• 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

December 4, 2000

 

The City Council met in regular session on December 04, 2000, 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 27, 2000 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

APPOINTMENTS

Reznick, Fedder & Silverman to Discuss City Audit FY2000-Mike Cumming, representing Reznick, Fedder & Silverman presented a report of the City's Audit for FY 2000.

Financial Statement-The opinion of the firm is an unqualified opinion basically meaning that the financial statements are presented fairly in all material respects.  Graphs presented show the overall fund balance has increased by $300,000 or about 9%.   The Unreserved/Undesignated Funds graph actually shows a decrease by about $25,000 from the prior year.  The General Fund Revenue graph presented on a budgetary basis is within $1,000 of revenues, which stayed the same.  The General Fund Expenditures increased about $1,000,000 from the prior year.  The charts on revenue and expenditures have a breakdown of the major components of each one and are pretty consistent with prior years; 50% of the revenue is made up of real and personal property taxes along with income taxes and almost 50% of expenditures are attributed to public safety.

Matters Required to be Communicated Under Government Auditing Standards-The auditor's responsibility is detailed in a letter to the City in the Scope paragraph.  Any significant accounting policies or unusual transactions are also disclosed in the notes of the financial statement.  There are no changes from the prior year.  As far as management judgments and accounting estimates, there are only two that are material to the financial statement--both the reserve for bad debts and any reservation of fund balance retainer earnings.  There were no significant account audit adjustments.  There were no other information documents containing the City's audit financial statements that they were aware of.  There were no disagreements with management.  There were no consultations with other accountants that they were aware of.  There were no major issues discussed with management prior to retention.  There were no difficulties encountered in performing the audit.  There were no irregularities or illegal acts during the audit. 

The City's management letter reports on the control and compliance.  The report is broken down into two sections-the City's compliance with regards to its laws, regulations, contracts, grants, etc.  and the other part is its internal control over financial reporting.  During the course of the audit, nothing came to their attention that would be required to be reported under either category. 

Further into the meeting, Ed Kinnamon requested Council to vote to officially accept the audit as presented.  Commissioner Travers, the Financial Chairman, made a motion to approve the audit.  Commissioner Watkins seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Council to Vote on Ordinance Increasing Out-of-City Water Surcharge From 50% to 100%--The Chamber of Commerce presented a letter with several questions regarding this ordinance.  Gary Newcomb and Rob Collison were present to answer these questions in public.  Gary Newcomb gave a brief history of the water system.  The out-of-City water surcharge was established because the water system was originally purchased by the City of Cambridge from Dorchester Water Company in December 1959.  At that time the City purchased the water system for the benefit of the citizens of Cambridge.  It was felt that people not within the City limits should pay an additional fee.  At the time the system was purchased, it was already expanded outside the City limits.  Rob Collison spoke of the statutory and/or regulatory basis for establishing an out-of-city surcharge.  Generally there is a State statute that sets forth the expressed powers of any municipal corporation.  The operation and management of a public utility such as a water/sewer system is one of those powers expressly granting the right to create one, manage one, and to set the fees.  There are several within the Charter and Code of Cambridge (Sections 3-43 and 3-44 of the Charter).  Section 3-43 Subsection 6 expressly gives the authority to the Council by either resolution or ordinance to establish the various rates, fees or charges.  That section also applied to both areas within and areas beyond the corporate limits.  In the actual Code itself, the entire Chapter 18 deals with the creation of the water rates, connection rate, and usage rates.  This is presented in the form of an ordinance.  This must not be voted on until there has been a second reading--not the same night it is proposed.

Gary Newcomb answered a question on how the amount of the surcharge levied has been determined in the past.  The Bevin Company had been a consultant engineer for MUC up until two years ago. They had originally recommended that the surcharge be 100%.  When the City purchased the water company, they established an MUC to oversee the operation, recommend to the Council rates, improve the system, etc.  At that time they suggested a 100% surcharge but the City Council levied the 50% surcharge.  Mr. Newcomb answered the questions regarding the reason for the proposed increase by explaining that they have tried to operate and maintain the water system, expand the water system, improve the water system, but at the same time maintain the rates as low as possible.  Some people comment on how much the water bill has increased in the past 10 years however the bill is a water/sewer/ disposal fee.  The actual water bill itself has only increased by about 4½% in that time.  The sewer fees have increased and the disposal fee has been added on.  MUC has done everything they can to maintain the rates to a minimum.  They are looking at ways to increase revenues but at the same time keep the rates to a minimum for all the users and especially the City users. 

Other questions were asked about proposed projects, repairs, improvements or expenses that have caused consideration of an increase.  Mayor Rippons stated that they have also rationalized why there is an increase.  Mr. Newcomb stated that the water system with pipes in the ground goes back to 1893.  There are constantly repairs and replacements necessary which are done in-house as much as possible but at the same time they must retain a reserve adequate to protect them in case of any major problems that may arise.  They are struggling with ways to try to have adequate funds to continue improvements.  Mayor Rippons feels that in light of the above, the out-of-city users have been getting a discount of 33% for a number of years.  In reference to the question as to whether any of the operating or capital expenses at MUC paid from Federal, State, County, or City tax revenues, Mr. Newcomb answered absolutely none.  They operate strictly on revenue from water sales.  The MUC operates on a basis that users pay for all MUC costs.  They maintain a reserve just in case of capital improvements.  They operate at neither a loss nor a profit. 

The proposed date of the new surcharge would be January 1, 2001 which would be noticed on the bills in February.

The first reading of this ordinance was last week.    Commissioner Weldon made a motion to increase the rates as proposed.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Council to Vote on Special Use Permit for Sale of Liquor - 603 Meteor Avenue (Crusader's Mart)-A public hearing was held last week on this issue.  Mr. Azam is requesting a special use permit to add the liquor to his existing business, which includes the sale of beer and wine.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the special use permit.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Award Contract for Portable Air Compressor (DPW)-The bids were opened on November 27, 2000.  Only one of the two bids received gave a price.  The price is below the quote given by three manufacturers when the RFP was prepared.  The Department of Public Works recommends that Council award the bid to Folcomer Equipment Corporation in the amount of $11,989.  The budgeted amount was $13,000.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to award the bid as recommended by the Department of Public Works.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Award Contract for Garbage Truck (DPW)-The garbage truck to be replaced is a 1987 model.  Six bids were opened on November 27, 2000.  All specs were evaluated against the requirements of the RFP.  The Department of Public Works recommends awarding the bid to the low bidder, Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems, in the amount of $73,623.  The amount budgeted was $110,000.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to award the bid to Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Request to go to Bid for Bucket Truck (DPW)-The Department of Public Works has $42,000 allocated for a bucket truck in their budget.  The current truck is becoming extremely unreliable and doesn't have many of the features they now require.  It is a 1984 model.  It is not feasible to make any more expensive repairs on this truck.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to allow DPW to go to bid for a bucket truck.  Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.

Request from Roberta Wongus to be Annexed into City-Mr. Collison stated that if Council wishes to proceed with this request, it should be referred to the Planning & Zoning Commission for their recommendation.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the request.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.   The motion was passed unanimously.

Discuss DROP Program for Certified Police Officers-Chief Wroten explained that DROP stands for Deferred Retirement Optional Program.  This is part of the retirement package that CPD received on July 1, 2000.  All certified officers who have 25 years service to start drawing their retirement and as accumulated, placed into an account for a 5‑year period.  This is a winner for the City and the employee.  The benefit to the City is that the City stops paying the employee's retirement on the 25th year.  The downside was that this only affected those people with 25 years.  Anybody over 30 years didn't get the same consideration.  The Chief would like those with over 30 years to be eligible.  It has no effect to the State, no effect to the City, it just allows the officer to put something aside for retirement (additional money - all deferred).  This is IRS approved.  There is no regulation that says the City can't do it; it is entirely up to the Commissioners whether they want to do it or not.  At present this would only affect two or three officers.  Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to check into this and have an answer for next week. 

