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Mayor Rummage: Maybe it’s time to jerk the Charter

The June 11 council meeting resulted in a number of resolutions passed and a few heated debates.
Resolutions passed included the reappointment of Barbara S. Cooper to the Colonial Beach Tourism Advisory Council, the appointment of Gerrald E. Higgs to the Memorials Commission, Amendment of the Contract to renovate the tourism building, approval of the update and maintenance of the 9-11 maps and approval of lease between the town and Hurst Harvey Oil, Inc. to house the police station.
David Coombes’ reappointment to the Planning Commission was met with some opposition from an unnamed citizen. The argument was presented by Mayor Rummage.


Rummage brought up the new council bylaws, stating that a citizen had challenged Coombes’ dual positions as councilmember and chairman for the Planning Commission. Rummage said, “Section 6-3 states, ‘Town Council members shall not engage in discussions or negotiations with applicants on zoning or land use matters prior to the planning commissions referral of the matter to the Town Council.’ Now if that’s the case you would not be allowed to serve in both positions.”
 Town Attorney Andrea Erard said: “The planning commission does not engage in negotiations or discussions because they are the first public body that hears zoning matters that come before the planning commission.”
Erard further stated that this bylaw referred to a member stepping out of his roll as an official to wheel and deal outside of hearings with prospective applicants and further stated that the planning commission doesn’t negotiate anything.
Rummage voted present, Coombes abstained and all others voted aye.
Resolution 40-09, Amendment to the Contract for renovation of the Mary Nalls Allen Building, (Tourism Building) was justified by Councilman Sparky Ridgely, who explained that the order had to be changed due to additional damage that was found and the change order would allow the damage to be corrected instead of just patched.
 Vice Mayor Trish King requested that renovations and cost be put on record to ensure that if the property was sold, these improvements would not be overlooked. King’s goal is to preserve the building or recoup investment in the building should it be sold.
Resolution 42-09 refers to establishing committees of Town Council. The language as to who would have power to decide was challenged by the majority of council members. Only Councilwoman Karen Payne voted “nay” with Mayor Rummage. The council voted to adopt language that reads “membership on each committee shall be determined by a majority vote of the Colonial Beach Town Council.”
  Resolution 41-09 Riverside Meadows Paving-Phase II met with its final opposition. Councilman Steve Kennedy motioned to approve and Payne second the motion for discussion purposes.
 King clarified a few facts through questions posed to Town Manager Val Foulds. The results were as follows: the $50,000 requested for Phase II would come from this year’s fiscal budget which will end on June 31, 2009, this year’s budget will already have a deficit at the end of June. This money for Phase II was never budgeted for and would put this year’s budget farther in the red.
 After much confusion over spending “reserve money” Councilman Coombes summed up the budget by saying: “In my understanding there are two categories of reserves here. We have $500,000 plus in what is known as the old Yacht Club Fund, the CD is coming due shortly, there are some restrictions as to how it can be spent. You can spend the interest but anything other must be done by resolution. The second reserve is really a misnomer; it’s actually our checking account and the volume of money we have in it which fluctuates up and down depending on when taxes come in. Our checking account is what we pay the bills with and is based on our budget. To “whack” $50,000 regardless of whether you’re going to get $200,000 back or not when you’re sitting here telling us we’re going to be in the red in two weeks just doesn’t seem to show any financial discipline.”
 Coombes continued by saying he understands the needs for the roads but does not want to create consequences in the future and feels it undermines the fiscal responsibility we have to the budget process.
 Mayor Rummage responded by reiterating that the county has set aside $50,000 in matching funds which the state will match the combined money at $100,000 to continue the paving already in the works for Santa Maria.
 The Mayor continued, “People are saying we’re so broke, I hope that between now and [June 17] these numbers are worked out so that we don’t hear about this [being broke] that we can’t survive. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to jerk the charter.”

Linda Farneth

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