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  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

December 14, 1998
 

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

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

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commission Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the December 7th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

TRAFFIC & SAFETY COMMITTEE REPORT

Stewart Schefers / 112 Mill Street: Commissioner Vickers made a motion to accept the Committee's recommendation to install a "Street Sweeper No Parking" sign at this location; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously. (Note: The location was incorrectly listed as 112 Mill Street but should have been 112 High Street.)

Race & Cedar Street / Evaluate for Handicap Parking Space: Commissioner Vickers moved to accept the Committee's recommendation to install a handicap space in the vicinity of Race and Cedar Street near Hubbard's Pharmacy. The Department of Public Works will evaluate the referenced area and install a handicap space in compliance with ADA requirements. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and carried unanimously.

STREET LIGHTING COMMITTEE REPORT

Cherlyn Johnson / 400 Charles Street: A request was received to put a street light at the rear of the residence. This would be the homeowner's responsibility as the Committee only addresses lighting issues as they pertain to areas of public access and not private property. For that reason, the Committee recommends denial of the request. Commissioner Vickers made a motion to deny the rear light and have further evaluation for street lighting on the side; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Sharon Tyler / Roslyn Avenue & Woods Road intersection: Commissioner Vickers made a motion to install a light at this intersection; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Darlene Wroten / 509 Academy Street: Commissioner

Vickers made a motion to further study this and look into the possibility with the electric company to increase the intensity of the light at Bunker Street and Cemetery Avenue; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

PRESENTATION OF CITY'S AUDIT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998

Mr. Richard Chamberlain and Mr. Jared Stile of Reznick, Fedder & Silverman were present to review the audit of the general purpose financial statements, the letters issued in connection with their single audit of the City and some required communications.

Mr. Stile came forward with a slide presentation. The general fund balance has shown a steady increase, however, there is "an extra little jump" for 1998 which is attributed to the City taking on the Emergency Medical Services program which was not part of the City in 1997. Other than that, "it has been a steady solid increase from year to year."

The next slide related to the unreserved/undesignated fund balance. This is the portion of the fund balance that is not specifically reserved for Fiscal Year 1999 expenditures although this amount is figured into the calculations when doing the 1999 budget.

The general fund revenue in 1996 was 7.1, 1997 was 5.4 and in 1998 it jumped back to 6.6 due to the Emergency Medical Services program as well as two block grants that were received from the Small Cities Community Development (totalling a little over $500,000.).

The comparison from 1997 to 1998 of the real estate taxes, personal property taxes as well as income taxes shows a slight decrease i ' n 1998 due to an increase in the tax exemptions and enterprise zone exemptions that were within the City.

The next slide depicts the overall 1998 mix of the revenue within the general fund. "The big winner still at 41% is the real and personal property tax." Second is "other" (licensing and permits, service charges, fines and forfeitures, miscellaneous loan proceeds and transfers from other funds). There is also income taxes at 5%, grant revenue at 8%, highway user taxes and charges at 10% and ambulance billings at 5%.

The overall general fund expenditures mirrors the general fund revenues that was shown three or four slides back. It was high in 1996, a slight dip in 1997 and then increasing back up in 1998. It follows the same kind of a scale as the general fund revenue slide. Still, with these numbers, it shows a solid mixture between revenue and expenditures "which is what we like to see."

The next slide shows the mix of where those general fund expenditures are really being driven. The big categories are general government, public safety and public works with the figures broken down between 1997 and 1998. The totals show public safety receiving 48%, parks and recreation at 1%, general government at 7%, public works at 15% and miscellaneous categories at 29%.

Mr. Chamberlain mentioned that they have also issued an opinion on the Financial Statements for the year ending June 30, 1998 indicating that they fairly present the financial position and results of operations of the City and "we take no exceptions to that at this point." There are 60 pages to the Financial Statements and he stated that there have been no changes in the accounting-policies of the City so they are consistent with all prior years and there have been no unusual type of disclosures required in the current year's Financial Statements either. In mentioning the report on "internal controls over financial reporting" which have been issued in the current year in connection with the single audit of the Federal expenditures that were awarded to the City, "in both of those letters you will find that we have no material weaknesses and no reportable events. It is a very unusual circumstance. We rarely find a situation where we don't have something to report. This happens to be one of those rare situations, very indicative of your report." Commissioner Saunders asked what that means and Mr. Chamberlain responded, "you're doing great! Accountants always like to find things but we would rather issue a clean report and this is a very clean report."

