State of The City Address - 2016

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS - 201​6

Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides

Good evening and thanks to all of you in the audience for attending tonight’s State of the City address.

I would also like to thank my colleagues on City Council for their ongoing support and dedication to the good work being done here in the City of Annapolis.

When the voters elected me more than two years ago, they demanded fiscal responsibility.

I am proud to stand before you tonight and say that we have passed a balanced budget two years in a row without raising the real estate tax rate.

We also reduced the solid waste fee 15% both years, and I am proposing another 5% reduction this year- totaling a 35% reduction in solid waste fees.

Let me take a moment to highlight some of the progress we have made together over the past two years: 

  • We have opened or expanded 236 businesses
  • We turned the closed landfill into a revenue generator and a job creator. We anticipate the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park will generate more than $5 million in revenue to the city over the course of the 20-year lease term
  • We Hired 11 new police officers
  • We Filled 4,109 potholes- 9 are important if it’s the pothole on your street!
  • We Installed 54 bus shelters, replacing all those taken down during the previous administration
  • We Held HACA accountable for the treatment of their residents and their living conditions. With my recent nominations of Mr. Doordan and Mr. Flynn, two men of integrity, I hope that my choices will be the beginning of major change in the way HACA is run and will create a new focus on its residents
  • We made the permit process a bit easier by not requiring a permit for non-structural projects and any project under $500
  • We Right sized government’s role in economic development by sharing resources with the county and creating an Economic Development Manager to represent Annapolis
  • More recently, we helped to breathe new life into the old Fawcett building through the Waterfront Maritime Conservation zoning legislation. This legislation benefits all buildings in that zoning district.

We have accomplished a lot, and as the mayor, all of our employees…including the City Manager and the Department heads…. deserve a round of applause.

These are the people who truly understand that it’s my responsibility to put Annapolitans first… and work with me to ensure that quality programs, services and projects are provided.

Every year since becoming mayor, I have had to make hard decisions to present a balanced budget and this year is no different.

Tough decisions will need to be made and I will do what needs to be done to keep Annapolis on solid financial footing.

Last year my administration implemented a Priority Program Budgeting process, which defines the budget in terms of programs. This is the 21st century way to do it, and it is endorsed by International City Manager Associations and the Government Finance Officers Association.

The process makes it easier for the public to clearly understand how their tax dollars are being spent, verses the traditional line item approach which is just a huge spreadsheet with hundreds-of-thousands of numbers listed. 

Over the next several months my staff… as well as members of the Council… will be holding “town hall” type meetings to present the budget and ask for comments, suggestions and priorities.

As part of the budget process, I recently proposed reorganizing our city structure in an effort to improve the efficiency of services provided to the citizens of Annapolis.  

There are several benefits associated with reorganizing city offices and departments. Some of those benefits include

  1. making authority and accountability more direct and transparent
  2. creating a more understandable government operation
  3. streamlining permitting functions
  4. reducing costs
  5. and creating more efficient ways to deliver services

As a CITY, we need to:

  1. Make city government more effective and efficient … and we will do that through the steps I just outlined through our reorganization and realignment
  2. We need to Promote Annapolis as a business friendly city that makes economic development a priority
  3. We need to Continue to make Annapolis a place people want to visit
  4. We need to Facilitate new initiatives with the county , benefiting both citizens and government
  5. We need to - Do more to protect our environment for future generations

So…Let me break down how I plan to implement each of these priorities as I move into my 3rd year as your mayor.

We need to Promote Annapolis as a business friendly city that makes economic development a priority and we need to enhance the city’s economic viability and employment opportunities, benefiting the residents, workforce, and local business communities.

  • We are launching an Economic Strategic Action Plan which contains a roadmap for Annapolis’ economic development efforts over the next 5 years.
  • It reflects the results of a process that involved hundreds of hours of research including:
  1. Public input from eighty-plus organization-leaders and business-owners

This roadmap will put in place the business-friendly culture and framework to create more jobs and revenue for our city.

We need to continue to showcase our great city and continue to make Annapolis a place people want to visit – Annapolis is known as an historic city and applauded for its maritime industry. It’s a place to kayak, sail or powerboat, and is a museum without walls.

Annapolis is known for its educational institutions both the United States Naval Academy and St. John’s.

People come here to fish, go crabbing, to experience its shops, restaurants, pubs, antique stores and boutiques… hosting more than 4 million visitors annually. 

Finding a place to park quickly and efficiently is part of that experience. That’s why I recently signed a contract with a firm, to comprehensively manage all city parking services and offer modern options, benefiting city residents, businesses, and visitors. You will be able to pay for parking by phone, as well as find how many spots are available in our garages and on the street with a click of your phone or mobile device.  

We need to facilitate new initiatives with the county, benefiting both citizens and government. Some of the recent initiatives the county executive and I are working on include:

  • Transportation – In November, the county executive and I highlighted a regional transportation effort between the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County where the county increases funding for Annapolis transit by $250,000… a 180% increase from last year’s grant. The additional money will help us continue to provide quality transit services in the Capital City.
  • Utilities – The city and county agreed on a utility easement that will allow for a more favorable, less costly, alignment of the water and sewer systems that serves the county and city. This is an example of taking a common sense approach to meet our government objectives, while accommodating the need for efficient citizen services
  • We are also working on an Adequate Public Facilities Workgroup – I want to start by saying thank you to the members of the City Council who are volunteering to sit on the workgroup who will produce a series of legislative recommendations for both the County and City Council on adequate public facilities legislation, addressing issues of overcrowding at area schools. Working together to identify ways we can address overcrowding at area schools is paramount to the success of both the county and city 
  • And, we are increasing Coordination and Participation with Emergency Management – a great example of this was earlier this year when the city’s Office of Emergency Management teamed up with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health and other medical partners to conduct the first Drive through Flu Clinic, inoculating more than 1,000 residents.  This exercise tested the City’s pandemic response plans, specifically the ability to mass inoculate the public during an epidemic of an infectious disease.Other exercises we partner on include Active Shooter, Hurricane preparedness, Tornado planning Hurricane Recover and Winter Storm preparation.You can rest assured we are ready if a situation comes up.

I want to personally thank County Executive Schuh, his staff, and the County Council for their continued support as we work together on behalf of our constituents.

We still need to do more to protect our environment for future generations – I remain committed to seeking funding from both federal and state agencies to ensure the city is prepared for the next Hurricane Sandy or Isabelle.  Money for flood mitigation was our number one state legislative request in 2015 and again this year. 

We recently heard that Governor Larry Hogan put in our request for $1 million to address flood mitigation. As soon as it is approved by the General Assembly, we will begin the design phase of the project that will safeguard our residents and visitors in historic Annapolis from future nuisance and tidal flooding.

Meanwhile, we are developing the watershed improvement plan, which will be the city’s roadmap to be compliant with the clean water act and the Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction program.  The plan will identify a list of critical projects in Annapolis watersheds and help:

  • Improve water quality
  • Reduce runoff from rain events, thereby reducing localized flooding
  • Improve overall health of natural resources in the city
  • Consider future funding structure for watershed improvements

The specific goal of the Implementation Plan is to achieve our 2025 target of reducing the nitrogen pollution levels by 25% and the phosphorous pollution levels by 24%.

Also, in the next several weeks, the city will plant the living shoreline at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.   We will be expanding our lease with the Annapolis Maritime Museum to include the Ellen O. Moyer Nature Park at Back Creek, and the Storm Water Environmental Education Center, bringing more opportunity for stormwater, environmental education to our community.

As we look to positive financial changes in our future… we need to look back and remember how past actions from a prior administration are holding us all accountable for their decisions.

Days before I became mayor…the previous administration had passed a union contract that hand-cuffed me for the next 4 years. Decisions were made that put additional burden on the budget as our revenues have not kept up with the increased expenditures.

I stand here and tell you that this will be a very lean budget… but one that will keep the city on solid financial footing.

This budget was not only strapped with limitations from the past, but we had to include step-increases provided in the employee payment plan, address a 2%  increase in our fire and police pension contribution, and accommodate a 9 % increase in  health care.

In this budget:

  • I am proposing some service reductions, along with deferring routine vehicle replacement.
  • I am also recommending that we renegotiate contractual positions and leave vacant positions unfunded.
  • When talking to residents, they expressed their strong feelings about making sure their sidewalks are safe, so I am proposing that we continue to fund the sidewalk program by fully funding the sidewalk revolving fund for FY 17 and beyond.

There were some increases in dollars coming into the city that will help us this year… including:

  • An additional $360,000 from the state in Highway User Revenues
  • We received an additional $800,000 dollars from real estate taxes due to growth and higher assessments
  • Annapolis Transit will benefit from $250,000 from our county partnership; and
  • And we are continuing to identify and secure additional state funding

I was elected to be your fiscal steward, and this budget is a flat, lean, no nonsense budget.

Tonight I stand before you, proposing a $102.8 million Operating Budget and a 2 year $8.6 million Capital Budget Spending Plan.

 The capital budget funds priority projects including:

  • Road Resurfacing
  • Roof repairs to the Taylor Avenue fire station
  • Updating the woman’s locker facility at the Eastport fire station
  • Replacing outdated police and fire radios
  • Re-bricking Main Street
  • And an energy efficiency assessment which will save the city millions over the next several years

While I am proud of what we will accomplish in both the Operating and Capital budgets, I look forward, with great anticipation, to:

  • Watching the last board of the boardwalk go into place, ending the City Dock Bulkhead Project
  • Going out to the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park to see the 50,000 solar panels generating energy and creating revenue for the city
  • Stand at the shore of the Maritime museum when we plant the living shoreline that will protect the Bay and its inhabitants for years to come
  • And I look forward to being at all of the grand openings of new businesses in the city and cut the ribbon as part of their celebration!

This is a great city, and I am not wavering in my pledge to put Annapolitans first.  My Proposed budget: 

  1. Makes your government more efficient
  2. Promotes Annapolis as a business friendly city which helps create jobs
  3. Does not raise the real estate tax rate
  4. Builds on strong partnerships with the county
  5. And protects our environment for future generations

Part of what makes me a better mayor is the input from residents.

I held 27 open door sessions and conducted hundreds of hours of meetings with citizens… hearing their views, listening to their concerns and respecting their opinions.

This is what makes me better, and what makes our city stronger.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve this great city as its mayor and thank you all for being here tonight.