Council seeks input on budget

Hearing to focus on $47.5 million plan, capital improvements

May 01, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

If you think Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts deserves money from the city or that $8.6 million should be spent on a new parking garage on West Street, now is the time to speak up.

The Annapolis city council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the mayor's proposed $47.5 million budget for fiscal 2001 and six-year capital improvement plan at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.

The hearing comes as the city's finance committee completes its public hearings and prepares to make recommendations to the council. The council must approve the budget by June 30.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson's budget proposes to increase spending by 7.92 percent, with no rise in property taxes. The property tax would remain at $1.68 per $100 of assessed value.

"This budget has several very large projects and as many small ones as we could do," said Emory Harrison, the city's director of central services. "We normally do small ones."

As part of the city's plan to revitalize the once-thriving West Street Corridor, Johnson has proposed spending $11.9 million to resurface the roadway and replace its 120-year-old water lines and outdated sewer system. He's also allocated $8.6 million to build the Cecil and Martha Knighton Facility at West Street and Colonial Avenue to help ease the parking crunch in Annapolis.

At the finance committee's public hearing April 12, Bob Burdon, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, said downtown businesses have expressed concern over the lack of parking in the city.

"Parking is a very serious consideration," Burdon said, adding that he supported the mayor's plan to build the Knighton garage.

The mayor has also proposed allocating money for the first time to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, a nonprofit community arts center, and the Annapolis Heritage Area committee.

Linnell Bowen, executive director of the center, told the finance committee that the $20,000 proposed by the mayor will be used for capital improvements, such as classroom renovation and asbestos abatement.

Peggy Wall, president of the Anne Arundel County and Annapolis Visitors Bureau and a co-chairwoman of the heritage committee, told committee members that the $49,900 from the city would be "seed money" for a proposal to designate Annapolis and parts of South County a state-certified heritage area.

The designations would make preservation and tourism efforts in the area bounded by U.S. 50, Solomons Island Road, the waterfront and the county line eligible for financial and technical assistance from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and other state agencies.

The committee, which has proposed projects to connect cultural sites throughout the designation area, is also asking the county for the same amount of money.

Alderman Herbert H. McMillan, a Ward 5 Republican, questioned whether Annapolis should pay the same amount, because the heritage designation seems to benefit the county more.

"The plan sounds good for the county," McMillan said at the hearing. "But, we want folks to stay here in Annapolis, not [go] to other parts of the county."

The mayor's budget can be accessed at the city's Web site, www.ci.annapolis.md.us.

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