MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MAY 17, 2021
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:07 p.m. In attendance at the workshop were Councilmembers Tom Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Amanda Miller (Director of Finance) and Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk).
Mr. Ingersoll stated that this was the second workshop meeting. The budget as presented is balanced and the taxing rate will remain at $.43 per $100.
Ms. Miller stated that since the last workshop meeting more concrete numbers for medical insurance had been received. The decrease in the restated insurance rates increased the surplus somewhat. She said that there was funding in the budget for two (2) Ford Explorers for the Police Department and $1,000.00 added for both Legacy Day and Juneteenth. Ms. Miller stated that presently a surplus of $28,000.00 was being shown.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he spoke with Chief Dolgos and adjusted some of the issues that Chief Dolgos had with the preliminary budget.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the budget amount shown for Main Street is the same as last year, with the only difference being that there was no matching money coming from an outside donor anymore..
Mr. Foster stated that there was a 5% increase for staff and asked if it included the Police Department. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the 5% was across the board for all staff. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were a couple salaries out of whack that should be adjusted, which he would like to do administratively.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought it was a good idea to update the Town Compensation Study. He said that there was a lot of work that initially went into the Study in terms of job descriptions and comparisons with other similar jurisdictions that made it expensive the first time, but he thought it could be upgraded for approximately $8,000.00 the next time. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it had been impossible to keep up with the 4% annual raises that the Compensation Study called for over the last few years since the economy had been so bad, which is why he recommended raises at 5% this year.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would like to use the present surplus funds to pave a street or two, or on some other capital priority that the Town chose. He said that road paving and capital items had been put off for several years due to the failure of the assessable base to rise with the rest of the economy.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that it is best to carry a surplus of $1 million at the end of the fiscal year.
Rev. Tolliver asked if two (2) new items could be funded in the budget, they being the Rising Sons Mentoring Program and the Coventry Farms HOA block party. He said that he would like to give each $1,000.00 in the budget. Mr. Herz stated that Rising Sons Mentoring was doing good work at the Sumner Hall. Mr. Ingersoll stated that in his opinion it would set a bad precedent to begin funding parties for private HOA’s.
Mr. Herz stated that he had a call from the Andy Goddard at the DCA who asked for $1,000.00 in the budget to assist with marketing First Fridays. He said that he understood the DCA budget was given to Main Street when Ms. MacIntosh was hired. Mr. Herz stated that he did not think that the Recovery Funds that would be coming to the Town could be used for marketing. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the State had just announced additional Covid funds for private businesses hurt by the pandemic and the DCA could apply to them for grants for marketing.
Ms. Efland stated that she thought that they might be able to afford an additional police car if they went with Dodge and asked why the decision was made to go with Ford Explorers. Ms. Miller stated that the police wanted the Ford Explorers, although she agreed that they could get more for their investment if they went with the Dodge Durango or Dodge Charger. Chief Dolgos stated that their history with Dodges was not great and they were smaller inside than the Ford Explorers. He said that most officers are used to the Ford Explorers because they have them already in the fleet. Chief Dolgos stated that they would spend less money on maintenance and could decrease that line item to offset a third vehicle.
Mr. Foster asked for Mr. Ingersoll to explain the overlap between DCA and Main Street. Mr. Ingersoll stated that DCA has been around since the 1960s and was a membership of merchants. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Main Street was a national program that was implemented to compliment and help downtown businesses thrive. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street worked to bring more people to live, work and play in Chestertown and the DCA works to get people into their businesses. She said that they do work together on events. Mr. Heckles stated that DCA hosts First Fridays and Main Street’s goal was to get the merchants a profit downtown.
Ms. MacIntosh asked what figure was used in the budget for her position. Ms. Miller stated that the numbers reflected salary, payroll taxes and insurance. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she wanted to make sure that both Main Street and A&E came out whole because she works for both. Ms. Miller stated that there was no figure in the budget for A&E unless they were going to split up the salary. Ms. MacIntosh stated that these were State programs and there were stipulations for that the salary be paid for at least 15 hours each week. She said that revenues come in through grants for salaries.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that the Kent County Cultural Alliance was asked to take over A&E. Ms. Williams could perform economic development for Chestertown. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a real connection with A&E and economic development and someday the Kent County should step in and offer aid. Mr. Schratwieser stated that they were not part of the Kent County Government, they were a 501(c)3.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that A&E and Main Street were symbiotic jobs. He said that there was no help from the County and no differential was being offered again this year. Mr. Schratwieser stated that they regrant tax dollars for projects. He said that the Chestertown A&E was specific to the Town limits and focused on opportunities for artists and developers for arts activities.
Mr. Heckles stated that the budget was generously looking after Main Street and asked if $15,000 of the $76,000 could go to help the A&E District staffing. Ms. MacIntosh sated that both A&E and Main Street bring funding to businesses and she would hate to see it cut off.
Ms. Efland asked how Ms. MacIntosh felt about splitting up the salary. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she thought $17,000.00 from the Town to A&E was appropriate so that Mr. Schratwieser could use additional funds for a full-time person would work. She said that the Town had a commitment to A&E to pay for at least 15-hours a week of work.
Mr. Foster asked what the loss was in the budget from the angel funders. Ms. Miller stated that there was $37,500.00 from private donors. There was only a surplus of $28,000.00. Ms. MacIntosh stated that there was $18,500.00 that was just sent and was to last until October.
Mr. Ingersoll asked about the money that comes from the State for the position. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the State gives an operating grant which she received in the amount of $15,000.00 in the last fiscal year but it was for operating expenses only and not for salaries.
Mr. Foster stated that it appeared that Main Street was requesting another 3-year commitment and asked if they could do a phased commitment. Mr. Heckles stated that they could extend for 1-year but some of the grant projects would not be permitted without the commitment from the Town. He said a 3-year commitment looks better than a 1-year commitment. He said that he did not think that the Town should say they were never going to offer a monetary commitment as the businesses needed them.
Ms. Efland asked if funding could be allocated from some of the relief money to offer a boost to both programs. Ms. MacIntosh stated that there were opportunities for 501(c)3 agencies, which they were.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Main Street had not proven itself to bet self-sustaining as was originally hoped.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that efforts of the Street Crew and police were not counted in the Mainstreet/A&E budget but were real costs to the Town and showed continued commitment. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the A&E District was a great concept, and he knew that the Town had a commitment to continuing the efforts.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street would like to use the office she has at Town Hall. Mr. Schratwieser stated that the A&E District would house that employee. Mr. Schratwieser stated that there was a collaboration in other Towns where the Arts Council runs the employee for the Town.
Mr. Herz stated that he would like to redefine self-sustaining. He said that the Council was obligated to contribute but they should define what exactly it was. Mr. Schratwieser stated that A&E has a 10-year commitment. Mr. Herz suggested $15,000.00 per year from Chestertown for the A&E District. Mr. Schratwieser stated that this employee would have other duties but would work for Chestertown in doing the grants.
Mr. Herz stated that the Town spent over $40,000 each year for 4-years but the program now has grants coming in which were escalating in their budget, but to continue they were asking to increase the line item by $37,500.00.
Mr. Herz stated that they had approximately $23,000.00 surplus and said that they needed to find $17,000.00 if they wanted to maintain Main Street. Ms. Miller stated that they needed approximately $16,000.00. Ms. Efland suggesting using some of the surplus to fund the gap.
Mr. Heckles asked who the new Director would report to, the Town Council or the Board of Main Street. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it seemed like the consensus was that the employee would work for the Board.
Ms. Efland moved to adjourn the budget meeting at 7:23 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor