Town of Cheverly
December 13, 2007
Call to Order
Mayor Mosley called the meeting to order at 8:00 pm in the Cheverly Community Center. There were 2 residents in attendance.
In attendance: Mayor Mosley, Mr. Warrington, Chief Robshaw, and CMs Callahan, Schachter, Ford, and Watson.
Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Mosley asked to add the Approval of a Grant by the Planning Board to the agenda.
Mayor Mosley asked for a motion to excuse CM Eldridge.
§ CM Ford moved to excuse CM Eldridge from this evening’s meeting. Seconded by CM Callahan. Unanimously approved.
Minutes – Town Meeting 11/8/07
Approved as written.
Minutes – Worksession 11/15/07
Approved as written.
Minutes – Worksession 11/29/07
Approved as written.
Town Administrator Report
Mr. Warrington noted that the Town will attempt to continue its leaf collection while working around the weather. Mr. Warrington asked residents to obey the snow parking regulations when snow accumulation occurs so that the streets can be plowed.
Mayor Mosley asked if Public Works will pick-up leaves that are moved to the curb even if it is not a scheduled time for a street. Mr. Warrington asked that streets wait for their scheduled time to avoid leaves getting into the storm drain.
Mayor Mosley and CM Ford received calls regarding plowing for the small snow storm. The streets were treated prior to the storm, but the size of the storm did not warrant plowing.
CM Callahan asked if there were any updates on the booms as he received several telephone calls regarding recent booms. Mr. Warrington stated that there were not any updates. Mayor Mosley noted that letters went out to businesses, but they have not heard back from any of the businesses. CM Ford pointed out that the most up-to-date method for crushing cars is to separate the gas tank. Mr. Warrington noted that Smith’s lawyer stated that the business removes the gas tank prior to crushing the vehicles to avoid explosions, which could also ruin their equipment. CM Ford noted that there was a fire last week, which was noted as having occurred in Cheverly, which was incorrect. Mayor Mosley asked Mr. Warrington to get a notice out to residents as to how they
can report the time and the intensity of the explosions.
CM Watson asked if something could be submitted for the newsletter tomorrow, and Mr. Warrington answered yes as long as it was received by Noon. CM Watson also reported that he had not heard anything back from Mr. Baker about street lighting and the Pepco list. CM Watson asked if Mr. Warrington had had any success with the Pepco list. Mr. Warrington stated that he has had some success, and that the Benton Street light has been ordered, but he is waiting for Pepco to install the light.
Police Department Report
Chief Robshaw reported that there has been a surge in crime issues over the past three months. Of particular concern are stolen vehicles, breaking and entering, and citizen robberies. Chief Robshaw noted that some reasons for this could be the time of the year, Cheverly’s location, and the fact that the Cheverly Police Department is short two staff members. The positions have been filled, but the new members are in school for training. One vehicle of interest is a maroon van/SUV with DC tags, which has been seen several times. One arrest was made when a female tried to pull a knife and commit a robbery. Two commercial robberies occurred on the same day at the KFC and the Food Mart. Canines were used to track the suspect back into the apartments, but there were no
witnesses and nothing came of the pursuit. There have been six robberies, five of which occurred on Landover Road. They do not have any leads on the robberies. Chief Robshaw noted the level of success they have had in the past from calls from concerned citizens who see something unusual, and is asking citizens for assistance if they see anything suspicious. On Tuesday, January 22, 2007 C-PAC is holding a meeting at Spellman Elementary School at 7:00pm. Chief Robshaw is encouraging as many people who can attend to do so, especially from the apartments in order to discuss these types of issues and concerns.
Mayor Mosley noted that this past Saturday there was a car alarm on Dewey Street that started in the morning and it went on for a considerable amount of time. Residents called the County, but the County did not respond. Chief Robshaw noted that the County filters the information, which hindered the information from getting to Cheverly’s computers. Chief Robshaw also noted that the Cheverly Police checked the vehicle, it appeared secure, and they moved on not realizing the alarm would continue for such a long period of time. Chief Robshaw noted that further action could have been taken to avoid leaving residents to deal with the noise.
CM Callahan asked what the impact is of being short two officers. Chief Robshaw responded that in order to fully staff the street he has to pull officers from his investigative unit, which slows down investigations. CM Callahan also noted that a resident contacted the Maryland Department of Environment regarding spillage in a creek. CM Callahan asked if the Maryland Department of Environment notifies the Town or the Police Department regarding this type of issue. Chief Robshaw noted that they are not made aware unless the issue impacts the roadways and officers are needed to direct traffic. Mr. Warrington noted that the Town was not made aware of the issue. CM Callahan noted that this issue should be addressed to ensure that the Town and the Police Department are aware in order
to assist and/or take action.
CM Schachter noted that the second Worksession in January will be very important because the Council will ask Chief Robshaw to discuss the consequences of a 5% or a 10% budget cut on the department. CM Schachter asked Chief Robshaw to consider if there is a correlation between the number of officers on staff and the number of crimes in the community. CM Schachter also asked Chief Robshaw to consider the number of officers that are necessary in order to protect the citizens of Cheverly. CM Schachter wanted to note the questions now so that residents are aware of the questions, and so that Chief Robshaw has time to consider these questions.
Mayor and Council Announcements
Mayor Mosley announced that there will be a meeting to vote on and adopt a resolution to issue $10,000,000.00 in industrial revenue bonds on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 8:00am, which is open to the public. The issuance will support a building expansion at Mosaic Printers in the Industrial Park. Mr. Colaresi explained that in 1997 the Town purchased this property through a bond issuance in an effort redevelop the building. Mosaic Printers occupies the building, and the Town is issuing this bond to assist Mosaic Printers with purchasing a substantial piece of equipment and for further expansion of the building. The nature of the revenue bond does not leave the Town responsible for the payments. The responsibility to make payments falls on Mosaic Printers.
Mayor Mosley announced that the Holiday Decorating Contest judging will take place on Wednesday, December 19, 2007 from 7:30pm-10:00pm. Mayor Mosley asked participants to ensure their lights are on and their house number is visible.
Mayor Mosley announced that the next Town Meeting will be on Thursday, January 10, 2008. At this time a special Worksession is not scheduled. The regular Worksession will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2008. Agenda items for the Town Meeting include the award winners for the Holiday Decorating Contest, the second reading of raising the tax cap, charter amendment R1-08, and voting on the grant submitted by the Planning Board.
CM Callahan announced that the Town decided to oppose the subdivision request to build a tree lot off of 59th Avenue. The Town opposed this request because the Town did not believe the request fit with the 2005 Cheverly Tuxedp Development Plan. The Planning Board did not agree and approved the subdivision request.
CM Callahan announced that the Town sent a letter to the County in opposition to the concrete plant. Part of the remand order was for the company to conduct a health survey in the surrounding area. CM Callahan and other Council Members attended the meeting where the survey results were announced, and they were not satisfied with the results of the survey. The Council sent a letter to the County asking that the survey results not be accepted as valid results.
CM Watson asked to have the Route 50 street lighting added to one of the Worksessions in January or February. Mayor Mosley asked to have the agenda item added to the January Worksession.
CM Schachter asked for clarification that the Chief of Police and the Director of Public Works will be speaking to the Council at the January Worksession, and Mayor Mosley confirmed this fact. Mr. Warrington clarified that the Chief of Police and the Director of Public Works will be speaking to the Council at the special January Worksession on Thursday, January 31, 2008 rather than the regular Worksession. CM Schachter stressed that the Thursday, January 31, 2008 Worksession meeting is important for citizens to attend due to the budget discussions which will occur. Mayor Mosley noted that budget discussions will occur at Worksessions and Town Meetings from January – May.
No report presented as there were no members from the council present.
Cheverly Day Report
CM Watson announced that Cheverly Day will be held on Saturday, May 19, 2008. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 7:30pm at Town Hall.
CM Callahan read a letter from a citizen regarding which is in the record.
Introduction Charter Amendment CA-1-07 – Raising the Tax Cap
Mr. Warrington noted that due to the timeline of this topic the discussion needs to begin now. Although it is not required, the Town has made it a practice to ensure the topic is read on camera three times and discussed at Worksessions three times. The Mayor and Council would be amending the tax cap rate, which currently stands at $0.50. Raising the tax cap does not mean the Town is definitely raising taxes. Mayor Mosley discussed with Mr. Colaresi and he concurred that if the tax cap was discussed and then lowered there would not be a need to go back to the first reading to the public, but if the tax cap was discussed and then raised it should go back to the first reading to the public.
CM Schachter asked if there is a legal limit to how the height of the ceiling? Mr. Colaresi responded that there is no limit and the Town can even remove the entire cap provision from the charter. CM Schachter believes the cap should be raised sufficiently in order to allow the Mayor and Council the flexibility to raise taxes without any cut in current services for the Police Department or the Department of Public Works, to allow enough funding to hire a Youth Coordinator to establish a program for our teenagers, which has been discussed for many years, and to allow for any other unforeseen circumstances.
CM Watson thinks CM Schachter’s idea is a good plan. CM Watson also added that the tax cap needs to be reasonable and restrictive. CM Watson would support a $0.50 – $0.55 tax cap as it is reasonable yet still restrictive.
