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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

June 7, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

The following is a link to the agenda for the June 7, 2017 City Council meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-june-7-2017/.  We’ll be meeting in a closed session at 6:30 PM to discuss a personnel matter. Then, right at 7:30 we’ll start with a public hearing on the proposed bond issuance to fund the Library Renovation project, along with the work on the Flower Avenue Green Street and the Ethan Allen Gateway projects. Following the hearing, there will be an initial Council vote on approving the bond issuance (with a final vote to come at the June 14 Council meeting), and then a final vote on the budget amendment on which we took an initial vote on May 31. We’ll close out the meeting with a discussion of Police Department equipment and related issues as part of the process leading toward our discussion on procedures and policies for selection of our next Police Chief.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 6) the third community conversation jointly hosted by the City and Montgomery College on MC’s construction plans in North Takoma will take place starting at 7:00 PM in Room 100 of the College’s Science North Building. I encourage all residents interested in this issue to attend.

Bond hearing and vote.  https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-june-7-2017/.  During our budget debates and votes – which were completed last month -- the Council approved the idea of using long-term municipal bond financing to pay for the Library Renovation project, and the Flower Avenue and Ethan Allen projects. I support this idea because it helps reduce the annual financial impact of the projects on taxpayers, and because I think that for projects with long useful lives it is appropriate to ask residents in future decades to contribute to the costs of the projects.

As I have previously mentioned, while the cost of the Library is $7 million, by spreading the financing out over 30 years, the annual cost, even with the added interest, is under $400,000. While that is by no means an insignificant figure, when considered as part of our annual budget of around $30 million, it represents about 1.3 percent. And, as I noted in previous reports on our budget and tax deliberations, even with this debt service, which we’ll start paying in our 2018 Fiscal Year that starts on July 1, we were able to slightly reduce our local property tax rate.

Our City Charter has some guidelines for indebtedness of this type, including a requirement for a public hearing when the borrowing exceeds 5% of that year's revenue. It does, with our annual budget around $30 million, and that’s why we’re having the hearing. In addition, the Charter requires us to strive to maintain: 1) an average maturity of bonds at or below 20 years, which would be the case with this issuance; 2) net tax-supported debt at a level not to exceed 1% of the assessed valuation of City's taxable property (which would be around $20 million, an amount we would be well under); and 3) annual debt service costs at less than 15% of our General and Special revenue funds (which would be about $4.5 million, a figure we’re under even with our other outstanding bonds).

So for me, a Library project that I believe will be very beneficial to the City combined with an affordable mechanism for financing it leads me to be supportive of the bond issuance, and I’ll be voting in favor of it.

Budget Amendment.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170607-3.pdf. This is the second and final vote on a catch-all end of the Fiscal Year compilation of changes to the budget for this year. I supported it when we had our initial vote on it last month, and I’ll be voting yes again.

Police Department Issues.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170607-4-rev.pdf. As part of our work to develop a process for selecting out new Police Chief, the Council will be reviewing various Police procedures and practices. The focus of this week’s review will be equipment, weapons, vehicles, technology, the complaint process and the Emergency Response Team.  

Please be in touch with any questions or comments about the agenda.

Peter Kovar

Takoma Park City Councilmember

Ward One









June 14, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda

May 24, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda