Interesting Items From The Mayor's Proposed Budget ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, April 19, 2010

Interesting Items From The Mayor's Proposed Budget

While our budget is going through the process of being adopted, an alert reader found some interesting items and asked CP to bring them to your attention. Take Project 531 for example, which only sounds like it could be a secret, desert-based UFO facility:


On page 399 of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget is “PROJECT  531”, part of the Capital Improvements Program for FY11.  What is PROJECT 531?  The Project proposes to grant money to 4 favored groups: (1) the Historic Annapolis Foundation will get $60,000; (2) Maryland Hall will get $50,000; (3) the National Sailing Hall of Fame will get $50,000; and (4) the Lighthouse Shelter will get $100,000.  Why?  The justification is that these groups have applied to the State or County for funding and these amounts will represent a “related matching amount” by the City and will “show the City’s commitment” to the groups’ annual funding.

But how can the City afford this when it has a fiscal crisis, has fired employees, is seeking $2.5 million in concessions from the police and fire personnel, and has an emergency cash shortfall requiring the authorization of a $10 million line of credit?  The Mayor proposes that the City borrow the money.  PROJECT 531 will be funding through $260,000 raised through the issuance of bonds, according to the Funding Schedule (again, on page 399).

And while we pay for the principal and interest on the $260,000 borrowed for FY11 – next year -- in FY12, PROJECT 531 proposes that the City again borrow and dish out another $260,000.  In FY12, however, the Historic Annapolis Foundation will not receive funds, but the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre will; it will get $50,000.  Maryland Hall will receive $60,000 (a $10,000 increase).  The National Sailing Hall of Fame will get another $50,000 and the Lighthouse Shelter, $100,000.  This will be paid through more borrowing!
All told, from prior years through FY12, these favored groups will have received $1,450,000 – all but $100,000 of which will have been borrowed.
With the exception of the Lighthouse Shelter, it is difficult to justify our continuing to borrow funds that we do not currently have and to give it away to these groups, especially when other equally if not more deserving groups are being told there are less funds available through the City’s grant program. 

What every group should be asking the Mayor is:  how does my non-profit group become part of PROJECT 531?
What every citizen should be asking their Alderman is: are you planning to vote to approve the Mayor’s proposed budget with PROJECT 531 as proposed?

Or How about this One?

Downtown Parking Enforcement: the Mayor’s Vision
On page 369 of the Mayor’s proposed budget for FY11, in the Transportation Department section, the Mayor proposes to eliminate three Parking Enforcement Officers, positions currently vacant.  This leaves the City with only one –  that’s right one! – Parking Enforcement Officer (see page 367 of the proposed budget).  Only 1 Officer will cover all of the residential parking districts between 8 am and 6 pm during winter months and till 8 pm during summer months.  In lieu of the eliminated officers, the Mayor proposes to mount an Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) System to lone officer’s traffic enforcement vehicle to improve her efficiency (see page 370 of the proposed budget).  Maybe that will offset any loss in productivity due to the harm to the last officer’s morale.  Not only is she the last City Parking Enforcement Officer – her position does not appear to be secure.
The Mayor proposes to contract out parking enforcement.  Exactly when is not clear but since it is in the FY11 budget, it is assumed this will occur before July 2011.  On page 371 of the proposed budget, the Mayor explains: “With new technology available to increase parking enforcement activities, it makes sense for us to shift to a contract based enforcement program preferably supported by a large organization.  Large parking enforcement companies have the experience from multiple fleets of vehicles, up-to-date technology, enhanced citation collection and expanding in-house training.”

Can you imagine the “increased parking enforcement activities” and “enhanced citation collection”  that will be implemented by a large, revenue-sharing, for-profit company?  So the Mayor thinks we need more aggressive parking enforcement against stickered and non-stickered residents, downtown business employees and customers, and visitors and tourists?  This is going to be interesting.

Indeed it is. Thanks to the reader who has researched this and sent us the information. Keep it up!

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1 Comment:

Janet Norman said...

I had objections to this type of spending in past budgets, when I saw $100,000 allotted to Annap Summer Garden Theater. I asked my then Alderman, Sam Shropshire, to tell me what was the situation with this budget item, he didn't really know, thought it might be a pass through money from the state, never got back to me with an accurate answer. Sorry, mayor/council, our tax dollars are not your personal slush fund. Garden Theater can raise their own darn funds, if people believe they are valuable to have around. Same w/ MD Hall and Sailing Hall of Fame. Enough to make a liberal cringe.....

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