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Mayors Comments

January 2017

"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us". Saint Augustine

April 2017

Welcome Springtime!! I hope by the time you read this itís true. All in all, though, our winter wasnít so bad, the toughest week I think came in mid- March when we finally got a bit of snow. It didnít last long and that was fine with me. As I write this, we find ourselves in the middle of Lent, preparing for the "Great Feast" I know this time of year I spend a lot of time thinking of things to come. New life is all around us. Even the daily news seems to take a back seat to new possibilities and new hope. We prepare to celebrate our deliverance as we prepare for the Easter and Passover season. How wise for us to begin this celebration in the season of new birth! Eastertime is always a time I look forward to.

As I reflect, on the past several months, what an incredible winter it has been. Your Council and City Staff have been hard at work. I think I can truly say, at long last, I see evidence of things turning around for the better, economically speaking. We are proud to announce that one of Taneytownís major employers, Evapco, has announced a major expansion that will ultimately add 150 new jobs to your town. The effort of keeping the expansion in Taneytown, rather than locating it at another Evapco facility in Illinois, was truly a co-operative effort between Evapco, our economic planning department, the Carroll County Economic Development Office and the State of Maryland, all working together. Thank you one and all. Also, we recently approved the addition of a new community within our borders. Meadeís Crossing was approved to begin construction, on the Littlestownís Pike. The development will consist of a mix of town homes, single family homes and some larger homes all within the same community of houses. We are excited, that after nearly eight years of no growth, we once again will be welcoming new residents to our great town. The City Council and the Planning and Zoning Board have worked hard (for several years) on the planning of this community so that the addition of these homes has a positive effect on our community at large. To be honest, when I talk to some folks, they are less than enthusiastic about more growth. Some folks tell me that they like Taneytown the way it is and they are afraid that more growth may change that small/home town feel that we all appreciate. Thatís not necessarily true. In my opinion, to stop growing means to start dying, both in our personal lives and the life of a town. Growth can be positive if it is planned and the good of the town is considered before the profits of the developer(s). That is exactly what has happened in the case of Meadeís Crossing. When a City plans for the future, it has to make sure the facilities are present to serve future growth. Things like waste water treatment facilities, water supply, adequate police/fire/EMS protection, schools , roads and other public facilities need to be in place, beforehand, in order to accommodate this future growth. These considerations are referred to as Adequate Public Facilities (APF). Past City Councils have passed guideline that we use in our planning processes in order to assure we have the correct level of services. I began this paragraph by stating that I though the economic recession of 2008 may finally be coming to an end. I hope Iím correct, but up to the "great recession", (in 2008) we could rely on steady planned growth. All this stopped when the resection hit. Facilities were in place, upgrades had been scheduled but no growth. So what happened? The revenues that would have been generated by the expected growth never materialized. We (and many other) learned a valuable lesson e.g.: never count you chickens before they hatch. In other words, we canít plan on growth occurring until it does. If we would have had normal (pre 2008) growth over the past eight years that we never would have had the issue of water/sewer rates even come up, because growth (new residents) would be in place to help absorb the costs of our adequate facilities (APF). To help us "weather the storm" Council sought he expertise of our bond counsel, to help guide us through this tough period. We listened to their recommendations and were able to continue providing for the needs of our citizens, with no tax increase, over the long years of the recession. I know of many towns/cities that canít say that. It is to their credit that the majority of the City Council (4-1 vote) has been able to "stay the course" and avoid the rocks of economic disaster. In fact, we have just prepared next yearís budget (FY 2018) and are able to actually reduce water and sewer rates, again this year by 5%! Again, with no increase in property taxes!

City elections are just around the corner (5/1). I encourage you to come out and vote. Remember, we offer absentee ballots to those who may be out of town that day or who may be home bound. Please contact City Hall if you need one. I encourage you too, to elect or re-elect candidates that are committed to prudent and balanced government. Donít be fooled by the promise of a "quick fix" or momentary gratification by those who distort the truth and promise things that canít be delivered. One proposal that would have lowered the sewer rates, that came before City Council during budget time would have lead the City to bankruptcy in just a few show short years. The most astonishing thing about this was that the supporters were OK with that.

On the state level, the General Assembly will wrap up their session in April. I all my years of serving on the Maryland Municipal Leagueí Legislative Committee, I canít remember one that was so bitterly divided over just about everything, along party lines. I guess this is a reflection to what is occurring on a national level. Truly, though your Carroll County Delegation have been the "poster children" of balance and moderation. Be sure to thank them for that, when you see your delegate or senator again. Specifically, the issue I have spoken to you about many time in the past, the issue of Highway User Revenues (HURS) may have a real chance. Our bills (MMLís) establishing a formula, once again, to insure a predictable amount of funds are available from transportation related taxes revenues to allow us to maintain our City streets has a good chance of moving forward. This is one of the few things, this session that has bi-partisan support. I am so thankful we operate on a nonpartisan basis in Taneytown (as do most MD municipalities) when I see the wrangling that goes on in Annapolis. Resist any attempt to insert party politics into city politics.

Enough about politics, it is springtime after all and a time to get out and enjoy our town. One of the things that we have planned for in next yearís budget is the development of the long anticipated "Bollinger Park". This project has been on the books for many years, but with the recession and other pressing matters it has been pushed to the "back burner" recall Bollinger Park is planned to be a "nature park" on with walking/hiking/biking trails, picnic areas and environmental study areas. The park will be unique in that it offers a diversity of environments, wetlands, woodlands & meadows that will present a great opportunity for study by school children and nature lovers alike. We hope to get the plans ready this coming fiscal year to develop this. Funds will be from park impact fees collected over the years from developers. Other things we are talking about include perhaps adding a band stand in the Memorial Park, another project that has been discussed over the years. Something new, that has come up is maybe to add a "splash park" to town. We are assessing the interest in a project such as this and I may be forming a committee to study it further. I would like to hear from you. Let me (jlmccarron@taneytown.org) and/or Council know what you think about adding a splash park in the future. If you would like to serve on a committee to study the idea, let us know that too. Kind of in the vein of "nature" Iíve been thinking about something else. We are fortunate to have many folks in town with a good deal of creative talent. One thing that I have always enjoyed (even since childhood) is feeding the birds in the back yard. Each year the joy of seeing the many varieties of birds gather around my feeders takes some of the cold edge off the winter months. I was speaking of this Linda Heine, the wife of our City Manager, recently, who happens to be a proficiently talented "bird photographer" and we talked about the idea of creating a "Birds of Taneytown" calendar. She has volunteered her services and our idea is to produce this calendar for 2018 and offer it for sale at a minimal cost, with the profits (if any) going to a local charity. Iíd welcome your thoughts on this idea too.

Well, itís time again for the history question. Last month, I learned something new about Taneytown history. When researching the question I discovered that Taneytown native Rodgers Birney was one of the co-founders of the National Geographic Society. Congratulations to Kiana Smitley for being the first to come up with the correct answer. Remember, to win a gift card, be the first school age student to respond to my e mail address (jlmccarron@taneytown.org) with the correct answer. Please make sure you include your name, where you attend school (or if your home schooled) and what grade you are in.

This issueís question is: Q) A major event occurred in Taneytown in 1871 that resulted in an economic boon and resulted in an extended period of prosperity that resulted in the replacing of many of the 18th & 19th century structures in town with the "fashionable" Victorian structures we are famous for today. What was that event and when did it occur (actual date)?

May you have a Blessed Easter & Passover and a Grand Motherís day!

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