MAYOR AND COUNCIL
AUGUST 5, 2019
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:45 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Ellsworth Tolliver 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 July 15, 2019. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of July 15, 2019 as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating funds on hand for unrestricted use was $220,814.07. Restricted funds for the Marina were set aside in the amount of $21,054.42.
Mayor Cerino asked when the next real estate tax revenues will be received from Kent County. Mr. Ingersoll stated that payments are received once a month, but the largest payment will come in October after the September interest-free tax payment deadline. Mr. Ingersoll stated that funds were low, and the line of credit may be used and then paid back in October. Mayor Cerino stated that up until this current fiscal year, the budget did not reflect the draw from the general fund for the Marina annual mortgage interest or principal payment. He said that this has been a slow drain on the general fund since 2012 and he hoped that with the Marina being fully functional there would be much less of a drain.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Darran Tilghman, Chair of the Chestertown Environmental Committee, was present to give the quarterly update on the projects taking place within the committee. Ms. Tilghman stated she was grateful for the process and the outcome of the recent issue of curbside recycling in Town.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the committee’s transportation and energy group in conjunction with Washington College’s Enactus Group were looking to begin a green car share and bike share program in Chestertown. Ms. Tilghman stated that the Environmental Committee wanted to help make the connection between the Town and College on issues like this.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the Environmental Committee was organizing a community tour of Infinity Recycling’s headquarters and invited the Council to join them on Monday, September 16th at 10:00 a.m. She said that Infinity Recycling offers tours on Mondays if people were interested in taking a tour at another time. Mr. Ingersoll asked if it would be feasible to film the tour and place it on the Town the website.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the Environmental Committee would like to inventory and map out the placement of Town-owned trash cans to pair them with recycling containers. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he spoke with Mr. Schuman about blue recycling cans being placed next to the Town cans and thought that the inventory would be helpful.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the water and habitat sub-committee was working with Shore Rivers, who applied for a stormwater planning grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with the support of the Town and the Environmental Committee. If awarded, there would be a comprehensive stormwater plan created for the Town. Shore Rivers will know if the grant was awarded by the end of the month.
Ms. Tilghman said she understood that the plans for the River Walk are moving forward. She said that the Environmental Committee was willing to help with grant seeking or expertise with consulting issues as the process moves along.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town, Washington College and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy were working together on the River Walk and an MOU has already been drafted supporting the effort. DMS & Associates has drafted a preliminary River Walk plan and full engineering plans will be needed to put costs on the project to allow the Town to move forward with funding initiatives.
Ms. Tilghman stated that Shore Rivers was applying for a grant to turn the Marina building property into a demonstration site for a program called “River Friendly Yards”. They would be requesting a letter of support from the Town of Chestertown. The landscaping, which would be a native eco-system useful in catching stormwater, would help people learn what could be done in their own yard to help the environment.
Ms. Tilghman stated that there have been many discussions about trees in Town and she said that this is the next project for the water and habitat team to undertake.
Mayor Cerino asked how the Good Seeds project is coming along. Ms. Tilghman stated that the Good Seeds Project is moving along, noting that the brick work is finished and the compass rose has installed (although it has not been unveiled). The rest of the construction work will take place before the students return to school. The students will help with plantings throughout fall as lesson plans allow. Mr. Ingersoll complemented the Street Crew, especially Tom Sappington and the masons, for the work they put in on the circular brick work at the Garnet Elementary School.
Ms. Kuiper asked what happened to the benches that were painted by the students in Fountain Park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that they were moved to AJAX park and Washington Park when the new benches were installed.
Rev. Tolliver asked how the Enactus Group made out with the request for a rideshare program grant. Ms. Tilghman stated that she thought they were declined the initial grand funding request but were working on another project.
Ms. Kiley Shipp was present to discuss fundraising for a 2020 4th of July fireworks show. She said she got interested after reading complaints on Facebook this year because there were no fireworks. Ms. Shipp stated that she would like to head up a committee in conjunction with Main Street Chestertown to raise the funds required, noting that she already raised $275.00 through Facebook. She said that there were several interested parties willing to collaborate on the committee with her. Ms. Shipp stated that she has learned that Rock Hall fireworks were in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 and she thought a great show was possible with $10,000 to $15,000, noting that they could investigate using a barge to allow for bigger and brighter shells. Ms. Shipp stated that there were manual and electronic firing options for fireworks and she was looking into insurance requirements for the fireworks company and surrounding areas. Ms. Shipp stated that working with Main Street allowed for a non-profit status to be involved for tax deductions on donations.
