(2/10/2014) It comes with a sense of great pleasure I again present to you the annual State of the City report. During my tenure as your mayor, I have always looked forward to this time of year when I could share will all of you the highlights of your City’s accomplishments over the past year. The pride and sense of accomplishment I share with you, for our community directly reflects on the
dedication and hard work of many people. We are blessed with having a city work force that thinks of you, our citizens first. The untiring efforts of the staff on your part is what helps use accomplish so much, even in tough economic times. While this is important, crucial in fact, we couldn’t even hope to accomplish what we do without you, our citizen volunteers. I want to thank the many of you
who serve your fellow citizens by your time spent serving on City committees or boards, by those who help with youth activities, the ones who volunteer for church boards and committees, the many who send time working with the underprivileged or the elderly or the handicapped, all of you who show concern for your neighbor, or who simply stop and pick up a piece of litter you see blowing down the
street. You are what makes Taneytown special, to you, Thank you for this great town!
The business of running a town, even one the size of Taneytown is challenging. What makes it even more challenging is the harsh economic and regulatory environment we find ourselves in today. As we enter 2014, we enter the sixth (or seventh depending on when your start counting) year of an economic downturn unprecedented since the Great Depression. Folk’s tell me the economy is improving. I
hope they are right. I guess I have seen some signs of improvement (I will speak of some of those later in the report) but we still have a ways to go before we are "out of the woods". During these past years, your City has struggled to keep pace with the ever increasing demand for City services and ever demanding state and federal regulations. We have kept pace, and this may very well be the
highest achievement of your City Counsel, to date. Nevertheless, all of us have felt the increasing pressure of rising water and sewer fees, forced upon us to pay for new and even more stringent environmental dictums handed down from the administration in Annapolis. We have been able to "hold the line" on tax increases but this is becoming more difficult with each year’s budget. We will continue
to do our best. Each year your Mayor and City Council gather, along with various department heads to discuss upcoming projects and the overall direction the City will take. This occurs prior to budgeting time which will begin next month. Our annual retreat, this year will be held on February 8th, at the conference room at our police station. (This is meeting open to all and citizen input is
encouraged. If you have an interest or concern please get it to us before this date or simply plan to attend to offer your comments).
As is my custom, I have solicited the input from our department heads and City Manger in preparing this report. As I have previously mentioned, you as citizens, are truly blessed to have such a talented group of employees at our service. Citizen cynicism with government is prevalent in today’s society, and not without good reason, but municipal government is unique. Municipal government is the
government closest to the people; it is the first point of contact when something goes wrong.
Each year your Mayor, with the help of City staff and by approval of City Council, is charged with preparing a balanced budget to fund the services you have come to expect. During a time of sluggish economic conditions, the task is doubly challenging. For over six years, now we have cut expenses reduced and delayed capital improvement projects and "walked the tight rope" between the positive
and the negative. Once again, we are challenged to fund the City’s services without the burden of imposing more taxes on an already overtaxed citizen base. The task has not been easy in the past; it will truly be a challenge for 2014. I know I speak for the City Council when I offer my commitment to do my best to "hold the line" on increased taxes, once again.
There are some hopeful signs. One of the main sources of revenue we’ve relied on to maintain our city streets is a share of highway user revenue (HURs) that is collected from the gasoline tax, vehicle titling fees and other related state taxes. Early in the O’Malley administration these funds, which we had come to expect (since the 1920’s) were greatly reduced, in fact nearly eliminated. Your
association of the state’s Cities and towns (the MML) has been fighting to restore these funds to the municipalities. We have made progress. A significant portion of these funds were returned last year and the Governor’s budget includes further restoration this year. Another bright spot is the continued new home construction (primarily the Creekside Development). We have added nineteen new homes
in Taneytown this past year. We are encouraged that the Meade’s Crossing development (Littlestown Pike) may begin construction soon and future development in Carroll Vista and Meadow Brook is also promised. We will continue to do our part to hold the line on new expense. All departments have again, been put on alert to watch expenses, overtime and unnecessary spending.
Since the completion of our Street Scape project our Economic Development Director has seen much interest in business development in Taneytown. Your Counsel enacted bold economic incentives for new business owners to locate in Taneytown. Counsel amended the ground breaking initiative "Downtown Revitalization Act" to lower the threshold for participants in the program. Other economic incentives
are in the works, including grants to assist and support downtown business owners. Also, $50,000 in new grant money has been made available through Taneytown Main Street. We have collaborated with Carroll Community College, the County EDC and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce with a program that will help new and existing businesses. Free counseling is available and information on small business
loan and help in navigation the SBA system. We have been proactive is providing assistance with business owners in making sure their businesses are ADA compliant.
Four new businesses chose to make Taneytown "home" in 2013. The Stone House Bakery (across for City Hall) Vintage Colors (interior furniture & design) is locate on the downtown "square" at the corner of Frederick & E Baltimore St. Dollar General constructed a new facility on Antrim Blvd and is open for business and Taneytown Tire & Auto (418A E Baltimore St). Other businesses have expanded. A
new Sheetz store is under construction at the roundabout. Carroll Medical Primary Care will soon occupy space in the shopping center and Lorien Heath care has expanded to include assisted living facilities "Curves", located at "Thunderhead Bowl" building) has new ownership. "Coming soon" Flick’s Pub, Nick’s Movie Theater and two more downtown retail shops (to be announced).
In other Economic development news, Director Nancy McCormick, has continued to promote and develop the monthly Business Breakfast it has become famous for miles around and it is held the second Friday of each month at the Thunderhead Bowing Lanes. This event is the premiere networking event in the county. If you haven’t attended, plan to do so. There is always a great speaker.
Taneytown has long been part of "Main Street Maryland". We are proud of our association with these organizations and of our efforts, on behalf of our Taneytown business community, to encourage everyone to buy locally. To this goal we have partnered with other county municipalities and the Carroll County Economic Development Department Together Co-ordinated with downtown Westminster to create
the new Carroll County Downtowns. This effort has brought money from County EDC Tourism that will assist in the promotion of downtown events with a strategically place rotating billboard, event rack card and downtown brochure. The MD State Department of Revitalization has created a Taneytown Main Street Face Book page. Successful event calendar has been completed in 2013 though. Events included
The Second Annual Wine & Jazz Festival; our annual Harvest Fest featured the very popular Pet Parade. Our own Taneytown Lion’s Club took on a very ambitious and successful "Family Fun Days". We hope this event continues and we are ready to "lend a hand". The cool weather brought back another popular event for downtown businesses. Many came downtown to kick off the Christmas shopping season and
help find Santa Elf during the Elf Hunt event. Our annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony drew a large crowd and the Leo Club students served hot chocolate and cookies.)
Our Main Street group is also partnering with the Parks and Recreation department to co-sponsor some events this coming season.
Parks & Recreation
Visiting with our Parks & Rec Department head is always a pleasure. Bob Mitchell brings a great deal of enthusiasm to his job and it shows in his accomplishments. The Parks and Recreation Department has made many strides in the past year. The maintenance of our facilities is of utmost importance to providing the citizens of our great city the best possible parks and recreational experience
possible. We have been able to take on some tasks that will be very beneficial in keeping our sports fields maintained for continuous use, (such as now we provide, over seeding, fertilization and aeration to all our sports field surfaces within the city. The City was able to purchase the equipment to provide these needed services and do these tasks on a scheduled maintenance program.) I have
mentioned before just how important volunteers are to your town. Nowhere can this more readily be seen than with the individuals that coordinate all the thriving sports programs in our city. If it weren’t for all these wonderful volunteers giving countless hours of their time to our youth, we wouldn’t be able to tout that we have the best sports program in the county. With that being said, our
core base of volunteers handles this with the utmost dedication and commitment that is second to none. Thinking of volunteering? This is a great place to start!
Counsel has recently approved the purchase of additional parkland. We recently went under contract to purchase +- 40 acres on Fringer Road, adjacent to Bollinger Park, which is being developed as a natural are or Eco/Nature Park. With inevitable growth in the city this additional property will be much appreciated in the future. The tough economy has again delayed my goal of seeing this park
The Public Works department is one department that touches us all. Rick Weaver is the department head and supervises not only the Utility Crew but the Waste Water Treatment Plant as well. Since the completion of Streetscape we have continued to put emphasis on our infrastructure. The Rte. 194 water main replacement was completed last spring and will serve our community for many years to come.
Our Utility Crew completed a four year program of televising and cleaning our sewer lines. Nearly 30 miles of line were inspected. We now start the process all over again. Our goal is to complete the process in three years. The City agreed to a major expenditure after it was demonstrated that significant saving could be gained by adding state of the art leak detection equipment to our water
mains. This equipment has been strategically place throughout the city to monitor water leaks and to quickly repair them. I mentioned earlier that HURs had been greatly reduced, thus cause our street maintenance program to fall behind. In an effort to make sure our streets are kept in top shape we have added Asphalt Crack Sealing Equipment is equipment will enable us to keep ahead of repairs and
save tax dollars.
