayor and Commissioners will be at the Maryland Municipal League Convention on June 25th, Commissioner Watkins made a motion to hold a regular session on June 18th and to cancel the meeting for June 25th. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett submitted a letter to send to all the slip holders at the Municipal Yacht Basin incorporating the rates, which will become effective January 2002. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accept the recommendation for the Municipal Yacht Basin rates to become effective January 2002. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Two bids were submitted for petroleum products:
Pep-Up, Inc. (Cambridge, MD)-Conventional 87 Octane is $1.1743; Conventional 89 Octane is $1.2193; Diesel Fuel is $0.8853; No. 2 Fuel Oil is $0.8698; Propane is $0.827; Fuel Oil Guarantee is $0.9020.
Wise Oil & Fuel (Cambridge, MD)-89 Octane is $125.10; 87 Octane is $120.10; Diesel Fuel is $118.55; 10W30 Motor Oil - no bid; Other Motor Oil - no bid; Hydraulic Oil - no bid; No. 2 Fuel Oil - $86.45; Guarantee Price - no bid. LP Gas - no bid.
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer the bids to Mr. Wheeler for recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Weldon made a motion to go into Executive Session directly following this meeting for a legal matter. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:30 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, June 11, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer