Annapolis council tables mayor's plan to boost rates, fees

More revenue needed, Johnson says

aldermen note lack of information

June 28, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Facing rates and fees for city services that haven't changed in several years, the Annapolis mayor plans to propose increases on a case-by-case basis.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson had recommended a package of increases as part of the proposed fee schedule for fiscal 2001, but the council Monday voted to table the bill, noting lack of information.

The fee schedule will remain in place for the next fiscal year, which begins Saturday. The council has the right to amend the fee schedule during the year.

"The council once again stood behind process, process, process," Johnson said yesterday. "They could have asked questions at any time."

The mayor introduced the proposed fee schedule in April, but a report listing the reasons for the increases wasn't made public until May 26.

Johnson said he will consult with individual aldermen to propose fee increases. The first on the list might be taxicab fares.

"They haven't gone up in five or six years," the mayor said.

In his proposed fee schedule, taxicab fares would increase from $1.20 per mile and increments of 20 cents per one-sixth of a mile, to $1.60 per mile and increments of 20 cents per one-eighth of a mile.

In other increases proposed by the mayor, the cost for a towing license would jump from $25 to $500, and renewal fees would increase from $15 to $250.

A proposal to increase residential parking fees, sometimes by more than 100 percent, met with such outrage this month that the mayor shelved it.

Johnson explained that not only have some fees not increased in several years, but more money is needed to cover services.

But some aldermen felt they were not given enough of an explanation to approve the increases.

When the proposed fee schedule came up for a vote Monday night, Alderman Sheila M. Tolliver suggested having it tabled.

"There were just a lot of unanswered questions," Tolliver said. "It's awkward, for me, voting on significant issues by the seat of my pants."

The Ward 2 Democrat said she requested a detailed description of where the money from the increases was going at the council's work session May 31 but never received one.

The fee schedule was supposed to be introduced with the operating budget but was distributed two weeks after the budget was presented to the council and had to be discussed and voted on separately.

The fee schedule must be passed by June 30.

Johnson said if some fees aren't raised, the city will face substantial increases for services, similar to the 65 percent increase for water and sewer rates approved this year.

"We have to be responsible for the fiscal health of the city," Johnson said.

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