City Council Minutes
December 3, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 3, 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 November 26, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Representative from Reznick Fedder & Silverman to Present Report on City's 2001 Audit-Financial statements were given to the Council prior to the meeting. Mike Cumming pointed out the audit opinion. This is an unqualified opinion, which means based upon their audit, the financial statements are free of any material mis-statements. This is the first year since Reznick Fedder & Silverman began doing the audit that the City has exceeded the $300,000 threshold that triggers an A133 requirement related to Federal assistance. In connection with this, there are two reports issued. The first is a report on internal control and compliance over financial reporting. As in prior years, there are no reportable conditions to be disclosed under this report. The second report is a report on compliance with requirements applicable to the major Federal programs and compliance under those programs. There are no compliance findings or report conditions to be noted relating to Federal programs for the year ending June 30, 2001. Mr. Cumming handed out a list of matters that are required to be communicated under government auditing standards. There are no changes from the prior years.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to accept the audit report. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Recommendation by Public Works to Allow the Sanitary District to Extend Beyond Existing Boundary-Logan H. Fitzhugh, W/S Bucktown Road, applied to the Sanitary District to amend their boundary line so he could connect his adjacent property on Central Road to the Sanitary District #4 sewer system. David Pritchett reported that the sewage flow is still within the limit allocated to the area. Aside from the issue of annexation, the Department of Public Works is able to recommend connection under technical reasons. Rob Collison asked this to be deferred for one more week.
Request To Waive Interest Charges on Delinquent Personal Property Taxes-A local business claimed they had not received the bill. Upon receipt of a lien notice issued by City Hall, the individual called and said they were surprised to see they had not paid the bill. They immediately paid the bill and submitted a letter explaining they have been prompt in paying their bill for over 20 years. They have requested leniency in paying the $406 in interest charges. Ed Kinnamon reported that the individual has always paid his bill promptly before. Rob Collison reported the Council has the ability to abate under the City Code if they find it is justified. Commissioner Bohlen said the City is not responsible for whether or not the individual gets the bill. If they have received it for over 18 years and suddenly they didn't get it, that doesn't mean they don't have to pay it this year. Commissioner Atkinson feels in view of the fact that he relocated his business around this time; the City should be a little lenient with the man. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to return the interest. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. To answer a question by Commissioner Travers, Ed Kinnamon reported that the others two cases involved businesses going out of business. He hasn't had a case like this one. Commissioner Bohlen said the bill needs to be paid in a timely fashion. If you give one person a break, you are going to have to give everyone a break. The vote was 2:3 with Commissioners Bohlen, Travers, and Watkins opposed. The request for return of the interest was denied.
Approve Holiday Schedule for 2002-The schedule is produced based on government holidays elsewhere in the State with the exception of Cambridge Day, which is unique to Cambridge. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the 2002 holiday schedule for City employees. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request To Go To Bid for Marina Sidewalk-David Pritchett reported that the City is well into the reconstruction at the City marina. One of the aspects of the renovation is installing a sidewalk. The service drive was removed. Neither the Department of Public Works nor the boaters want it replaced. David highly recommends not replacing the service road and installing an 8-ft wide concrete walkway with the antique lighting. This is a $30,000 project, which is funded 50 percent by DNR. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to allow the Department of Public Works to go to bid for sidewalk at the City Marina. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Order 2152 (Caldabaugh Communications) CEMS-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve Purchase Order 2152. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons asked Council for their input on which Council members will serve on the Economic Development Committee. Commissioner Weldon said he previously stated his interest on serving on the committee and also advanced the motion to create the committee. Mayor Rippons will take this under consideration and make his recommendations next week.
Mayor Rippons reported that ARC has a concern about the sale of greenery downtown. Gage Thomas reported that several business owners have a concern that Mr. Molock is back on the street selling greenery. He was asked to come to Council late in the season last year and instead of addressing it, Council asked him to come to Council before he starts selling this year. There were issues about taking a parking spot all day, asking people to move their vehicles because it was "his spot", vehicular traffic stopping on the opposite side causing traffic bottlenecks and/or people crossing the road where they have nearly been hit, etc. With Mr. Molock occupying the space all day, it prevents customers to the other businesses from being able to park there. Gage suggested Mr. Molock be able to set up at the pedestrian mall which would give the same visibility and there is a City parking lot behind it. Another suggestion is the City parking lot near City Hall.
Commissioner Weldon remembers the conversation and speaking on behalf of the business people downtown and being shouted down. He also remembers that Mr. Molock was asked to approach Council about the situation to get a special use permit or something similar. He asked Mr. Kinnamon to review the minutes and draft a letter to Mr. Molock to remind him of the conversation last year so we can arrive at an equitable conclusion. David Pritchett said he has no problem with Mr. Molock's location where he operates out of his truck. If he uses the pedestrian mall, he will need a vendor's stand. He doesn't know if this is appropriate in the pedestrian mall area. Commissioner Bohlen suggested talking to Mr. Kelly and asking for permission for Mr. Molock to park in the corner spot in the Craig's Drug Store parking lot. Commissioner Weldon said Mr. Molock does beautiful work and is very popular with residents from all over the City; however, we can't let anybody pull up on the curb and set up a business. He has been doing this for many years so this is certainly a "grand fathered" situation. If someone pulled up there tomorrow and starting selling stereo equipment, etc., the City would have a problem with that. He feels Mr. Molock should submit a request to allow him to operate as he has been operating. Commissioner Watkins feels we should try to find some way to keep Mr. Molock downtown. He is a tradition and it adds to the businesses downtown. He has been there for years and years and enhances the Christmas spirit in Cambridge.
Portia Johnson Ennels listened to the incident last year about Mr. Molock and his greenery. She has lived in the community practically all her life and people look for Mr. Molock this time of year. Her understanding is that the farmer's market moved to Sailwinds because the people who owned the parking lot did not want them there. She feels sometimes it is best to keep a little bit of the traditions they we are accustomed to. Mr. Molock is only there for a short span of time; if he has to move, you would have a lot of disappointed people of all ages. Ed Kinnamon will review last year's City Council minutes.
Ed Kinnamon reported that the Captain's position at the Police Department was de-activated some time ago. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to re-activate the position. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Mayor Rippons reported that the job descriptions of both the Captain and the Major have been given to the Council for their review. The Captain's position will be upgraded before it is filled. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons announced that the Council received a letter of retirement from Chief Russell Wroten who has been with the City of the Cambridge for 38½ years. He has offered his letter of retirement effective December 31, 2001. With reluctance, the Council has accepted that retirement notice. Chief Wroten has put in an inordinate amount of time and effort and his considerations in what he has done in that position and other community interests has gone beyond the title of Police Chief. The City recognizes the tremendous effort that he has put forward over these years and reluctantly has accepted his retirement effective the last day of this year.
Mayor Rippons reported that Council will not be meeting on Monday, December 24. City offices will be closed that day. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that if there is nothing time sensitive to discuss that they cancel the meeting for Monday, December 31, 2001. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Bohlen commended the Cambridge Police Department for their work in handling the incident during the Christmas Parade. Their quick and thorough actions prevented a disaster. He would also like to commend the parade committee, particularly Laura Weldon, for her fast action.
Commissioner Watkins said there were more people at the parade than he has ever seen before and they were very enthusiastic. He wants to commend the people who are responsible for the fine parade.
Commissioner Weldon reported on an item in the newspaper earlier this week from Mr. Beatty who has approached Council regarding the space-training center that he was proposing for the Academy School. The letter was fairly inaccurate in it's indictment of members of City Council and members of the Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission extended the gentlemen an additional 30 days to prepare more detailed plans for consideration. In the timeframe, he opted to withdraw his application. There were significant details lacking from his presentation. Commissioner Bohlen feels Mr. Beatty found his project to be more expensive than he could afford and that there were parameters within the historic preservation guidelines that he would fail to meet.
Commissioner Travers also feels this is the largest crowd Cambridge has had for the Christmas Parade. On Sunday, the Council participated in the Mayor's Parade in Baltimore. They rode behind the Cambridge South Dorchester Band and they were the best Commissioner Travers has ever seen.
Jim Michael reported that the City submitted a Community Development Block Grant application last July. The City did not succeed in getting any funds during the last round; however, Cambridge is next on the list according to a State official. She suggested that the City re-submit the application for the Bayly Road improvements that has a very high priority. The program basically ran out of money. She gave Mr. Michael some ideas for revising the application. The deadline for CDBG applications is February 1, 2002. He said the City can re-submit the Bayly Road application and also submit an application for assistance with the Christ Rock annexation. There is $3 million available for the next round. A ballpark figure to run sewer lines to Christ Rock would be $350,000 to $360,000. The City is allowed to submit up to $800,000 in projects. The following round of funding will be in the summer of 2002. This is the last year they will have two rounds per year.
Mayor Rippons reported that Rob Collison, Commissioner Watkins, and he met with the Pine Street Committee in relationship to the Empowerment Center. It was a productive meeting. All documents they have requested have been forwarded to their attorney. The attorney feels it is very optimistic at this time. Hopefully there will be closure on this issue in a short period of time.
The City of Cambridge will be hosting the Maryland Municipal League Conference in October 2002. Cambridge will be highlighted in the MML magazine. Mayor Rippons asked for the citizen's input on items and events to be promoted.
Mayor Rippons extended a great thank you to the Parade Committee for their effort. You can see the paramount time and effort it takes to put on such a parade. He congratulated the Parade Committee, the Cambridge Police Department and Rescue Fire Company for their response on this occasion and also to Troy Brohawn. Mayor Rippons was behind the Cambridge South Dorchester High School Band during the Baltimore Parade. The people watching the parade were appreciative of the band's performance in Baltimore.
There were 650 to 700 people who attended Beatle Mania at Sailwinds Park on Friday. In the last quarter, the records show that they have quadrupled the profit that they generated in the first quarter. This weekend alone generated in excess of $5,000 profit.
Commissioner Weldon said the Department of Public Works did a tremendous job in cleaning up after the parade. By Sunday morning, the street was clean as a whistle.
Gage Thomas said regarding the audit, it sounds good that we had a favorable report. He asked if any comments were made to how the City's manages its money (conservative, aggressive, average, etc.). Mayor Rippons reported that the audit is in reference to guidelines set up by the State to ascertain that all activities of any financial account of the City meets the guidelines. They make no adjudication as to conservancy; just that the provisions as specified in Maryland State law are being adhered to by the City. Commissioner Atkinson offered Mr. Thomas his copy of the audit for review. Mr. Thomas asked about the City's bond rating. Ed Kinnamon said the City doesn't get rated all the time. The City hasn't sold bonds since 1978.
Gage Thomas asked who was requesting to be brought into the Sanitary District. David Pritchett responded that Mr. Logan Fitzhugh on the west side of Bucktown Oakhill Road has property that adjoins the district on Central Road. He is in the sanitary district and would like to hook-up the adjoining lot.
Gage Thomas asked who was asking to have interest on personal property tax waived. Mayor Rippons answered it was Dr. Paul Brant.
Gage Thomas saw on the news that Princess Anne was installing gaslights like the City is contemplating installing. Commissioner Bohlen said Princess Anne put in lots of lights and they are outrageously bright. The wattage of the bulbs is double the candlepower that they need which is a detriment to the drivers. Mr. Ken Roth who gave the presentation during a Council meeting has given a proposal to the Department of Public Works with a layout of what is needed.
In response to a question by Gage Thomas, Mayor Rippons reported that there is no timetable on the Community Legacy Grant due to the September 11 events. One of the key players is John Porcari, Secretary of Transportation. It is very hard for him to facilitate meetings. The Governor has already reviewed their recommendations.
Debbie Lewis, Hoopers Island, told Council of a problem that happened to her at the Christmas parade. There was no problem with the same entry last year. She had their entry form submitted on time. She felt they had enough time from the time she submitted her entry if they had a problem with an 8-year-old child wearing a Santa suit that they surely could have let her know before then. Last year they wanted to know how old he was, how much he weighed, and how tall he was. They said it would be fine.
She came all the way up Hambrooks Blvd to Race Street and they told her she could no longer be in the parade. She was told her she had to take him out of the parade because people thought that he was the real Santa. Because of the fire, she could not find anyone from the Parade Committee. First, they told him he had to take the beard off so did. He is a child; he put it back on. She took it off and put it in the cab of the truck. In response to Mayor Rippons' questions, she said she did not talk to any Committee member. Mayor Rippons said the City does not have jurisdiction over the Committee and suggested that she contact them. If they cannot come to an understanding, she should come back to Council.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 7:55 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 3, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer