Council Approves Step, Longevity Increases for City Staff
Havre de Grace Patch brings you the news from the council meeting as it happens.
The following is the context of a live blog from the Oct. 3 City Council meeting:
8:57 p.m.: Meeting adjourns.
8:56 p.m.: Councilman Miller noted that thoroughbred Havre de Grace won this weekend.
8:54 p.m.: Resident Richard Wahl pleads with the Mayor and City Council to do whatever necessary to clear the channel into the city's marina at Tydings Park.
Wahl purchased a boat this year, and docked it at the Yacht Basin.
"I can’t get it out to use it. I request to look at other means. I’m sure if the main channel to Havre de Grace was plugged and the tugs couldn’t get in and out, they’d be out dredging," Wahl said. "Putting pilings in outside of the season is possible. I request you look into that to see fi there are any emergency actions that can be taken to help the 200-some citizens who have their boats in that marina."
He closed by saying, "The snow is in my way and I can’t get out of my driveway."
8:49 p.m.: Public comment begins with resident Dave Glenn, who said he sent his first letter to the state three years ago on the issue of pedestrians crossing Route 40.
He said he is amazed that the state has not acted, and vowed not to stop fighting for the cause.
“I don’t go away. I’m like the bad penny that keeps coming back," Glenn said. "I’m going to keep fighting until we get it done.”
8:47 p.m.: Council president Bill Martin reiterrated the Mayor's words that it is imperative to keep breast cancer in the forefront during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
8:42 p.m.: Council members Craig and Cullum praise resident and volunteer John Narvell for his efforts with the parks and recreation in Havre de Grace.
Cullum asks Narvell if there's a way to initiate a skate park in Havre de Grace.
Narvell said the previous installation of the city skate park failed due to a number of issues, namele a lack of funding, difficulty finding adult management and a facility in disrepair that became an eyesore for neighboring residents.
A facility could not be built at the activity center because the Harford County risk management department found that county school property should not be utilized for a skate park. The activity center on Lewis Lane sits on Harford County Public Schools property.
8:34 p.m.: Councilman Miller reminds all residents that new parking restrictions go into effect soon.
8:33 p.m.: Councilman John Correri reminds all residents to attend Graw Days this coming weekend.
8:30 p.m.: Coucilwoman Barbara Wagner begins her address by asking about the condition of the channel into the City Yacht Basin, which has been partially blocked by debris and silt from the flooding following Tropical Storm Lee.
Mayor Dougherty said there is a positive outlook to receive funding from the state and federal level to help handle the channel.
8:21 p.m.: Mayor Dougherty said he will meet with local senators and members of the Maryland Transportation Authority to discuss the intersection of U.S. Route 40 and Lewis Lane.
Dougherty said the major concern is the inability of children to cross Route 40. Dougherty said he doesn't want delayed lights for traffic, but slower-moving traffic and visual signals for both drivers and pedestrians.
"At least right now I’m somewhat positive, but we’ll find out next week," he said.
8:13 p.m.: Capt. Wayne Young reminds residents that October is crime prevention month.
8:11 p.m.: Dept. Director of Public Works Bill Reeder said the refinishing of Canvasback Drive should be complete by Nov. 11, and that the progress on the repaving is "about halfway done.
Reeder said the final connection of the Lewis Lane-Route 40 water line will be made this weekend.
Reeder added that city employees are working to fix a 30-foot section of water line in the area of Chesapeake Drive and Giles Lane—where a portion of a six-inch water line is constricted to about four inches. Reeder said the improvement would enhance the volume of water available to the Chesapeake Drive area.
8:08 p.m.: Director of Planning Neal Mills said Harford County will release its proposed master plan on or about Oct. 10.
Mills said the drafts will be available at public libraries, on the county website, or at 220 S. Main St. in Bel Air.
Also, Mills said a public workshop on the master plan will be held at HCC’s Chesapeake Center dining room from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 20
8:06 p.m.: Director of Administration Carol Mathis informs council that the next meeting will include a photoshoot of council.
8:05 p.m.: Mayor Dougherty concludes his speech to council and city employees, to the applause of city employees in the audience.
8:00 p.m.: Council votes 5-1 to approve the proposed step and longevity increases. Councilman Craig is the lone vote against.
7:52 p.m.: Councilman Randy Craig said he has some concerns on the proposal, and would like to hold off until the city's audit is made available to City Council.
