The following is a link to the May 24, 2017 City Council Agenda: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-may-24-2017/. We’ll be voting on changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and on a major amendment to the current year’s budget which calls for multiple funding shifts, along with contracts for the local organization CHEER to help manage the Lunch and Learn summer camp and for replacement of the Community Center auditorium projection system. There will also be an update on planning for the Folk Festival, plus discussions on traffic calming measures and on whether to have a Police presence at City Council meetings.
Report From Last Week’s Council Meeting. The Council took its final votes on the budget and taxes for Fiscal Year 2018 (which starts on July 1). As I did in the prior week when we took our initial votes, I voted in favor of the budget and the reduced property tax rate and against the increase in the stormwater fee. The first two were approved 7 – 0, and the stormwater fee increase was adopted on a 5 – 2 vote. Last week we also approved the budget policy resolution (https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170517-4.pdf), which is a document that lays out several key issues connected to the budget on which the Council will be taking action in the coming year.
There was one area in the resolution with which I disagreed: setting the amount to be spent from the Affordable Housing Reserve at 15 – 30 percent of the total funds in the Reserve. While I would like to go even higher than 30 percent, I thought that with that language we’d end up closer to 15 percent. So I offered an amendment – which the Council approved 6 – 1 – to set 30 percent as the target for our spending from the Reserve in the upcoming budget year. Again, I would have preferred a higher number, but it was my sense that getting to a target of 30 percent was the best that the Council would go for, and I’m pleased we were able to make the change.
Indigenous People’s Day. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-1.pdf. I support making this change in the official Takoma Park designation of the date that has traditionally been called Columbus Day in order to better recognize the impact that European settlement in North America has had on the native peoples who were living on this continent and whose descendants still live here.
Budget Amendment. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-2.pdf. We periodically consider changes to budget items to take into account higher than expected costs for certain initiatives, delays in completion of projects, or lower costs connected to grant funds that are received. With the Fiscal Year 2017 budget year coming to a close at the end of June, there are a number of changes of this type that City staff have compiled into an overall amendment. Some of these budget changes are technical in nature, while others represent significant funding modifications. I look forward to hearing more details from staff.
CHEER/Lunch and Learn Contract. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-3a.pdf. This is a great local camp, and I support providing the funds (which are already in the budget) for its operation this summer.
Auditorium Projection System. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-3a.pdf. The projection system has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. I support providing these funds, which are in this year’s budget.
Folk Festival. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-4.pdf. This past year the City Folk Festival was cancelled due to a shortage of volunteers. This year – which is the 40th since the Festival’s founding – plans are well under way. The City does provide some funding for the event, and we’ll receive an update from one of the Festival co-chairs.
Traffic Calming. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-5.pdf. Among the topics to be covered in this discussion will be using only the lower of the two types of speed humps that are currently seen in the City, which is a change I support.
Police at Council Meetings. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170524-6.pdf. As part of a previous broader discussion by the Council on emergency preparedness, a question arose as to whether we should continue to have City Police officers present at our weekly Council meetings. While I don’t have any particular concern about my own safety during Council meetings, there are of course members of the public not to mention staff at each meeting, and I do believe we have to consider their safety as well. So my current thinking on this topic is that we should continue to have at least one officer present, but I’m open to hearing other perspectives that my colleagues may have on this question.
Please feel free to be in touch with me about any of these agenda items.
Takoma Park City Councilmember