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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 5, 2019 City Council Meeting Agenda


Dear Neighbors:

The following is a link to the agenda for the June 5, 2019 City Council meeting:  https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-june-5-2019/. Please note that this week’s meeting will take place at the Recreation Center on New Hampshire Avenue rather than at the Community Center.

The meeting will begin with several proclamations:  Immigrant Heritage Month; Gun Violence Awareness Day; and Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. Then there will be votes on reestablishing the Safe Roadways Committee as the Complete Safe Streets Committee, and on a contract for the surface restoration of the Community Center pedestrian bridge. After that we’ll hear from the Community Grants Committee on their Community Quality of Life grant recommendations for this year, followed by proposed Charter and Code amendments by the Board of Elections, and then an overview on City personnel compensation. The meeting will end with a closed session to discuss matters related to collective bargaining negotiations.  


Office Hours. I’ll be available at the Girl and the Vine (7071 Carroll Avenue) from 2:00 - 4:00 PM on Wednesday to meet with any residents who are interested in discussing local issues. No appointments are necessary.

Cell Tower Regulations.  In January the Council approved an ordinance providing some protections against the potential installation of small cell towers in Takoma Park. This move was made in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s September ruling that heavily pre-empted municipal control over cell tower installation. City staff, working with an outside attorney, have prepared draft regulations to implement our ordinance. You can see the draft regulations, along with details on how to submit online comments, through this link: https://takomaparkmd.gov/initiatives/project-directory/small-cell-antennas-in-the-citys-rights-of-way/. In addition, there will be a public hearing on the regulations on June 12, with a proposed effective date for the regulations of July 15. I’ll be providing more details about the regulations prior to the public hearing.

Village of Takoma Park. The Village of Takoma Park, the local group that helps seniors age in place by providing support in the form of rides, friendly visits, small home repairs and senior strolls, is looking for volunteers, including drivers. A new driver's orientation will be held on Tuesday, June 18 in the Municipal Building Rose Room from 7:00 - 9:00 PM. Call 301-646-2109 to reserve a spot. You can learn more about the Village via this link: www.villageoftakomapark.com

REPORT FROM MAY 22 COUNCIL MEETING. The Council didn’t meet last week. At our May 22 meeting we had the first of what will be a series of work sessions on further budget process improvements, with an eye toward producing a more transparent process next year. This week’s discussion on personnel compensation is part of that effort. At the May 22 meeting we talked about a range of budget issues, including potentially adopting an approach focused on a budget baseline with an inflation adjustment, and also whether we should establish a detailed time on task system for City employees. For those who are interested, you can see video of my remarks on the budget process through the following link, starting at the 2:38 mark:  https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/meetings-and-documents/city-council-video/.


Safe Roadways:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190605-1.pdf. I’m pleased that we’re taking the final step to formally reestablish this important committee, giving it an added focus on pedestrian safety. I’ll be voting in favor of the resolution.

Community Center Pedestrian Bridge Restoration Contract:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190605-2.pdf. I plan to vote in favor of the contract.

Community Grant Award Recommendations:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190605-3.pdf. The Committee annually makes recommendations on recipients of the City’s Community Grants funding, with the Council voting on the recommendations in a future meeting.

Board of Elections Recommendations for Charter and Code Amendments:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190605-4.pdf. I was pleased when City residents in 2015 overwhelmingly passed a referendum in support of shifting our local elections from odd to even years in order to coincide with Federal and State elections, with the goal of promoting increased voter turnout. And I was happy to join a majority of the Council in subsequently making that change official. Now, the City Board of Elections has recommended a series of changes to the City Charter and Code that they believe will help ensure a smooth transition to our new election time table.

Personnel Compensation Overview:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2019/council-20190605-5.pdf. During our recent budget and tax deliberations, a number of questions arose regarding the compensation of City personnel. This is of particular relevance to our discussion of fiscal matters, given that personnel costs constitute the largest share of municipal spending. As we consider improvements to our budget process, having a more comprehensive understanding of personnel trends and practices will be especially valuable.

As always, please be in touch with questions or comments about any of the issues addressed in this message.

Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One

240-319-6281; www.councilmemberkovar.com

June 12, 2019 City Council Meeting Agenda

May 22, 2019 City Council Meeting Agenda