One area I have talked much about and I am bit discouraged with our recycling effort. I mention in the last State of the City report the new larger recycling containers we designed to make recycling easier and more convenient. However, after over a year’s use the dramatic increase in recycling that I had hoped for has not occurred. We have made improvements, increasing your recycling stream by
about 4%. It should be more. I would ask that everyone do their part. Recycling saves tax dollars by reducing land fill tipping fees, and besides, it is the right thing to do. Recycling is easy. If you are unsure what can be recycled check our web site (www.taneytown.org). The City is looking at ways to encourage more folks to participate in recycling, including a "Pay as You Throw" trash system.
I know you would not think of asking your neighbor to pay for your water and sewer use, why ask them to pay for you trash disposal?
Planning and Zoning and Code Enforcement
Jim Wieprecht is the City’s Planning & Zoning administrator and Code Enforcement officer. He is charge with working with potential and existing residences and businesses to ensure the City’s building codes and statutes are followed.
Calendar year 2013 showed some gains in terms of construction. Of the 115 zoning certificates issued, 19 were for new homes. Though not a large increase, the new home zoning certificates do represent residential growth over that of the prior year for the second year in a row, after several years of a flat line; that is with little or no residential construction in the City.
On the Code Enforcement front, we logged in 110 code violation cases and sent 82 formal violation notices and several follow-up letters in 2013, which represents about 74% of the complaints logged in for the department. While noting that some cases are created and closed in different calendar years, we resolved more cases last year than were created, indicating continued progress regarding
code compliance in 2013. As always, there are some properties or cases that present significant challenges, and we continue work to resolve those.
Some notable events in the department include Taneytown’s designation as a Sustainable Community through the State’s Sustainable Communities program. The Planning and Zoning department coordinated this effort which involved a group of volunteers who met regularly over a period of several months with staff, producing a Sustainable Communities plan ultimately approved by the State. This
designation makes Taneytown eligible to apply for assistance through several State programs. The specific area targeted under the Sustainable Communities program includes much of the City’s National Register Historic District, and extends to include some townhome communities and City parks. While the defined geographic area represents a small portion of the City’s total acreage, the City as a
whole can benefit from funding or projects made possible through the program. Thanks to the volunteers who made this effort a success! Our Sustainable Communities plan should be available soon on the State Department of Housing and Community Development’s web page.
The Planning department, in conjunction with the Public Works Department worked with County staff to update the Taneytown portion of the Carroll County Triennial Water and Sewer Master Plan, ensuring that the plan remains consistent with updates and projects involving our water and sewer infrastructure and plans for expansion of these systems. Water and Sewer Projects must be consistent with
this plan for the City to be eligible for State funding assistance. The State Department of the Environment has revised certain expectations regarding this plan, and is now requiring more specific information on how future water and sewer services will be provided to accommodate growth than was the case in the past. While the City has an adequate public facilities ordinance to ensure that we can
provide the necessary services for a development project before we can approve it, we typically can’t define what infrastructure improvements may be needed for a development project until we have some parameters for that project. Since we can’t predict what the owners or future developers of properties within our growth area may propose for their properties in the coming years, a new planning
category of ten or more years in the future has been added to the water and sewer master plan, with most properties not already served by water and sewer, that do not have plans currently under review being placed in this category.
With changes in numerous State requirements and regulations regarding local planning, the Planning and Zoning department continues to ensure that Taneytown remains current with State required actions and reporting. Many recent State policies and regulatory changes have caused a shift in how local governments plan their growth and development, and the Planning and Zoning Dept. is continuing to
sort through and work to address these changes. While planning may continue to start with a vision of the future, that is, what we want our City to be, how we work towards that vision has become increasingly driven by environmental constraints not part of the picture when our last comprehensive plan was approved in 2010. While during the 2013 legislative session the State relaxed the required six
year review of comprehensive plans to a ten year cycle, the transition schedule has not yet been released, so in the event we are expected to review our plan closer to the existing six year schedule, some initial work was begun in 2013. Much of the initial staff level work has been and will continue to be an analysis of the environmental impacts of growth, most notably those affecting the
Chesapeake Bay. We hope, by completing some preliminary analysis of waste and storm water data as they relate to land use and growth, and having ongoing discussions at Planning Commission meetings, to be prepared to update our comprehensive plan by 2016.
The department continued in 2013 serving as Taneytown’s representative on the Carroll County Water Resource Coordination Council (WRCC). The WRCC is a group of County, municipal, and Health Department officials working together to provide a mechanism for cooperative problem solving of critical water resource management issues facing the County and municipalities. The group fosters discussion
between jurisdictions in order to develop regional (watershed) or countywide approaches to policies, procedures, and solutions regarding water resource development and protection. The WRCC also provides a forum for the dissemination of ideas, solutions, and cost saving approaches to water resource development and protection in Carroll County.