"I have concerns that the savings [that enable the pay increases] are from a one-time savings, and that is health care costs," Craig said.
Craig said he would like to see the savings shared between the employees and taxpayers. He would like to see the savings put into the employee pension program.
Council President Bill Martin said taxpayers should come first, but "there is another duty we have," and that is to take care of city employees. He said the savings in health care costs are a testament to the staff's ability to take care of themselves and stay safe.
Martin estimated that about 40 of the nearly 130 city employees live in Havre de Grace. He credited the staff with its ability to deal with recent natural disasters.
"I believe that this is clean, I believe that we can do it, that it is not reckless," Martin said. "It's the prudent thing to do."
He added that he saw a city employee in his neighborhood Monday cleaning a street sign with a rag—citing that as an example of the employees in Havre de Grace.
Councilman Fred Cullum called the city's employees "one of our best investments," and added "that is an investment we have to protect."
Cullum said part of the city's contract with its employees is to provide increases when appropriate.
The audit has not been provided to City Council. Councilman Jim Miller asked when it would be provided. Mayor Dougherty said it should be available in November.
7:50 p.m.: Mayor Dougherty reads a statement on a plan to provide step increases and longevity increases to city employees.
"I feel that we can now go forward and make these effective Oct. 15, and make them retroactive," Dougherty said.
7:47 p.m.: Councilman Randy Craig introduces a budget ammendment to transfer funds to parks and recreation.
The amount and purpose of the transfer is not disclosed.
7:45 p.m.: Four special events are introduced by the Mayor's Executive Assistant, Shyla Glassman:
- Running with the Reindeer—Dec. 3
- Havre de Grace Independence Day Celebration—July 2012
- Shakespeare in the Park—July 29, 2012
- Upper Chesapeake Hospice Regatta—June 2, 2012
All of the events are unanimously approved by City Council.
7:41 p.m.: Public comment period on agenda items begins.
Diane Lawder thanked the Mayor and City Council for their decision to offer city employees pay increases.
"As you know I ran for Havre de Grace City Council. Part of my platform was to protect our city employees. This issue was important to me and I take it seriously."
Lawder thanked the elected officials for their efforts to accomplish the goal without raising taxes.
7:40 p.m.: William Russell is appointed to the Water and Sewer Commission. He is administered the oath of office by Mayor Dougherty.
Russell, formerly an Aberdeen resident, replaces Curtis Cohen on the commission. Councilman Fred Cullum thanked Cohen for his service to the city.
Russell's term will run from Oct. 3, 2011 to Oct. 3, 2012.
7:35 p.m.: Representatives from Pat's Pizzeria and Chesapeake Grille were presented proclamations for their service to Havre de Grace employees and volunteers during recent weather events. McDonald's was also recognized without a representative.
7:20 p.m.: Elise Starkey of Havre de Grace High School was recognized as a student of the month.
Elise is involved in a number of activities at Havre de Grace High, and is also active in local theater groups. Havre de Grace High School Principal Pat Walling said Elise is very busy this week with homecoming preparations at the school.
7:15 p.m.: Meadowvale Elementary School fifth-grader Bradley Polk was recognized as a student of the month.
Meadowvale administrators credited Bradley with a strong work ethic and a very friendly personality. His family said credit is due to Meadowvale Elementary's teachers and administration.
"This is the third we've had go through Meadowvale, and they've all come out above-and-beyond," Bradley's grandfather, Jack said.
7:10 p.m.: Mayor Dougherty and City Council present Havre de Grace Elementary School fifth-grader Cydni Collins with a recognition as a student of the month. Cydni is credited with coming to school every day with a smile. She is involved in cheerleading and basketball outside of school.
Cydni’s mother thanked the teachers at Havre de Grace Elementary School and said they are fortunate to live in Havre de Grace.
She also told the story of how Cydni saved her brother’s life when he was diagnose with leukemia on the day she was born: “Her cord blood ended up saving her brother’s life. From the day she got here, she’s been blessing our family and blessing our lives. She’s a blessing to our family and we are very proud of her.”
7 p.m.: The meeting begins.
Mayor Wayne Dougherty delivers the opening prayer.
6:59 p.m.: All council members are present and the meeting is about to begin.
Deputy Director of Public Works Bill Reeder is in attendance in lieu of Director of Public Works Larry Parks.
Capt. Wayne Young is in attendance in place of Havre de Grace Police Chief Teresa Walter.
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