EDITORIAL: Will Annapolis kick the budget can down the road again?

| June 14, 2017
Rams Head

Every year, the Annapolis City Council has to agree on a budget by July 1.  Every four years they try to massage the numbers to look as favorable as they can–after all there are elections to be won.  But what happens when you run out of massage oil? This year, the Council may very well be faced with their toughest budget decision–correct it and risk the ire of constituents who will head to the polls in September, or try to kick it down the road as they have been doing for years hoping to deal with it “later.”

So what are the issues?  The Mayor wants to give a tax reduction to the citizens. While it is a reduction in the tax rate, the increased property assessments all but negate any more money in a homeowner’s pocket. In fact, it will end up costing the City some money, which the Mayor (the one who proposes the budget) intends to get from the City’s “savings account” — the unrestricted fund balance.  But like any corporation or individual–we all need some savings to fall back on.

But, the issue is that the Council has voted repeatedly to tap into that savings account to keep the city on stable ground. Typically, Ward 8 Alderman Ross Arnett will raise the red flag on this, but this year he faces a challenging election and seems to be remaining fairly quiet. However, Ward 5 Alderman, Jared Littmann has been waving the flag for months. Littmann is not seeking re-election.

If you want to see more of Alderman Littmann’s reasoning, here is a link to his most recent newsletter.

We have been postponing major projects (water plant, Main Street re-bricking, seawall, flooding, etc) due to the economy. Yet the need for them has not subsided. Former Mayor Ellen Moyer ended in the midst of a recession and left what Former Mayor Josh Cohen termed “a financial train wreck.”  Cohen needed to borrow $10 million to make payroll one year. And through it all, the Council has voted (in very general terms) to push the responsibility back “just one more year.”

And here we are in an election year, where all elected officials of the City (except Alderwoman Pindell-Charles) will have challengers, and the incumbents are hesitant to make a move. Remember it was only 59 votes and a pissed off businessman that swayed the vote to Mayor Pantelides.

It’s a shame the primaries are not before the budget. There might be more on the council that vote with the residents in mind, than the next election.

 

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About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.