Agendas, 2024, Mayor and Council, Town Agendas & Minutes|

CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

BUDGET WORK SESSION

PRELIMINARY DRAFT BUDGET REVIEW

APRIL 29, 2024

 

Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 4:30 p.m.  In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano, and Meghan Efland. Also in attendance were Amanda Miller (Budget and Finance Manager), Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), Paul Wilson (Street Manager), Paul Coleman (Marina Manager), Chief Ron Dixon, Larry DiRe (Town Manager), Lynda Thomas (Town Clerk) and guests.

The Mayor and Council met to begin the preliminary review of the town budget. 

Mr. Foster started the meeting with salary increases outside of the cost of living (COLA).

Mr. Efland noted she would like to see how much each employee is making and give top performers a discretionary percentage increase. Ms. Miller noted that the percentage increase is currently at 3.5%.

 

UTILITY

Ms. Miller reviewed the utilities budget and noted a $9,700 deficit with a 3% water and sewer rate increase factored in. She noted that Mr. Sipes had asked for a small increase every year as opposed to large increases everyone few years.

Ms. Miller noted in the non-operating revenues, the sewer and water taps revenue had dropped due to the reduction of development.

Mr. Sipes stated that chemical costs had increased, noting, a shipment of aluminum chloride had gone from around $4500 to close to $9000.  

Mr. Sipes reported the possibility of a solar company using the lagoon for a floating solar project as a potential increase in revenue.

 

MARINA

Ms. Miller reviewed the marina budget and noted a $14,000 deficit.

Mr. Coleman noted that the abandoned 98 Cannon restaurant is taking effect with boaters asking about the restaurant. He noted he had cut back $5000 on the budget for the transient number.  He noted that slip rentals are $2800 to $4500 depending on the size of the slip.

Ms. Miller noted the property tax increase for the marina parking lot went from $798 in 2023 to $16,645 in 2024.

 

GENERAL FUND

Ms. Miller reviewed the general fund and noted a deficit of $96,491 which included all non-departmental requests at their maximum, a 7% increase for the trash collector, and a 3.5% increase for all full-time staff. She noted there were three (3) police department vacancies, a deputy clerk position, and a vacancy in the street department, which are all fully funded in the budget.  She stated that not filling these vacancies for one month would save the town $41,000. By not filling these positions until mid-September, would close the $96.491 deficit.  

Ms. Miller reviewed the following non-department funding request with the Mayor and Council:

  • Recreation Commission requested 5000 for games, equipment, Maryland Parks and Recreation Association, Public Marketing Campaign on the theme “Discover Chestertown Parks”, $2000 to support family focused outdoor recreational events, $1200 town sponsored recreational events, $500 for supplies to the Jimmy Reynolds directed project (painting trash barrels), and $500 to build another kayak rack. (it was noted recreation currently has $5438 left of the $5000 allocation from last year)

Mr. O’Brien stated that recreation had not spent the $5000 from last year and received $6000 for the comprehensive plan and received a large amount in ARPA funds. He felt they should be asked to use what they have received.

Ms. Efland stated when recreation has a specific project during the year, they come to a meeting and ask for additional funding anyway.

It was a consensus to ask the Recreation Commission to use their ARPA money.

  • Visitor Center requested for $90,689, to include three (3) part-time staff and one (1) temp.

Mr. DiRe proposed a five (5) day work week, Tuesday to Saturday, for the visitor center instead of a seven (7) day work week. It would save about $10,000 – $13,000 in salaries and cleaning services.

Mr. Foster stated that he thought that MainStreet would be running the visitor center. Ms. Miller concurred and noted that the funding request stated, ‘to take over the operations of the visitor center’.

Mr. O’Brien stated he and the Mayor requested $50,000 from the County to fund the visitor center and stated that the town should not be funding the visitor center. He stated they should make an arrangement to add money to MainStreet’s budget to fund a part-time person. He stated that he could easily find three (3) volunteers from Heron Point that would be happy to rotate in and out.

Mr. Foster stated he’d like to explore volunteers and other options but was not particularly thinking about using volunteers.

It was a consensus to come back to this topic before the final budget.

  • MainStreet requested $115,000.

Ms. Miller noted from the MainStreet request that they have an MOU that states the Town provides a third of their annual funding and that the average of their revenue over the last six (6) fiscal years was $375,000.

  • DCA requested $2000 for marina tote bag giveaway, and print/electronic radio advertising, and promoting shop local events.
  • Maryland Civil War Trails requested $200.

Ms. Miller noted the Maryland Civil War Trails request is recorded as a membership fee.

  • Public Art Committee requested $5000 for planning.
  • Chestertown River Arts requested $1000 for art materials and scholarships for children ages 4 to 13.
  • Sumner Hall requested $5000 for outside painting of Sumner Hall (building maintenance).

It was noted that non-departmental funding is not to be used for maintenance/capital projects.

Mr. O’Brien was in support of allowing the funding for this request.  He asked to adjust the request to reflect programs so they could receive the funding. He didn’t feel they were given the direction that maintenance was not to be asked for.

Ms. Efland stated that Sumner Hall allows the space to be used freely by public groups. 

Mr. Herz asked if another group submits a request for maintenance, rent or other capital projects, will they be supported? He noted that Sumner Hall was an asset to the community, but he didn’t feel this was appropriate to fund maintenance or to ask them to change their request.  This opens the door for other non-departmental groups to do the same. 

  • Arts & Entertainment requested $17,000.
  • Environmental Committee requested $2000 for promoting the plastic bag ordinance.
  • Homeports requested $5000 to support the ongoing work of Homeports, funding toward the development, implementation and evaluation of the health and wellness expo.

There was a consensus to support the sponsorship for the expo and $1000 for the Samaritan Group.

  • Tree Committee requested $14,000, $500 to support public outreach and education plan, $11,500 to support a plan of work, based on the 2023 census, and $2000 for phase 2 of the GIS Mapping.

Ms. Miller noted that there is a separate line in the public works budget for tree maintenance and currently, there is $10,000 for tree maintenance and $2500 for tree planting.

It was a consensus to give $5000 to the tree committee.

  • Bayside Hoyas Inc requested $5000.

It was a consensus to give $1000 to the Bayside Hoyas.

  • Eastern Shore Heritage requested $2000.

It was a consensus to give $2000 to the Eastern Shore Heritage

  • Kent County Public Library requested $5000 for books.

It was a consensus to give $2500 to the Kent County Public Library.

  • YMCA requested $5000 to support the financial aid program, chronic disease program, youth programs and community partnership events and programs.

It was a consensus to give $5000 to the YMCA.

  • Family Promise of Kent & QA requested $5000.

It was a consensus to ask the group to make a presentation.

  • Vietnam Veterans Day requested $1000 for advertising.

It was a consensus to give $1000 to the Vietnam Veterans Day.

  • Shrewsbury Parish requested $5000 for homeless and housing crisis.

It was a consensus to not fund this project.

There being no further business, Councilwoman Efland moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:05 pm. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and carried unanimously.

 

Submitted by:                                                             Approved by:

Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk                                       David Foster, Mayor

 

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