Town of Cheverly
June 12, 2008
Call to Order
Mayor Mosley called the meeting to order at 8:00 pm in the Cheverly Community Center. There were 3 residents in attendance.
In attendance: Mayor Mosley, Mr. Warrington, Chief Robshaw, and CMs. Callahan, Eldridge, Ford, Schachter, and Watson.
Pledge of Allegiance
Approved as written.
Minutes – Town Meeting 5/8/2008
Minutes – Worksession 5/22/2008
Approved as written.
Minutes – Worksession 6/5/2008
Approved as written.
Town Administrator Report
Mr. Warrington stated that public works is working quickly to pick up yard waste, trees, and debris from the recent storms. In addition, public works finished planting trees costing approximately $7,000-8,000. Citizens are encourage to water new trees planted in front of their property and by the sidewalks. Also, the town has received many calls of tall grass. However, there may be 15-20 foreclosures or vacant homes in town. The town will monitor and have contractors who cut the grass come out to those potentially abandoned homes.
Mayor Mosley met with the developer of the Pointe at Cheverly. Public works was also commended for its quick cleaning up of Cheverly, in particular those homes which have emptied there contents onto the streets due to foreclosure.
Mr. Warrington discussed the new county law which requires that when an eviction occurs, personal belongings are to be deposited into storage bins or “pods,” and not on the street. The town is trying to find out why the sheriff is not enforcing these laws. In at least two instances, the town did hold personal belongings for 72 hours. When the owners did not come back for their belongings, the town disposed of the property. Mr. Warrington contacted the realtor for one of the foreclosed properties and public works received a $250 check. Mayor Mosley indicated that she would contact the new county council member about this issue.
Mr. Warrington announced that a new town clerk has been hired, Barbara Bannister.
Police Department Report
Chief Robshaw reported that the police station was affected by the recent storms. Some computers needed hardware replaced and the phone system was down for several days. With respect to this month’s crime report, crime is starting to edge back up. The town has a small task force of Cheverly officers, with assistance from the County, in the Landover Road area. Thus far, there have been 27 adult arrests, 12 juvenile arrests, and incarceration of 4 individuals with open warrants, and approximately 60 traffic citations made. In May there was an increase in crime including 5 assaults (all closed by arrest), 3 robberies (2 closed by arrest), and 1 burglary. The burglary suspects were apprehended in Washington DC. The most frequent crime was theft from auto, and usually
plain view items were stolen. Also, there was a gentleman who took up residence in a local park, however, the Cheverly police assisted in taking him to a shelter.
The recent CPACT meeting was very well attended. Residents are encouraged to visit the CPACT website since it has helpful information. This year’s National Night Out is the first Thursday in August. However, discussions are ongoing with corporate sponsors to move the date to October given the hot weather in August. There is also discussion of renaming the event to Public Safety Day and inviting other police agencies.
CM Eldridge asked Mr. Warrington about the town policy of employees on the trucks during extreme heat. Chief Robshaw noted that the police switched to a lighter weight uniform. Mr. Warrington indicated that water is made available and that there is the option to wear shorts and short sleeves. Mayor Mosley stated some projects may be suspended due to extreme weather.
Thomas Foley indicated that during recent storms, lights on 202 were out and many citizens did not obey the traffic laws by stopping at the inoperable traffic lights. He requested that the Cheverly police send an officer to the area to direct traffic when this happens.
Vice Mayor Ford discussed putting back-up generators on certain busy intersections such as Cheverly Avenue. Mayor stated that that would have to be done by SHA.
Mayor and Council Announcements
Mayor Mosley announced that attendance at the Maryland Municipal League Convention will push the work session to June 19. Among the topics to be discussed at the next work session include the Cheverly United Methodist Church fence, tax incremental financing at the Pointe at Cheverly, council member orientation, the community center outside the basketball courts, Cheverly Day wrap-up, street light installation for Montrose, budget adjustment for tree removal, and discussion of easements relating to the trails.
Mayor Mosley also announced that on July 2, at the town community center there will be an open house for all pre-elementary and elementary schools in town, and its respective principals will be in attendance. There will be a similar program for secondary schools at a later date.
CM Callahan announced that the town will participate in a hearing for the zoning approval of the concrete plant in the industrial park. The town is opposed to the plan and encourages residents to attend. CM Callahan stated that perhaps an alternative industry in place of the concrete plant would better generate employment in the area.
CM Watson noted that we do not have a congressman due to a recent resignation but there is a special general election this Tuesday. In November, there will be the general election for the full term of Maryland congressman.
CM Callahan noted that the town council had a special meeting last week relating to the absence of soccer goals on the park’s field. The town council approved a budget item for the soccer goals given the start of the soccer camp.
Mayor Mosley stated that there was no one present for the recreation council.
Cheverly Day Report
Nick D’Angelo thanked all the town organizations and bands that contributed to Cheverly Day. There are still t-shirts for sale and magazines available.
Mayor Mosley encourages volunteers to participate in the next Cheverly Day. Mayor Mosley thanked Mr. D’Angelo for his work on Cheverly Day.
Crystal Lal of 64th avenue announced that that next Farmer’s Market is on June 21. There will be a couple of new vendors. There is a “eat local” challenge for July. The new market hours are from 8-11am. Ms. Lal encouraged residents to bring a neighbor to help sustain the market. The finances of the market are $2,000 based on about 10 vendors ($200 per vendor); the budget is approximately $13,000, a majority of which goes to filing fees, legal fees, permits, advertising, and salary. There may be a dinner/wine tasting in the near future to assist in raising $2,500 to cover a budget shortage.
Adoption Ordinance O-1-08 Elections
Richard Colaresi, Town Attorney announced that this ordinance relates to the board of elections and its relationship to the town attorney (or separately appointed attorney).
Vice Mayor Ford moved adoption of O-1-08. Seconded by CM Eldridge. Unanimously approved.
Adoption Charter Amendment CA-2-08
Mr. Colaresi stated that this amendment clarifies the role of the town attorney and town council.
§ CM Eldridge moved to adopt Charter Amendment CA-2-08. Seconded by Vice Mayor Ford. Unanimously approved.
Adoption Ordinance O-2-08 Amending the Fence Ordinance
Mr. Colaresi announced that this ordinance forbids razor wire in front of a building or immediately adjacent to any lot used for residential purposes.
§ CM Schachter moved to adopt Charter Amendment O-2-08. Seconded by CM Watson. Unanimously approved.
Announcing the Cheverly Green Plan Steering Committee
Mayor Mosley announced that the town is working on a green infrastructure plan. To assist with this plan, the town appointed a project steering committee: the Cheverly Green Plan Steering Committee. This Committee will work on identifying, preserving, and restoring Cheverly’s green spaces, as well as improving and sustaining the quality of life for residents. The green infrastructure plan will provide a framework for financial funding. The council will continue to work on identifying and acquiring green space.
CM Eldridge announced the following members of the committee: Jeremy Combs , Joe Fontana, Michael Guise, Melanie Hartwig-Davis, Leila Price , Cynthia Robinson, Matt Silo, and Sheila Silo.
Mayor Mosley thanked the Committee and CM Eldridge for his work on this project.
CM Eldridge announced that the first meeting of the Committee will be June 30, at 7:30 in town hall. Because the town received a grant, this project is at no cost to the town.
Public Hearing – Constant Yield Tax Rate
Mayor Mosley declared that the public hearing on the constant yield tax rate was open.
Mr. Warrington noted that Maryland law requires that Cheverly run an advertisement that the town is increasing taxes without increasing the tax rate. For example, if an individual’s tax assessment increases than the tax owed increases and the amount paid to the town increases. In order to achieve a constant yield, the town would have to drop the tax rate to 43 cents. The town decided not to drop the tax rate. The town is not exercising its option of a Constant Yield Tax.
No comments or questions were raised by the audience or council members. Mayor Mosley declared the hearing closed.
Adoption O-3-08 FY09 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program
Mayor Mosley announced that the taxes were not raised this year, although the tax ceiling was raised. The budget is approximately $542,000 for FY09. The budgeted fund balance for 2008 is for $447,062. The budget included significant purchases for 3 new police cars, which will be purchased over the course of 3 years, a $52,000 all purpose truck for public works, continued payment of the new police station, and repairs for sidewalks. The budget does not include repaving a significant street, or the total cost of the new police radio system that will have to be purchased by 2010. The town will lobby for assistance for municipalities in the cost of upgrading to this system. The town has budgeted for half of the cost of the radio system, approximately $150,000.
