Discussion on raising fees delayed for public input

Parking permits would cost more

May 02, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

At a public hearing last night on the proposed fiscal 2001 operating budget, Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson postponed discussion on a proposal to substantially increase rates for residential parking permits and other fees so residents could study the plan.

The proposed fiscal 2001 fee schedule, which lists costs for permits and renewals, was available Friday on the city's Web site, www.ci.annapolis.md.us. It also was distributed to city council members Friday.

"The public simply doesn't have enough time to see or digest the information," said Thomas W. Roskelly, a spokesman for the city, explaining the postponement.

The council will discuss the fee plan at its work session May 24, and a public hearing will be scheduled, Roskelly said.

Alderman Louise Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, said she picked up her copy of the schedule Sunday evening but had been asking for it for weeks. By law, she said, the fee schedule should have been introduced with the budget April 10.

After being informed about a few of the proposed rate increases, some Ward 1 residents were upset about a lack of community input. "I don't see how anyone can do this without going to the community," Hammond said.

The mayor's proposed fee schedule calls for almost doubling the cost of permits and renewals for special residential parking.

In Districts 1 and 2, the cost of a permit sticker for parking at an address with no off-street parking would double to $60. The cost of a permit for parking at an address with off-street parking would increase from $50 to $75.

In Districts 3 and 4, the rate would double to $40 for a parking permit.

Temporary permits would increase from $2 to $5 for all districts.

W. Minor Carter, president of the Ward One Residents Association, said he was happy with the postponement but questioned the process and lack of community input. He said the association cannot take a stand on the increases until its members know where the additional revenue will go.

"All we see are these increases standing alone," Carter said.

Alderman Sheila M. Tolliver said the fee schedule should have been released at the same time as the budget and with more public notice.

"The two should be in sync," said Tolliver, a Ward 2 Democrat.

The mayor's proposed operating budget for fiscal 2001, which begins July 1, calls for $47.5 million in spending and no increase in the property tax. The city's finance committee and planning commission must have their budget recommendations to the council by Monday. The plan must be approved by June 30.

More than 20 residents spoke about the budget at last night's hearing, the majority supporting funding for the arts and for Inner West Street improvements.

Linnell Bowen spoke on behalf of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. The nonprofit community arts center is asking for money from the city for the first time.

The mayor has proposed allocating $20,000 to Maryland Hall.

Many spoke in support of the mayor's proposals to spend $8.6 million for a parking garage on West Street and Colonial Avenue and $11.9 million for Inner West Street Renovations.

But some questioned the budget's description of the parking garage as a 500-space facility.

Sandy Hillyer, president of Murray Hill Residents Association, told the council that although the group supports the West Street renovation efforts, some are concerned that a 500-space garage would cause too much traffic congestion.

"There's no basis for that 500 figure," Hillyer said.

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