Mr. Ingersoll thank Ms. Shipp for taking the lead on fundraising. He said that a barge will make the cost of the show prohibitively expensive. He said that Main Street and the Town of Chestertown are non-profit and willing to help, adding that the Town already knows the insurance requirements, permitting requirements, and have worked with a firm for years who purchases and shoots the show. He said that Ms. Mulligan promulgates and submits the permits and will help secure them for the upcoming 2020 show. Mr. Ingersoll stated that if the show is shot from the Wilmer Park there was a size limit to the shells that could be used due to nearby structures.
Mr. Foster stated that while the Chestertown Fire Department was happy to help with the fireworks show they were not able to take on the entire responsibility at this time. Ms. Kuiper suggested Ms. Shipp secure a table in the Farmers Market to collect donations. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the Main Street Board is behind the fundraising efforts for the 4th of July Fireworks. Mayor Cerino stated that along with the fireworks show he would like to plan for other activities at the Marina that day, especially since this upcoming 4th of July falls on a Saturday.
Mr. Jack Brosius was present on behalf of the Special Olympics. He said that the first set of kayak time trials took place earlier in the day and there were large events planned for Saturday, August 10th and August 24th at the Wilmer Park. He said that he was part of the 1972 Olympic Team for kayaking and has been coaching since 1976. Mr. Brosius stated that he retired and relocated to the area in 2003 and has been a coaching for Special Olympics for kayaking, power lifting and swimming ever since.
Mr. Brosius stated that on Saturday, August 10th there will be time trials taking place for kayaking on the Chester River and the State Championships will take place on Saturday, August 24th. He said he wanted to acknowledge Washington College for allowing the use of their facilities for training. There were approximately 30 athletes from the area, most of whom are affiliated with the Kent Center, in the program although anybody with a special need can participate. He said participants range in age from 11 to 50. Mr. Brosius thanked the Washington College swim team who helped to coach the athletes, adding that they created a top rate program in Maryland.
Mr. Brosius stated that he also worked with the Unified High School Sports Program which matches a special needs athlete with a regular athlete and this year 350 athletes participated in the Bocce Championships in Chestertown.
Mr. Brosius stated that there were many volunteers in the program, but more were needed to help with training or for help during competitions. He said that they would like to grow the Special Olympics program and are working on fundraising and grants to do so. He said that Special Olympics does not buy equipment or provide facilities for training; rather it was the responsibility of the regional organization.
Mr. Brosius introduced Mr. Pat Cullen, Regional Director of Special Olympics for the Northern Chesapeake District, which included Harford, Cecil and Kent Counties. He said that the mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. He said that the goal for Kent County was simply to grow and advance the county organization and better reach and serve the intellectually disabled community. He said that Mr. Brosius is the face of the special Olympics for Kent County and Special Olympics was grateful for his many years of service. Mr. Cullen stated that he was looking to build the organization by finding additional volunteers so they can expand their programs, recruit athletes, and provide additional competitions.
Mr. Cullen sated that he met with Sheriff Price and Chief baker to discuss their participation in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (carrying the Special Olympic Torch from county to county) in advance of the summer games. He said that they are hoping Kent agrees to participate as it was another way to raise awareness and funds for the program. Mr. Cullen stated that another local example of the Special Olympics is the annual Polar Bear Plunge is at Sandy Point State Park.
Mr. Brosius stated that the August 24th State Championship event needs volunteers. Mayor Cerino stated that many people attend the Special Olympic events and they were enjoyable to watch and he asked that people consider volunteering.
The Mayor called on the Town Manager for his report. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he MVA bus was under repair on Monday but would be in Town on Tuesday.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a bid opening for Phase IV of the Rail Trail was scheduled for Friday, August 16th at noon. He said that this is the final leg of the trail and would be a turn-around spot ending near Manor Drive.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Homeports asked if Chestertown would be a bronze level sponsor again at their annual health event at a cost of $250.00. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the cost of the $250.00 for Bronze Sponsorship of the health event for Homeports, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino read a letter of support for a grant proposal for Rebuilding Together Kent County to the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust for financial help to rehabilitate low- and moderate-income housing through Kent County. He read the letter into the record. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the letter of support, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that Owen McCoy ran the Farmers Market for many years, and he would like to install a plaque in his memory in the Fountain Park. Mr. Ingersoll proposed an 8” x 8” bronze plaque, which costs approximately $450.00, and said that we needed exact details for the wording of the plaque. Ms. Kuiper stated that she would work on the wording with Owen’s family. Mr. Foster moved to approve the plaque using funds from the Farmers Market in memory of Owen McCoy with the understanding that Ms. Kuiper will work out details on the wording with the family, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Mr. Stetson stated that he was happy to report that Dave Slama and Wayne Rickert of Rebuilding Together Kent County have offered to build the exercise equipment at the Dog Park. The Friends of the Dog Park will pay for the materials.
Mr. Stetson stated that Abby Robson has agreed to serve as the new Treasurer of the Friends of the Dog Park. He said that Kelly Holden, who was the Treasurer for many years, moved out of town and decided it was time to turn the reigns over to someone else.
Mr. Stetson stated that he has been asked by several people if he was going to run for a fourth term as Councilmember in November and he said that although he was in good shape physically, his hearing was failing and that he had decided not to run. Mr. Stetson stated that during his career in the military, Maryland State Police, Chief of the Chestertown Police Department, the Alcoholic Beverage Inspector and his 12 years of service on the Mayor and Council, he has over 60 years of government service.
Rev. Tolliver thanked Mr. Stetson for his service and said that he has learned a good amount from him since he began his term in office.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he met with Mr. Dale Brown, the new principal at Kent County High School, and said that Mr. Brown had great intentions on moving public education forward in Kent County. He said that he invited him to attend a future council meeting.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he met with some of the citizens of Lynchburg Street and Prospect Street who are concerned about the “open air” drug market in the neighborhood. He said that they requested additional police presence in the area including walking patrols. He said that residents are not able to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather, there are kids running all over, and most of the problems are from people who do not live there. He said that he was also told that abandoned properties are being used to hide drugs.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he wanted to use his position as a public official to speak out against and condemn the level of hatred that has been perpetuated by the white supremacist/white nationalist agenda with all the gun violence based clearly on ideology. As a result, he said the “Empowerment Council” had been formed to identify and address the needs of the black community and people of color in an effort to provide leadership, strategize and establish a manifesto that outlined their needs and provided a voice for those who feel they had none. They have met to begin initial discussions. He said that he would provide copies of his statement to the newspaper outlets.
Ms. Kuiper stated that former Mayor of Galena, Harry Pisapia, passed away and the viewing would be held on Thursday in Galena with a funeral mass on Friday at St. Dennis Church. She said that this was a great loss to the community.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Walt Drummond, an organic Farmer in the Market passed away.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Bayside Hoyas, in conjunction with the Local Management Board, opened a resource center at 100 N. Cross Street in Chestertown.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Chesapeake Brass Band and Swing City Band will not be performing at Music in the Park as planned. Instead, they will have a Music in the Park on Saturday, September 7th with the Chesapeake Brass Band to perform at 2 p.m. and Swing City to perform at 4 p.m.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Legacy Day will be held on Saturday, August 17th.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the wrap-up meeting for the Tea Party will be held on August 14th. Regular meetings for the 2020 Tea Party Festival will begin in September.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she volunteers at the Historic Society and on Saturday she was able connect a family visiting from New Haven, Connecticut with people who were able to show them their old family farm in Quaker Neck.
Mr. Foster thanked Mr. Stetson for his years of service and said that even though they may not always agree, Mr. Stetson never held a grudge. He thanked Rev. Tolliver and Ms. Kuiper for their work as well.
Mr. Foster stated that he was working with Commissioner Fithian on the issue of a tax differential/tax rebate and after a meeting in June, they agreed to identify a firm knowledgeable in local government with an understanding of public finance that both parties trusted to be considered to prepare a tax differential study/audit. Mr. Foster stated that there were no offers for pro bono work but there was a professor of public finance at the Maryland Institute of Government interested in performing the audit and said that he would be forwarding his resume to the Council. He said that Mr. Ingersoll recommended Mr. Bob Diss, an auditor who has worked with the Town of Chestertown and Rock Hall. He said that he has not discussed the cost of the audit, which he thought would be approximately $3,000.00, but said that he would like to share the cost if the County was willing to do so.
Mr. Foster stated that he did have a sample formula which Mr. Diss used in Alleghany County but there was no single formula used across the board in the State. He said that they both would like a detailed work plan and Mr. Fithian asked that that counties and Towns with similar populations to Chestertown and Kent be used to figure out their numbers.
Mayor Cerino asked how Mr. Foster came to the cost of $3,000.00 for the audit. Mr. Foster stated that the professor would charge $65.00 per hour and it would take 40 to 50 hours. He said that he thought Mr. Diss would take less time to do the study but was not certain how much he charged per hour. He also said that there was no guarantee that the study would be honored by the County Commissioners, but he thought it was going to necessary to have for future purposes.
Mr. Foster stated that the end product would be a spreadsheet addressing the issues of equity. He said that he would like to speak with Caroline County who was comparable in size to Chestertown and Kent County to see how they formulate their tax differential.
Mayor Cerino asked if this could be postponed until October when the Town had income from the real estate taxes. Mr. Foster stated that he had a meeting with Ms. Heller in September. Mr. Ingersoll stated that by October the Town audit should be almost complete and workable up-to-date numbers should be available. Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the request to go half on the study should be made in a public meeting of the County Commissioners.
Rev. Tolliver moved for up to $1,500.00 to be spent for the cost of the audit on a tax differential/tax rebate, noting that Mr. Foster will appear at a County Commissioners meeting to request the County fund the other half, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Foster moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor