In tonight’s State of the City address Mayor Gavin Buckley spoke for more than 45 minutes and highlighted the successes of hi first 121 days in office and decidedly pointed out that it was not his doing but the hard work of dedicated employees and members of his team.
Buckley’s vision of bringing Annapolis together was highlighted throughout the speech and he lauded the strides made by HACA and the Eastport Working Together group which is addressing the violence in Eastport. He spoke of the mediation that has apparently resolved the differences between a group of residents and the developers of the Eastport Landing project. He highlighted the City’s response to the Light House evacuation. He praised public works for the speed in which they resolved many issues throughout the winter and highlighted the compassion provided by the City and community groups that were able to get an elderly woman’s furnace replaced in the dead of winter.
The Mayor spoke of new initiatives such as The Cannery which is to be an artist’s incubator adjacent to a new boutique hotel and City Dock redevelopment project. He spoke about the Annapolis Rising 3-day music festival which the City is planning for September and he spoke of the new restaurants moving into the old Fawcetts and PNC Bank buildings.
On the economic development front, Buckley reported that in the past four months, 54 new brick and mortar businesses have opened their doors in the City of Annapolis.
However, with the good news, there came some bad. As former Alderman Littmann has said for years, the City has put off dealing with an impending financial crunch. And it appears that Mayor Buckley agrees and will be presenting a tax increase of about $550 per household. Although in his speech, he did wordsmith it as $1.50 per day. Based last year’s adopted budget, the City has 16,473 households. At $1.50 per day per household, this will add just over $9 million into the City coffers. Buckley expects the tax increase will:
- Eliminate the structural deficit;
- Fully funds required public safety pension contributions for the first time in TEN years; and
- Funds the 12 firefighters brought onboard through the SAFER grant and includes money to upgrade fire apparatus.
- It also increases funding to reduce our $50 million liability for retiree health insurance; and
- Appropriately utilizes pay-go funding for vehicle replacements, road maintenance, and sidewalk repairs.
After Buckley submits the budget, the City Council will go through a series of meetings to iron out the kinks and ultimately will vote on it prior to July 1 when the new fiscal year begins.
According to the City Code, the budget was to have been presented to the Council last month.
The Mayor shall submit the proposed annual operating budget, including the impact of any labor negotiations that are ready for City Council review under Section 3.32.060, to the City Council no later than the second Monday in March of each year. Upon introduction, the budget shall be referred to the Finance Committee, which shall review and may make recommendations with regard to the budget and shall submit the budget, together with any recommendations, to the City Council not later than the second Monday in May of each year; and to the Financial Advisory Commission to provide a recommendation to the City Council on the annual operating budget.
The full copy of the Mayor’s speech can be found below.
Edit: Replaced preliminary copy of speech with final copy.