MAYOR AND COUNCIL
JANUARY 4, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:53 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk), and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of December 20, 2021. Ms. Efland moved to approve the minutes of the meeting of December 20, 2021, as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that the operating funds on hand amount was $ 2,387,777.67.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Herz moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. O’Brien and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the street crew had done a fantastic job with the unexpected snowstorm. He said that staff was down in employees due to various impacts on finding workers during the Covid19 pandemic.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was discussion that salaries should be discussed to keep up with trends in other Towns. Mr. Foster agreed that salaries need to remain competitive and said that he would like to look at the overall salaries and review them. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would like to bring the salary study performed in 2012 up to date. Mr. Herz asked if the 2012 report could be sent to the Council. Mayor Foster suggested that a comprehensive review should be done but the lower paid employees should be brought up to par. Mr. Medrano stated that inflation had already taken its toll and people were hurting everywhere, but the Town should stay on par with salaries.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Health Department donated Covid antigen testing kits which was a tool to help with keeping staff on site. He said that he would recommend that the Council keep meeting virtually for the next month or so due to Covid.
Mr. Herz stated that a letter was sent regarding Harborview Farms’ plan to draw water from the Aquia Aquifer near the lagoon property and asked if it was an issue. Mr. Ingersoll stated that this was a question for Mr. Sipes, but he said that he did not think any Town wells would be influenced by the drawing of water from a farm in Quaker Neck near the lagoons. Further, the wells that the Town mainly draw from for potable water are in the Magothy Aquifer now.
Mayor Foster read the winners of the 2021 Christmas Decoration Contest as follows:
1st Ward: $50.00 Andrew & Sarah Wright, 332 N. Queen Street
$25.00 Vincent Bruce, 221 Philosopher’s Terrace
2nd Ward:$50.00 Jim Bogden and Charles Taylor, 219 Calvert Street
$25.00 Margaret Slama, 206 Mount Vernon Avenue
3rd Ward: $50.00 Geoffrey King, 200 Devon Drive
$25.00 Harold Somerville, 311 Roosevelt Drive
4th Ward: $50.00 Janet Davies (Family Trust) – Monika Tegeder, 202 E. Campus Avenue
$25.00 William & Sheila Lepter, 201 Glen Street
1st Place: $100.00 Cross Street Realtors, 201 S. Cross Street
2nd Place: 50.00 Chestertown Natural Foods, 303 Cannon Street
Mayor Foster stated that a letter of support was written on behalf of Minary’s Dream to purchase the American Legion building and on December 30th Judge Murphy upheld the Kent County Board of Appeals opinion to allow the sale to go through. He said it was possible there could be a second appeal.
Mayor Foster encouraged all residents to get their Covid vaccinations as there are many people being infected and 84% of those hospitalized have not been vaccinated. He said that he hoped to return to in person meetings as soon as possible but would hold tight for the time being as Governor Hogan and his staff believe the worst may be over in the next six weeks or so.
Mayor Foster asked for Ward reports.
Ms. Efland stated that she looked at the Kent County Health Department’s website and making an appointment for a Covid test took about a week, but the test itself only took a few minutes.
Ms. Efland stated that the YMCA is officially opening on January 8th, and they are waiving fees for new members.
Mayor Foster stated that Mr. Owen Bailey discussed bikeways to the YMCA facility at a previous meeting and he was hoping that crossings would be facilitated without hurting the truck traffic to Dixon.
Mr. Herz stated that all was well in Ward 2. He said that he knew the Town was short staffed, especially in the Street Department, and he hoped things got easier.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he was looking forward to giving a detailed ward report at the next meeting but said that the street crew did an excellent job getting the roads cleaned after the storm.
Mr. Medrano stated that Flatland Road was well taken care of during the storm and the trash was picked up this morning. He said that there was a terrible accident in Virginia where people were stranded for hours, and he was glad that the Town had a handle on the recent snowstorm.
Mayor Foster stated that all areas of interest in any part of Town can be identified in Ward reports by a Councilperson. He said that he looked forward to working with the new Councilmembers.
Mr. John Schratwieser was present on behalf of the Kent Cultural Alliance and the Arts & Entertainment District. He introduced Hester Sachse who was now in charge of the Arts & Entertainment District in Chestertown. The Council congratulated Ms. Sachse on her appointment.
Mr. Schratwieser stated that he understood that the telephone poles were approved by the Council for new banners in Chestertown last year. He said that the Equity Advisory Committee wanted to review the banners, which they did, but because they had not requested permission to use a logo they denied use of the banners. He said that he would like some resolution from the Council on the use of the banners. Mr. Foster stated that he would like to go over the history of how they got to this point and find out if there was a way to move forward using the banners. He said that he was not sure exactly what the status of the Equity Advisory Committee was at this point, but he would raise the issue.
Mr. Schratwieser stated that he showed the banner to the Mayor and Council in July (actually at the Sept. 7, 2021, meeting of the Council), but the Equity Advisory Committee told them no after the fact. He said that he did not know that the Equity Advisory Committee had the right to take permission from the Mayor and Council. The phrase “Chestertown Unites Against Racism” is on the banners but not the logo. Ms. Efland asked if a compromise would be to reprint one of the banners with the logo.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that this should have been an agenda item and recommended it be added to a future agenda where an informed discussion could take place. Mayor Foster stated that the whole idea of the Committee was to unite the community and he hoped this could be resolved.
Mayor Foster asked for a list of Committee members from Ms. Mulligan. Mr. O’Brien asked about reports from committees.
Mayor Foster stated that bids were accepted for the playground at Wilmer Park and an award had been granted previously by the Council, but the equipment was now coming in $30,000.00 higher since the award was granted. He said that because of the increase, Mr. de Mooy gave options on moving forward including recalling the bid award; investigating if Covid relief funds could be used to offset the increase; offsetting the cost increase with Town funds, or; eliminating or modifying some of the features to reduce costs. He said that he would forward Mr. de Mooy’s letter to the Council for discussion at a future meeting.
There being no further business, Mr. O’Brien moved to close the meeting at 7:44 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor