What a great opportunity it has been to serve as the Mayor of Annapolis for the past three years!
We took a financially distressed city three years ago… made some tough decisions … and made sure we put our city back on solid financial footing.
Our efforts resulted in two upgrades to our city’s bond rating in just the past three years.
I saw a real need to stop the financial hemorrhaging and get us back on track, so we could recoup the money we were losing to poor choices and bad policies.
There was a better way to run the city, so we came up with better choices and stronger policies.
With bipartisan support, we got rid of the excess, reorganized city government, and got comfortable with doing more with less.
I give my department directors a great deal of credit when it comes to doing more with less due largely to their commitment to our residents. Would you please stand and be recognized.
Tonight I am submitting a $107.5 million budget, a $4.2 million increase over last year’s budget… and I am here to tell you the state of the city is strong.
This budget includes:
- A tax rate cut
- New hires in the police department
- Reintroducing a 1% COLA for employees, subject to collective bargaining
- More money for sidewalks and repaving projects
- A decrease in the solid waste fee
More on those items and more in just a few minutes… But before we look ahead, let’s take a moment and look back at what we have accomplished.
Three years ago I promised to spend within our means… and we have done that. We were even able to:
Lower solid waste fees each year for a total of a 31.25% decrease over three years
We maintained the city’s AA+ rating from the Fitch and Standard & Poor’s Rating Agencies with Moody's Investors Service giving Annapolis an upgrade because of our city’s strong financial management
Balanced three budgets resulting in a surplus each year, and
We passed three budgets with no increase to the real property tax rate
With the help of City Council, we have accomplished much in the past three years, and we did it in a largely bipartisan manner.
I want to thank the City Council for their ongoing dedication to our residents and for helping me to promote my priorities as the mayor, which includes:
- Financial Stability
- Public Safety
- Environmental Sustainability
- Economic Development,
- and Putting Annapolitans First!
More about Financial Stability of our city
- One of the fiscal priorities was to replenish the fund balance to a healthy level. Once we accomplished that, I looked for innovative ways to secure new funding sources:
- At my request, the Fire Department secured a SAFER grant, which allowed us to hire 12 new firefighters
- Last year I secured $1 million from Governor Larry Hogan for flood mitigation, which will pay for the preliminary design phase of our project to address nuisance flooding at City Dock.
- We received $345,000 for Capital Safe Streets funding, which is double our average annual allocation
- I recently asked the Governor for additional PILOT funding, as we are still in great need of funding to meet the public safety and basic public works obligations as the Capital of Maryland. We are still working with the Governor and General Assembly and I am hopeful we will see funding through the Governor’s supplemental budget.
I pledge that the city will continue to be fiscally responsible and our programs and policies will continue to address the needs of our residents!
Public Safety - At my inauguration in 2013 I made a pledge to focus on solutions to drug abuse and crime.
- I have listened to the needs of our community and over the past three years have made sure public safety is adequately funded and the programs are in place to ensure success.
- I made a pledge to find solutions to the heroin epidemic and related drug abuse in Annapolis. The city has been, and continues to work with Governor Larry Hogan and County Executive Steve Schuh to make this one of the top priorities for our law enforcement teams.
- Meanwhile…. members of the Annapolis Police Department and I remain active on the County Executive’s Heroin Task Force and are committed to keeping our children and citizens safe from these dangerous drugs and the terrible consequences that affect all families…with the goal to get these criminals out of our neighborhoods and out of our city!
- I am also working with our State’s Attorney, Wes Adams, to better coordinate our officer’s presence in the courtroom, so we can keep our officers on the street, protecting our citizens.
- Most recently I made a change at the Annapolis Police Department because while I saw the criminals being arrested, I wanted to see aggressive steps to prevent the crimes from occurring.
- We received 72 applications for the new Chief of Police, formed a Blue Ribbon Panel to interview 10 candidates, and in turn, recommending 4 finalists to me and the City Manager.
I secured the most money ever granted from the state for our Safe Streets Program, with the funds going directly to our neighborhood policing efforts
I requested the transfer of $125,000 to go directly to additional security cameras around HACA properties
I requested and City Council recently approved a transfer of $1.25 million for additional police officers and additional security cameras around the city this year.
While funding sources are secured… I want to report that the APD seized a record number of handguns this year and we implemented a police body-worn camera pilot program and just recently selected Taser as the provider firm, with delivery in early May and deploying body worn cameras in mid-May.
We know that more police and cameras by themselves will not solve the problem…so we made changes to HACA by nominating new commissioners. Under this new leadership, HACA has a new banning policy, and a stronger cooperation with the community.
Allowing the criminals to sell drugs and frequent the community is no longer acceptable… and we will work diligently to make every community in Annapolis safe, no matter what the street address is.
Environmental Sustainability – I understand the need for environmental guidance and the importance of making environmental sustainability a focus for future generations. That’s why:
City Council passed a Forest Conservation Ordinance supported by local environmentalists
We implemented Annapolis’ first conservation easement since 2003, adding the 2.5 acre conservation easement on the Bay Village Assisted Living property
We created a Watershed Improvement Plan to meet federal requirements… and
Working with the South River Federation, the Spa Creek Conservancy, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Department of Natural resources we have started numerous stream restoration projects,
Economic Development - as Mayor I am trying to offer new ways to breathe life into our downtown area:
- The old Fawcett building has started construction and Mission BBQ moved into the historic Stevens building
- All of this was taking place, while vibrant changes were also occurring in West Annapolis, Eastport and Upper West Street.
Other economic development highlights in the city:
We have opened or expanded 403 businesses in the past three years
Reorganized government to streamline development review, inspections and the permitting process
Reaffirming our commitment to the maritime industry.
- Right-sized government’s role in economic development by sharing resources with the county and creating an Economic Development Manager to represent Annapolis
- We launched an Economic Strategic Action Plan which contains a roadmap for Annapolis’ economic development efforts.
- The city dock bulkhead rehabilitation work was done on time and under budget.
- Meanwhile….finding a place to park quickly and efficiently is part of that experience. That’s why last year I signed a contract with SP+ to comprehensively manage all city parking services and offer modern options to parking.
- Recently, SP+ has:
- Installed multi-space meter equipment downtown, enabling a more efficient payment and enforcement system, using the license plate as the credential.
- Implemented mobile payments for On-Street parking at metered spaces throughout the city. This feature affords users more choices and an easy parking experience.
- Added a second vehicle and upgraded License Plate Recognition technology for a more accurate reading of license plates on vehicles that have been parked illegally in residential permit parking districts.
- Implemented an online parking permit program allowing Annapolis residents to purchase annual parking permits online. There are no changes to permit prices and all major credit cards are accepted. An upgraded system and process will be introduced for Residential Permit renewals in June 2017.
Putting Annapolitans First means putting the needs of our residents in the forefront and we can only achieve that through listening. Some of the recent items that have a direct impact on residents include:
Passing a school Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that helps to eliminate overcrowding
Hiring an African-American Liaison and a Hispanic Community Services Specialist to ensure that all voices are represented in government
Creating the first Hispanic bilingual television program that is aired on both City TV and our website
Working with Maryland Live! Casino to bring 150 immediate jobs to Annapolis residents and worked to get Annapolis residents to the jobs at the facility – Important to note that 20 people were hired on the spot during the interview process
Working with Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell-Charles to host the second annual Annapolis Job Fair at Pip Moyer Recreation Center
Insisting that all public housing units were inspected to ensure that all the rental properties across the city are held to the same standards– offering the same quality of life for all our residents
Nominating new members to the HACA Board of Commissioners which now represent the needs of the board, including a strong legal presence, someone with a vast professional business focus, a financial expert, and an independent thinker, who is a skilled community leader
What our residents don’t always see… is the work being accomplished to keep the city moving forward and successful:
We have contracted with AECOM to develop three flood mitigation design concepts. These designs will address nuisance flooding downtown due to tidal fluctuations, conduct community outreach to downtown residents and business owners impacted by the flooding, and complete a Final Engineering
Recently, I walked door to door talking to each business along Dock Street to request data that is needed to submit a FEMA Grant that we applied for. The submission package amounted to 157 pages and included 16 appendices, in addition to a 40 slide PowerPoint presentation. This grant, if approved by FEMA, could provide the City with $3M of the $10 million we need, to implement the critical equipment that will minimize nuisance flooding in the historic downtown area.
In the next few months we will have a demonstration that has been used successfully in Baton Rouge and New York City to provide for flood protection.
We are ready to start construction of the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park after the County and Board of Education voted unanimously to purchase power from the city
The energy park at the old landfill is environmentally, financially and economically rewarding and will:
Bring jobs to the area while supporting local businesses - 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
Also important… this will become the new standard for others to follow as Anne Arundel County, Anne Arundel County Schools, and the City of Annapolis advance compliance with State mandatory renewable energy goals for local governments.
You will soon see the first of the 54,000 solar panels being installed on the old landfill.
This project, when completed, will be the largest solar project identified by the Environmental Protection Agency exclusively installed on a closed landfill in the United States.
So what new items will you see in the budget? You will see:
- A 1/2 cent tax rate cut
- 10 new police officers
You will see $1 million for stormwater and stream restoration projects
- There is a 1% COLA for all employees, subject to collective bargaining, effective January 1, 2018 along with a provision for health and pension benefits
- I added money to repair sidewalks through a one-time use of FY16 surplus funds
- And … I am reducing the solid waste fee another 22% for a grand total of 46.3% over four years. In dollars and cents, this means the average solid waste bill will be reduced over the course of the last four years from $380 to $204, per household-per year.
In conclusion, this budget is fair and allows us to move into the future without losing our historic appeal as we continue to build on our successes. Some of those include:
- Opening the new water plant this year. The water production and the “Start-up Tests” phase of the project is underway, and it is expected this phase will be completed by the end of April. The current progress schedule shows the contractor completing the remaining work in late August or early September of 2017
- We will begin the reconstruction of Main Street including re-bricking
- We will be building a new pool with the proceeds from the Eisenhower Golf Course sale
- We will be spending $2 million to repaving City streets
- We will be updating the bathroom facilities in the Harbormaster building
- And we will be rehabbing the Truxtun Park tennis courts
This is a budget that takes into consideration the needs of our city as well as the priorities that I have defined as mayor.
I am proud to say that we have made great strides during the past three years to ensure we remain financially strong, economically resilient, and environmentally sustainable, while making sure that we address the needs of all Annapolitans.
This year I will continue to rely on our residents input, through my open door sessions, by calling or writing to me, or by attending City Council meetings and expressing your opinions during the Public Comment segment or during public hearings.
I will work diligently to fulfill our obligations to the environment, while promoting a friendly businesses climate and promote smart land use.
And above all, the city will continue to offer quality services to our residents, no matter what their street address is, and endorse public safety initiatives that will ensure every Annapolitian is safe in our city limits.
Thank you for sharing this evening with me and I look forward to working with the Council to pass this budget and bring you the programs and services you deserve.