MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MAY 15, 2017
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of May 1, 2017 or the budget workshops of April 27, 2017 and May 9, 2017. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council minutes of all three meetings with changes as noted by Ms. Gross to the Budget Workshop of May 9, 2017, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,110,104.75. Mayor Cerino stated that there was a separate fund for the Broad Reach sculpture donations in the amount of $47,459.67.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Michael Buckley was present on behalf of Washington College’s C. V. Starr Center and said that there would be a red carpet event for those who participated in the multi-media interviews on Thursday, May 18th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. for the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street at the Garfield Theatre. He asked that the 200 block of High Street be closed for that time period. Ms. Gross moved to allow the closure of the 200 block of High Street on Thursday, May 18th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Chief Baker gave the police report for April 2017. He said that there was 20% overtime due to the fact that two (2) officers were injured and because the officers had mandatory training. Chief Baker stated that the officers were ready for Tea Party and hoping for good weather.
Chief Baker stated that he was pleased the way the community and college relations went during this school year. He said that all parties worked to make it work and said that he would continue with preemptive measures to continue good relations.
Mr. Ingersoll introduced Ordinance 01-2017 Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18. He said it was anticipated that the tax rate will remain at $.37 per $100. The budget was balanced by the unappropriated surplus with revenues of $5,304,075.63 and expenses of $5,329,665.00 for a negative of $25,102.00. Mr. Ingersoll stated that revenues were from property taxes, income taxes and grants.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Utilities Budget was healthy with revenues at $2,475,000.00 and expenses of $1.8 million. Net income before depreciation was $630,000.00 and depreciation is $665,000.00 for a slight negative of $34,706.00 which funded depreciation fully.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Marina had its own separate enterprise fund budget which did not include any of the capital items.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there will be a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, June 6th at 7:00 p.m.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Main Street delegation was present to discuss the budget. Ms. Kay MacIntosh introduced board members Jeff Weaver, Al Hammond and Paul Heckles. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she thought there was a lack of communication and said that there should be more communication on her end as the Economic Development Coordinator. She said moving forward she will plan to share the contents of the quarterly reports made to Main Street with the Council.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street’s original budget request was ambitious, noting that a large part of the request was for marketing. She said that she thought the increase in the hotel tax received from the County would be used as a flow of funds for marketing. Ms. MacIntosh said she now realizes this is a tight budget year and the request from her was a surprise to the Council. She said that the Council also had questions about overlap between Main Street and the Downtown Chestertown Association.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that once they were made aware of the concerns of the Council they went back to the drawing board and has a new budget totaling $14,300.00 which reflects the tightness of the Town budget. Copies of the revised proposal were given to the Council.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street and DCA collaborate closely and many of the members of the committees serve on both boards. She said that the streetscape money they were requesting in their budget was not to replace what the DCA was doing, but to enhance it by adding more impact to the streetscape plantings.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that one grant was applied for and they will continue to apply for grants this year and would also have fundraising, but this year they were looking for seed money. She said that she was excited by the caliper of volunteers on the Main Street Committee and said that it was important to revitalize the program and said that the Town will receive a good return on their investment.
Mayor Cerino asked if the grants that were being submitted were to Main Street programs or was the expense going to fall to the Town. Ms. MacIntosh stated that when Main Street first began there was $12,000.00 of Main Street funding given to the program through a grant but since this was a revitalization of the program there were no new funds available.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that attending the National Conference was a requirement of Main Street and not something that was optional. She said that each year the conference was held in a different city but the manager, at least, had to attend. The conference does guide members to available funding through the Department of Community Development. Ms. MacIntosh stated that smaller grants were available for the A&E District through the Department of Commerce as well. Mr. Stetson stated that he would like to get the grants and then spend the money rather than spending the money beforehand and hoping to get the grants.
Mr. Jeff Weber, treasurer of Main Street, stated that this year was the first year for Main Street operations and they needed funds to begin. He said that typically Main Street is funded 30% by the municipality, 30% grant funded, and 40% sponsor funded but because they are in the early stages they were relying on the Town for help. Mr. Weber stated that Main Street has identified items that were necessary to start but may come from grants in the future.
Mayor Cerino stated that the budget was structurally tight and revenues have been flat since 2009. Expenses continue to rise and the Town was 35% non-profit with employee costs at 95% of the outlay. He said that all of the “cool” things in Town happen due to grants that the employees work hard to obtain and it was likely the way Main Street would survive and thrive.
Ms. Gross stated that if the new request was for $14,300.00, the money was already in the budget under Schedule “K” disbursed among Main Street, the marketing committee, Christmas lights and holiday celebrations.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the Dicken’s Holiday was replacing Winterfest. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the name had changed because other towns call their holiday event “Winterfest.” She said that Main Street was going to oversee the festival this year but it would take some additional funding. Ms. Kuiper stated that there was funding for DCA for the Christmas lights, advertising and the festival which could be used for the Dicken’s Holiday since Main Street was taking over Winterfest. Ms. MacIntosh stated that taking the money for the Winterfest celebration made sense but Main Street did not want to take any other funding that was in the budget for the Downtown Chestertown Association. Ms. Kuiper stated that it would be helpful to see what Main Street was going to be doing instead of the other committees because right now it appeared as though the Town was paying twice for the same things. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street wanted to collaborate with events, not take them over.
