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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.

April 3, 2019 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

Here’s a link to the agenda for the April 3, 2019 City Council meeting:  https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-april-3-2019/. The key item is the City Manager’s presentation of the proposed municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2020. We will also take a final vote on the plastic straw ordinance, and there will be a work session on reorganizing the Safe Roadways Committee. Before the start of the formal Council meeting, we’ll meet in an Administrative Function Session at 6:00 PM to review the City Attorney’s contract. Such sessions are not open to the public. And at 7:00 PM there will be a reception to honor Montgomery College recipients of City Council scholarships. 

Eastern Avenue Infrastructure Meeting.  As mentioned in last week’s blog, in light of all the construction activity along Eastern Avenue (which is in the District of Columbia), Ward 4 DC Councilmember Brandon Todd is coordinating a public cross-jurisdictional meeting on Thursday, April 4 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM to discuss Eastern Ave. road and utility infrastructure projects. I’ll be there, as will Mayor Stewart, Councilmember Kostiuk, and Takoma Park staff, along with representatives from the DC Department of Transportation and Pepco. The location is the Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church’s Keystone Room (6810 Eastern Avenue).

LED Street Light Installation. I also mentioned last week that the new LED streetlights are beginning to be installed in Ward One. Pepco is anticipating being able to install 10 - 20 lights per day and we have close to 400 in Ward One, so it will take a number of weeks. For residents who may have concerns about lights shining into their homes, shielding equipment can be installed on request, though that will only be able to happen once all the lights are in place. This means there will be some waiting time, with other parts of the City that already had LEDs installed getting the shields first. You can read more about the new lights and the installation process here: https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/streetlight-update-project/

Fiscal Year 2020 Budget:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190403-1.pdf.  The City’s Fiscal Year runs from July 1 to June 30, and we’re now formally entering the budget process for the FY 2020 budget. That will kick off this week with the presentation of the City Manager’s proposed budget. The Council will be working on the budget over the next month and a half, with final votes likely happening in mid-May. The background information in the above link includes details on the various opportunities for public engagement during this process. And I’ll of course be available to discuss any aspects of the budget with residents.

One of the key components of our municipal budget is the local property tax rate. As outlined in the background material, the City Manager is recommending a tax increase for the coming year. I intend, as I have in the previous budget cycles, to work for the adoption of a budget that ensures we have the kinds of programs, initiatives and services that make Takoma Park a great place to live, while also keeping our tax structure affordable. With those goals in mind, I look forward to the City Manager’s presentation.

Plastic Straw Ordinance:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190403-2.pdf. This is the final vote on the ordinance to ban the commercial use of plastic straws and stirrers in City restaurants and other establishments. While under this ordinance, restaurants that continue using straws will most likely switch to paper, I’m pleased that they will still be required to keep a small stock of bendable plastic straws for disabled patrons. I’m also glad that the ordinance includes an appropriate phase-in period to help ensure that affected businesses have time to adjust to the new requirements. I’ll be voting yes.

Safe Roadways Committee:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190403-3.pdf. When the membership of the Committee recently dropped significantly, that presented an opportunity to revise its focus, structure and responsibilities. The three members currently on the committee have developed a series of recommended changes, starting with a new name (“Complete Streets Committee”). This will be the first opportunity for the Council to hear about the proposed changes. I applaud the initiative shown by the three members, and I expect we’ll have an interesting discussion.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments about any of the points brought up in this message.

Peter Kovar

Takoma Park City Council

Ward One



April 10, 2019 City Council Meeting/Budget Update

March 27, 2019 Announcements and City Council Updates