Debate spate over fee waiver

Council OKs measure for community events after parsing proposal

June 15, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council debated for more than 45 minutes last night before approving a bill that would waive fees during community events for city-provided services such as overtime for police and fire services.

Much of the debate centered on small details -- where a comma should be placed in an amendment and whether "association" would be better than "organization" in defining the neighborhood groups that would be exempt.

The debate between which of the two words to use was resolved only after heated discussion when City Attorney Paul G. Goetzke suggested: " `Organization' seems to be slightly more formal than `association' because there are many associations that are completely unorganized."

"Associations" won.

Alderman Ellen O. Moyer's bill would grant a fee waiver for "Annapolis community associations and neighborhood watch groups" when they hold events that "promote neighborhood pride consistent with the goals of the comprehensive plan."

The word "Annapolis" was added to the definition of community groups at the suggestion of Ward 5 Republican Alderman Herbert H. McMillan so that organizations outside the city would not be exempt under the bill.

McMillan's suggestion that homeowners' associations be included and neighborhood-related organizations be dropped prompted a discussion on where exactly the comma would be placed in his redefined laundry list of groups.

Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, objected to dropping "neighborhood-related organizations" from the list, saying that would unfairly exclude groups that aren't official neighborhood or community associations. He pointed to a bugle corps in Eastport and the Parole Parents-Teachers Association as two examples.

"Why do you want to narrow it down so much?" he asked.

"To me, that's mean," said Gilmer later in the meeting. "I know many small groups that are enhancing community needs without belonging to a large association."

McMillan said a group like the Parole PTA should count as a community association. After Goetzke informed the aldermen that the city code does not provide a definition of "community association," Alderman Sheila Tolliver, a Ward 2 Democrat, suggested pre-empting possible confusion on the issue by defining what the term means.

Her amendment failed.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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