Mr. Shoge asked if the supplementary funds requested should go directly to the committees that would benefit from them or would the funding go to Main Street for collaboration. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she thought the Main Street’s design committees may want to offer help in their own way with funding from the Town.
Mr. Shoge stated that he thought the bottom line was a question of why the Town is funding Main Street when there are already organizations doing the work. He said that he thought the Town should fund the committees that were already committed to certain activities in Town rather than funding two organizations for one project. Ms. MacIntosh stated that maybe the best thing to do was to meet with DCA and see which committee fell under Main Street and which fell under DCA to make it easier for the Council to see where the funding was going.
Mr. Heckles stated that right now Main Street and the DCA were two separate organizations and Main Street was only 6 months in. He said that DCA was thriving and it did not seem to make sense to collapse two organizations into one. He said that these requests were for Main Street and separate from any other requests. In essence, the $14,300.00 request for Main Street was totally different than the $6,500.00 request from the Downtown Chestertown Association’s request. He added that both boards were crossing at this point.
Mr. Stetson stated that as Economic Developer there should be a focus on the entire Town and not just the Downtown. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she has been working with KRM since the annexation and was also working with Kent County Office of Tourism and represented the Town with the Hospital, which would help all wards in Town. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street and A&E were focused on downtowns because if there is a healthy, vibrant core the entire Town benefits. Mayor Cerino stated that Ms. MacIntosh worked tirelessly with Ms. Jamie Williams at Kent County to see that the annexed area was able to become an Enterprise Zone.
Mr. Shoge stated that more communication in the future would be beneficial as the Council would then know the impact that was being made on the Town as a whole. He said that DCA, A&E, Main Street, Curb Appeal and the Garden Club were all working together but it was not clear who was requesting the funding and for what purpose. Ms. Gross reiterated that she thought the money Main Street was asking for was already in the budget but not spelled out in one line item.
Ms. Kuiper stated that some of the committees, such as Tea Party, budget for their own advertising and it might behoove Main Street to collaborate with them for joint marketing.
Mr. Shoge suggested a joint meeting with all committees involved and the Council to get an overall picture of who does what and where the economic development position can offer services so duplicate efforts are not being made.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that some of the budget was being funded by the unappropriated surplus and it may be possible to fund with Main Street goals as the come about. They could also be considered if: (1) a tax differential was given, (2) there was a growth in the taxable base, or (3) the hotel tax was collected from Airbnb’s.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Main Street was autonomous from the Town of Chestertown so any meeting scheduled with Main Street would be a public meeting.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Al Hammond was present to speak about a Chestertown-wide connectivity zone. Mr. Weber stated that one of the exciting things happening in the County was the move to fiber-based high speed internet and Wi-Fi connectivity. He showed a video demonstrating how the fiber works.
Mr. Hammond stated that a hot spot is being developed which would be a partnership between the Town, County, Washington College, and FTS Fiber and there was a draft MOU in place. The hot spot will provide coverage from the marina throughout the Downtown area and across the College with the potential for including the business park. This would allow for internet connectivity throughout the areas without interruption with antenna systems. Major carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are looking to buy in which will bring commercial dollars to pay for the system and choices of internet connection from two different providers or Wi-Fi connection from three different wireless providers.
Mr. Hammond stated that what is special about the fiber is that there are not too many small towns with this type of powerful connectivity. He said that this could be used for marketing for new development and businesses in our area.
Mr. Hammond stated that Kent County is already marketing itself in an interesting way because of the fiber and Chestertown has the same story to tell. He said that Chestertown had to get the word out that this was coming as it could help with people picking which school to attend, hospital to go to, etc. because all fields are moving to digital platforms. Mr. Hammond stated that marketing grants were available through USDA and the Maryland Rural Council and Main Street would like to draft proposals on behalf of the Town and the County for those funds.
Mr. Weber stated that there was an article in Broadband Communities about fiber in Kent County and it was viewed much more than they first realized. Mr. Weber stated that running this grant through the Main Street program could mean a large boom for business growth in Chestertown and Kent County. The Rural Business Development Grant, funded by the USDA had funding ranges up to $500,000.00. The money would be used towards training and technical assistance, such as project planning, business counseling and training, market research, feasibility studies, professional and technical report, and product and service improvements. Funding could not be used for hardware acquisition or implementation. Funding through USDA had no matching requirements.
Mr. Hammond stated that the Maryland Rural Council had a couple grants that they were still researching but at a much smaller funding level. There were matching requirements through the Maryland Rural Council but it was not clear at what level. Mr. Hammond stated that the Rural Business Development Grant required two different governmental entities to be the applicant and Main Street would like Kent County or Chestertown to act as those entities.
