Category Archives: Takoma Park Newsletter

Category for original news items as well as Takoma Park Newsletter articles that are copied into takomaparkmd.gov as web content.

Local group proposes scatter garden in Takoma Park

By Rick Henry

When one characterizes the typical Takoma Park resident, two of the key attributes that come to mind are loyalty to the city and a commitment to the earth.

So it should be no surprise that a group of city residents wants to take those characteristics to the ultimate degree by creating a memorial scatter garden in a city-owned park where the cremains of Takoma Park residents can rest for eternity.

A scatter garden is a place where people scatter the ashes of their loved ones and where small plaques marking the names of those whose ashes are scattered are displayed.

“Takoma Park people are very attached to the city. We don’t want to live anywhere else or be dead anywhere else,” said Jennifer Beman White, the person who initiated the project and enlisted many of her Sherman Avenue neighbors in the effort, including Beth Baker.

“I loved the idea as soon as I heard about it from Jennifer,” Baker said. “I envision a scatter garden as a simple, lovely way for people to remember their family and friends.”

Scatter gardens are common, but are found exclusively within existing cemeteries or churches. What makes the proposed Takoma Park scatter garden unique is that it would be free-standing and located on city-owned land.

“We have done a lot of research and talked with someone from the Cremation Association of America, and we have not found an example of one being started by a municipality for its residents,” Beman White said. “In fact the association was very excited about the proposition and wants us to keep them informed on how it works out.” Baker believes the proposed scatter garden is “in keeping with the city’s tradition of being nontraditional.”

Both Baker and Beman White said they have received nothing but positive feedback from the people they have spoken with about the project, but both also realize that there will have to be a lot of outreach to the community as a whole. “It is a commitment to perpetuity after all,” Beman White said.

To educate the public about scatter gardens and the process of establishing one in the city, the Committee for a Takoma Park Memorial Scatter Garden has created a website (tpmsg.org), which includes an FAQ of common questions and concerns that some people may have about the project, such as: “Are their health concerns?” (The quick answer is no); “Are the remains actually scattered?” (Not necessarily); and “How much will it cost?” (That depends on which design elements, such as walls, benches and landscaping, are incorporated).

As to the actual process of establishing a scatter garden in the city, the group presented its concept to the city’s Commemoration Commission, which “documents, maintains and preserves past, present and future memorials, commemorations and recognitions” and makes recommendations to the City Council.

Commission member Howard Kohn said that while a scatter garden is “not the most obvious part of our purview,” and is different than the traditional ways of honoring people such as monuments, signs, benches and trees, “it does fall within what we are designated to do.”

He also added that while the commission is supportive of the scatter garden; the biggest challenge is finding a location that is suitable.

“There are very few places that are green and open and where no active recreation takes place,” he said.

Beman White and other members of the group involved with the project did a walk around the city with commission chair Richard O’Connor, and they identified some potential spots, which they plan to share with the City Council as soon as they can get on the agenda. Ultimately, the Council would have to approve the scatter garden.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

More organic approaches to gardening and lawn care

By Colleen Cordes and Gresham Lowe

Takoma Park should have a front row seat to fireflies’ annual summer light show, thanks to the City’s Safe Grow Act of 2013 and to Takoma Park’s many residents who are practicing ever more organic approaches to gardening and lawn care.

The recent law restricts the use of certain pesticides for cosmetic lawn care that the U.S. and other governments have classified as posing particular health risks or that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated for restricted use. Takoma Park was the first community in the nation of our size to enact such broad restrictions for private property. Following our lead, Montgomery County recently passed similar restrictions, and Maryland lawmakers just passed legislation restricting the sale and use of neonicotinoid pesticides to protect pollinators.

This is all welcome news for local fireflies – also known as lightning bugs. Because they spend so much time in their larval phase under or on the ground and their diet is mainly other small grounddwelling insects, fireflies are considered especially susceptible to pesticides and other lawn chemicals. Exploring more organic ways to take care of lawns and gardens is also worth considering to protect a wide range of other species as well, including butterflies, other pollinators and bats and birds that eat the insects. On up the food chain, organic lawn and garden care helps protect pets and our own families, especially children, who often play on lawns and are developmentally more vulnerable to toxins.

Here are three introductory tips to begin exploring more organic approaches to lawn care and gardening:

Start from the ground up by evaluating and enriching your soil. Healthy soil contributes to plant health, including a deep, rich network of roots. Healthy roots make grass and garden plants more resilient from drought, disease and insect infestations. So begin by evaluating your soil quality. You can have it analyzed by an expert, or if that seems too complicated, examine it closely yourself. For advice on whether you should have your soil chemically analyzed to test for specific nutrient deficiencies, take a sample to a free Master Gardener Plant Clinic in the county. (See extension. umd.edu/mg/locations/plant-clinics for more information.)

For a do-it-yourself evaluation, observe a handful up close. Good soil will smell slightly sweet, be a rich dark brown or almost black and have a crumbly texture when dry but hold together well when moistened and formed in a ball. If the color is red and can only be dug up in thick, sticky clumps, as is the case in much of Takoma Park, your soil is heavy in clay and would especially benefit from applications of mature compost. The City’s leaf mulch, which you can pick up for free at the Public Works Department on Oswego Avenue or order and schedule a delivery, is an affordable option. For more information, call 301-891-7633.

Let nature be your guide. Healthy ecosystems thrive in diversity. Native plants have evolved to thrive in each other’s company, and each plant has its own preference for hours of sun exposure. Working within these natural limits makes for less frustrating landscaping. A monoculture, like grass, will be more susceptible to serious invasions of insects or weeds than a yard planted with a variety of species that are both native to our area and wellsuited to the micro-environment of your own yard.

The shade from Takoma Park’s lush forest canopy, for example, makes growing grass a particular challenge in many yards. Our white oaks and other native trees are much more compatible with shade-tolerant shrubs and plants. Lovely native ferns often do well on our many shady hills. (Before digging under trees, check the Tree Ordinance.) Consider reducing the area of yard planted in grass. In fact, establishing a large area of mulch around big trees – the most valuable part of the home landscape – is an excellent way to help them resist the stresses of urban life, such as pollution, soil compaction, and root disturbance. No mulch volcanoes, please! You need just two to three inches of mulch coverage, starting no closer than half a foot from the trunk but extending as far out as you like. The further you go, the greater the boon to trees. Refresh the mulch when it gets thin, incorporating the tree’s own fallen leaves if you can, which will continue to improve the fertility and structure of your soil.

Start with safest, least toxic solutions first. Weed your garden by hand before weeds get out of hand. As for lawns, if dandelions or other uninvited wildflowers become too invasive, hand weeding a fair percentage of them will help bring their numbers back under control. For gardens, include plants like marigolds and certain onions that naturally repel pests. A little nibbling of garden plants by insects is natural. If you’re losing more than, say, 30 per cent of your planting to an infestation, you can try a fairly high pressure blast of hose water to wash bugs away. Non-toxic, plant-based horticultural oils can be used to suffocate pests, and horticultural soaps – or even soapy dishwater – can also be sprayed. For help identifying a serious insect infestation and advice about other non-toxic steps, such as purchasing beneficial insects like hungry ladybugs to help bring a bad infestation under control, visit the Master Gardener clinics mentioned above.

Participating in such interspecies sharing is the real spirit behind organic lawn and garden care, much like grateful fireflies contributing their fair share by lighting up the night in Takoma Park!

Colleen Cordes and Gresham Lowe are members of the Takoma Park Tree Commission. They thank Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener Magazine and past president of the Takoma Horticultural Club, and local resident Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director of Beyond Pesticides, for the tips they shared for this article. For more information, visit Beyond Pesticides’ website, www.beyondpesticides.org.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Tiny house comes to Takoma Park

By Gina Mathias

If you live in Takoma Park, chances are your house could be considered small, or even tiny, by most standards. From May 31 – June 3, we were treated to a big dose of perspective when a real tiny home on wheels stopped in Takoma Park for a week of tours and workshops. The stop was part of a year-long tour for Corbett and Grace Lunsford’s Proof is Possible. Takoma Park coordinated with the Lunsford’s and their tour sponsor ecobeco, to give them a safe place to park and live at the City parking lot next to the TPSS Co-op.

The purpose of the Proof is Possible tiny home tour is to promote high-efficiency homes, which goes a few steps beyond energy efficiency to include air quality, building materials and overall home performance. While the purpose was to show residents how they can achieve a high-performance home where they live now, the presence of the tiny home sparked interesting conversations about much more, including zoning, density, netzero energy homes, affordable housing and downsizing clutter.

