MAYOR AND COUNCIL
JANUARY 3, 2017
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:41 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Cerino read the 2016 Report of Municipal Affairs into the record (attached to this document)
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of December 19, 2016. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council minutes of December 19, 2016 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,572,882.56 and there were assigned funds for waterfront initiatives in the amount of $180,480.00 included in those funds. Mayor Cerino stated that there was a separate fund for the Broad Reach sculpture donations in the amount of $81,406.69, of which $46,366.35 has been expended, leaving a balance of $35,040.34.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Marina Interpretive Center plans were almost finalized and have been presented to the Historic District Commission and Planning Commission. He gave copies of the final version of plans to go before the Historic District Commission on Wednesday, January 4th. Mr. Ingersoll stated that ultimately, the final decisions on design would be made by the Mayor and Council.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a permit request submitted by the Peoples Bank for Chester Gras to be held on Saturday, February 25th at 1:00 p.m. Accompanying the permit request was a donation request for $1,500.00 to help with the Community Pantry and Back Pack Program, where the proceeds of Chester Gras are ultimately sent. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would check if this was already budgeted and the request would be decided at the next meeting. The Council was in favor of granting the permit for Chester Gras on Saturday, February 25, 2017.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that each year when the Fountain was cleaned, the Street Superintendent removes the coins and prepares them for deposit. However, the copper pennies in the Fountain are corroded and it takes more time to clean and count than they are worth to the Town. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this year he donated the pennies to the Kent Center and their employees cleaned them and sent a thank you letter to the Town, a part of which reads, “Please know that we will use the wishes made in the park to help make dreams come true for our Kent Center Family”. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this was a win-win for the Town and the Kent Center.
Mayor Cerino read the winners of the 2017 Christmas Decoration Contest as follows:
1st Ward: $50.00 J.R. Everett, 510 N. Kent Street
$25.00 Kenneth C. Fisher, 211 Birch Run Road
2nd Ward: $50.00 Washington College, Hynson-Ringgold House, 106 S. Water Street
$25.00 Neyah and Brandywine White, 401 Cannon Street
3rd Ward: $50.00 Daniel and Allison Lapointe, 235 Devon Drive
$25.00 Samuel and Julia Lund, 207 Devon Drive
4th Ward: $50.00 Norman Dudley & Donna Sheree Scott, 112 Elm Street
$25.00 Harry and Nancy Hart, 201 Cedar Street
1st Place: $100.00 People’s Bank, 100 Spring Avenue
2nd Place: $ 50.00 Chestertown Natural Foods, 303 Cannon Street
Mayor Cerino stated that a letter had been received from Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, Mr. David Brinkley and read it into the record. Mayor Cerino stated that the State of Maryland has been incredibly supportive of the efforts of the Town to revitalize the Chestertown Marina and said that many residents and businesses sent in letters of support for the $1.5 million in the “miscellaneous projects category” of this year’s Capital Budget. He said that each person who sent a letter would receive this letter from Secretary Brinkley.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Capital Budget was a large pot of money with many sub-programs including DNR, Department of Housing and Community Development, and many more. He said that the plan this year was to go directly to Governor Hogan and ask for a larger “piece of the pie” from the Miscellaneous Categories where there was latitude to give monies to projects that would add historical, cultural and economic value to the State, rather than for to go for small bits of funding from each sub-program.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Waterfront Coalition helped to solicit over 400 letters of support and he wanted to clarify the issues raised to those who would be receiving this letter from Secretary Brinkley, as his letter gave a misleading impression that the Town has not been utilizing the other smaller grant programs.
Mayor Cerino stated that the $800,000.00 described in the letter that was available to the Town is due to grants that have been requested and received through the DNR Waterway Improvement Fund over the last 3 years. He said that each year $200,000.00 has been granted for bulkhead and dock head improvements but has not been expended because each one of the $200,000.00 grants requires a 1:1 match from the Town. He said that although it was incredibly generous that the Town has been given this funding, it was just as incredibly challenging for a small municipality to find the match. Mayor Cerino stated that the second reason that the funds had not been expended was because the Town did not have all the permits from the State of Maryland and Army Corps to perform the work until June 2016. He said that the letter from Secretary Brinkley gave the impression that the Town was almost purposely not spending the funds in place and that was not the case.
Mayor Cerino stated that through a program offered by USDA, the Town was seeking for a $1 million dollar grant/loan program that could possibly be the match for the $800,000.00.
Mayor Cerino stated that in the portion of the letter which stated that the State offered over $4 million in potential funding services was where lines of communication may have broken down. He said that the Town applied to the Waterway Improvement Fund, Heritage Areas Authority, Housing and Community Development and several other funding agencies for grants while collectively there was $4 million dollars available, it did not mean that Chestertown could get $4 million dollars. He said that the maximum available in some of the programs was anywhere from $50,000.00 to $200,000.00 and in theory there are $4 million in funds available, but in reality one municipality can only apply for so much through each of those programs.
Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the State of Maryland wanted Chestertown to expend the funds already received, which was a legitimate request and what Chestertown wanted to do. He said that once permits were received in June it opened the gates to allow the work. Mayor Cerino stated the first Waterway Improvement Grant would be expended beginning this month using the Washington College Armory money to match the first $200,000.00.
Mayor Cerino stated that he acknowledged documents today to USDA indicating that they were about to fund the $1 million grant/loan that the Town was pursuing which would allow for a major overhaul of the Marina in winter 2017/2018.
Mayor Cerino stated that he wanted to acknowledge that those who wrote letters of support for the marina revitalization were heard and that each letter was important. He said that the people in Annapolis have never been more aware of or supportive of this project, but the funding may not come in one lump sum. He said that the Town will continue to go for the smaller grants as they were designed to fund this type of project.
Mayor Cerino stated that the State budget would not be finalized until January 18th and even then there were a little play so he did not want to say that the letter was indicating that Chestertown would receive nothing, as he did not believe that to be the case. Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was working and will continue to work to pursue any and all grants available for the revitalization of the waterfront.
Ms. Gross stated that she received some calls from her constituents asking what the letter meant and said that she thought it reflected poorly on the Town. She said that the Town has been working non-stop to get grants lined up and had a 2 year delay from the State for permits. She asked if there should be a response to Secretary Brinkley’s letter. Mayor Cerino stated that he did send an email to Secretary Brinkley reiterating what was said at this meeting and also called the State Liaison from the Office of Management and Budget and explained the same to her.
Mayor Cerino stated that he did receive a letter dated December 13, 2016 from the Department of Housing and Community Development who was giving the Town a Community Legacy grant in the amount of $400,000.00 towards the construction of the Marina Interpretive Center. He said this was a large grant which directly resulted from the over 400 letters that were sent to the Governor. Mayor said that he believes going for the $1.5 in the Capital Budget was the right thing to do and garnered the attention of everyone in Annapolis as to just how important this project was to the Town and Kent County.
Mayor Cerino stated that USDA indicated that they would come through with $1 million ($400,000 grant/$600,000 loan at 1.35% over 40 years). He said that these low terms would not be offered anywhere else and were not available to private entities.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was going to continue to work with the State of Maryland and this project would happen, it was just the timing in which it would occur.
Mr. Stetson stated that he would still like to change the name of the project from “Chestertown Marina” to “Chestertown Waterfront Park” as it may open up additional funding. Mayor Cerino stated that the amount of Open Space Funding given to Kent County was not significant relative to the size of the Marina project and has already been earmarked for other projects in the County.
Ms. MacIntosh asked if the letter from Secretary Brinkley would be answered by the Town. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to see what happened when the budget was finalized before anything was done. He said that after the budget was available, he would like to write a letter to those who sent support letters to clarify Secretary Brinkley’s letter but also to thank them for their support and show examples of how each letter helped the overall effort to fund the revitalization of the Marina.
Ms. Gross thanked Mr. Ingersoll for removing the second speed bump at the Byford Court Bridge.
Ms. Gross stated that she noticed several street lights were out when she was looking at Christmas lights and they are being reported. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was important for residents to call Town Hall and report street light outages once they were noticed. He said that the Town was paying for the lights whether they were on or not.
Mr. Shoge stated that he was still working with the Washington Park neighborhood on improvements to the park.
Mr. Shoge stated that the topic of solar was brought up at the last Chestertown Fire Company meeting and asked if they were on the solar plan with the Town. Mr. Ingersoll stated that they were not on the list of meters for the Town’s solar, but he would be happy to help them price out their energy. Mr. Ingersoll stated that although the Fire Department was a Town-owned building the Fire Company pays its own utilities.
Mr. Stetson stated that wanted to wish everyone a Happy 2017. He said that he hoped the Mayor and Council could continue to meet the needs of the residents this year.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that the Rural Health Care and Delivery Study Group would be meeting at the Hyson Lounge at Washington College on Monday, January 9th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public was invited and encouraged to attend.
Pastor James Reff of Grace Bible Fellowship Church was present and said that he was new to the area and looking for ways to serve and help the community.
There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor