CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING
APRIL 3, 2023
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Mayor and Council minutes of March 15, 2023, and March 20, 2023. Councilman Herz moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of March 15, 2023, and March 20, 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster reported that the cash on hand was $2,558,126.83.
Councilwoman Efland made a motion to pay the bills. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Town Manager’s Report
Mr. Ingersoll reviewed the draft budget schedule for fiscal year 2024.
Mr. Ingersoll reported the status of 98 Cannon. It had been over a year since the fire and the insurance had been paid out, apparently without requiring that the building to be rebuilt or removed. Mr. Ingersoll read a statement that the Town Attorney had written regarding possible next steps the Town could take:
“The Town would require the 98 Cannon property to be cleaned up under the property maintenance code. That would include the demand for the fire damage structure to be demolished. If the property owner refuses to do so, the Town ultimately could enter the property to perform the demolition with the cost associated, assessed against the property. Those costs would become a lien that would be collected in the same fashion as unpaid property taxes. I (Town Attorney) recommend the Town to get an order from the Circuit Court declaring that the property is in violation of the property maintenance code and authorizing entry for the purpose of Town demolition. If the owner does not pay the demolition cost, the Town or someone else would end up purchasing the property at the annual property tax sale.”
Mr. Ingersoll noted the next step would be to contact the owner in order to have the building inspected.
Councilman O’Brien made a motion that Council initiate the inspection of 98 Cannon, following the advice of the Town Attorney and report back as appropriate. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Mr. Foster nominated Morgan Ellis to the Chestertown Zoning Board of Appeals.
Councilwoman Efland made a motion to appoint Morgan Ellis to the Chestertown Zoning Board of Appeals. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Mr. Foster reviewed two (2) letters of support for grant assistance for Twigs & Teacups and a Chester River Hospital Auxiliary Grant Application to the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT).
Councilwoman Efland made a motion to approve for the Mayor to sign the letters of support for both the Hospital Auxiliary and the Twigs and Tea Cups MHT grant requests. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.
Mr. Foster read a thank you letter from Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad.
Mr. Foster gave an update on the tax differential meeting with the Kent County Commissioners. The Mayor and Council had asked for a study and a ten (10) cent tax offset for Town taxpayers. He noted that two (2) Commissioners had reiterated their support for the study and had asked Mr. Foster to initiate an outside source to perform the study.
Mr. Foster and Ms. Nina Fleegle met with Dr. Sosulski, Washington College president, to discuss how the Town and College could jointly welcome new students to the Chestertown Main Street area. They discussed hanging welcome banners throughout Main Street and having an ice cream social at Fountain Park. They felt that these steps would bring students downtown. Mr. Foster reported that the College is pursuing the idea of opening a bookstore in one of the downtown shops.
Members of the Upper Shore Community Development Corporation were present for the Council vote regarding their ARPA proposal for $87,500.00 for operating support for programming and hiring staff.
Councilman Herz made a motion to lift from the table, the proposal from Upper Shore Community Development partners. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.
Ms. Efland noted that any money being paid out for services that exceeded $10,000 would typically be sent out for bid.
Mr. Herz noted that the Task Force had set aside $75,000.00 to pay for administrative costs for the next five (5) years to administer, manage and report the ARPA funds.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he had assumed that the Town itself was going to be managing the grant funds. He said that the rules of the grant needed to be explained in detail to beneficiaries of the funded before and as it was being distributed.
Mr. Herz stated that most of the applicants fall under the standard government deduction, meaning the government has funded the applicant in the past. Majority of the organizations should be required to submit invoices to the Town to be paid out of ARPA funds. Three (3) organizations may receive a check for the awarded amount. These details will be further reviewed.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he had asked for letters of support from the organizations that where to benefit from Upper Shore Community Development Corporation. He asked that if the $20,000.00 for the compliance person was taken off the table, could they still move forward.
Councilman Medrano made a motion to put forth the $44,000.00 of funding that were diverted to the Upper Shore Community Development Partners. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland.
Mr. O’Brien asked that an MOU be added to the motion.
Councilman Medrano mended the motion to include a MOU. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed. Councilman Herz opposed.
Ms. Efland asked about the status of the recycling program. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Environmental Committee would vet the in-town households to sign them up for the recycling program. Once an accurate count of households wanting recycling services are collected, a vote can be made to award the contract.
Ms. Efland and Mr. Ingersoll gave an update on the Town Manager applicant process.
Mr. O’Brien reported that the entrance to Bailey Park is almost finished and thanked Mr. Sappington for fixing the fence.
Mr. Herz asked to vote on an IT study group for downtown at the next agenda. He reported that $250,000.00 in ARPA funds were set aside to enhance Wi-Fi services downtown. The study group would assess the need, capability, and affordability to provide Wi-Fi to the downtown area.
Mr. Herz asked to add a motion to disband the ARPA Taskforce to the next agenda.
Mr. Herz reported that the COG had asked each of the municipalities to bring ideas for the COG legislative agenda. Mr. Foster asked for ways that all the communities can collaborate with each other.
Mr. Herz reported that the COG had talked about holding a summer gathering, possibly a fishing tournament between the municipalities.
Mr. Herz reported that he met with Ms. Nina Fleegle regarding upcoming events. He reviewed the following significant events:
- 2024 – The 250th anniversary of the annual Tea Party;
- 2026 – The 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and
- 2026 – Chestertown’s 320th
Mr. Medrano reported that there will a Washington Park day on September 2nd.
Ms. Efland reported that she attended the Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony. The event was well attended.
Ms. Efland reported that the Kent County High School Art Honor Society and Visual Arts Program would be creating a field of poppies as a sign of peace for people who have served.
Ms. Efland reported that the College does not have the funds to do a business incubator and would need grant money.
Ms. Efland reported that Jamie Williams, Director of the Kent County Economic and Tourism Development Office, has a hot desk program that provides short term office space.
Ms. Efland reported that Chesapeake College is looking to provide vocational training programs at a possible satellite location in Kent County.
There being no further business, Councilwoman Efland moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:13 pm. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk David Foster, Mayor