Several City Council members and Mayor Stewart were spotted touring the tiny home, which was open from 5 – 6 p.m. each evening. There were also several workshops, one geared specifically for home owners. Corbett Lunsford also held two special trainings at the Community Center on advanced diagnostic testing, so our local stock of energy efficiency professionals will be better equipped to help homeowners create high performance homes.

The tour was a last-minute opportunity that ecobeco President Brian Toll offered to the City when they ran into trouble finding a place for the Lunsford’s to park for the week. The City jumped at the chance to bring something trendy and interesting to the community that also helps with the City’s efforts to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Attracting people to the Tiny Home for tours offered a unique opportunity to inspire others to save energy at home and to get advice from an expert. Fifty local contractors also were inspired to use the advanced diagnostics they learned to help residents who have had energy audits and want to air-seal, insulate and optimize their home’s performance.

If you missed the tiny home tour, you can watch the Lunsford’s quirky, educational videos on Corbett and Grace’s YouTube channel, “Home Performance” at www.youtube.com/ user/GreenDreamGroup. And you can catch their new TV series on PBS in early 2017, “Home Diagnosis,” which Corbett describes as “This Old House” meets “CSI.”

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Takoma Park Boy Scouts complete “Project Porch Light”

By Sebastian Goldberg

Editor’s Note: Takoma Park is one of 50 communities competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition. Sebastian’s project, named “Project Porch Light,” helps Takoma Park’s entry in the contest because the goal is to have the most energy savings, and replacing light bulbs with more efficient ones will save a lot of energy.

On a Sunday April 17, teams of boy scouts from Troop 33, based in Takoma Park, fanned out across Takoma Park on a mission to replace light bulbs of Takoma Park residents with more efficient LED bulbs. They were working with me on my Eagle Scout project. I wanted to find a project that helped out the City, and I have always enjoyed doing things for the environment.

I read about Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition the newspaper, so I asked Takoma Park Sustainability Manager Gina Mathias if there was anything I could do to help. She suggested the project because she was looking for someone to replace porch lights. People often leave them on all night, which wastes energy, so by switching to LED bulbs, lots of energy can be saved.

To identify houses that needed LED bulbs, initially I signed people up at the Takoma Park farmers market until I had almost all of the houses needed to complete project. However, I did not get all of the participants at the farmer’s market, so we had to go door-to-door to recruit more participants.

LED bulbs are the most efficient commercial light bulbs and are 40 percent more efficient than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and use about a sixth of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs. In addition to being more efficient, LED bulbs last much longer. While a CFL bulb might last 10,000 hours, the LED can last 50,000 hours, which can be almost thirty years if not constantly in use.

The project replaced over 100 light bulbs in Takoma Park where 57 houses had their outdoor lights replaced with new LED bulbs. While the final installation took place in just one day, the project had been in the works since January, including numerous meetings between me and Bryant Martinez, the Takoma Park sustainability assistant working with Gina Mathias. Martinez provided support and helped coordinate my efforts, including ordering the replacement bulbs requested by Takoma Park residents, which were funded by the Takoma Park Public Works Department as part of the City’s energy conservation efforts.

Now that the project is completed, the new LED bulbs will produce an estimated energy savings of 10,500 kilowatt hours annually. These saving will help improve the City’s standing in Georgetown contest. Overall the project went well, and we all hope that City of Takoma Park wins the Georgetown contest.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Book sale undefeated by rain

Despite cold and rainy weather, the Friends Book Sale – held indoors – raised more than $2,600 for the Library.

Many thanks to these volunteers and staff who made it a success: Pat Hanrahan, Gary Sternberg, Tom Brune, Tim Rahn, Clair Garman, Paula Nersesian, Dave Burbank, Maurice Belanger, Sam McCollin, Merrill Leffler, Wabi Aboudou, Ann Slayton, Amy Beaupre, Sherelyn Ernst, Suzanne Morgan, Katherine Dixon-Peugh, Rebekah Zanditon, Deb Nelson, Pat McMahon, Miriam Szapiro, Wally Malakoff, Patti Mallin, Kathleen and Harry Fulton, Kevin Adler, Gina McNeal, Jeff Blum, Ellen Cassidy, David Wiley, Ben Wiley, and Richard McAlee, Mr. Walker and Kimley Mannix of the Department of Public works, and Recreation Department staff, especially Debbie Huffman.

All proceeds from the Friends of the Library book sales go to the Library in the form of funding for services, resources and programs.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

On a quest to read this summer

Experts agree. Summer reading should be fun. And fun is the focus our Summer Quest summer reading program, which gives readers lots of flexibility in choosing which books to read. Summer Quest 2016 officially kicked off June 13, but readers can join any time during the summer because we won’t conclude the program (with a party!) until early September.

Featuring a story and game board created each year by library associate Dave Burbank, Summer Quest is a “read to advance” game. To begin readers pick a character and we give them a game board and a story, which contains 10 reading challenges. Each time readers complete a book for a challenge, we move their character along a giant game board in the Children’s Room.

The reading challenges are open-ended – “read an adventure book” or “read a book about someone different than you” – so that readers have plenty of choice in which books to read. Adults also are welcome to play; it’s a great way to structure your summer reading. Thanks to the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library for sponsoring our unique Summer Quest program.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Libros Nuevos en Espanol!

The Library has books in Spanish for all ages. Here are some new, mostly nonfiction titles for adults. Ven y descubrelos!

Papa Francisco, El Nombre de Dios Es Misericordia. In his first book published as pope, Pope Francis shares his thoughts on the topic he believes to be the cornerstone of faith: mercy.

Veronica Cervera, La cocina Cubana de vero. Cervera’s fully illustrated cookbook offers 100 traditional Cuban recipes.

Juan Morris, Cerati: La biografia. A biography of Argentine singer-songwriter, composer and producer Gustabo Cerati (1959-2014) who changed forever the history of Spanish rock.

Rosa Barocio, Disciplina con amor: Como poner limites sin ahogarse en la culpa. The author gives reasonable and sensible recommendations supporting parents and educators confronted by the challenges of educating children.

Jorge Ramos, Sin miedo: Lecciones de rebeldes. Emmy Award winner and journalist Jorge Ramos shares some life lessons and experiences from his 30-year career.

Allan Percy, Mujica: Una biografia inspiradora. This biography of Pepe Mujica, former president of Uruguay, introduces his life and heartening way of thinking.

Jose Fernandez, Reta to Vida: No es dejar de comer sino aprender a comer. Nutritionist and star coach Fernandez offers inspiration and detailed menus to help the whole family achieve a healthier diet.

Draco Rosa y Nena Niessen, El secreto de la vida a base de plantas. Rosa and Niessen present their best vegetarian recipes, explain the nutritional and medicinal properties of a plant-based diet and propose a plan for healthful eating.

Claudia Molina, Jugosa y fit: El verdadero secreto de los jugos y ejercicios para tener un cuerpazo.

Cesar Lozano, No te enganches #Todopasa. Lozano offers lessons and solutions to discover the best path to living a full and happy life.

Miguel Luiz, El arte tolteca de la vida y la muerte. Spiritual wisdom teacher Ruiz shares his life experiences and offers timeless insights from the Toltecs to encourage readers who are confronting life’s challenges.

Yordi Rosado, S.O.S. Adolescentes fuera de control en la era digital. A modernday guide for parents to facilitate effective communication with teens in the digital age.

Dennis Nelson, Guerra contra todos los Puertorriquenos: Revolution y terror en la colonia Americana. Nelson’s well-documented account of the compelling life of Pedro Albizu Campos provides a window into an important but overlooked history of the Puerto Rican independence movement.

Carlos Wynter Melo, Las impuras. (Fiction) – Victims of the repression during the invasion of Panama by the U.S., two women reconstruct their past and look for redemption while trying to find the meaning of life.

[Book descriptions are taken from reviews appearing in Library Journal on May 1, 2016.]

We also have books for those learning English as a second language. Ingles para Latinos, Primer Nivel (with three CDs.) and Ingles para Latinos, Segundo Nivel (with a guide to pronunciation) are two newer titles, but we have many more.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

No couch potatoes here! Get out and play!

When you come home from work, is your teen parked on the couch watching television or playing a video game? Is he constantly monitoring his social media pages? Does she complain of hand cramps from text messaging? Just about everyone loves a lazy day on the couch with a favorite movie or TV show, but too much time in a sedentary mode can lead to obesity or other health problems.

Studies show that American children become sluggish during their teen years. While 90 percent of 9-year-olds get a couple of hours of exercise most days, fewer than 3 percent of 15-year-olds do. Physical education is no longer being offered as an everyday class in high school, and because of this, teens are getting less and less physical activity each day. If your teen is spending more time on the couch than off it, it’s time to help them get moving. Here are a few suggestions:

Be an example. Make sure your teen sees that you make exercising one of your priorities. Walk, bike, run or play basketball if that’s what you like to do. Just make sure he or she sees you staying active and having fun doing it.

Limit television and computer time. Set limits on television time (no more than one to two hours per day) and keep video game and recreational computer time to a minimum. Don’t put a television in your teen’s bedroom and keep the computer in a family area as well. If they must be inside, give them a chance to be active around the house or play activity-centered video games.

Create a family exercise time. Rather than a family movie night, get everyone together to go for a walk or a bike ride. Throw in a challenge by giving everyone a pedometer and seeing who can walk the most steps in a week. Another option is to have a family interactive game night.

Register for a recreation activity. The Takoma Park Recreation Department has several activities to keep your teen active during the summer as well as the school year. Registering your teen in an after school activity or summer camp gives them the opportunity to build friendships outside of school and motivates them to take part in activities within their community. Active lifestyles lead to being more attentive and active in school, and they will undoubtedly be healthier and happier.

Of course some days are just made for lazing around, and if it happens every once in a while, that’s fine. But every teen should have at least a few things he or she likes to do to stay active. Remember, we are our teen’s first and best teachers. If we want to effect real change in their lives, we have to be willing to take the first step and effect real change in our own. Only by setting an example can we truly inspire our teens to get up off the couch and out into the world.

The Recreation Department offers a “Teens on the Move” camp each summer, exposing teens to a variety of fun and active programs. There are four oneweek sessions held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the month of July. There are limited spaces remaining, so don’t wait!

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

#TkPkYTHsuccess: A community in conversation

By Apryl Motley

“What’s the key for success?” Laura Furr asked the audience of teachers, parents, students, community organizers, and City staff and government officials assembled at the Takoma Park Community Center on June 18 for “A Community Conversation: Youth Success.”

Furr, the program manager for the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, Justice Reform and Youth Engagement at the National League of Cities, gave one of two keynote presentations designed to set the stage for the afternoon. She offered this response to her own question: “youth having an authentic voice in decisions impacting them.”

According to Furr, youth gain this voice through civic engagement. She cited a lower voting age and the existence of a strong youth council as examples of worthwhile engagement. In addition to facilitating youth engagement, Furr said the manner in which adverse childhood experiences are addressed is another factor influencing youth success in that communities need to “rethink how they talk to youth.” For example, rather than asking youth what they did, the more important questions to pose might be, what happened to you, and what do you need?

Samir Paul, a computer science teacher at Montgomery Blair High School, believes another important question should be included in this list of queries: “Is there an adult at school who knows your name and cares about you? Paul shared this sentiment as part of a panel discussion on local insights. From his viewpoint, “extensive wrap-around services are needed, including parent and community engagement and broader community advocacy on behalf of schools.”

He said, “If we want to create real environments where kids feel safe, effort from all sides is needed.”

A current student at and recent graduate of Montgomery Blair High School, respectively, Saron Alemseged and Angel Ngatchou, participated on the panel with Paul. Alemseged began her remarks by stating, “I can’t see myself living anywhere else.” She acknowledged that while she’s “always” at the TP Community Center and takes advantage of the many resources available to youth in Takoma Park, many youth don’t because they are not aware of them. “We don’t use resources enough,” she said. “We must come together, and we don’t. This must change.”

Ngatchou sees herself as part of making the change that’s needed to bring youth together and make them more aware of the resources available to them. “I have been in the U.S. for six years since the seventh grade,” she said. “When I came here, I was lost and didn’t know what to do. Takoma Park helped me, and I want to give back.”

The general consensus in the room seemed to be that any conversation about youth success should be focused on a collective, multi-pronged outreach effort. As Karen MacPherson, children’s and young adult manager for the City of Takoma Park Library, noted during her remarks on existing youth programs and services, “youth success does not happen by accident.”

So how can the community gain additional insight into what resources available now, what’s missing and how the City can address those needs and gaps? To begin this process, following the keynote presentations and panel discussions, attendees were invited to participate in break out groups where they discussed the future of youth success. Each group was tasked with addressing four main questions:

  1. What does youth success look like?
  2. What are the most pressing issues impacting youth in our area today?
  3. What gaps and needs exist in the services provided in the area?
  4. What can the City of Takoma Park do to facilitate youth success?

Once the break out groups completed their discussions, a representative from each one reported back to the larger group when it reconvened. Essentially, this critical conversation is just getting started.

As Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart wrote in a recent post to the City Council & Mayor Blog, “ensuring opportunities for all our youth to succeed is a top priority as the City Council plans for the future and looks to address the current needs of residents.”

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Final budget lowers tax rate, creates housing reserve

When City Manager Suzanne Ludlow presented the proposed FY 17 City budget for Council consideration on April 6, she recommended keeping the real property tax rate at the same rate as the current year – 58.5 cents per $100 valuation. After multiple public hearings and Council budget work sessions, on May 18 the Council adopted a lower tax rate of 56.75 cents and also set aside $400,000 in a Housing Reserve Fund for advancing affordable housing initiatives in Takoma Park.

The tax rate was a major subject of the Council deliberations because property throughout the City was reassessed this year, which showed that property values had increased significantly since the last assessment three years ago. Although property assessments are phased in over a three-year period, keeping the tax rate the same would have still increased the amount property owners pay.

The City Manager was counting on increased tax revenue to pay the third year of a phased-in wage increase and the cost of a proposed environmental education/code position. These elements were retained in the final budget, although there was significant Council and public discussion about whether the new position should be approved.

The Council, in turn, was looking to put significant funding towards affordable housing and economic development initiatives. The Community Conversation on Affordable Housing showed there was strong community interest in taking steps to keep Takoma Park a community where people of different economic means can live in safe homes and apartments. And there is an understanding that without affirmative efforts to build a strong economic base in Takoma Park, the City won’t have the money to continue to offer the services the residents need and want.

Ultimately, several hundreds of thousands of dollars were set aside for both housing and economic development efforts, with specifics to be decided over the coming year. In addition monies for community partnerships were taken from the allocation for the community grants program to better meet the Council’s priorities for fostering youth success and assisting others in need of support.

According to Ludlow, the process of moving from a proposed budget to a final budget went relatively smoothly this year for several reasons:

  • The Council established priorities in February that helped staff focus proposals and services and provided a simpler framework for the budget work sessions.
  • The Council decided to bond for the City’s $1 million match for grant funding for the Ethan Allen Gateway improvements rather than to set aside cash, freeing up current year funds for other more immediate priorities.
  • Mayor Stewart streamlined the reconciliation process by preparing several alternative groups of Council-proposed changes to help members consider the items as a package and see the relative impacts of the changes on the tax rate.

An overview of the proposed budget was in April’s Newsletter. The proposed budget, the budget presentations and the final budget are all on the City’s website on the Budget and Financial Documents page. Also on the website, Mayor Stewart has summarized the final budget in “The Dollars & Cents,” a post on the Mayor and Council Blog.

Highlights of the reconciliation changes to the budget are:

  • A decrease in real property tax revenue of $367,471 by reducing the real property tax rate from 58.5 to 56.75 cents per $100 valuation
  • Savings of $580,000 by bonding for street projects rather than paying $1 million for the Ethan Allen Gateway in FY17
  • Postponement of the planned Community Survey, saving $35,000
  • Adding $4,400 for two additional Play Days
  • Opening the City’s MacLab to teens after school for $23,400
  • Adding $100,000 for planned economic development efforts
  • Adding $280,000 to the $120,000 for the exterior home repair program to establish a new Housing Reserve with an initial allocation of $400,000
  • Establishment of a Scholarship fund with $5,000
  • Adding $5,000 to the allocation for the Folk Festival

Other changes to the proposed budget included a savings of $100,000 in expected health insurance expenses, $50,000 for additional work needed for streetlights in Old Takoma and a reduction in expected property tax revenue of $200,000 from assessment challenges.

The FY 17 Budget becomes effective July 1, 2016 and will be in effect through June 30, 2017.

This article appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.