MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MAY 4, 2015
Mayor Cerino called the budget workshop to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Beth Campbell, Director of Finance, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and Chief Adrien Baker.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a memo was distributed to each of the Council members describing changes to the budget since the meeting of April 27th.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the solar array was moving forward quickly and the trees that were going to be planted in the buffer had been located. The interconnection agreement with Delmarva Power was thought to be within a week or two of being approved. He said that he was hoping the system would be up and running by the end of September.
The Council had a spreadsheet of funding from the hotel tax which described rentals at each hotel and bed and breakfast in the County. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the County did not audit the actual occupancy numbers and they were only based on what the proprietors reported.
Ms. Campbell stated that there was a discussion at the last meeting about the overall savings for electric by going solar and by her calculations savings would be approximately $40,000.00.
Ms. Campbell stated that the salary reductions were made in the budget to reflect 2.5%. She said that she also looked into self-funding Workmen’s Compensation but it required permission from the Workmen’s Compensation Commission, which was a lengthy process and significant assets were required to be extended and approved. She said she has not been able to determine if local governments were even considered for approval, but did have the question pending.
Ms. Campbell stated that calculations were done for the increased value of Kent Plaza and Washington Square after commercial renovations and it equaled approximately $25,000.00 in added taxes. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did speak with the assessment office and although it has not been appraised yet, figures were listed on the permit and the numbers should be entered in July 2016.
Ms. Campbell stated that the breakdown of the hotel tax revenue and special requests received to date were reflected in the changes in the budget presented this evening.
Mr. Shoge stated that the Marketing Committee funds should be changed to $7,000.00. Ms. Gross stated that it was $5,000.00 to begin with and then $1,000.00 was added from the DCA request for a total of $6,000.00. He said when he expressed the amount of funding to the committee they were not impressed, noting that he would show the Council all that could be done for that amount in the hopes of doubling the figure next year.
Ms. Kuiper stated that there were many groups trying to market Chestertown. Mr. Shoge stated that he was hoping the Marketing Committee would pull it all together.
Ms. Campbell stated that she has no final information on health or workman’s compensation insurance to date.
Ms. Kuiper stated that $10,000.00 was appropriated to the Recreation Commission last year but no budget was presented this year. She thought that the Commission spent nowhere near $10,000.00. Mr. Shoge stated that he would like to see those funds put to the Marketing Committee. Mr. Ingersoll stated that until the Recreation Commission supplied a budget figure, they did not have to allocate any funds, noting that there might be other annual recreational activities associated with that line item.
Ms. Gross stated that she and Mr. Shoge were going to meet with the Recreation Commission and suggested cutting the budget in half, stating that he did not see current members being as aggressive as the previous chairman. Ms. Gross suggested a provisional budget based on figures from them for recreational use.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that when the Gateway Park gets constructed there could be recreational uses that need funding. Mr. Shoge stated that the Recreation Commission was to be activity based as per the redrafted Ordinance.
Ms. Gross suggested shaving the Recreation Commission budget to $5,000.00 and holding the other $5,000.00 with a priority for marketing. Mr. Ingersoll suggested moving it to the category for general marketing for the Town and be used for multi-uses.
Ms. Gross asked about the rent for the Cannon Street Pier. Ms. Campbell stated that the rent went into the Marina budget this year.
Ms. Gross asked why the Police Department’s audit fees were only $1,025.00 when their budget costs were more than half of the budget. Ms. Campbell stated that she was only following costs from last year. Ms. Gross stated that the costs should be spread out evenly. Mr. Ingersoll stated that $8,200.00 of the auditing budget went to the Utilities Commission and the Town is at $10,000.00. Ms. Campbell stated that she thought it was a financial/administrative section of the budget. Ms. Gross stated that it was not a true financial picture of what the police department costs. Ms. Campbell stated that she could split it evenly between departments.
Ms. Gross asked stated that the Dog Park was separated from the other parks and thought that should not be the case. Ms. Campbell stated that she would combine the parks.
Ms. Gross stated that she could not find the revenue for the Arts and Entertainment District Manager. Ms. Campbell stated that it was listed as a private grant under miscellaneous revenue for $25,000.00.
Ms. Gross asked how the $10,000.00 for tree maintenance was actually used for trees and tree maintenance. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the figure has to be kept in order to maintain status as “Tree City USA”.
Ms. Kuiper asked about the Marina manager’s salary. Mr. Ingersoll stated that a Town employee was hired who looked as though he could be street superintendent and was spending 60% of his time at the Marina. The salary was being split 60/40. He was a street superintendent for Betterton, a mechanic, worked at a Rock Hall marina, uses the travel lift, and was doing a nice job.
Ms. Kuiper asked what Chief Baker would need for the new Police Department in way of renovations. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he could not guess what would be required for the new station and those figures would have to come from Chief Baker. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town masonry crew is presently making changes to the exterior for parking in-house.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did speak with David A. Bramble to see if it was reasonable to pave some of the streets in Town this year with funds from the unappropriated surplus, which would make the upcoming budget more balanced.
Ms. Kuiper asked if there was any part of the pension in the budget that was not funded. Ms. Campbell stated that all pension costs were in the budget.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she was looking into an annual rental property permit to be required in Chestertown and said fees could be based on three (3) different categories: owner occupied; non-owner occupied but residing in the Town limits of Chestertown, and; non-owner occupied living outside the town limits of Chestertown. She said that if someone invests in property in Chestertown they also had to invest in the rights and respect of the neighbors, neighborhoods and businesses. Ms. Kuiper stated that there were too many absentee landlords and problems with rental properties. Ms. Kuiper stated that if this was instituted she would like to see the revenue go to the Marina budget.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that most rental permits are connected to a rental inspection program. Ms. Kuiper stated that there was too much havoc caused by renters and deteriorating properties. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did not necessarily see this as a revenue builder but was good for enforcement and compliance, noting that the administration part of it would have to be discussed. Revenues should pay for the position this would create.
Mr. Stetson stated that he signed a check the other day for $5,000.00 for a municipal parking lot but there was nothing about continuing the lease next year and asked how the agreement worked. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was a year-to-year contract and the Town had an easement on the side of the property, explaining that the property was purchased from Chestertown about 15 years ago when most of the block was bought with HUD funds. This individual was contractually obligated to build a building on the lot but he never did. In the meantime, the area was a stone parking lot good for street overflow parking. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the money basically pays for the taxes on the lot since the Town was unable to have the taxes abated as a donation of the land.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that if the Council no longer wanted to have the lease with the owner for the parking lot, the Town had a 15’ easement on the side to access a large public parking area in the rear.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the tax rate would remain at $.37 per hundred and the Town was exempt from having a Constant Yield Tax hearing. He said that he thought each Council member’s initiatives were covered. The budget would be introduced at the Mayor and Council meeting of May 18th as a balanced budget and there will be a public hearing on the budget on June 1st.
There being no further business, Mayor Cerino closed the workshop session at 7:10 p.m.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor