The following is a link to the agenda for the November 1. 2017 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-november-1-2017/. It’s a relatively light week, with three voting items: the covenant for Dorothy’s Woods; a contract for a compensation study; and appointments to the Youth Council.
Update from Last Week’s Meeting. The key item from last week’s meeting was our vote laying out the criteria for the traffic study on the Takoma Junction development project and calling for changes to the concept plan recently submitted by NDC. Here's a link to my October 28 statement on the resolution: http://www.councilmemberkovar.com/blog/2017/10/28/update-on-takoma-junction-development
There were two important votes relating to the Safe Grow law. First, the Council voted 7 – 0 to add neonicotinoids to the list of substances barred under our Safe Grow law. As I noted previously, the State of Maryland has already passed legislation banning neonics except when used by certified pesticide professionals, meaning that homeowners can’t apply products containing the substance on their own. While I continue to prefer an approach to lawn care use of the substances listed in the Safe Grow law that’s focused on education rather than enforcement, I thought it was acceptable to add neonics to the list, given their link to pollinator deaths and the Maryland law.
We also voted on a budget amendment that included several routine funding shifts, plus $10,000 for legal work connected to the County’s appeal of its Safe Grow law, which was invalidated by a Maryland court earlier this year. While I share some of the concerns that have been raised about State pre-emption of local laws in the context of this ruling, I decided in the end that allocating additional funds so the City can join in the County appeal (potentially through filing a friend of the court brief) isn’t an expenditure of local funds I’m comfortable with. I voted against the budget amendment, but it was approved 6 - 1.
The Council discussed last week the idea of placing a covenant on the Dorothy’s Woods property -- which is owned by the City -- to preserve it as open space. Since the property was purchased with that purpose in mind, I support the covenant, and I’ll be voting in favor of it.
Every three years the City arranges for the completion of a compensation study to determine the appropriateness of the pay structure of our municipal employees. We received eight responses to the solicitation for an outside contractor to conduct the study. City staff has recommended the firm they believe is best suited to undertake the work. The study is important, and the funds have been set aside in the budget. I’m inclined to support the staff recommendation, but I do want to hear some more details from staff since the preferred contractor, though among the lower bidders, wasn’t the lowest.
Earlier this year the Council established the Youth Council to serve as an important advisory body on matters of interest to youth in the City and to help ensure that municipal decisions affecting youth have input from those who are most involved. I think the Youth Council has the potential to play a very valuable role in City affairs, and I’m delighted that we received a number of excellent applications from well-qualified young people who are already active in the community. I look forward to voting in favor of the initial appointments to the Council.
As always, please be in touch with questions or comments about any of the above matters.
Takoma Park City Council