TAKOMA PARK – The city’s 20th District delegates brought news of a state budget deficit to the City Council Tuesday in what Del. David Moon (D) approximated as a “billion dollar budget hole.”
Moon stated there will be cuts and limited funds will be prioritized but he did not elaborate on what would be cut.
However, Del. Sheila Hixson (D) stayed optimistic.
“I think that us asking for money, we don’t have to apologize for that, we don’t” said Hixson. “I mean when we go into these meetings, they say ‘You guys got it all’ and I say ‘Even if we do, it’s wearing out, so you’re going to have to help us.’”
Even though contact between the council and the delegates is frequent, the structured discourse between the two groups Dec. 6 was a success in Council member Peter Kovar’s (Ward 1) eyes.
“I think it was great, and I think that the benefit of more direct interaction with them was clearly shown to me,” said Kovar.
The City Council also lamented the state of infrastructure to the city’s delegation to Annapolis, asking Moon, Hixson and Will Smith (D) for help.
The evening focused on two parts: comments from the public on a variety of issues, and a discussion of legislative priorities between the city and the delegates.
The night started off with Council member Jarrett Smith (Ward 5) speaking about miscommunication between city officials and State Highway Administration and utility companies.
“It has become more and more difficult to work with them,” said Smith.
He cited possible legislation to improve cooperation between the SHA, utility companies and the city, stemming from residents’ displeasure about destruction to tree canopy and sporadic scheduling.
Council members also discussed the city’s push for economic development on the New Hampshire Avenue corridor.
Smith urged the delegates to contact county officials to make it a priority, along with evaluation of the state collection and distribution of state property tax, the creation of a state municipal innovation fund, a free standing medical center, an aquatic center and library renovations.
Council member Fred Schultz (Ward 6) offered assurances the city was not just focused on material concerns and not societal issues.
“I don’t want those of you who spoke tonight to feel like, ‘Oh, well all we’re interested up here in the city council is the bricks-and-mortar kind of gaudy things that cost a zillion dollars and stuff like that,’” said Schultz, “cause I certainly want to be sensitive to the comments made about the need for us to focus on the much less glamorous much less obvious issues that have been raised here… the issues raised here relating to people’s concerns.”