The WRCC also functions as the local Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) team. We’ve all heard or read about the so-called rain tax, and how Carroll County has been funding the restoration requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit without having to levy any additional tax or fee. (What we don’t hear much about is Maryland’s Phase II WIP and
how the State is implementing its own commitments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Local WIPs submitted to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) were incorporated to the State’s Phase II WIP. At that time, the local team submitted, in draft form, only very general milestones and strategies for the county, not committing to specific strategies beyond those programs or
projects already in place. The local WIP team did not want to commit our local jurisdictions to specific strategies and reductions due to concerns about unanswered questions about the baseline numbers and the State’s model, as well as the associated funding efforts above and beyond our permit requirements.
In the absence of specific strategies from a given county, MDE developed its own strategies for the State’s WIP for these counties prior to submitting the plan to EPA for approval. To meet its own commitments to EPA, the State included an implementation strategy for a 20% impervious restoration requirement in the next generation NPDES permit for smaller jurisdictions, like Taneytown. The State
is aggressively increasing and enforcing the permit requirements as a means to achieve its pollution reduction strategies. The State imposed the ‘rain tax’ to ensure the Phase I (most populous) jurisdictions in the State had a funding mechanism to carry out their storm water requirements, and thereby also helping the State to meet its reduction requirements. Both the local WIP and the final
The Bay pollution reduction requirements do not allow new waste loads to the Bay. Therefore, the State also included a strategy in its WIP to develop a program, called Accounting for Growth (or "AfG"), to offset new loads to the Bay by making reductions elsewhere. The State is currently developing regulations to put the AfG program in place, which will further regulate the development process.
So, with all that said; look for planning topics related to waste and storm water to be more frequent agenda items for the Taneytown Planning Commission in 2014! Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. The Commission generally meets on the last Monday of each month, and their agendas are viewable before each meeting on our website (www.taneytown.org) by clicking on ‘find an event’
from the home page.)
One of the City’s biggest assets is her police department. We are fortunate to have such a well-run and professional force at our service. Our officers continue to be recognized as diligent defenders of all our citizens. Community outreach plays a major park in our department’s success. This past year we hosted a Junior Police Academy along with northwest middle school to open doors to those
interested in law enforcement as a possible career. This involved our officers teaching classes and communicating with a group of fine young citizens and the program was a success. Our officers are also involved in a program that teaches drug awareness to elementary and middle school students over the course of the school year
The Department has made several changes that will assist the city in savings including acquiring V-6 Dodge Chargers and eliminating the larger Ford Crown Victorias V-8 which will be a big savings on fuel costs and we will be continuing that process in the future. We acquired several grants for DUI/SMOOTH OPERATOR/DUI CHECK POINT for $4,000.00 and a School bus grant for enforcement- $4,000.00
AND a grant for bullet proof vests for $1,500.00)
Our department is currently staffed at 14 officers including our Chief, Bill Tyler and we have two new officers as of Sept. 2013 Shane Shultz and Dave Logsdon They have become great additions to our department.
(Total calls for service 2013 - 5850
- 429 arrests both juvenile and adult combined
- 1942 state citations- 1498 warnings issued)
Some big changes have occurred in this department, last year. A change so big in fact it required a change in our Charter. This department is truly the lifeblood of your City. It is where the finances are monitored the taxes collected and the elections held. Over the past several years your Counsel has discussed the possibility of separating the two positions, one of Clerk and one of
Treasurer. Is past year your counsel made that decision and hired a new Treasurer Bobby Jo Flout and promoted Clara Minnick, to the position of City Clerk. The Clerk takes care of the administrative day to day functions of the City. It is the clerk’s responsibility to conduct elections and to monitor Board terms and record the Counsel minutes. The Treasurer’s job is to 0versee everything
financial. The development of annual budget is a prime responsibility. Managing the ‘check book in itself is a full time job. With these responsibilities come the additional duties of the human resources person for the city.
We are still "finding our way" under the new system but the potential efficiencies to be gained show much promise. Already progress has been made in strengthening our internal controls, establishing proper documentation and monitoring of budgetary items, continuing to develop clear and consistent human resources management processes and a better ability to track funding sources for capital
projects an determining the status of each project.
Information Technology: A new position for the City this year is one of "IT Specialist". Because of the continuing reliance of technology and the fast paced development of technical advances we have expand the part time "IT" position to a full time one. The City hired Dan Dennis for this job and not only has he saved us money on outside consulting fees but has made strides in bringing the City
up to modern standards.
Some of Dan accomplishments have been remarkable they include:
- Completion and implementation of the connection to the CCPN fiber network (Carroll County Public Network), Connecting us has brought the city to the next generation of networking. This has significantly changed the structure of our Local Government LAN.
- Working in conjunction with Chief Tyler and Sgt. Etzler of the Taneytown Police Dept. We have introduced a new reporting agent for the City’s Police Dept. Through the use of the Interact911 RMS software we will be able to share information more efficiently and effectively with Maryland State Police and surrounding agencies. The value this has added to the safety of the residents in
Taneytown is priceless.
- With just a little time as the head of the IT Department Dan noticed an issue with the way we handled our print jobs here in the city offices. We had many different printers and printer models dispersed throughout our offices. This implementation causes a few issues. This implementation has left a large cache of now unusable ink that is very expensive. I have because of this, restructured
the handling of print jobs and replaced and reduced the hardware. We are now uniform with the hardware we do have and ink is now furnished by the company that maintains our printer fleet. The price of this is significantly cheaper than the cost of maintaing our previous implementation. The printers are networked and also encourage the user to, when possible, email the documents instead of
Some Future projects:
A Priority is to redesign of the City’s Website. Dan’s deadline has been pushed around a bit due to other priorities but what he hope to accomplish include:
- easier navigation
- better document searching
- easier and more appealing calendar
- current pictures of event, staff, and elected officials
- easier and more efficient pay modules or gateway
- web-forms for different purposes the most convenient would be yard waste pickup
- better business directory
- a fresh new look more web 2.0 centric with social integrations
- Virtualization of the LAN infrastructure
- Establishment of a Disaster Recovery Plan
- Upgrading from the existing water Billing Software Package
- Taking the Mayor & Council meetings paperless )
This position requires that the day to day operations of the City are handled in a professional and expedient manner. Our City Manager, Henry Heine is the one that holds all our departments together. It is Henry’s job to implement the plans for the City as directed by the Mayor & City Council and carry all this out within our budget. It is Henry’s job to be the interface, the voice, of the
City to various county, state and federal agencies and to be the final point of contact for everyone else.
Some highlights to look back on include a positive step that City took owner ship of Antrim Blvd from the county. Development has been occurring along this road that was owned by the county. This was layering an additional approvals and requirements to the developers. Now the City will be the only government agency that developers will have to work with.
Another interesting thing we began participating is Geocaching". At the encouragement of the MML Geocache Trail Program has been established for a number of municipalities throughout the state. This program is a techy hide and seek game. Individuals use Global Positioning (GPS) devices to locate a hidden box. Once discovered a city pin is removed and a log filled out to indicate who has found
the location. This "game" brings visitors to the City. Once here, the visitor has the opportunity to explore Taneytown as well (and spend money).
A project for the future and one I mentioned last year is our Fiber Optic network. Fiber Optics was installed at City Hall, Police Department and the City Annex. Fiber Optics will provide the City with a direct connect to County Services such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the police will have connectivity to the State Police Information System. I know of no other City of our size
in the state with this fully developed and available system.
In an effort to help those hit hardest by our economic recession, Counsel adopted a resolution (2103-13) This resolution authorized by the State provides the means for an exemption of the $30 fee charged by the state. We were also able to obtain a grant to replace less efficient HVAC unit at our City Hall.
In closing, it has been quite a year! For me personally, the experience of my heart surgery will not be soon forgotten. I thank everyone who reached out and stepped up in my absence and offered support and prayers during my recovery. I feel great!
Your City continues to seek ways to provide the essential services you have come to rely on in the most efficient way possible. Please let us know of you concerns. Council holds regular meetings twice a month. Our regular Mayor & City Council meetings are held on the second Monday of each month and a Council workshop is held the Wednesday before that date. These meetings are open to the public
and you are encouraged to attend and participate. Additionally, The Planning and Zoning Board meets on the last Monday of the month. These meetings are also open to all. If you have questions with new building, zoning issues or business expansion the Board would welcome your comments.
On a sad note, long time council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Bosivert retired from counsel after 22 years. She has been missed, epically by me. She had been a big help to me over the years and I wish her all the best in retirement.
On a glad note I reported that the (TT) Chamber of Commerce who sponsored Taneytown History Museum decided to close its doors at the City owned facility on East Baltimore Street, due to concerns about ADA accessibility. The good news is that the Taneytown History Museum has found a new location and will reopen on E Baltimore Street (340) in the near future! Stay tuned to their web site for
opening details and volunteer opportunities (www.taneytownmuseum.org)
All our accomplishments this year are a result of your support. Thank You. I look forward to another great year in the best small City in Maryland: Taneytown, "The small town with a big heart".
James L McCarron, Mayor