Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY --

January 13, 1993

Decision on assessment-cap reduction is postponed

Annapolis lawmakers tabled a proposal Monday night to lower the cap on residential property assessments from 10 percent to 4 percent.

The City Council's Finance Committee had recommended dropping the cap to 4 percent to match the county's recently approved cap. But the council decided to wait to take action because Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins is considering lowering the tax rate citywide.

A $10 million surplus in the city coffers could allow decreasing the current property tax rate of $1.80 per $100 of assessed value, said City Administrator Michael Mallinoff.

"The assessment cap doesn't affect all houses, businesses and the like," Mr. Mallinoff said. "The mayor felt that by lowering the tax rate, it will apply to all people equally. It spreads it out a little more progressively."

Mr. Hopkins is studying the budget for next year to determine whether a tax break is possible.

Firefighter alleges racial discrimination

An Annapolis firefighter has complained to the state Human Relations Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the department has not promoted him because he's black.

Lt. Clarence E. Johnson Sr., a 20-year veteran with the force, alleges that the department still discriminates in hiring, promoting and training. He also claims that he's been subjected to racial harassment.

Fire Chief Edward P. Sherlock called the complaint "unfounded" and said the department has made great strides in recent years to stop discrimination.

More women and blacks are members of the force than ever before, he said.

Eleven of the 95 firefighters are black, one is Asian and six are white females.

"We don't discriminate," Mr. Sherlock said. "If you come to work and do your job, you get ahead."

Seven years ago, four black firefighters filed a federal suit charging discrimination in the department's hiring, promoting and testing procedures.

In settling the suit, the city promised to set up an aggressive recruiting and promotions program. But the city has not yet met the voluntary goal it established of increasing the percentage of black firefighters to more accurately reflect the percentage of black residents of Annapolis. About 32 percent of the city's 32,000 residents are black.

The City Council voted this fall to continue the consent decree another year. Mr. Johnson's complaint, which was filed in October, was discussed by the council Monday night.

Residents are red-hot over Main St. neon

Residents of downtown Annapolis are complaining that they're still blinded by the bright neon lights in stores on Main Street.

Six months ago, city officials warned 12 shops in the historic district that their neon signs violated city code. But most of the signs are still up.

Alderman John Hammond, a Republican who represents the downtown area, said Monday night that the city should be more aggressive in enforcing the code.

City officials said they're working with store owners to get them to apply for sign permits and approval from the city's Historic District Commission, an agency established to protect the historic character of Maryland's capital.

In previous years, only a few downtown stores had neon signs in their windows, advertising beer or burgers.

But since last summer, everything from frozen yogurt to sunglasses is being touted in flashing red and blue.

Ceremony to mark Treaty of Paris signing

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins will be the host tomorrow for a ceremony to mark the 209th anniversary of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris.

The Continental Congress met in Annapolis on Jan. 14, 1784, to ratify the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War.

"In a very real sense, Jan. 14, 1993, marks the 209th birthday of the United States," Mr. Hopkins said.

The ceremony is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at the State House rotunda. The State House was the Capitol of the United States from Nov. 26, 1783, to Aug. 13, 1784.

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