They made no significant entries during their audit, had no disagreements with City management throughout the audit and they "did not find any instance where they consulted with any other accounting firms." They did not encounter any difficulties nor did they discover any illegal or irregular acts during the course of their audit. Mr. Chamberlain further stated that they were very pleased with the level of cooperation and assistance that they got from City management.

REQUEST FROM NEW EARTH SERVICES TO EXTEND SPECIAL USE PERMIT

Mr. Collison advised that this summer a special use permit was granted only for the remainder of this year, at which time it would be subject to renewal next year. Mr. Condon would need to come back to Council in advance of when he wanted to open to reapply for the entire procedure (go through public hearing requirements, notices to surrounding property owners, etc.) after the first of the year.

Mr. Condon, General Manager of New Earth Services, advised that there was extensive work that needed to be done to the building which did not get completed before the end of crab season. To date, the owner has done a significant amount of work.

Mr. Collison made a suggestion for Council to table this until the first meeting of the new year so he can further research this. Under the special use permit section, there is an express provision that states that if the special use permit that's been granted has not been activated or used within 6 months of the issuing date, it shall then become null and void and have no effect. (Commissioner Vickers pointed out to Mr. Collison that special use permits can only be approved by a 4/5ths vote so the vote could not be made tonight.)

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this matter; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

RENDER DECISION ON ZION METHODIST CHURCH'S REZONING REQUEST

Mr. Collison advised that this was a request by Zion Methodist Church to rezone three parcels on Glasgow Street from R-3 (two family residential district) to R-4 (multi-family residential district). The public hearing was held last Monday night.

Commissioner Watkins said he heard the case and everything hinges on whether there was a change in the neighborhood or a mistake was made in the original formation of the ordinance. From the testimony he heard, he didn't see any indication that either had occurred. For that reason, he moved to deny the application of Zion Methodist Church to rezone and that Council instruct the City Attorney to prepare the Findings of Fact and Resolution to that effect; seconded by Commissioner Saunders.

Commissioner Saunders went on to comment to Mr. Usab that when he had contacted her about this proposal, she had concerns with the parking. At that time he had reassured her that parking would not be a problem. When Ms. Moody gave her presentation last Monday night, she clearly showed that parking and congestion would be a problem. Many of her constituents had stated to her that they don't have a problem with the Zion housing, but they just don't want to see the zoning changed that would open up to anything that the attorney mentioned could go there. She agrees with Commissioner Watkins and feels that the applicant's attorney made a "real weak case."

In addition to what Commissioner Saunders stated, Commissioner Vickers feels it is not only this piece of property that they have experienced zoning problems with. There are some existing pieces now that are presently being considered for a development where there may be a problem.

Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE CITY'S FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR NOVEMBER, 1998 (ASOP #10)

Commissioner Saunders advised that Commissioner Swafford has reviewed the Financial Statement, as Finance Chairman, and he has no problems with it. She then made a motion to approve the Financial Statement; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM DORCHESTER COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

A request was received from Ms. Jean DelSordo, Library Director, to provide volunteer counselors of the "Tax Preparation Assistance Program" with fifteen parking permits to be used from January through April along Spring Street and the Courthouse block of High Street.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the request effective January 2 through April 30, 1999; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Commissioner Watkins feels this is a good community service that we need to continue. Motion carried unanimously.

MAYOR TO SIGN RESOLUTION RELATING TO AMENDING A DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN

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

REQUEST FROM ROBERT LUBGUBAN - MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to pass this on to Planning & Zoning with the stipulation that if there is any difference in this type of business going downtown or in the City, that the attorney would have supplied this information in advance to Mr. Pritchett for that committee. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR HOUSING DEPARTMENT

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the budget amendment; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the budgeted expenditures; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

MESSAGE FROM MAYOR

Mayor Wooten informed the public that the reason that "two of our colleagues are not here" is that one recently underwent surgery and the other was out-of-town and hoped to be back in time for the meeting, but apparently did not make it.

REPORT OF DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett presented a request for a building permit (#2802) for the Glenburn Associates, Limited Partnership for the senior citizen apartment complex (24 units) on Glenburn Avenue. The building permit is based on the amount of $1,450,000. with a permit fee of $9,745.

He brought to Council's attention the letter for in-kind services that the City agreed to for the building permit portion. The significance of that being that the figures will not match up as presented. There was an upgrade to the permit structure this past year and everything was based on the old fee.

Commissioner Vickers stated that he voted against this from the beginning. The problem he had was that they were originally looking for a large tax deferment and Council decided that if the tax deferment was granted, they would want to see the construction in an area where it is badly needed to renovate that area. A suggestion had been made for a couple of locations in the downtown area, but Homes For America wanted to build on Glenburn Avenue. To be able for Homes For America to get grant money, Council had to give them something, so instead of giving a tax deferment, they decided on an in-kind contribution.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the building permit and hold off on decision for in-kind services until the first meeting in January to allow time for Council to review the minutes that pertain to this so "we know what we did, and why we did it." Motion was seconded Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett then referenced Sylvia Brohawn's request to add permitted use of accounting to the R-3 district where she had hoped to purchase 311 Byrn Street. This is being brought up again tonight since the vote was not clear.

Since this is in Commissioner Rice's Ward, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this until the first meeting in January; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Mayor Wooten asked what kind of time frame can we give this individual for her business which is anticipated to open. Ms. Brohawn stated she is already in business but she is under contract to purchase 311 Byrn Street as an office for her established business. Ms. Brohawn has made an investment and Mayor Wooten stated that he is not trying to short-circuit the process but give whatever assistance he can. (She did obtain an extension on her contract until January 15th.)

On another note, Mr. Pritchett advised that the demolition on Pine and Douglas will be completed by tomorrow.

He then asked for input from Council, although they may want Commissioner Rice present, on the resurfacing and paving that is taking place in the Byrn Street/Dorchester Avenue area. DPW doesn't normally put center lines in, but a request has come from the State. Commissioner Vickers moved to send this to Traffic and Safety and that Commissioner Rice be made aware of what is being done so they can get input from him; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett stated that he had spoken to Commissioner Swafford this morning relative to a request from the Police Department for DPW to construct a large radio cabinet to hold all portable radios, chargers and some computer equipment. Since all the "back-up" information was given to Commissioner Swafford, and he advised Mr. Pritchett that there was no problem, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the radio cabinet for the Police Department in the amount of $475. with the proper purchase order signed; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Another memo from Mr. Pritchett was addressed with regards to the Y2K computer compliance at the treatment plant to insure uninterrupted treatment at the facility. Commissioner Saunders made a motion, with the proper invoice and signatures, that this be approved in the amount of $840.; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM MAYOR

Mayor Wooten advised that he received notification today from Senator Sarbanes office that the City has received a $19,838. community policing grant.

He also mentioned that recently a meeting was held with some residents in the Fifth Ward to discuss several concerns they had with regard to the Sailwinds Visitors Center. The State Highway Administration notified him on Friday that the dumpster is going to be removed and eliminated altogether (which was one of their concerns). There are still other issues that will be addressed.

He then wished the community a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

As liaison for the Planning and Zoning Commission, Commissioner Saunders stated that she has done some research with regards to zoning in the City. She made a motion that the Mayor and Council allow, to be put on the agenda for the first meeting in January, a discussion of hiring a qualified consultant for restructure of the City's zoning laws; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to delete number 5 from the "pending list" (Update City's Critical Area program, ordinance and mapping) since this has been completed; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

She closed by thanking everyone who worked with her as well as those who didn't work with her... "because without dissension and contradiction, you don't do everything. It keeps you on your toes." Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

COMMENTS FROM SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins stated that he is already in the holiday spirit and wished everyone a great Christmas.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers referred to an item on the "pending list" ... revision to abandoned vehicle ordinance. "We need to get this back on the burner again."

He wished everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year and "best to all."

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison advised there was a Closed Executive Session prior to this evening's meeting regarding the acquisition of a particular real estate parcel. He then requested that a motion be made to meet in Executive Session after tonight's meeting on a real estate matter and a personnel matter. Commissioner Saunders made the motion; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Marjorie Hull thanked Council for "the hard work you have done for this City for the entire year... "

Ms. Judy Moody came forward first as a resident of 602 Glasgow Street and thanked everyone for considering and reconsidering the issues that were brought up at the public hearing for Zion Methodist Church. On behalf of all the area residents, she wished Council a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

As Planning and Activities Chairperson for the Human Relations Committee, she also extended Happy Holidays to Council.

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, December 14, 1998 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer