The following is a link to the agenda for the July 19, 2017 City Council meeting. https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-july-19-2017/. We’ll be voting on legislative requests to be submitted to the Maryland Municipal League, and on a budget amendment composed mainly of funds for projects and initiatives that are being shifted from last year’s budget to the current budget. There will also be Council discussions on our 2017 local election and on a resolution establishing the Council’s goals and priorities for the Police Department.
Montgomery College Math-Science Building. As I mentioned in an earlier message, residents have a chance to weigh in with their comments on the potential location of MC’s new Math-Science Building in North Takoma. There are two locations under consideration and the deadline for commenting is July 21. You can find background information and my views on this topic via the following link: http://www.councilmemberkovar.com/blog/2017/7/13/comment-on-site-of-montgomery-college-math-science-building. I encourage all interested residents to submit comments by the deadline.
Safe Roadways Committee Members Needed. This is one of our more active resident committees, and there will soon be a few openings (one departing member is from Ward One). If you’re interested in working with your community to improve transportation safety, encourage the use of alternatives to driving, and review transportation research and data, you can find more information about the committee here: https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/boards-commissions-and-committees/safe-roadways-committee/. You can also contact Committee Chair Kacy Kostiuk (email@example.com), with any questions, or feel free to be in touch with me directly.
MML Legislative Requests. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170719-1.pdf. The City is a member of MML, an organization which serves as an advocate for municipalities on State issues, including legislation in Annapolis. Cities and Towns can submit up to three legislative proposals each year to be considered for inclusion in MML’s formal agenda for State legislation. After some discussion at last week’s meeting the City Council agreed to a list of three proposals:
· providing appropriations for the National Capital Strategic Economic Development Fund (a newly created, but so far unfunded initiative that would primarily benefit communities inside the Washington Beltway);
· pursuing legislation that would require allocation of a portion of the State Sales Tax to municipalities; and
· pursuing legislation to require at least 30% of the funds received from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to be used for efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (at present in Maryland these funds are often used for purposes with minimal impact on emissions).
I’ll be voting in favor of submitting this list of proposals to MML.
Budget Amendment. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170719-2-3rev.pdf. This will be the second and final vote on a package made up primarily of funds for projects and initiatives that were approved in last year’s budget, but that were not completed by the end of that budget year. The one exception is an additional $125,000 in funding for the Ethan Allen Avenue Gateway project. I did ask some questions about that increase in last week’s Council meeting, and, based on the answers from staff, I’m satisfied that we should go forward with the additional funding.
To be specific, the City Manager explained that the higher than anticipated funds were appropriately documented, and also signed off on by the State Highway Administration (which has a role in the project, given Ethan Allen Avenue’s status as a State road). In addition, to the extent that there are shortfalls in our capital budget later in the budget year as a result of this increase, we’ll have the flexibility to consider not going forward with other spending if that’s necessary. Based on those understandings, I plan to vote in favor of the budget amendment
2017 City Election. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170719-4.pdf. Our local Takoma Park elections will be taking place on Tuesday, November 7. City staff and the Board of Elections will be briefing the Council on plans for the election (including key dates like the nominating caucus) and Election Day. The most important change for residents to keep in mind about the 2017 election is that it will be the last one taking place in an “odd” year. Earlier this year the Council approved a City Charter change, which I actively worked for and strongly support, that shifted our elections to even years, primarily as a means to increase turnout for our local votes (the turnout percentages are much higher in Presidential and Gubernatorial elections). Councilmembers elected in 2017 will serve a three-year term, with our next local election taking place in 2020.
Police Department Goals and Priorities. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170719-5.pdf. In connection with the work to plan for recruiting and hiring a new Takoma Park Police Chief, the Council has had a series of discussions about the goals and priorities we support for the Police Department. As part of that effort, we’ll have a discussion at this week’s Council meeting on a draft resolution embodying those goals and policies. I think it’s a good idea to lay these points out in writing, and I look forward to the discussion.
Please feel free to let me know if you have questions or comments about any of these issues.
Takoma Park City Councilmember