Mayor Cerino asked for timeframes for the grants. Mr. Weber stated that the USDA grant is accepted in September and has a 60-day window, with a 60-day turnaround and funds distributed early in the New Year. Mr. Hammond stated that the Rural Council has an abstract proposal due by June 8th with proposals due in September. Mr. Hammond stated that right now, Main Street was envisioning seminars with businesses, schools and other users of broadband.
Mr. Shoge stated that time was of the essence because Queen Anne’s County was already following in Kent County’s steps and was ready to sign with FTS so there would soon be competition.
Mayor Cerino asked when the Town was going to be lit up because he did not want to advertise something that was not in place. Ms. Miller stated that while being lit up was important, this was more about education of what the fiber can do for the community and the promise that it was happening. Mr. Hammond stated that FTS seemed confident that the system would be in place by spring 2018. Wireless companies were already marketing in Chestertown so the project was quite far along.
Mayor Cerino asked who would perform the work if a large grant was received. Mr. Hammond stated that the larger grant was due in September and they would have a plan in place by then for allocation of funds. The smaller grant was manageable by one person.
Ms. Gross stated that there would have to be discussion of staff resources and administration if a large grant was received. Ms. MacIntosh stated that this grant request would be in collaboration with Kent County and the work would be shared, possibly hiring someone to manage the grant.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was discussion at the last meeting about a letter to the Kent County Commissioners asking to discuss the tax differential/tax offset. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the letter asked to be put on the Commissioner’s agenda of May 23rd. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would update the Council if another date was suggested by the Commissioners.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Resolution 03-2017 a Revision to Expand Sustainable Community Boundary Map included the 79.67 acres in the Fourth Ward that were annexed in 2016. Mr. Ingersoll read the Resolution into the record. Ms. Gross moved to approve Resolution 03-2017 a Revision to Expand Sustainable Community Boundary Map to include the Dixon Annexation of 79.67 acres proposed for infill development as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was a permit request from the Historical Society of Kent County for their annual Legacy Day Festival on Saturday, August 19th from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. along the 300 block of High Street. Requests from the Historical Society were for street closures, police monitoring, and a waiver of the open container law for the day. Mr. Stetson stated that a representative should come in person to discuss the festival. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would have a representative come before the Council before the festival date.
Mr. Stetson stated that he attended a fundraiser for Washington College on Friday, April 12th which was well attended. The College raised $86-million toward their goal of $150-million to lower student debts and build new structures.
Mr. Stetson stated that he ordered a second pavilion for the smaller dog park, noting that he sent out donation letters and received many donations in the past week.
Mr. Stetson stated that a new restaurant called Smoke, Rattle and Roll was preparing to open in the Kent Plaza.
Mr. Shoge stated that he walked around Town earlier in the day and appreciated the fresh paint by the street crew. He said that Mr. Sappington and his crew were doing a nice job.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Rotary Club was having Flags for Heroes again this year. Donations were $50.00 per flag and there were signs at Rt. 213 and Rt. 291. The Rotary will also be at the Farmers Market with information on the event.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market and Artisans Market were growing now that the weather was improving.
Ms. Kuiper stated that volunteers were still needed for the Tea Party Festival.
Ms. Gross stated that the National Music Festival begins June 4th and will run through June 17th.
Mayor Cerino asked if there was anyone with questions or comments. Mr. Aaron Maloney was present on behalf of Kent Massive to discuss a grass-root youth led concert series which began in 2011 and has been held at the Wilmer Park and Garfield Theatre. He said that Kent Massive would like to request the use of the foot of High Street on Saturday, September 2, 2017 from noon to sundown for the event, noting that support has been received by the Kent County Arts Council, Chestertown Recreation Commission and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Mr. Maloney stated that Kent Massive was also working with the Young Professionals on other aspects of planning this year.
Mr. Stetson asked why Wilmer Park would not be considered for the event. Ms. Mulligan stated that Wilmer Park was booked that day for a sailing regatta. Mayor Cerino asked about the Garfield Theatre. Mr. Maloney stated that Kent Massive was trying to bring the event to more people, rather than having a limited audience and a limited number of tickets.
Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the time for the festival was too long. Mr. Maloney stated that he would like to know what limitations would be put on the event so Kent Massive could plan accordingly and he asked what noise levels were allowed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that decibel levels were in the noise ordinance but the Town did not waive the noise ordinance for events.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would suggest a defined period which was in the middle of the day, limiting to acoustic acts for that area of Town. He said that if there was going to be a larger venue he would suggest changing the date so it can be held in Wilmer Park where there was more room and the sound would not travel as much. Mr. Ingersoll stated that electricity can also be a problem at the foot of High Street and a generator would be required which only made everything louder. Mr. Ingersoll added that Kent County owned the foot of High Street from the entrance of Widehall to the River.
Mr. Maloney stated that he could suggest to Kent Massive for quieter acts during the day at the foot of High Street and the other bands in the evening at the Garfield Theater which would allow them to promote the sale of tickets for the night events.
Ms. Gross stated that she did not know about closing off access to the dock on Labor Day weekend since it was a County public landing.
There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:05 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor