Annapolis city council members continue to run circles around the contentious issue of building a competitive-running track, a week after approving a spending plan for the next fiscal year.
Although the council voted 5 to 4 to expand the indoor track planned for the future recreation center at Truxtun Park, foes of the expansion - including Mayor Ellen O. Moyer - said they hope to revisit the issue when the council meets in July to discuss funding for the $5 million track.
"We've not even approached the county and state yet to see if they are willing to contribute, and I intend to set up some meetings to see about additional money," Moyer said. "I'd also like to explore some different options - like building the track elsewhere."
Although a council majority thinks the recreation center is the best place for a competitive track, Moyer succeeded in passing the rest of her spending plan - the last of her current term - with relative ease.
With an emphasis on public safety, which Moyer called "the city's No. 1 priority," the $62.6 million operating budget approved May 9 increases funding for the Annapolis Fire Department and creates a paramedic unit for Annapolis Neck, which will be staffed by 15 firefighters and paramedics.
The budget also includes funds for the renovation of City Dock, which has not been touched up for more than three decades. The $1.5 million project will replace the public boardwalk, repair failing bulkheads and shore up the foundation of the waterfront park area.
Under the budget adopted by the council, the property tax rate would fall from 58 cents to 56 cents per $100 of assessed value. Yet city homeowners can expect to pay more in property taxes because of increasing real estate assessments.
With assessment increases limited by the state to 10 percent a year, the newly adopted budget means the owner of an Annapolis home that was assessed at $300,000 would pay $1,848 in property taxes next year, about $108 more than now.
The budget also contains funds for a pilot program for at-risk youths in Annapolis run by the Baltimore-based Living Classrooms Foundation, and a 3 percent pay increase for many city employees.
This week, Moyer expressed hope that council members would reconsider plans to expand the track at the Roger "Pip" Moyer recreation center - named for her former husband - and hear alternative plans.
Moyer believes that the recreation center lacks parking to accommodate a larger track, and that building it elsewhere would allow the county to develop a better track program.
"I think there are ways to compromise that will mean a far more valuable track for people in this community," Moyer said. "Architects have suggested that for the same amount of money we could build a facility elsewhere and develop a track program that might lead us over time to an Olympic track star."
However, athletic groups have been pushing to build a competitive track for a decade and think the recreation center is the most logical site.
Alderwoman Sheila M. Tolliver, who clashed with Moyer over her suggestions, said: "We've approved a budget, and I'm assuming the track will be at Truxtun Park."
The council will meet July 11 to discuss plans for the new track.