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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.

January 10, 2018 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

The City Council will be back with our first session of 2018 on Wednesday. The following is a link to the agenda for the meeting: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-wednesday-january-10-2018/.  We’ll be voting on a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to continue two key immigration programs, and another relating to a potential amicus brief in the court proceedings on the County Safe Grow law. In addition, there will be votes on a tax settlement with a local business, and on new appointments to the Grants Review Committee. We’ll also have discussions (but no votes) on Police Department purchases; State legislative priorities; a Sunday sales license for a local liquor store; and an overview of City tax issues.

On Tuesday, January 16 I’m hosting a meeting for Ward One residents to discuss City Council priorities for the coming year. The meeting, which is at 7:30 PM in the Community Center Lilac Room, will be an opportunity for residents to weigh in on the Council’s 2018 priorities. Later this month, there will be two Council “retreats” (open to the public) on this subject, and we’ll finalize the priorities soon after the retreats.  The 2017 priorities document can be found via this link: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/resolutions/2017/resolution-2017-06.pdf.

Immigration Resolution.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-1.pdf.  The Trump Administration has proposed phasing out Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), two initiatives that offer important protections against deportation. I believe it’s vital to continue the protections these programs provide, and I’ll be voting for the resolution.

Safe Grow Amicus Brief.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-2.pdf.  As I’ve noted, I have concerns about spending significant amounts of City funds to challenge the State Court ruling that invalidated the Montgomery County Safe Grow law. On the other hand, the case has broader implications relating to State pre-emption of municipal legislation that go beyond that individual law. For this week’s meeting, the question is whether we should ask the Maryland Municipal League to file a Friend of the Court brief on behalf of Takoma Park backing the County’s appeal of the Court’s ruling. The City would have to pay from $500 to several thousand dollars to do this. I would like to hear more from the City Attorney about where the case stands, how much the City has spent to date on legal work relating to the case, the role of MML, and the broader pre-emption issues before I decide whether to support the resolution.

Tax Settlement.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-3.pdf.  Due to an administrative mix-up that occurred when Priti’s Fashion and Jewelry (a business in Takoma-Langley Crossroads) moved from Prince George’s County to Montgomery County, the store significantly underpaid its Takoma Park municipal taxes. Through a negotiation the City and Priti’s have reached an agreement on paying off the back taxes, which the Council must sign off on. I’ll be voting for the settlement.

Grants Review Committee.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-4.pdf.  We’ll be voting on two new appointments to this valuable resident committee, along with a change to the terms of service for members so the panel’s work more closely follows the relevant City budget cycle. I’ll be voting yes.

Police Radios and Vehicles.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-5.pdf  I look forward to hearing from the Police Department about their requested radio and vehicle purchases for the coming year.

State Legislative Priorities.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-6.pdf  Each year the Council develops a list of State legislative priorities for our elected officials in Annapolis. This discussion will focus on finalizing that list, working off of Mayor Stewart’s presentation in November to Montgomery County’s State elected officials, which included six key issues. We’ll vote on our final list at an upcoming Council meeting. While I agree with most of the six issues, I do have some questions and concerns. With regard to the impact of the Purple Line, I would like us to include that project’s impact on housing costs as one of the issues that would be considered by the State. Secondly, on school construction, I support a review of the statistics on school construction funds allocated for Montgomery County that takes into account median incomes in affected zip codes to help ensure the down county area receives our fair share. Finally, with the Takoma Junction traffic studies not yet having been conducted, I’d like a clearer idea of what we we’re asking the State Highway Administration to do with respect to Route 410 in the Junction area.

TJ Wine Beer & Liquor.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-7.pdf  TJ, another business in the part of Takoma Park previously in Prince George’s County, would like to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

City Tax Overview.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180110-8.pdf.  Given the new Federal tax law (and most notably the concerns about the impact of its provisions reducing the deductibility of state and local taxes), this is a good time to review our tax structure. Among the areas I’m interested in addressing is the impact of the inventory tax on small businesses in our community.

Please feel free to be in touch with questions or comments about any of these agenda items.

Peter Kovar

Takoma Park City Council

Ward One



Agenda for January 17, 2018 City Council Meeting

November 29, 2017 City Council Agenda