ON COUNCIL’S VOTE TO INCREASE UTILITIES RATE

Submitted by Gren Whitman

Because of concerns raised by a local bank regarding Rock Hall’s critically weak financial status, the Town Manager advised the Town Council on December 3 to increase the utilities rate by 30% immediately.
The Council voted to do so, and will conduct a public hearing ASAP.
If enacted, a 30% rate increase will add an estimated +/- $200,000 to the Town coffers over the next four quarters.
The $200,000 will be likely be spent on such immediate needs as pumps, filters, bar screen, etc.; the Town Manager agreed to provide the Council with a prioritized list of infrastructure needs, which he described as “pretty extensive.”
Once the Council OKs a rate increase, the budget for FY19 will need to be amended. This will be the opportunity for the public and Council to decide how to spend the additional $200,000 AND to decide how to reduce or eliminate non-essential, discretionary spending.
(On a related subject, according to the Town Manager, a USDA grant will be sought to repair the Municipal Building’s roof.)
IN MY OPINION, a utilities fee increase is regressive; an increase in the Town’s property tax would be more equitable for Town taxpayers, but a property tax increase cannot be enacted before the next budget cycle, which begins July 1.
ALSO IN MY OPINION, what the Mayor ought to do, but probably won’t, is scratch all his big spending plans for New Year’s Eve and instead start 2019 by belt tightening.
THANKS to Councilman Nesspor for inviting GRHBA to propose how to restructure the trams’ finances (raise fare, solicit advertising, ask for contributions from businesses, etc.) to reduce or eliminate the burden on taxpayers.
THANKS to Dave May (Osprey Capital) for donating $600 for Xmas decorating contest (with displays assisted by Town equipment not eligible for prizes).

ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT UTILITIES BOARD & WORKSHOP

December 3, 2018

Present: Jones, Kuechler, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor (Fithian, Porter)

UTILITIES BOARD

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda
Approve October 29 meeting minutes (3-1)
Accept proposal from Tyler Technologies for utilities billing software
Increase utilities fee by 30%

ACTION TAKEN WITHOUT VOTE TO:

Keep the Town’s utilities hook-up fee at $12,000

OTHER:

Date for public hearing on utilities fee increase not yet set
Council will amend FY2019 Town budget after new utilities fee is finalized
Fithian will provide “pretty extensive” list to Council for needed repairs and purchases associated with utilities, including pumps, bar screen, water plant filters, etc.
Fithian to address 10-year-old drainage problem associated with pipe from Liberty Street that runs under water plant into Harbor Woods

WORKSHOP

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda
Approve October 29 meeting minutes (3-1)
Have Town partner at no cost with Discovery Education to publicize “Operation Prevention,” a program to prevent opioid abuse and addiction

OTHER:

Suzanne Einstein reported changes in organizational structure for Pirates and Wenches event
Nesspor asked Einstein to have Greater Rock Hall Business Association propose new financial structure to make tram operations, maintenance, and repairsself-sustaining from fares, advertising, and contributions instead of Town taxpayers
Christmas decorating contest will be funded by Osprey Capital (Dave May), with prizes set at $300 to winner, $200 second, and $100 third; displays assisted by Town equipment are not eligible
Town to apply for USDA grant to repair/replace Municipal Building roof

Compiled by Gren Whitman

FULL MEETING CAN BE VIEWED @

https://5bbb19a5c6aad.streamlock.net/vod/_definst_/mp4:rock_hall_md/2018-12-03_6735256_UtilitiesWorkshop_Meeting.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wowzaplaystart=0

 

ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT REGULAR MEET

NOVEMBER 8, 2018l

Present: Jones, Kuechler, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor(Fithian, Porter, Dempsey, Kirby)

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve meeting agenda
Approve minutes of October 11 meeting (3-1)
Approve five (5) extra days off during holidays for Town employees (3-2)

ACTION TAKEN WITHOUT A VOTE TO:

Discuss Tyler Technologies proposal at next Utilities Board meeting
Accept financial and police reports as presented

OTHER

As Mayor for a Day, contest winner Rachel Jones chaired the meeting
Jamie Williams, Kent County Director of Economic Development, gave a report
Community Spirit Award given to Laurie Walters
Dempsey reports new police car is now in service
New water filter element to be installed; depending on cost, two more will be installed; new bar screen at wastewater plant on hold for now
Town’s new well will be operational after final sampling
Kite festival on November 10 at “harbor front”
Christmas basket orders must be in to Municipal Building by November 24
Santa arrives by boat at bulkhead on December 1 at 6 p.m.
Hat Parade at 6:45 p.m. on December 31, with entertainment to follow

Compiled by Gren Whitman

FULL MEETING CAN BE VIEWED @

https://5bbb19a5c6aad.streamlock.net/vod/_definst_/mp4:rock_hall_md/2018-11-08_8158323_MayorCouncil_Meeting.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wowzaplaystart=0

 

ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT

October 29, 2018

UTILITIES BOARD & WORKSHOP MEETINGS

Present: Jones, Kuecher, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor(plus Fithian, Porter)

UTILITIES BOARD

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda

OTHER

Discussion about request to reduce utilities hook-up fee from $12,000 to $6,000 tabled to next Utilities meeting
State will use Town wastewater treatment plant to test filtering using special sand; DNR will provide a hold-harmless letter

WORKSHOP

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda
Cancel utilities/workshop meeting on December 31
Approve Teresa Guest and Sydney Guest as new members of Parks & Recreation Board

ACTIONS TAKEN WITHOUT VOTE:

OK’d Parks & Recreation Board’s decision to purchase batting cage (estimated cost $2,500) out of P&R’s budgeted funds
OKd holiday party for Town staff and associatedindividuals at Wheelhouse restaurant on December 7
There will be no reduced holiday schedule for Town staff

Compiled by Gren Whitman

FULL MEETING CAN BE VIEWED @ 

https://5bbb19a5c6aad.streamlock.net/vod/_definst_/mp4:rock_hall_md/2018-10-29_222858_UtilitiesWorkshop_Meeting.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wowzaplaystart=0

 

 

ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT

REGULAR MEETING

October 11, 2018

MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

Present: Jones, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor (Fithian, Capt. Dempsey, MacLeod, Porter, Sheriff Kirby)

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda
Approve minutes from July 30 Utilities/Workshop meeting
Approve minutes from August 9 Regular meeting
Adopt Resolution 2018-01, 40-year $939,000 general obligation bond for Catholic Avenue water main replacement and new well projects

OTHER

Proposal to reduce water/sewer hook-up fee from $12,000 to $6,000 will be discussed at next Utilities meeting
Town deemed not liable in recent tram/bicycle accident; insurance claim denied
Per Fithian, Town water losses have been reduced from 32 to 12 percent with activation of new clarifier
Tyler Technologies representative will be invited to discuss new utilities billing software at next Utilities meeting; Andrews/Loller to discuss new software with County Finance Department
Proposal for $3,000 batting cage to be discussed by the Recreation and Parks Board
Unusable surveillance cameras have been returned to Verizon; per MacLeod, no contact was signed and no expense incurred by Town
Free Wifi hotspots now available on Main Street and at Civic Center
Fall Fest on October 13; Bike Fest on October 14; Halloween parade and Kite Fest October 27; Trick or Treat October 31, 6-8 p.m. (with Haven and N. Hawthorne streets closed to traffic)
Next Utilities/Workshop meeting October 29; next Regular meeting November 8

Compiled by Gren Whitman

TECHNICAL PROBLEM PREVENTED LIVE-STREAMING THIS MEETING