Mr. Warrington noted that the budget included the repair cost of $17,000 for the 64th Avenue bridge.
CM Schachter noted that Dr. Foley provided written comment on the budget. Revenue and expenses are going up but expenses are rising faster because of the cost of the police department. The question has been raised as to whether the cost of the police department can be scaled back. CM Schachter noted that the police department is important to the town so he would be reluctant to scale back.
CM Callahan noted that the budget has been discussed for several months. The budget is largely sustaining town services. There is an increasing need to improve infrastructure. There will have to be more discussion on whether to decrease town services or increase the taxes.
CM Eldridge stated that cost increases have to be incorporated into the budget each year. There are some things beyond control. The budget is very conservative.
Mayor Mosley noted that the police force has been greatly improved in the last few years. The town waited years to build the police department. The town will be paying $110,000 a year for the police station. It is an investment for the town. What level of services will the town give up in order to avoid a tax increase? The budget is mostly personnel and infrastructure costs.
CM Watson noted that the town will have to discuss the town services for next year’s budget.
CM Schachter reiterated the question of raising taxes. Without raising taxes next year the town may not be able to cover certain infrastructure expenses. The question is whether to raise taxes or cut services. A meaningful cut in services may have to come from the police department.
Vice Mayor Ford noted that the continued increase of the cost of gas impacts all of the services provided, including materials for building streets. A tax increase may be necessary because the town has not improved the streets in several years. Vice Mayor Ford is in favor of maintaining the existing police force.
CM Callahan noted that within the budget is an increase in rental license fees. Other jurisdictions were looked at and compared to what Cheverly requires in fees. The town was lower than other areas.
Dr. Thomas Foley of Crest Avenue (Ward 1) stated that the budget numbers are not discussed enough. Fees and licenses should cover the cost of what the town is doing so the cost of the license seems unjustified. It probably takes 15 minutes for the code enforcer to inspect a rental property. The overall budget has gone up by 8%, the police budget has gone up by 12%, and the public works budget has gone down by 7%. Why should there be such an increase in the police force? How many police officers do we need? None of our police officers live in Cheverly, yet they each have there own car and may bring it home. There are ways of cutting fat in the budget. How can there be a deficit when there was an increase in revenue over the last several years. Every year
there will be another $300,000 collected in taxes. How can there be another tax increase?
Mayor Mosley stated that it takes more than 15 minutes for the code enforcer to inspect rental properties. In addition, it is common practice for police officers to take home the patrol vehicle and that is one way to recruit officers to the town’s police force. Dr. Foley stated that the budget numbers were not available in totality until 2 pm today. Mayor Mosley stated that some changes were made over the last few months; however, the direction of the budget has been stated for several months.
CM Callahan stated his appreciation for Dr. Foley’s submission. CM Callahan also stated that the town budgeted for gas, landfill fees, vehicles, and salaries and benefits. These costs take a large portion of revenue.
CM Schachter stated that Chief Robshaw demonstrated the need for the number of Cheverly police officers. There are approximately 6,000 residents, and the town has 15 police officers. Bladensburg has a similar size population and 17 police officers. Berwyn Heights has half our population and 8 police officers. It appears that Cheverly’s police force is comparable to other jurisdictions.
§ . CM Callahan moved to adopt Budget Ordinance O-3-08 FY09 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program. Seconded by CM Eldridge. Unanimously approved.
Meeting adjourned at 9:50 pm.
Town of Cheverly
Summary of Action
June 12, 2008
1. Vice Mayor Ford moved to adopt Ordinance O-1-08 Elections. Seconded by CM Eldridge. Unanimously approved.
2. CM Eldridge moved to adopt Charter Amendment CA-2-08. Seconded by Vice Mayor Ford. Unanimously approved.
3. CM Schachter moved to adopt Charter Amendment O-2-08. Seconded by CM Watson. Unanimously approved.
4. Mayor Mosley declared a public hearing on the constant yield tax rate. Mayor Mosley declared the hearing closed after requesting and receiving no comments or questions by the audience or council members.
5. CM Callahan moved to adopt Budget Ordinance O-3-08 FY09 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program. Seconded by CM Eldridge. Unanimously approved.