CM Ford would like to see the tax cap raised enough so that this topic does not need to be revisited for several years. It is important to consider that given the Country’s economic situation grants that come from the State and the County may be not be available to the Town. CM Ford believes a tax cap is needed to ensure there is a stopping point. CM Ford is in favor of raising the tax cap to possibly $0.58.
CM Callahan is in favor of raising the tax cap, and is comfortable with raising the cap to $0.55 and then revisiting the tax cap if necessary in the future. CM Callahan noted that when reviewing each line item in the budget as a percentage of the total budget each line item has not changed since 2000. CM Callahan also noted that the operating budget has grown by $700,000 over the past two years. CM Callahan believes the Town is frugal, but costs such as insurance costs, both direct and indirect have gone up. CM Callahan stated that it is important to balance operating costs with capital costs in order to ensure the Town’s infrastructure remains up-to-date.
CM Schachter asked for Mr. Warrington’s professional opinion regarding the appropriate tax cap which would allow the Town to continue services at current levels, add a Youth Coordinator position, have an ongoing capital improvement replacement program, and maintain a level of flexibility. Mayor Mosley stated that she would not have the Town Administrator answer this type of question, which should have been presented to the Town Administrator in advance of a televised meeting in order to allow time for preparation of a response.
CM Callahan stated his opinion based on reviewing the budget numbers in-depth. The Town is facing an additional $340,000 in revenue offset by up to $25,000 in income taxes. CM Callahan rounded his figures, and in order to be conservative with potential revenue increases he rounded the Town’s potential revenue increase to $300,000. Assuming expenses remain flat (do not increase) there will be a $300,000 increase in revenue. If taxes are raised $0.07, revenue will increase an addition $280,000 resulting in a total revenue increase of $580,000, which is a significant increase. If $60,000 is removed for a Youth Coordinator, $520,000 in revenue remains for possibly a 2-year road program so CM Callahan thinks an increase in the tax cap to $0.55 is a rational number. CM
Schachter commented that an increase in expenses must be accounted for in the calculation as an increase in expenses is the primary reason for needing to raise the tax cap. CM Callahan added an assumption of a 5% increase in expenses, which would result in $320,000 in revenue remaining for a 2-year road program so CM Callahan is still comfortable with a $0.55 tax cap.
CM Watson commented that taxes have been raised 20% over the past two years, and that he would not raise taxes more than $0.07. Mayor Mosley suggested that given the process of three readings on this issue the tax cap should be estimated on the higher side to avoid the tax cap being raised further, which would result in having to go back to a first reading. Mayor Mosley asked if there were any motions from the floor.
§ CM Ford moved to raise the tangible personal property tax to $1.20 and the real property tax to $0.58. Seconded by CM Schachter. Unanimously approved.
Mayor Mosley noted that this is not a vote to increase taxes, but an introduction to the Charter Amendment CA-1-07.
Approval of a Grant by the Planning Board
Mayor Mosley discussed that the Chair of the Planning Board presented the Town with a proposal to apply for a grant with the National Capital Region Transportation Board to determine a policy framework for a comprehensive and integrated trail master plan for the Town of Cheverly. The proposal will be discussed in detail at the January Town Meeting, and Mayor Mosley asked if the Council should have a special Worksession on this topic prior to the Town Meeting. The deadline for the grant application is January 15, 2008. CM Callahan asked for clarification that the Council’s decision is to determine if the Planning Board should move forward with submitting an application for the grant, and Mayor Mosley responded that CM Callahan was correct. CM Callahan asked if there was any down
side to applying for the grant. Mr. Warrington stated that one down side to the proposal is that it discusses the involvement of Public Works, and Mr. Warrington does not envision staff availability for staff participation. Mr. Warrington asked if the administration of the grant will flow through the office and the Town’s books, which will add to the staff’s level of work, which he has concerns with or if it will be handled by a different entity. Mayor Mosley suggested that Mr. Warrington should contact the head of the Planning Board, Mr. Hugh Guest for clarification. CM Callahan is in favor of having a special Worksession to cover this discussion and any other outstanding topics. CM Watson is opposed to having a special Worksession with several topics, and would prefer to wait to hear back from Mr. Warrington and the Planning Board before determining if a special Worksession is necessary. All CMs concurred
with CM Watson.
Meeting adjourned at 9:50 pm.
Town of Cheverly
Summary of Action
December 13, 2007
1. CM Ford moved to excuse CM Eldridge from this evening’s meeting. Seconded by CM CAllahan. Unanimously approved.
2. CM Ford moved to raise the tangible personal property tax to $1.20 and the real property tax to $0.58. Seconded by CM Schachter. Unanimously approved.