A Message From The City Manager
Dear Takoma Park Residents,
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog on City matters and there is plenty to blog about! Change in the federal government and the challenges stemming from the change have been a focus of the Council and staff over the past month and will affect our budget projections for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 18), which begins on July 1. There are many unknowns about how new federal actions might impact the City’s budget. This uncertainty notwithstanding, a City budget must still be prepared and adopted over the next few months.
Before going into budget matters, though, I want to talk about something exciting for Takoma Park…
Takoma Junction Development
The redevelopment of the City’s lot on Carroll Avenue in Takoma Junction is moving to its next step – hearing from the public on what should be on the site and how it should look. It’s your turn to help make this project a success!
The Council’s Takoma Junction Community Consultation Advisory Committee has announced two sets of meetings to gather input and feedback. (There is also the opportunity to share your thoughts online.) At the first set of identical meetings, you will be asked 1) what architecture, materials and massing do you wish to see for the building? and 2) what types of retail uses would you like to see on the site?
These first meetings are this week – Thursday, Feb. 23 from 7 – 9 pm at the Fire Station Meeting Room, 7201 Carroll Avenue and Sunday, Feb. 26 from 3:30-5:30 pm in the Azalea Room of the Community Center, 7500 Maple Avenue. Both meetings will cover the same information, so you only need to attend one of them.
At the second set of identical meetings, you will be asked 1) how will you access the site and what problems do you foresee in moving around and through the site? and 2) what types of improvements are you looking for along the sidewalk, streetscape and in any public area of the site? These meetings are scheduled for Thursday, March 9 from 7-9 pm in the Azalea Room of the Community Center, 7500 Maple Avenue and Sunday, March 12 from 3-5 pm at the Fire Station Meeting Room, 7201 Carroll Avenue. If more input is needed on some or all of the topics being covered, there will be more meetings. All of this information is available on the City’s website at: Takoma Junction Redevelopment.
FY 18 City Budget
Senior staff are compiling expected fixed expenses for the coming year and identifying costs associated with Council priorities identified at the Council’s two retreats in January. My workload from now through March is heavily focused on proposed budget preparation, resulting in the presentation to the Council of the proposed budget on April 5. Once presented, the Council spends the next six weeks hearing from constituents and discussing the budget items in budget work sessions. The budget ordinances are adopted on May 10 and May 17, but the real decision making is done by May 3. Your voice is important. Please take time to review information that will be presented in the April edition of the Newsletter, come to the first ever Budget Open House on the evening of April 6 to ask questions, and communicate with the Council at public hearings and by email in April.
Last week, the City received the 2017 Constant Yield valuation that is prepared by the State. For the City to receive the same amount of real property tax revenue next year as is expected this year, the City’s real property tax rate would need to drop from 56.75 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 53.58 cents. If the tax rate were to stay the same, the City would be expected to receive approximately $711,000 more in FY 18 as in FY 17 (to put that into context, our total budget is about $30 million). I will not know until late March what tax rate I will recommend to the Council. It is a serious challenge to identify the expected ups and downs of all of the revenues and expenses to come to a bottom line that is focused on achieving the Council’s goals. Most of the City’s revenue comes from Takoma Park taxpayers. I deeply respect the need for prudent fiscal management and efficient delivery of services for our residents.
Every department in the City government is committed to fulfilling the Council Priorities, just updated for the coming year. Whether it is serving Takoma Park residents with a smile no matter their background or age, working with a neighborhood group on plans for a park or sidewalk improvement project, keeping residents safe from crime, developing affordable housing strategies or working on long term economic development initiatives, all City staff are focused on the priorities set by the City Council for the coming year.
The Council’s Priorities are aggressive and our standards are high. However, we have relatively few staff for the number of services we provide and – I sometimes hate to admit this – we are human, so we’re not always perfect. Please let me know if you have recommendations on how we could better meet the Council’s Priorities or do our jobs better. I want to hear from you. Please contact me at SuzanneL@takomaparkmd.gov or 301-891-7229. If you’d like to make an appointment to meet with me, please contact my Executive Assistant, Peggye Washington, at PeggyeW@takomaparkmd.gov or 301-891-7230.
Happy early spring!