City Council Minutes
June 25, 2008
June 25, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 in 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 Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the June 9, 200 8 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Janel Jones, Sailwinds Park, to Request:
Noise Variance for the Choptank River Festival on Friday, July 4th from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Saturday, July 5th from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm; and Sunday, July 6th from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm
A Carnival Permit with the Fee Waived for Their 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization
Permission to Close a Portion of the Left Side of the Boat Ramp for 2 Hours on July 6th for a Canoe Jousting Contest
Janel Jones described the events. Commissioner Knox asked if the City would be responsible for any liability if they closed a portion of the boat ramp. Grady Wilson said it would fall under Sailwinds' liability insurance because they are holding the event. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the noise variances for the stated dates and times; the carnival permit and waive the fee; and allow permission to close a portion of the boat ramp during the specified time. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Carlton Stanley, President of the Sailwinds Management Board, said it has come to his attention that there is a lot of negativity on the blogs about Sailwinds. He said he never reads the blogs and will never answer anything on them. Every time there is negativity on the blogs, it hinders Sailwinds' opportunity for another event or from people attending events at Sailwinds. He said if anyone wants any information from the Sailwinds Management Board, Janel Jones, the Office Manager, has been given instructions to receive the phone call. He will return the call and will only answer them face-to-face at a meeting at Sailwinds.
Guy Carroll Edgar, III, a newly-appointed member to the Sailwinds Management Board, said he wants to re-iterate what Mr. Stanley just said. They need the public's support. They do not need the negativity taking place in the papers. It is a unanimous opinion by the Board Members that the public should bring their concerns to the meeting. They will post when the meetings are in the Daily Banner and the Star-Democrat or announce them at a City Council meeting. Janel Jones has a schedule of when the meetings will be held. If someone has a concern about anything that is taking place at Sailwinds, they are welcome to come to the meeting to be enlightened as to what is taking place at Sailwinds. He joined the Board to help bring some integrity to what he felt was possibly deteriorating or heading into a negative direction. He hopes with a couple of other people coming onto the Board, they will turn it around into a positive direction. He does not understand why there has been negativity in City Council meetings from particular City Council members towards Sailwinds. They need the support from all 5 Commissioners and the Mayor.
Wendell Foxwell said it is good what the people are saying tonight. He asked if they adhered to the City Code to report information every 2 months so everyone knows what is going on. If everyone knows what is going on, there will probably not be any negative things one way or the other. He thinks they should make their reports without the City having to ask for it.
Octavene Saunders asked if the City financially contributes any money toward the staffing, programming, or operation of Sailwinds. Mayor Rippons said the City does not contribute monetarily to Sailwinds. Because the City is leasing the property from the State, the Department of Public Works cuts the grass and removes the trash. Octavene Saunders asked if the City provides security. Chief Malik said Sailwinds Park pays the officers. Mayor Rippons said when there are uniformed officers at Sailwinds' events, they are being paid by Sailwinds Park and/or the sponsor of the event. Octavene Saunders said she has never read an agreement between Sailwinds and the City, but they (Empowerment Center) only report once a fiscal year. She asked why Sailwinds would have to take the burden of doing paperwork and reporting every 2 months. She said when they had to report every 3 months, it was a total burden on them and they do not have the money that supposedly passes through Sailwinds. She asked why Sailwinds cannot provide the reports every 3 or 6 months unless it is a State mandate. Mayor Rippons said it is not a State mandate. Commissioner Cephas said when he was elected in 2004, Sailwinds was giving reports at that point. This Council did not mandate them to do anything as far as reports are concerned. Rob Collison said there is a memorandum of understanding that was drawn up with the State granting the lease to the City. Octavene Saunders asked why nobody talked to Sailwinds to see if this is a burden on them and if it is, why the reporting period cannot be altered. Commissioner Cephas said not all the Commissioners are complaining about Sailwinds. He personally thinks Sailwinds is doing a wonderful job. You will hear negative comments about any organization. He does not read the blogs but he feels Carlton Stanley's pain. He said Mr. Stanley has come before Council on many occasions and has talked to the person who questioned the report. Grady Wilson just gave them another one today. Carlton Stanley has told them he will give them a financial report whenever they want one. He applauds their efforts. A lot of people have been on and off the Sailwinds Management Board. He does not know what the problem is. If it is the blog, they should not let it worry them.
Commissioner Sydnor said since he has been on Council, they have received at least 4 financial reports from Sailwinds. A couple of them were in executive sessions because it was dealing with personnel issues. Each time it has been requested, they have been forthright in reporting it to Council. Rob Collison suggested that Council meet with the Management Board and let the Management Board make recommendations on reporting procedures.
Mayor Rippons said the Sailwinds Management Board is requesting that Council approve the appointment of Mike Clemmenson to the Board. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the appointment. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Brooks asked if Council appointed Guy Edgar. Mr. Edgar said he was appointed 5 or 6 months ago. Grady Wilson said it was on February 25th.
Grady Wilson said he has a copy of the City Council meeting minutes from February 25th and Commissioner Knox said he has only received 2 reports in 3½ years. He asked if there is a reason for that. He asked if someone took Commissioner Knox's report. He said Janel Jones will tell Council that Kathy Foster gets a report every month of the next month's events. He asked Commissioner Knox why he said he only received 2 reports in 3½ years. Commissioner Knox said he may have and he may not have. Grady Wilson said to them that is not acceptable because it shows they are not doing the job they are supposed to be doing. Commissioner Knox said he is as sorry as he can be. Grady Wilson accepted his apology.
Enez Stafford Grubb said she heard the appointments being made and said this would be a good time to refresh the memories of the community as to who makes the recommendations for the appointments. Mayor Rippons said the Sailwinds Board makes the recommendations. Carlton Stanley said it has always been that way. They always try to bring someone to the Board who can truly be an asset in helping Sailwinds raise money. Some of the members have out-of-pocket money. There was one incident when they were getting ready to have a show on a Friday evening. They needed $4500. One member call his bank and Carlton Stanley went there to get the $4500 in order to have the show that they lost money on. Those are the kind of people they need. The young man they just appointed tonight has raised $250 and made a major contribution to raise funds for the Choptank River Festival. Enez Stafford Grubb said if people are taking money out of their pocket, it does not sound like fundraising to her. She is glad the process is being explained because there are other people who would like to bring $250 and serve on the Board too. Troy Hill said the Board Members are selected by Board Members. Before Mike Clemmenson was brought before Council to be appointed, he had to attend certain Board meetings and volunteer a lot of time before he was selected as a Board Member. What they found out in the past is people just want to be a Board Member just to see the shows. There is a lot of work involved in being a Board Member. You have to volunteer a lot of time. Mr. Clemmenson put in his volunteer time, one part of it was doing a fundraiser; he came to a couple of Board meetings; and the Board agreed to bring him on so they brought it before Council. Enez Stafford Grubb said the process needs to be given to the public because there are probably other people who would really like to do that kind of thing but they didn't know. Troy Hill said they have had so much bad publicity, he thinks it is important to let the general public know. Instead of coming to Sailwinds and asking them how they can join the Board, they are going down the road by writing stuff that is just ludicrous. When Sailwinds asks for donations, people do not want to contribute because they have heard that Sailwinds does not know what they are doing. That is false. He hopes Ms. Stafford Grubb got her answer and he will be looking for her to become a Board Member. Ms. Stafford Grubb said it was her understanding that you had to be somebody of financial means in order to serve. Missy LeCompte said she does not have the financial means and she is a Sailwinds Board Member. She has been volunteering for Sailwinds probably for 5 or more years. She does the children's' parties and brings a lot of volunteering to Sailwinds. She read the blogs and the longer she read, the angrier she got. There are plenty of chances for Board Members to make suggestions, make rules, and decide exactly what happens at Sailwinds. These folks should be commended. Without them, our community would not have anywhere for our families to go. Octavene Saunders said the Daily Banner actually prints the stuff that is in the blogs in their "Sound-Off" column. It is a negative to our community moving forward. Missy LeCompte said in the bottom of the blog it says that in the policies, that there are no personal attacks. There were quite a few personal attacks. She would believe people would have a legal stand for defamation of character. She thinks there is something they should do about that.
John Seward to Discuss Moving the Community Garden to 1018 Pine Street-John Seward said about 4 months ago, Octavene Saunders appeared before Council to suggest a community garden. Council suggested a property on Chesapeake Court. They looked at it, where it was, how many residents were near it, the quality of the property, the quality of the soil, the fact that Club Allure is right next to it, and they figured it was not a safe place to garden. They got a list of vacant lands from the City and came up with one parcel on Pine Street so far that they would like to use as a community garden instead of the parcel on Chesapeake Court. Carlton Stanley has agreed to let them use a parcel that he owns. The City-owned lot will probably be used as a children's garden and Carlton Stanley's lot will be used for the adult's garden. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to allow a community garden at 1018 Pine Street which is owned by the City. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Knox asked if they planned to start the garden next year. Octavene Saunders said Mr. Seward is an expert so they are starting the garden this year. Commissioner Knox wished them luck with their garden. Commissioner Brooks applauded them on their effort. In that particular area, the children used to have a playground that they could play on. The children now do not have any recreation whatsoever in that particular area. In 2 other areas of the City, the playgrounds have been completely closed for more than 1 year now. She thinks the gardens would certainly help the children. She hopes it will be a City-wide adventure. The motion passed unanimously.
Michael O'Connor to Discuss Closing Court Lane and 1 Block of Gay Street on October 5th from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm for a Cub Scout Event (Rain Date October 12th)-Chief Malik said he does not have any problems with the event. Mr. O'Connor said the Cub Scout event is a cub-mobile race. It is similar to a soapbox derby race. The past several years it has been held in Federalsburg. Pack 209 out of the Elks Lodge would like to host it this year in order to draw 100+ cub scouts plus their families into the community. It is an all-day event on a Sunday. They will have other events besides the race. Rob Collison recommended that they contact the Harbor Watch Condominiums to let them know what they are doing. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request along with a noise variance. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Glenn Ford, Sr. to Request Permission to Hold a Parade on October 5th from Pine Street to Cross Street and Back Up High Street to Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church for Their Grand Opening-Glenn Ford said they are holding the parade because this is the grand opening of their new church on High Street. The parade will start on the land near their church going down Pine Street, through Cross Street, and back up High Street to their church. It will start at 9:00 am and it should be over before 10:00 am. He invited Council to attend their grand opening. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request and included a noise variance for the stated hours. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Introduction of Ordinance to Amend Section 12-18 of the City Code to Clarify That the Discharge of BB Guns and Pellet Guns, etc. Is Prohibited Within the City Limits-Rob Collison said he understands from the minutes of the last meeting that residents of larger parcels of property may wish to discharge BB guns for target shooting. He amended the ordinance to provide for an exception if someone has 2 or more acres of property. He said he spoke to Commissioner Cephas this evening and he said they may wish to lower it to 1½ acres. That person must take the necessary precautions to assure that the pellets or BB will not go beyond the boundaries of their property and that there would not be any risk to anyone's health or safety as well a risk to anyone else. Commissioner Cephas asked that the acreage be lowered to 1½ acres.
Richard Murphy said as far as the pellet guns, the ones they sell now can go as far as a 22 which would be 1½ miles. No matter how big your property is, the bullet can ricochet. He said you have to be fair to the property owners who own adjacent properties. It cost him $4500 in property damage last year. Mayor Rippons asked about the stipulation as it regards to boundaries. Rob Collison said the ordinance stipulates that the BBs shot shall not travel or project beyond the boundaries of the property. The owner must take all necessary precautions to assure the discharge shall not pose a risk to health, safety, or welfare of other individuals. The owner must take all necessary precautions to assure that the discharge will not pose a risk of damage to the property of others. The intent is that if an individual is target shooting into bales of hay or straw or other devices that would limit the discharges, and if the police get a complaint and the necessary precautions are not being made, the person is in violation.
Enez Grubb suggested that the precautions be specified because one person's interpretation of precautions may be different from another person's. Rob Collison said it is a lot easier if you do not make any exceptions. If you have a blanket prohibition, it will be easier for the police to enforce. It is his understanding that some property owners are saying this is a hardship on them because they have a large parcel of property and they like to target shoot. He is assuming they will only get a complaint from neighboring property owners. If the pellets are going outside the boundary lines, they are in violation. Ms. Grubb asked if the boundary precautions could be specified because you cannot assume that people understand or will cooperate. Rob Collison said if there is a precaution made and the BBs are still going outside the boundaries, they are in violation. Commissioner Knox said he hunts. A BB gun, a pellet gun, a sling shot, or a pea in a straw can put your eye out. He personally thinks that before anyone uses a BB gun or pellet gun, they should have some sort of hunter training course. One of the first things they teach you is to know your target and what is beyond. He does not have any problem with this ordinance but he thinks they have to have those precautions in place; not only to protect the person who is using the firearm, but the surrounding neighbors as well as the police. Anyone can go to Wal-mart and buy a BB gun. The question Council cannot answer is whether the person knows how to properly use it. He thinks before anyone has any type of firearm in their possession, they should have a card saying they have passed the Maryland Hunter Safety Program. The program is very inexpensive.
Octavene Saunders said an adult shot a BB gun and shot her son's eye out. She does not know why anyone on Council is contemplating to have any type of firearm shot off in the City limits. BB guns are more powerful now. They are just as dangerous as shooting a gun. She is opposed to any decision being made on this tonight. There are too many unanswered questions. It is a safety issue. Mayor Rippons said this is the introduction of the ordinance. There can be no vote tonight. That is why they want public input so Council can specify exactly what they want to hear.
Jim Chaney said many of his properties have been shot at with BB guns. Once someone is hurt, it is too late. He cannot believe the City Council is even thinking about this. He asked whose interest they have at heart-a couple of individuals or the City at whole.
Richard Murphy said it needs to be across the board. It is not the kids who are supervised who are doing the damage. It is the ones who are not supervised who are doing the damage. You cannot discharge a firearm in the City. Pellets guns and BB guns are faster than some firearms. You should not be able to discharge them in the City.
Mayor Rippons asked Chief Malik's opinion of the amended ordinance. Chief Malik said he does not agree with it. He thinks it should be across the board. He thinks it is a safety issue. When you give people weapons, they are not supervised all the time and they may be going off that 1½ acre-property. He asked how an officer can decide what is 1½ acres or 1¼ acres. It is just not feasible to put some kind of condition on it. His personal opinion is that it should be across the board.
Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if the responsibility would be on the person who owns the gun or the property owner where the action is taking place. Rob Collison said the owner is obligated to assure that they comply with the conditions. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if you have to be a certain age to purchase BB guns. Someone from the audience said no. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they are saying they would cite the property owner but not the person who has the weapon. Rob Collison said the property owners are obligated to comply with the condition. Council may wish to make an exception. Portia Johnson-Ennels said in the last 60 days, we have had more random shootings in Cambridge. If they pass this ordinance, they will have more problems than we are already having.
Commissioner Brooks said some of these guns look identical to real guns. It is hard to tell which is a pellet gun. The last time she read the law, your children are your responsibility whether they are on your property or not. She has a brother who is blind in one eye and an uncle who is blind in one eye because they were hit with objects. One was at the age of 3; one was at the age of 5. Mayor Rippons asked Council if they would like Mr. Collison to go back to the original ordinance with no exceptions. It was a strict prohibition. Commissioner Brooks said she does not want to tell a property owner what and what not they can do on their property but if you have children on your property, you are responsible for that child.
Octavene Saunders said she looks at this as a community concern. If you cannot shoot a Magnum, a .45, or any kind of shotgun in the City limits because it is dangerous, a BB gun is just as dangerous. They should leave the law alone for the safety of the community. Mayor Rippons said Chief Malik has asked for an addition to the City ordinance to clarify the fact that BB guns, pellet guns, and dart guns cannot be discharged. This clarification will help the officers when they go to court.
Commissioner Cephas said at one time Bayly Road was not a part of the City. His friend has 1½ or 2 acres of land. He has a nephew from Wilmington who came down on weekends and would target practice in his backyard into the woods which was not City property at that time. Chief Malik presented this new ordinance. He does not oppose it. He raised the question at the last meeting. He thinks they should go back to the original ordinance without any exceptions. He would feel bad if someone was told they could do it in one neighborhood but not in another. He asked that it be made across the board-no pellet guns or BB guns for anybody.
Tony Ennels said he understands what the concern is about property damage and bodily damage. However it is like a needle in a haystack in the dark that they are looking for. If they really want to stop BB guns in town, they have to boycott the places that sell them. The people who know how to use them and have passed the hunter safety course are not the people who are causing the infractions. There may be some way to register these people who want BB guns and maybe put an age limit on it. As long as you sell them in an open place, you can't prohibit it. You cannot stop it from happening without taking responsibility for your own children. This is not a City problem. This is a parental problem. People cannot keep asking Council to solve all of their problems. We should really be going after the places that sell the guns if they do not want them in the City.
Laura LeBlanc asked what the infraction will be placed on a 14-year-old setting off a BB gun. To her, it is a right of passage with a lot of young boys. It is their way of being a little rebellious. It is awful but if you make it to the point that it is a serious crime... Chief Malik said it would be a City ordinance violation but if it is your window or your child's eye that is shot out, it is serious. That is what they have to look at. Mayor Rippons said the ordinance states that the fine for the infraction would be $100. Chief Malik said if a juvenile is charged, they would go through Juvenile Services. The juvenile would be counseled, warned, and hopefully somebody from Juvenile Services would talk to the child's parents and get them involved. That is a vital of being able to charge these kids. This is not something where someone is going to go to jail or anything like that.
Wendell Foxwell asked about bows and arrows. Chief Malik said a bow and arrow is considered a dangerous weapon. It is a very serious offence.
Mike O'Connor, a Cub Scout Leader, said he agrees with Commissioner Cephas. If they are going to do it, it should be with no exceptions for anybody. His kids have been through 2 trainings through Boy Scouts. His youngest one is getting ready to go through another training. The boys have bows and arrows; however, they are not for hunting. He asked if the boys will still be able to shoot the small ones at targets in the backyard. Chief Malik said it is not covered by this ordinance. His was talking about on the street.
Rob Collison said if Council wishes, at the next meeting they will have another first reading of the original ordinance with complete prohibition; however, it would permit the discharge of cannons for ceremonial purposes when somebody comes to Council for permission.
Keith Singer asked if Council could ask the people in the City who are selling BB guns to make buyers aware that there is an ordinance in the City prohibiting them. Rob Collison said if the ordinance is passed, the City can send them a notice and ask them to post it.
Approve Formal Agreement for the Sewer Connection at Horn Point-Rob Collison said in May 2007, the Dorchester County Health Department asked the City to allow Horn Point Clearview Restaurant and Golf Course to connect and use some of UMCES's allocation. They found out that UMCES's allocation is lower than what they had been using. Those negotiations are still going on between the City and the UMCES because they have some tremendous spikes in their usage. They are trying to get a handle on it. They will be allocating 2500 of whatever they get to Clearview at Horn Point. It does require the consent of UMCES so they realize that whatever they are given, they will have to deduct the 2500 gallons per day that will be allocated to Horn Point. The only other change is that is will cover the golf course, restaurant, banquet hall, and lounge. No residential development will be permitted. It will allow us to disconnect if that occurs. He has also included that if City limits ever come up next to their property, they will consent to annexation. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the agreement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox asked what will happen if they cannot balance it out. Rob Collison said that will be between Clearview and UMCES. He thinks their impact fee is allowing them around 32,000 gallons. Mayor Rippons said there should never be any trouble with allocation because the City just lost Icelandic. Rob Collison said what they are trying to do is to allow UMCES not to discharge a lot of the water they are using now just to cool off the oyster tanks. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Noise Variances for the Second and Fourth Sunday Mornings for June, July, August, and September from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm for Morning Worship Service at Their Church Park on the Corner of Pine Street and Bayly Road-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Bradford House Apartments for a Noise Variance for Saturday, June 28th, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Portside Seafood Restaurant for a Noise Variance for a Dock Party on Sunday, August 10th, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of Contracts to Sell Property to Habitat for Humanity-Rob Collison said Council previously awarded the sale to Habitat for Humanity for 2 parcels of land. The High Street parcel is for $10,100; the Goodwill Avenue parcel is for $15,100. They will close on or before August 1st. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the contracts. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Order 91209 - Tri-State Grouting LLC - Emergency Root Removal from Sanitary Sewer-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Order 4781 - Schaefer Pyrotechnics - $12,500 - Balance for Fireworks for July 4th-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Order 91208 - John W. Tieder, Inc. - $33,811.65 - Public Safety Building Security System-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked what the purchase order pertains to. Chief Malik said he assumes it pertains to the hand scanner system. It could also be the security lights. He thinks Mr. Phillips should answer the question. Steve Johnson said the security system consists of the cameras and the hand security. J. W. Tieder was given the contract separate from the construction contract to provide this equipment. This particular purchase order completes all J. W. Tieder's expenses for providing those pieces of equipment. This is the second of 2 purchase orders. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendments for CEMS and Financial Administration-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendments for CEMS and Financial Administration. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked when they anticipate that these funds will be dispersed. Ed Kinnamon said on the budget amendment for Financial Administration it is just to re-appropriate money where it was needed. They are different accounts. He has more than just his department. This is housekeeping that is done every year. He is not positive about the amendment from CEMS, but it could very well be the same thing or it could be additional funding. He is not positive. Commissioner Sydnor said the situation with our balance for this year, as anticipated, we are currently using reserve funds. He asked if reserve funds would pay for these items. Ed Kinnamon said as the bills come to him for approval, he checks to see how our level of revenue is at the time. For the most part, he is able to use General Fund funding. There have been times when he has to pull funds out of other areas. He asked if the 2008 budget would be kept open until the City has an audit. Ed Kinnamon said it would. Commissioner Sydnor asked when we will know what the balance is for 2008. Ed Kinnamon said for a positive answer, it would be after the auditors approve it. It is hard to approve a budget for 2009 not knowing what reserve funds we might anticipate from 2008. They started the budget process on February 15th. Council asked the Department Heads to give us that budget request. They received those budget requests for some time after that deadline. They received a budget this evening in preparation for a final budget. They will have a problem because to approve a budget, they want to look at the information they have in that budget-not arbitrarily approval to see if the funds are being dispersed appropriately. He knows the City is on a timeline as far as July 1st and the City payroll. He thinks Council will need to meet so they can look at the budget in detail to see if the appropriate items are in the budget that the Council would like to have in it. He is hoping they could find some time tomorrow to look at it. Council decided on 4:00 pm. The motion to approve the budget amendments passed unanimously.
Octavene Saunders said the Empowerment Center will be starting a summer youth program on July 7th. They are located in the Main Street area of Cambridge. She has been told that they have been taken out of the budget. Then she was told that Council was trying to work out something. Her concern is that $60,000 of the budget this year is granted to Main Street which is also a part of Maple Street. She understands that $30,000 goes toward the Main Street director's salary. She does not have a problem with either allocation if it is correct. It seems like the City is very supportive of Main Street and she does not have a problem with that. Her problem is that their program is not religious-based or related and it is part of enhancing youth and families within the City of Cambridge. It is located in the Main Street area of Pine Street yet Main Street is in the budget for $60,000 and the Empowerment Center was taken out. Commissioner Sydnor said he believes they are referring to the requests from the various organizations. The Council has not finalized the budget yet. That is what they will do tomorrow. Commissioner Knox said you cannot always believe what you read and hear. Octavene Saunders said she did not read it. She talked to 3 Commissioners and the City Clerk Treasurer. Commissioner Sydnor said they are considering all requests but they have not finalized it. That will be part of the discussion tomorrow.
Approve Financial Statement for May 2008-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the financial statement for May 2008. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor said they began the year 2008 with a budget request of $14 million. That is the request they received from the Mayor, who prepares the budget for the Council. There was a misleading notion in that budget that we are living which is why they are constantly requiring purchase orders to be delayed. There was a fallacy that we had $1.3 million in the 2008 budget that we did not have. We are taking steps to make sure that something like that does not occur again. But we begin approving these budgets here. Everything says a minus because we are using the reserve funds. He does not think everything here is detailed enough. He was looking at the print-out forms that Ed Kinnamon usually gives him, and in a particular department, some have a balance of maybe $20,000 but it is not $20,000. If we had the $1.3 million, we would have that balance. Because we do hot have it, we are making adjustments in each of these departments. He has gone through each report but he is having a problem approving them when he knows they are not accurate. He understands from the City's accounting procedure what Mr. Kinnamon has done as though we do have the $1.3 million but Council is going to have to transfer some money from somewhere to make-up that particular difference and then they will be able to have a budget for 2008 that will be balanced. He asked what Council wants to do.
The motion to approve the financial statement was denied 4:0 with Commissioners Brooks, Cephas, Knox, and Sydnor opposed. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to look at the fund balance when they meet tomorrow and consider their 2009 budget. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Invoices-Commissioner Sydnor asked if the invoices could be delayed. Several will be going in 2009. Steve Johnson said he submitted a spreadsheet that shows that most of the invoices can be delayed. There are a few that cannot be delayed. They are utility bills and things of that nature. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the utility invoices. Steve Johnson said 'utilities' is a broad term-sometimes it is like a telephone bill or electricity. In DPW's case, it is electricity, fuel, propane, telephone, and some other bills as listed in the document that should be paid before July 1st. Rob Collison said Mr. Johnson pinpointed which bills should be paid before July 1st. Council could approve paying the ones he has designed. Steve Johnson said another thing they looked at was the spending freeze that went into effect on May 22nd. Any expense incurred before is a bill that should be paid. They are non-utility items. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to pay the invoices that are marked 'N' and delay those marked 'Y'. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Ed Kinnamon said there is a sheet of invoices from RFC which was given to Council tonight. Commissioner Brooks said since they just received it, they should have time to review it. She suggested the motion include the invoices listed on DPW's sheet and then they can vote on the other invoices in a separate motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Brooks asked if there is an invoice for the election judges. Ed Kinnamon said he provided Council with a list of the judges and the amounts they are to be paid for the primary election. Commissioner Brooks said the list was given to them tonight. Rob Collison said if Council meets in a work session on Thursday, there will need to be a regular session on Friday or Monday to approve the budget. Commissioner Sydnor said approving the budget on Monday would give Ed Kinnamon enough time to pay the salaries. Ed Kinnamon said Council is discussion salaries for 1 department where there is a problem. He has given his payroll staff the upcoming salaries for all departments except the 1 department to get a head start. It would not be enough time if they waited until Tuesday to get payroll. He was hoping to have it to them this week. His preference would be to have the meeting on Friday. Mayor Rippons said they can address any outstanding invoices that day also. Commissioner Knox made a motion to hold a regular Council meeting on Friday, June 27th at 10:00 am. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon said there was a list of invoices submitted with the Council's books from the Police Department. Chief Malik said they are all expenses incurred before the cut-off date except for 2 items and they can be paid at a later date. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the invoices. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison said there was an annexation agreement amendment in Council's books. It is for the Egypt Road project. The original annexation agreement provided a much larger development. Now it is only approximately 600+ homes as opposed to 3200 homes. They are not planning to re-design Egypt Road. This would amend that annexation agreement. The Department of Public Works and Planning and Zoning have approved it. There are 2 documents. One is for a 40‑unit subdivision; the other is for 635 units. Commissioner Sydnor asked if all the land was annexed. Rob Collison said it was all annexed. Until the City makes a decision to un-incorporate the land they may not want to have in the City, it is annexed. Commissioner Sydnor said if any roads are put in there, the City will have to maintain them. Rob Collison said if they are built to City standards, dedicated to the City and the City accepts them, they will have to maintain them. The City may wish to initiate discussions with the State to see what their plans are for the acreage that they purchased. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the amended annexation agreement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Brooks said the Traffic and Safety Committee has 3 issues to discuss. They will meet at 2:00 pm on Friday to discuss them. The items to be discussed are parking on Race Street north of Governors Avenue, children at play signs on Franklin and Henry Streets, and a stopping bar next to the stop sign at the intersection of Southside Avenue and Stone Boundary Road. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to refer the items to the Traffic and Safety Committee. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Brooks said there was a concern that only half of East Appleby was paved. The thought was that the entire road should have been paved. Steve Johnson said the portion between Stone Boundary and Goodwill was paved in 2007. The remainder of East Appleby is in not substantially worst condition than many of the road in town. He does not see that the remainder of East Appleby should take priority over any other road. Commissioner Brooks said there was a time before this Council where each particular ward would be allotted certain funds to pave streets within their particular area. That way it would be fair that every single ward was receiving some type of attention in having their roads paved. She is not quite sure that the way the City is doing it is fair to everyone living within the City. They are not obligating that every single ward is getting the same attention. Since some streets are just as bad as other streets, Commissioner Brooks made a motion that the City go back to the way it used to be done that each ward is allotted a certain amount of funding for that particular ward to improve the ward so we do not have this problem in the future where more roads in one particular ward are being paved. It is only fair if all wards receive the same amount of money and the same amount of attention. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox said he thinks the matter of the streets should be left to the City Engineer. Commissioner Brooks said it will still be left to the professionals; however, each ward will get the same attention. Commissioner Knox said each year they receive a list of streets from the Department of Public Works. If the Commissioners have streets they would like to have looked at as well, then they recommend those streets. Commissioner Brooks said is the wear and tear on the vehicles of the residents who live on those particular streets. It is the residents who know better which streets within their community and wards should be paved. We need to listen to our citizens a lot more. Maybe the Department of Public Works is not traveling those roads as much as the residents who are living on those particular streets. If we have it open so that every ward was given the same consideration, we would be sure that the City is being fair when it comes to paving the streets. It is not fair for all the money to go to Bayly Road as that may have happened one year. Dan Beall said the City hired professionals to take care of our public safety road system. He thinks High Street has been putting up with the aggravation of pot holes in their street just as well as anybody else. He thinks a lot of the problems we have had with our budget in the City in the past fiscal year has been because of the City Council micromanaging what our paid experts are paid to do because they know more than we do. They should look out for what is good for the entire City. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she lives on Cornish Drive. There has been no repair work done to her street. The damage to the streets is because of the garbage trucks. She is not asking for her street to have top priority. She walks the streets of Cambridge. She doesn't care if you have every expert in the world, they are missing vital streets that need to be repaired. There are people telling Council there is something wrong with their street. There are sidewalks that are owned by people that have not been repaired. She does not see any notices being put out. The citizens should be the Council's Number 1 priority.
Victoria Jackson-Stanley said Leonard Lane seems to constantly be repaired. On one occasion they dug up Leonard Lane, repaved half the street, left it for 1 week or so, and 2 week later they dug up both sides of the street and now it is just a bumpy lane with groove holes at the end of the street. She asked why they have to dig up Leonard Lane so many times and never complete the repair. Steve Johnson said the first dig-up was done by the gas company; it was not done by the City. They are replacing their gas mains and laterals. The grooving was when the road was ground down in preparation for paving. They are paving throughout the City now. Leonard Lane will get paved. Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked when the paving will be complete on the 400 block of Leonard Lane. Steve Johnson said he does not know the exact schedule. It depends on the paving plant which was down yesterday. The paving equipment has also had casualties for several days. They were paving yesterday. Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked how much it costs to keep repaving Leonard Lane no matter who is doing the work. Steve Johnson said he really does not understand the question but he will try to address it. The gas company is responsible for going back and making the repair, which they don't make a paving repair. They knew the City was going to be paving on top so all they had to do was do a fill to a level sufficient so the City can pave on top of it. The City's contractor then ground off the top layer so the paving does not get too high. They will now pave it. He does not know the exact cost of that particular section of road but he knows the whole budget for 2008 was about $250,000 because they spent $30,000 to pave half of Maces Lane last fall. The entire money allocated this year was about $300,000 in the budget for the entire City.
Octavene Saunders said there was never micromanaging when she sat on Council for the street repairs. There was never any action acting as an engineer. The Mayor and Council decided in a vote to whatever money was allocated for street repairs it would be divided equally by 5 Wards. The Commissioners would talk to Charles Parks or Tom Moore and suggest streets that they saw when they rode around their ward or received calls from their residents. The Commissioners would ask the Director what DPW thinks about which streets take priority. That is how it was done. Then DPW made their decision on what streets took priority by eyesight and experience. The Commissioners only got the money and based on what the public said and based on what the citizens had input on, that is how streets were chosen at that time. It seems to have worked fine. She asked when anyone has ever done work on Charles Street. Nothing has been done for 10 years. These are the kinds of things that the eyes and ears of the citizens are part of. She said Commissioner Cephas has been asking for Charles Street to be paved for 4 years. She has yet to see any improvements done on it. She sat on Council for 8 years and argued for Charles Street and the City never did anything.
Sharon Johnson asked if anyone every calculated how many miles of streets are in each ward. She asked how it would be fair to put the same amount of money toward each ward if they have different street areas. Some roads see more traffic so they will need more attention.
Mike Edgar said he lived on East Appleby for 11 years and there has never been anything done to the street. They received a letter last summer that advised them not to park on the street on a certain date because milling will take place. Nobody parked on the street for 2 days. Finally a neighbor called DPW and found out that the letter was a mistake. The work would not be done. The end of the street that Commissioner Brooks was talking about that was paved is in Ward 5. The other end of the street that was paved is in another ward. The crown on the section of the road that is in Ward 4 is so high that when it rains, the water goes into the yards. Mr. Murphy said there are streets in the City that are still concrete. Pleasant Street is a one-way street that is a high-traffic street because it is a shortcut from Academy to Race Street. The concrete is 3¼ inches tall. He owns the building on the corner. The vehicles drive through his parking lot-not on the concrete. It costs him $300 in stone and equipment time to re-grade the parking lot every single month. Enez Stafford-Grubb said there are streets in Cambridge that the children have to walk on because there are no sidewalks. She asked the City to survey the streets in the other wards that do have sidewalks and curbing and the ones that do not. If you look at the residents who are occupying those houses on those streets, you will see that it looks like it could be planned out. It is very dangerous for our young people walking. It is dangerous for the children walking to Maces Lane and Choptank Elementary School.
Grady Wilson said he has worked with a lot of Department of Public Works on the Eastern Shore and he thinks we have the best DPW on the Eastern Shore. They can only do what they have been told to do.
Laura LeBlanc said there is a wonderful volunteer group called "Safe Routes to Schools" that is working on the area that Enez Stafford Grubb is talking about. Enez Stafford Grubb said there are other areas that do not have sidewalks and are very dangerous. Pine Street has been suffering for a lot of years now. Council has done nothing about it yet they are paving Race Street. The lighting isn't sufficient on Pine Street and it seems like a lot of crime goes on there. It seems to her that a lot of people who can do something about it are turning their faces. She doesn't see where the City is taking that area into consideration. Kiesha (last name inaudible) said she has lived in the City for less than a year but it is appalling to her to hear that it is apparent to citizens here that streets are being paved in some wards and not others. It is equally appalling that we would suggest that they be put on a priority list when it is apparent that the list is being considered by ward.
She urged the Council to support Commissioner Brooks' motion and that equal attention should be paid to each ward so that the roads that may be less traveled by most but are traveled by many in that ward are getting the same amount of attention as roads that traveled by many more. She urged Council to support the motion so each ward would have an equal amount of repair done. The motion to allocate by wards passed 4:0 with Commissioner Knox opposed.
Steve Johnson asked Council to consider 5 invoices that were not considered earlier this evening.
Steve Johnson said Council received a request for a dog waste station in Cannery Way. It would cost approximately $452 to install and about $126 a year for upkeep. He recommended against it.
Rev. Yvonne Penn said she cannot believe that persons that are voted into office are termed as micromanaging. She thinks their job is to protect the citizens of Cambridge. It is her understanding that some of the funds for summer programs might be cut out of the budget. She asked Council to keep those funds in for the young persons of our City. They are our future. Good leaders are trained. If we do not invest in training the leaders, we will absolutely have none. She is asking Council to consider keeping those items in for our young people regardless if they are religious-based or not. If Council needs some information on what the President said about our religious-based organizations, she will get it for them. Her church has 501(c)3 for religious-based and 501(c)3 for their non-religious based which is the Henry Hopper Educational Center. No one program in the City will keep all the young people active. Council should look around the City and see where those programs are needed and they be considered as part of the budget.
Dan Beall said he thinks Council needs to look at the budget with an impartial eye. He has seen deviceness. He has seen arbitrarily the City Council itself spend money over budget on conventions and then decided to spend money in the City. He has seen the Council say they have this great substandard housing report and that hasn't appeared until he found a copy of it today. The Council has never asked the right questions and then they come up with a substandard housing report. The report says we have 107 substandard units in the City; 26.2% were occupied; and 73.8% were vacant or abandoned. In the study there is no clear indication of what the need is for low-income housing or where the need is. Yet the Council has taken it upon themselves to allow the impact fee to be taken away from some low-income housing that we don't know whether it is in the right place, or whether it is needed or not. There has not been a study that has been made because the Council has not asked the right questions. Mr. Beall said the Council has jumped at the chance to fire City employees for alleged acts that they did not commit but he has seen no apology from the City Council. When Council first started, he asked a Commissioner what the City was going to do about the drug problem. The Commissioner told him it was no worse than it was before. He said the City Council is fiscally irresponsible who will not be able to spend money in a responsible manner. He understands that there is $20,000 or whatever that was over budget. There are a lot of accounting systems that don't allow you to change it back. He can understand that. He also sent one of his employees to City Hall or call Mr. Kinnamon about how we can look at the budget. The procedure for looking at the budget and looking at the past years' budget is that we go to City Hall; we are chaperoned by an employee of City Hall; and to make any copies, we pay for the copies, which is only fair. He also asked the person he sent there to ask about the actuaries. This is what the actual costs and expenses are. This was 6 months ago and he still has not received an answer. He asked Council to remember when they are looking at the budget that our children are the biggest asset we have in the City. If we shortchange our children, we are making a huge mistake. The other biggest asset we have in Cambridge is the Main Street program. He asked what happened to all the bright people in Cambridge. People will come in who want a job but they will not work. His wife told him that most of the really good people left the City because there is no future for them. You are left with a lot of people who really do not have a lot of ambition. He asked what Council is going to do. He asked if they are going to run through another budget where the citizens cannot look at actual copies of it. You can view Easton's budget on-line. You can view the minutes of their meetings the next day. It takes you over a month to get it in Cambridge. There are a lot of problems with the City. He said the City has been so divisive it has been difficult to be able to even come close to finding a solution to these problems. There are drug problems and social problems that need to be addressed. We need to train people for jobs in this City. We need youth programs. We need Main Street to invite businesses here.
Pam Wingate said it has been said that the Mayor prepares the budget. But she knows the Council has to be involved because Commissioner Sydnor talks like he is involved. She asked if everyone is involved in the budget process. Commissioner Sydnor said the Mayor presents the budget to the Council. The Council has to approve it. Mayor Rippons said he receives all budget requests from all departments. He sits down with Mr. Kinnamon. He invites input from the Commissioners. His biggest obstacle this year is that operating and salaries alone exceeded our anticipated revenues by $2.8 million. It is up to him to go through it and implement some changes. The $2.8 million does not take into account impact fees. He then goes back to look at the impact fees and looks at what he would deem to be necessary. As Chairman of MUC, he looks at that budget. Then they look at ancillary accounts such as the wastewater treatment and the marina. When they implemented everything, they were still $1.1 million short. He then went to each department. For instance, 37.9% of the general fund is allocated to DPW. He worked with each department head. Some departments took out positions. After that, they were still a little bit off. That is what he presented to Council. He said Council can speak to what they did.
Commissioner Cephas said the Mayor prepares the budget. They have a budget committee. Commissioners Sydnor and Travers are on the committee. They have met at least 3 times. They have called meetings with the rest of the Council. The Mayor chose not to come to their meetings to discuss the budget. They had a meeting tonight and the Mayor chose not to come. He is the person who is fiscally responsible for that budget. He thinks Commissioner Sydnor and Commissioner Travers do a wonderful job bringing the budget to Council. They even assist Mr. Kinnamon on some issues. A lot of people do not know the true story. He thinks the Council works together very well. When the leader does not want to be a team player, there is a problem. Mayor Rippons said he has made phone calls to Commissioners inviting them to City Hall at various times as he goes through the budget because he has questions. They had Council meetings to discuss budgetary concerns. He waits for them to bring him back some information. He was called after 6:00 pm for a 6:30 pm meeting but had another meeting scheduled. He sat down with the department heads about their budgets. Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Kinnamon set the meeting up for 6:30 pm tonight.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said the housing study was not done by the City of Cambridge. It was done by Delmarva Community Services. It was not the criteria we wanted. You cannot blame the City for that. They targeted one area of Cambridge (Washington St.) when they did their study. In their application, they said they would do all City wards. Council did not have anything to do with it.
Tony Ennals said it seems like at most of the meetings he goes to that when our community leaders say they are going to do something, they do it. They do not bicker back and forth. A true leader does not need anyone's o.k. to do what is right. We have to walk the streets. If you cannot walk where the drugs are, where the guns are, and where the crack is, you do not need to be in office. You cannot fear the people you want to lead. You can't wait for Council to tell us how to improve our neighborhoods. It takes individuals standing together to make a trend happen. We have to move forward.
Richard Murphy said everyone in town wants affordable housing. As a landlord, they cannot afford to give people affordable housing because they cannot afford the rent. They started a landlord's association in town to try to solve some of these problems. Their houses get torn up by people who do not care. They are loosing money every week. Commissioner Brooks asked Mr. Murphy to meet with her. She spent 3 days in training and has information about Federal and State grants that can help him. The Federal government recognizes that a lot of people are going through foreclosure. They are trying to get the information out to everyone.
Kiesha (last name inaudible) said part of what she sees in Cambridge is its perception of itself. When people talk about the quality of people in Cambridge, they paint a negative picture of the people who are coming to this town. She asked people to pay attention to the words they use to describe the people in this town. There is a portion of the population that hears something that you may not intend to say. It would go a long way to bringing us together to solve the problems we are trying to solve in the City.
Enez Stafford Grubb said there is a problem with traffic traveling west on Washington Street. The people are going too fast. There are sections of the street that are congested and there are little children playing on the sidewalks. It is very dangerous.
James Chaney said Commissioner Brooks just talked about attending a seminar. He asked how much the Council has spent on the trips they have taken. Ed Kinnamon said he would have to add it up. James Chaney asked if anyone amended the budget to authorize the trip. Commissioner Brooks said they did not have to amend it. It was already in the budget. Ed Kinnamon said the Commissioners' account for conventions is within budget at this time.
Rev. Yvonne Penn said she is hearing people talk about conventions. She hopes they allow the Mayor and Commissioners to attend workshops and seminars so they can learn and then share the knowledge with the citizens. She said we need a new comprehensive plan. She asked the last time it was done. The young man who is working for them said it is appalling and a shame that the City does not have a good comprehensive plan. They cannot operate on that. She hopes that people look at conventions as improvements for the City.
Octavene Saunders said she is tired of hearing that people are wasting money because only specific Commissioners go to workshops. Business people go to business expos. They go to other towns to see what other people are doing so they can strengthen their businesses. Maryland Municipal League has always been a budgeted item in the City's budget. Three Commissioners got degrees from the University of Maryland because they attended those classes in Ocean City and brought back information. As a Commissioner, she learned about public work sessions. She brought it back to Cambridge and introduced it and now they still have public work sessions. It is not a waste of money. The City should be a member of the United States Council of Mayors. There is a lot of information there that brings these cities up, introduces these cities to funding, and introduces them to the corporate world. Commissioner Cephas said he attended the training session in Ocean City. Last night when Main Streets were mentioned, he was so proud when Cambridge was mentioned. A lot of people do not support Main Street. He has always supported it.
Victoria Jackson-Stanley said our City budget is not up-to-date on the website. When she looked at it in early June, it was a budget from 2005. She asked if the City's budget is a matter of public record. Mayor Rippons said it is.
Laura LeBlanc said conventions are great. They energize you and bring you all these things. She is asking how we get these conventions to come to Cambridge. Commissioner Brooks said MML is having a convention in Cambridge in October.
Dorchester County Councilman William Nichols asked why Council is arguing over petty things. The City, the County, and the State are in trouble now. Anyone who thinks these conferences are not good is wrong. He said he wrote a letter to everybody on Council and did not get an answer yet. It has been over 30 days. Under the Freedom of Information Act, he should have received a response. There are steps to take care of these things. The items submitted to the Council by the departments are open to the public at any time. Everyone has a right to walk in there and see it. He does not understand what is going on here. At the County, you can go to the Finance Office and look at it. When it is approved, it is there to look at. He asked when he will get the answer to his question. Commissioner Cephas said he knows what Councilman Nichols is referring to. Not only did Councilman Nichols make the request, he made the request also. He just did not put it in writing. He has a partial list of the things that he requested. He said Council was not privy to the information that Councilman Nichols requested. Ed Kinnamon said he spoke to Councilman Nichols 10 days ago about the information he requested. He told him that he was compiling it. If he gives him everything that he is asking for, it will be research going back 25 years. He told Councilman Nichols that he can give him what he has readily at his fingertips. It is being compiled. If he can do it this week, he will. He has budget issues facing him this week. If not, he will get it to him by the end of next week. Councilman Nichols said anybody that requests something must have it within 30 days.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2008, insof