Approve Budget Amendment for Dept. of Public Works-DPW has recently purchased three new portable hand-held radios.  Two radios (25-year old models) went bad and it isn't feasible to repair them.  They are requesting permission to transfer funds to purchase one radio.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve this budget amendment.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 6, 2000 at 10:00 a.m. (tentative time) on Water Street to discuss the project as it relates to trying to move the utility lines.  It is indirectly involved with the sewer separation project.  They will be talking with the phone company and power company about burying or re-routing the cables.  The object is to get the poles out of Long Wharf Park and also the desirable type of lighting to run down Water Street, if any.  This is a window of opportunity while the street is under construction.   Mayor Rippons asked that the meeting be moved to 9:00 a.m. 

David Pritchett has asked the Council to permit the construction company for the sewer separation project to halt construction from Christmas to New Years Day.  Some streets may be blocked to vehicular traffic and it will be a muddy procedure.  Commissioner Weldon asked for a map to give to the newspapers showing the streets that will be closed to try to avoid confusion.  Mr. Pritchett will get a map with the routes for next week. 

The Grande Caribe, a small cruise ship, cruises the Chesapeake Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway and is 184-ft long.  Its sister-ship berthed here last year several times.  They are requesting two different dates to arrive and use Long Wharf as the mooring point for 2001.  They will be here for 4 hours on May 20, and 3 hours on May 31, 2001.   No waiver of fees is requested. 

Mr. Pritchett reported that last year when they lost the full time Dockmaster, Josh Wheeler took over and began the activities as an assistant Dockmaster.  Everyone he has spoken with has been extremely pleased with Josh.  Josh has accepted the position of the 2001 Dockmaster with a contract beginning July 1, 2001.

Commissioner Weldon wanted everyone to be clear on the fact that the City has already had two meetings in the Pine Street neighborhood and they are addressing the concerns regarding the proposed rezoning.  The concerns are being discussed with the Zoning Consultant.  The City's objective is to listen to the concerns of the community; weigh all the concerns, reconcile the differences and put together a zoning ordinance that is going to stand and work for the City's benefit.

Mr. Collison stated that he needs to schedule some public hearings and would like to know if he could schedule them for December 18, 2000.  Mayor Rippons responded to schedule them on December 18 because they will not be meeting on December 25th.  The Mayor feels they will meet in regular session and have public hearings during that meeting. 

Mayor Rippons stated that during the Work Session held last month at the Elks on Pine Street, they discussed a business and financial plan for the Empowerment Center as well as time parameters.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to request a general business plan and a budget that specifies projected revenues and expenditures from the Pine Street Committee so the City can analyze it and see where they can render assistance.  The Mayor added that when he was meeting the HUD today, they mentioned that they are interested in hosting an outreach program to mentor as far as it relates to credit counseling and other HUD benefits.  Time parameters for the other programs scheduled for the rooms would be helpful in scheduling additional benefits.  Commissioner Weldon amended his motion to state a 3-year projection of the business plan.  He added that what he is requesting is a "general" projection.  Commissioner Watkins feels that since the Pine Street Committee is a new organization, they will need some assistance in making these projections.  Mayor Rippons asked Jim Michael to help them develop a plan and added that the representative from CEBO (The Council for Economic and Business Opportunity, Inc.) would certainly help them.   Commissioner Weldon further amended the motion to render assistance through the City Planner to help them develop the plan.  Commissioner Weldon clarified the motion to be "To request a business plan that includes a time line and a general budget projection for 3 years with the assistance of the City Planner to help achieve the plan.  He added that he is requesting this in 60 days (February 1, 2001).  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Mayor Rippons asked for a report from the Main Street Committee next week with an update on their progress.  Their training session is being held on December 5, 2000.   Commissioner Weldon has requested a summary of the previous two meetings from Mr. Armond Hayward. 

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:12 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 04, 2000, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer