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City Council Minutes

April 12, 1999

April 12, 1999

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.

Those Commissioners in attendance were: Watkins, Rice, Saunders, Swafford and Vickers.

Reverend Randall Blackmon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the March 29th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Vickers advised that this is an up-date on street lighting as previously discussed. The electric company is going to increase the wattage from 70 to 250 on the seven (7) existing lights in the Bethel, Schoolhouse Lane and Chesapeake Court area. The only thing they are not going to do at this point, is install a shield because the type of shield they now have reduces the amount of light.


Mr. Kinnamon advised that he had one bid:

Personal Protection Equipment Specialists
submitted by Brad & Janet Phillips
Cambridge, Maryland

11 units @ $940. each

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to turn the bid over to Chief Hurley for review to make sure all the funds are in place; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

In response to Commissioner Saunders question, Chief Hurley advised that $3,000. will be coming from the General Fund and the balance from 508 money.

With no further discussion, motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Kinnamon read aloud the proclamation to be presented proclaiming April 18th to April 24, 1999 as "Secretaries Week".

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to request the Mayor to sign the proclamation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Stoker came to the podium and mentioned some of his "past track record with the City" which included weed violations for a piece of property that he didn't own, tickets for not moving his car on the street within a 48-hour period and BOCA violations for unpainted window trim. He questioned the fact that he only had peeling paint and another building in town didn't even have windows to be painted. He was told at that time that BOCA only addressed occupied buildings and apparently that is no longer true.

He then mentioned a rental house he owns. His intention was to fix it up and sell it. Before he could do that, every window on the street side was broken by children in the neighborhood. The City has recently cited him with property maintenance violations. He feels his property was scrutinized because he was also cited for dirty vinyl siding.

To make sure he is treated fairly, he intends to provide the City periodically with a list of properties that he thinks have BOCA violations. His intent is to then follow up to see if they have been cited. If not, "I'll be back here asking for somebody's job." From past experience, he feels he is not being treated the same as everyone else.

With Council's permission, Mr. Stoker said he would like to provide Mr. Kinnamon periodically with a list of properties so he can give it to the Housing Department.

Commissioner Saunders stated that Mrs. Camper is the Director of Housing and it is very improper and disrespectful to assume that if she receives a list of housing violations that she would not carry her job out. It was suggested that if he has a list, he should keep a copy and send the list directly to Mrs. Camper.

Secondly, approximately three weeks ago, another landlord was to a Council meeting voicing that she was being scrutinized more than anyone else. This landlord felt that Mrs. Camper's department was wrong and didn't do their job. The very next day, she lost her case in District Court because she did not give all of the information that should have been given. Commissioner Saunders said that she doesn't like Mrs. Camper being threatened that she will lose her job. "Mrs. Camper does an honest, outstanding job ... and at anytime that anybody makes a complaint, I've never heard anybody say that she doesn't follow through."

Mr. Stoker stated that his reason for going to Mr. Kinnamon with the list was to make sure that Council had a record of the properties. He was here tonight to make sure he is treated the same as everyone else in this town.

Commissioner Saunders advised Mr. Stoker that the State writes the BOCA code. Municipalities choose to adopt the BOCA code because it is done by professionals and it is inclusive. Cambridge carries out what the BOCA code says because we have adopted it.

Ms. Portia Johnson stated that she has occasionally given Mrs. Camper a list of properties from instances that she has seen while going through the City and she knows that they do a follow up. When she has gone back to the cited locations after a couple of weeks, the property has been taken care of. Ms. Johnson said that the Housing Department will reply and try to work with you.


Since the City attorney was not present this evening due to illness, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this until Mr. Collison can be present; seconded by Commissioner Vickers.

Commissioner Rice suggested that all four items under "old business" fall in that same category and should be included in the motion. Commissioner Saunders then amended her motion to include Commissioner Rice's suggestion. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.


Mayor Wooten read aloud -the budget message. submitted by him to Council President Rice and his fellow Commissioners advising that the General Fund budget amounts to $6,344,195 and the Sewer Fund budget totals $6,848,625 for a grand total of $13,192,820. The budget, as presented, does reflect merit increases to those employees who qualify however, no provision for a cost of living adjustment has been made at this time.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to allow R.F.C. to go to bid for Hazmat suits and that all bids be open in Council Chambers; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford moved to allow R.F.C. to go to bid for self-contained breathing apparatus; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Reverend Randall Blackmon, Pastor of First Baptist Church, came forward to request the use of the large grass knoll at Long Wharf for a series of outdoor Gospel concerts on the five (5) Sunday evenings in August. He said this year will mark twenty-five (25) years that they have presented these concerts.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to grant his request with a noise variance for August 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.


A request was submitted to install a sign at their restaurant at 203 Trenton Street. Commissioner Rice moved to refer this to the Planning and Zoning Commission, although he feels the sign is "way too big." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.


Commissioner Rice feels that they are certainly entitled to an audit of the spending of their money and he made a motion to have the City attorney advise if the City is obligated to let them know how the City's money is used for Advanced Life Support services. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve both Budget Amendments; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried, unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford moved to approve the six (6) budgeted expenditures over $250.; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Saunders asked that he hold out the one for Chesapeake Sound & Communications to get more information. Commissioner Swafford then amended his motion to approve all expenditures with the exception of Purchase order #000847. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.


Commissioner Vickers mentioned that the City has received a few letters regarding the dockmaster's replacement. Mr. Pritchett advised that the in-house advertising was completed and the advertising in the Daily Banner was completed and he has received approximately five or six applications.

Commissioner Vickers wanted the public to know the City did not "drive him away." Mr. Shorter received a job offer with double the pay and Mr. Pritchett said that he is leaving with high spirits. Although Mr. Shorter doesn't know what the future holds, he said it was an offer he couldn't refuse.


Commissioner Watkins just wanted everyone to know about the Appreciation Dinner which was held last week for the volunteers who serve on various City committees. It was a wonderful occasion and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

He said he was extremely grateful to the Council for the award that was given to him and "I shall endeavor to continue to work as long as I can."


Regarding Mr. Shorter, Commissioner Saunders said that she had spoken to him last week and he made his own decision to take a better paying job. At no time did Mr. Shorter ever ask for an increase-in wage from the City. He received an offer with double his salary, better benefits "and a lot more girls in bathing suits" and he was not leaving the City with any bad feelings. Commissioner Saunders said that people move on and she wished Mr. Shorter well.

On another note, Commissioner Saunders referenced a letter from the Tourism Department asking that the City designate a representative to attend a scheduled meeting at the Visitor's Center. She then made a motion to coordinate this meeting with Ms. Baynard and Mr. Kinnamon to see what dates would be available for all to meet. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice who stated that this meeting is with regards to the placement of a trash receptacle that was placed in front of one of our resident's homes without any discussion as to where it should go. Motion then carried unanimously.

A reference was then made by Commissioner Saunders to a work session tentatively scheduled for May 5th with regards to a Workman's Compensation presentation by Injured Workers Insurance. She requested that the Mayor, Commissioners and Department Heads let Mr. Kinnamon know if they are planning to attend.

Lastly, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to go into Executive Session to address a personnel issue; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Mayor Wooten said that one of the highlights Of his year is the Appreciation Dinner which was held last Wednesday. The Cambridge Day activities that were part of it were excellent and Commissioner Rice did a good job highlighting people who have been "shining stars in the community" as far as leaders from the past and the present.

On Sunday morning he took a long walk with the MS people for the MS benefit walk. The weather was not very conducive to being outside but everyone who participated seemed to have a good time and it was certainly for a good cause.

At this point Commissioner Watkins was presented with a plaque recognizing his years of dedication to Cambridge. He stated the fact that he can take most anything except praise and he thanked Council for the award.


Commissioner Swafford brought attention to the fact that he has noticed people parking in "no parking zones" around Council Chambers. He doesn't have a problem with it if there is a fire and volunteers do it. Other than that, no one should be parking in "no parking zones".


Mr. Pritchett address his memo regarding modifications to the dispatch area at the Police Department. Commissioner Swafford suggested he put the request in the form of a purchase order for approval.

He then gave Council an update on the Roslyn Avenue sewer leak. Commissioner Rice stated that the approach the Department of Public Works took in this particular situation is indicative of the approach that they take in all of the sewer line problems that may or many not result in the City. That approach is one of care, one of dealing with the problem, one of looking at all of the contingencies and now they even have a contingency plan should that same thing occur again.

Commissioner Swafford asked if there is a plan for replacement of the system (which was built in 1935). Mr. Pritchett advised that the City Engineer is currently working on a price to include two ways of replacing it.

Mr. Pritchett then gave an update on the improvements at Cedar and Academy Streets. The turn lane should be finished this week. While in this intersection, they will be performing curb cuts for ADA compliance.

Regarding repairs to the sidewalks in this area, Commissioner Rice stated that in the past when the City fixes the sidewalk, the property owner is billed. The same procedure would apply here.

Commissioner Saunders had some ADA compliance questions as a result of information that was handed to Council just prior to tonight's meeting. She then made a motion that from now on, when a department head or a City employee has information that requires a decision by Council, they need to be present at the Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Chief Jeff Hurley publicly thanked the Mayor, Commissioners and Mr. Pritchett for the excellent job that was done in remodeling the fire company. It has made the best out of a cramped situation. He then said he hoped to see the Mayor and Commissioners at R.F.C.'s annual banquet on Saturday.

Mayor Wooten added that Mr. Pritchett is having more demands placed on his department for these renovations. While the duties and responsibilities are expanding, his work force to do that is totally inadequate.


Mr. Gage Thomas was not clear on what the extent of the discussion was going to be regarding the Historic District Guidelines which was listed on the agenda under old business. Commissioner Saunders said that everything that involved the City attorney was going to be tabled until he could be present. The guidelines have been revised with input from the Committee and the Council.

He then asked, with regards to the budget process, what the time frames are for public input, if there are any. Commissioner Swafford stated that on Monday night, the department heads will be discussing any outstanding situations .that they need to talk about. It is an open work session and Commissioner Rice added that the budget must be completed by July 1st.


Ms. Marge Hull, President of the West End Citizens Association, came to the podium to commend the Department of Public Works. On occasion, their association does go to Dave Pritchett and people on his staff citing problems that they see within the neighborhood and they have been most cooperative and have never failed to look into it. Sometimes there is no code or law that would require any problem that they might see to be corrected. "All things grow as time progresses."

Commissioner Saunders advised Ms. Hull that when they have housing concerns with rubbish, etc., they should be directed to Mrs. Deborah Camper as the department head of the Housing Office. She is not part of Mr. Pritchett's staff ... she has her own staff.

Ms. Hull then informed Council that the West End Citizens Association will be having their fifth annual meeting on Tuesday, April 20th in the downstairs meeting room of the County Library. There will be a written annual report of the association's activities distributed at the meeting. They will be having a guest speaker who will answer questions relating to individual properties and resources for finding materials for doing renovations to historic homes with a mind-set towards financial economy. Commissioner Vickers advised that Council does have another commitment that evening.

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, April 12, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer