Ciyt Council Minutes
December 22, 2008
December 22, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 22, 2008 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Stout, Thomas, and Hanson. Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked for a moment of reflection for the holiday season. Commissioner Hanson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
PKS & Company to Present City Audit-Boyd Bounds and Ginger Heatwole prepared the audit for the City. The opinion they presented is an unqualified opinion which means it is a clean opinion which is the highest opinion that an audit firm can given on any audit. The total assets (cash and receivables and capital assets) for the City are $60,975,300. The liabilities (including long-term debt) is $27,503,410 so the net assets of the City are $33,471,890 which is comprised of that which is invested in capital assets, net of related debt of $29,159,413; restricted assets of $1,760,039, and unrestricted of $2,552,438. The total revenue was $20,081,950 and the total expenses were $16,743,788. The change in net assets prior to the transfer was $3,338,162 and the transfer was $1,132,960. That is comprised from money that was transferred from the sewer fund to the general fund less the transfer of the marina assets and liabilities from the general fund to the marina fund. For the year ending 2008, the City Council elected to have the marina shown as a separate enterprise fund. The largest revenue source for the past 2 years is taxes; the next is inter-governmental sources and charges for services (water, sewer, and marina fees). The total revenue for the year was $15,886,895 compared to $20,081,950 the year before. Most of the decrease was in grants and contributions. A lot of grant money came in the year before for the marina. A chart of functional expenses shows that the general government was $1,079,697; public safety was $5,691,196; public works was $2,913,426; recreation and culture was $42,680; economic development was $185,789; health and pension was $2,329,582; other was $1,367,009; and the business activities (costs of running the water, sewer, marina) was $5,713,447. The largest expenditure is public safety which takes up almost 30% of the total expenditures for the year. Employee benefits represent 45% of the total expenditures in 2008. Commissioner Sydnor said a full audit will be available for the public to review at City Hall. Mayor Stanley said Council will present a performance audit at a later date. The Comptroller has been looking at our books for the last 3 years and they are going to look at a comparison on how the City is spending their money and patterns over time. That will give us an idea on how we can better utilize tax dollars. Commissioner Thomas made a motion to accept the auditor's report. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Presentation by Cambridge Main Street/Maple Street Program-William Jarmon, Vice President of Main Street, said he chairs the committee for the Maple Street program. In 2006, RUDAT and individuals from Maple Street met and came up with 30 ideas for the Pine Street area. A committee was formed named "The Neighborhood for a Better Cambridge". They received a grant to hold a Charrette for the Pine Street corridor. The Maple Street program is a program for streets that are adjacent to Main Street (Race Street). The committee chose Gay Street, Muir Street, Cedar Street, High Street, and parts of Pine Street. The grant funding was used to create a survey. They wanted more input from individuals who live within the blocks of the Pine Street Corridor (High/Washington/Pine). The results of the survey showed a neighborhood in transition. The Maple Street concept is a concept whereby the people must own the neighborhood themselves. A picture was taken of each dwelling on Gay, High, and Pine Streets. The person who did this particular part of the project assessed those structures and is developing a program that will tell us exactly what it would cost to renovate those particular areas that are abandoned or to support those individuals who are living in the homes. They are looking at sidewalks and lighting and how to make it more safe and green.
Lee Weldon said they wanted to interview people about some very specific things in the community. They wanted to see what these citizens want to see happen in their community. Main Street on Race Street has taken root. Now we have the opportunity and resources to turn our attention fully onto Pine Street. There will be additional meetings at various locations to acquire additional data. Their goal is to have about 200 completed surveys. One of the challenges they have is to revitalize and strengthen the economics of the community without creating a situation where the people who made it special can no longer afford to live there.
Sharon Wilson, Visions America Community Development Corporation, to Discuss the Neighborhood Conservation Initiative Applications Along With Ways in Developing This Partnership-Sharon Wilson said one of their purposes is to create opportunities for first-time home buyers and tenants to be incorporated in the Neighborhood Conservation Initiative Funds through a collaborative effort with County and City municipalities. The partnership will offer affordable housing, 50% below medium income which builds self-esteem and self-worth along with sustainability to the low-income populous of Dorchester County. The funding would be through the City as a subcontractor. Her purpose is to partner with as many County and City agencies, Maryland Rural Development Corporation, Cambridge Economic Development, City View, Habitat, Delmarva Community Action Agency, developers, and engineers. She intends to create jobs. Housing will create quite a few jobs in a 2-year period. Her organization offers housing counseling seminars. They want to participate in the Maryland Mortgage Program which will assist with down payments and closing costs. They want to demolish some of the blighted structures. There is funding from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for homeowners with blighted properties. They are hoping to provide approximately 25 families with 10 properties in multiple areas of the City and County. They are ready to begin 60 days after they receive the go ahead that the award is there. She is asking for the City's support. She said she and Lee Weldon are on the same team. All of it will go together under one application. Lee Weldon said the City's portion would not go toward any of the County's projects. He submitted a pre-application through the County. This part of the project was not included in that application. Ms. Wilson's organization, through its mortgage counseling services, is going to be an important partner.
Commissioner Thomas asked Ms. Wilson to provide a profile on the organization. He also asked how Ms. Wilson's organization would get paid. Ms. Wilson said 10% of administrative costs can be allocated to the organizations to pay employees, etc. Lee Weldon said they will be working with USDA Rural Development who help qualify potential homebuyers so as things get done, there is a buyer ready to take possession.
Open Bids for Great Marsh Boat Ramp Reconstruction-Oden Wheeler opened the following bids:
- Edwin A. and John O. Crandell, Inc. (West River, MD) - $348,430
- Dissen & Juhn Corp. (Stevensville , MD) - $353,000
- J. Marine, Inc. - $418,000
- George & Lynch - $394,000
- McClain Contracting Co. - $495,000
Commissioner Thomas made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Review and Approve Revised MOU with Dorchester County (Technology Park Financing)-Rob Collison said there have been ongoing discussions with regard to the financing of the infrastructure expansion to the tech park. It is a County-initiated project. The County came to the City requesting annexation and then asked that the City participate in the cost to expand the infrastructure from the existing water and sewer lines out to the tech park. At that time it was estimated that the cost of the lines would be around $1.7 million. The City agreed to pay 24% of that cost. Those final cost estimates for the loan that was approved through USDA was $1,718,896. By prior MOU, the City is committed to 24% of that amount. There was an amendment from the original MOU that involved certain concessions and negotiations with the Dorchester Sanitary Commission. It was recommended that the design would use the pumping station (near Tates Bank Road) which is owned by the Sanitary Commission. It commits the City and County to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 per year for a maintenance issue. MES will also do some modification and maintenance of some portion of that pumping station. Those MOUs have been executed.
A new provision that is set forth is with regard and defined as the EDA loan project. This is to secure the funding for the infrastructure improvements within the tech park. EDA is requesting that all of the parties which have a vested interest in any of the assets within the tech park has to be an applicant on the EDA grant funding application. The City will own the sewer system; MUC will own the water system; MEDCO will own the lots within the tech park; and the County will own other aspects of the tech park. All of those entities will be part of the MOU and will be an applicant on the EDA grant. There is a provision here that says the City is only doing it as a courtesy and an accommodation to the County. The County will then hold the City harmless and indemnify the City from any financial repercussions we may be exposed to for being an applicant.
Another new section which the City has not yet obligated itself to is the projected increase in costs of the actual expansion of the water and sewer system from the existing facilities to the tech park. It was originally estimated to be $1.7 million. That estimate has increased to $2.9 million. We have not formally obligated the City to that portion of the additional cost. That is only a projected cost. The actual cost could end up being $3.1 million or $2.8 million. One unknown factor is that our fire department is questioning the design of the water system and whether or not there is sufficient capacity to have the flow that they are recommending for this tech park and more importantly, the airport. Steve Johnson said the model is being run right now. They do not have an answer yet.
Mayor Stanley said it would seem prudent to wait until the Council has all the information and then make one final decision. Commissioner Thomas made a motion to table the decision on the MOU for the tech park. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Adoption of Findings of Fact for Rezoning Part of Parcel No. 88 of Tax Map 30 (Zachary Drive) (including the area shown on the 2007 Tax Map as Parcel 438 and property between Parcels 2369 and 2368 that fronts Leonard Lane)-Rob Collison said Council held a public hearing at the last meeting. Planning and Zoning determined it was a mapping error from the May 2003 comprehensive rezoning. The parcel is part of the Conifer Village development. Based on a mistake, it is recommended that the parcel be rezoned from R-1 to R‑3. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the ordinance and adopt the findings of fact. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Hanson made a motion to meet in executive session after the meeting to discuss personnel. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve City Council Meeting Schedule for 2009-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the schedule. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Decrease in Council's Salary-Mayor Stanley said she brought this up in light of the City's financial situation. To show the City that Council is serious about holding everyone accountable for saving as much as they can in the budget, she proposed to Council that they agree to a decrease in their salary by 10% for the months of January through June 2009. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the decrease. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for DPW (Overtime and Street Lighting)-Steve Johnson said the overtime requirement is due to the fact that when they did the FY09 budget preparation, they budgeted very closely for expenses expected in FY09. However, what occurred is that a portion of the FY08 expenses were paid with FY09 money. They need approximately $4,000 restored for the FY09 account so they have enough funds for overtime in FY09. Similarly, for street lighting, they found that in FY08, street lighting was apportioned to 2 different accounts. When they prepared their FY09 budget, they only looked at 1 account. Therefore, they need to transfer $7,000 to make sure there is enough money to pay for the street lights. Commissioner Sydnor said there was $3,000 budgeted for overtime for Account 306. There is currently $81.23 as of the end of November. Steve Johnson said the funds were used between June and December 2008. The heavy overtime is in the good weather months. Commissioner Hanson said overtime has been frozen. Steve Johnson said there are going to be emergencies. Unbudgeted overtime is for snow removal. If we have a bad winter this year, he will be coming back to Council for money for people to remove the snow. The overtime money for the budget amendment is based on historic costs of anticipated difficulties, predominately with sewer and other type emergencies. Commissioner Sydnor asked why they will not be able to use comp time. Steve Johnson said he is trying to give the employees their choice. Commissioner Sydnor said they do not have a choice now. Steve Johnson said that is not good for employee morale but right now since it is a municipality, they can tell people they must take comp time. He would rather give them the option of being paid. Mayor Stanley said they would all rather give people an option but they have been making some tough choices lately. Steve Johnson said they only use overtime in emergency situations. Chief Malik said they have to have some consistency between whether they have overtime or not. It is hard for him to tell his guys that they cannot have overtime for going to court or staying over for an arrest while another department is getting paid overtime. His understanding is that overtime funds were frozen and it was going to be time and a half comp time. Commissioner Sydnor said the Chief is correct. They need consistency and Council directed that overtime is frozen and comp time must be used. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to table the line item in the budget amendment for the overtime appropriations. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the line item for the street lighting in the budget amendment. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Update on Ward 3 Clean-Up-Gil Cephas, representing the Concerned Brothers United, said his topic is an update and proposal on Wards 2, 3, and 4. After proposing a clean-up plan for the City, they have targeted 23 properties that are in need of care. To date, 19 properties have been successfully completed. The work consisted of cutting small trees, grass, and small brush; painting; minor repairs; and landscaping in some cases. The work was done by property owners, tenants, and volunteers. Pine Street is their primary focus. In order for them to move forward they need the City's help. They need something to attract people and businesses to Pine Street. They need the City's help in cutting and removing 4 trees and help in trimming 2 trees. They need the City's help in repairing and replacing some sidewalks. They understand it is the property owner's responsibility however some homeowners do not have the funds to fix up certain areas. His organization is suggesting a "Walk of Fame" on Pine Street with names and stars for local citizens and they need the City's help accomplishing it. He would like to have a meeting with Mayor Stanley, Ed Kinnamon, and one of the City's grant writers to see if they could get some money for Pine Street. They would like it done by June 2009. Mayor Stanley scheduled the meeting for Monday, January 5th at 11:15 am.
Approve PO 91303 - Harper and Sons - DPW Operations Building - $14,735.06-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the entire item as a capital item with the addition for the sales tax to be paid. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement for November 2008-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the financial statement for November 2008. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Wendell Foxwell made several suggestions for sprucing up Cambridge in the upcoming year.
Rob Collison said the Dorchester County Council asked for an update on the Courthouse parking project and the riverwalk by their next meeting on January 6th. He will brief Council on this at the City's work session on December 29th.
Commissioner Knox read a prepared statement informing the citizens of his sincere regret that he will be resigning from City Council effective February 1, 2009. Due to his recent career change, he will be unable to fulfill his obligation of serving out his term. Serving the City has been an honor. He thanked the citizens for allowing him this opportunity. Mayor Stanley and each Commissioner thanked Commissioner Knox for his hard work and dedication to the citizens and City of Cambridge.
Commissioner Thomas thanked Gil Cephas for his passion. He pledged partnership to make things much better with the various projects that Mr. Cephas outlined.
Commissioner Thomas said Council would like everybody to be part of the 325th anniversary celebration of Cambridge in 2009. On Thursday, January 8th at 5:30 pm, the City will hold a meeting of community organizations to begin planning the celebration.
Mayor Stanley said she wrote a letter to Senator Colburn giving the City's buy-in to the 300-ft exemption request. Therefore, the City will be moving forward to have consideration of our own destiny as it relates to bringing businesses and restaurants that have some alcohol base to their sales. It will be discussed more in the new year.
With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 22, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Oden C. Wheeler, Jr.