SPECIAL ELECTION: WATER STREET PROPERTY QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

Q: Will my taxes go up if the Ballot Question passes?
Approval of the question will place the full faith and credit of the City behind paying the annual $55,000 payment amount for the next 20 years. The City currently receives approximately $8 million annually in property taxes. The City fully anticipates being able to make the annual payment without having to increase property taxes.

Q: What is the plan for the Water Street Property if the Ballot question passes?
The City is committed to preserving its Chesapeake Bay shoreline for public use. While final details and design is still in-progress, the intent is to preserve the land as parkland, with recreational access to the water as well as playground and gathering amenities. Please note, with the impending Amtrak bridge project, there is a possibility that this land may be used and leased for several years towards the completion of that project.

Q: What happens to the Water Street property if the Ballot question does not pass?
The land currently is owned by the County, who has determined that the property is excess and intends to sell the property. The City has been given effectively an exclusive right of first refusal. In the event the citizens determine it is not in their best interest to exercise that right, the County will likely place the property for sale to the public at large.

Q: Is there a concern for soil contamination?
On 2005 to 2006, Geo-technologies Associates performed a Phase I and Phase II study. The study found the sites were, in fact contaminated with diesel/heating oil, gasoline and pesticides. Due to the collapse of the housing market in 2006, no remediation plan was developed for the properties. At this time, no definitive cost to remediate the site can be developed until a Concept Plan of the proposed use of the Site has been submitted to MDE for Review and approval. It is at this time that MDE will define the remediation measures. If the proposed use is simply to install walkways to connect the Greenway Trail, applying a geo-tech fabric similar to landfills and capping the site may be sufficient.

Q: How will the City pay for the Water Street property if the Ballot question passes?
As with all debt incurred by the City, debt service will be included in the annual budget presented by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. As noted previously, the City fully anticipates being able to include the $55,000 annual payment to its annual budget without having to increase taxes or fees.

Q: What is the current value of the land?
The assessed value for the parcels under consideration is approximately $1,612,567.

Q: What are the expected operational and capital costs should the land be purchased by the City?
Based on the current planned use as parkland, annual operating cost should not exceed $25, 000.

Q: How much property does the City currently own in the City compared to the total City area?
The City owns approximately 130 acres of land. This equates to 2% of the 6,825 acres within City limits. By area, City-owned property is assessed at $24,900,000, or roughly, 1.7% of the $1,431,200,000 total assessed value of all properties within the City.

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Learn more about the City’s new Director of Planning – Ben Martorana

BENEDICT F. MARTORANA, P.E., P.P.
NJGovTech LLC/Atlantic GovTech LLC

Since 1976, until my retirement in February of 2008, I  served as the Township Administrator, Municipal Engineer and Municipal Clerk for the Township of West Caldwell in northern New Jersey. Prior to that I was a partner in a consulting engineering firm and also held two other positions in Municipal government as an assistant engineer. Upon my retirement from West Caldwell I formed NJGovTech LLC to provide Professional Land Use and management consulting services to all levels of government and those doing business with government entities. In 2012 I expanded the planned service area to include Maryland, Pennsylvania and the U.S. Government under the auspices of Atlantic GovTech LLC, now based in Cape May County, NJ and Havre de Grace, MD. At the request of the West Caldwell Planning Board, I work part-time as the Planning Board Engineer and as the Class II voting member of the Planning Board, meeting these responsibilities remotely from my home in Maryland, and with approval of the N. J. First Commission.

As Business Administrator, I served as the Chief Operating Officer of the community, responsible for managing all day to day functions, including all personnel management, press and media relations, grant preparation and administration, risk management, labor negotiations,  coordination with law enforcement and emergency management, and the implementation of the policies of the elected governing body and coordination and presentation of those policies to all other levels of government including County, State and Federal. I was responsible for all in house management of MIS and technology systems and have developed and managed a Public Access Cable Television station.  I have personally written grant applications resulting in awards totaling over $10,000,000 during my tenure.

As Administrator I guided the Township toward a founding membership in the establishment of the New Jersey Intergovernmental Insurance Fund in 1991, a public entity insurance pool providing Worker’s Compensation, Multi Peril, Police and Public Official’s Liability, Environmental, Auto and Property insurance for over 40 municipalities and school boards throughout New Jersey.  I was elected to the Executive Board in 1991 and served as Chairman of the Fund from 1999 through 2008.

As Municipal Engineer I managed the Department of Engineering, Planning and Zoning, providing a full range of Engineering services for the Township including feasibility studies, cost estimates, civil designs for projects such as road improvements, water and wastewater resources, storm drainage and flood control measures, recreation and park improvements, site designs, and traffic management, and improvements and construction of municipal buildings and grounds.  I was selected by the Essex County Executive to Chair his Passaic River Task Force, and was able to develop a consensus position among all Essex County communities towards developing flood control solutions. I also managed all preparation of plans and specifications to bring projects to bid, as well as full construction management and project administration. In addition we also provide management and oversight of all private development including residential commercial and industrial, as well as Department Head requirements for the supervision and management of all Planning and Zoning services for the Township.

I am also a licensed Professional Planner and  continue my service as a member of the West Caldwell Planning Board for almost 40 years now through the administration of 4 mayors. In this role I developed the first major reorganization of the land use regulations of the Township since the adoption of the current Land Use Laws of the State of New Jersey.  I routinely take the lead on the most difficult and complex Development and Re-Development applications for Site Plan, Subdivision and Variance applications, and guide in the analysis and examination of technical witnesses during formal hearings.  I also guided the adoption of a new Master Plan for the community in 1978, as well as several successful updates. That plan still stands to this day, and has provided guidance for all land use decisions. Most recently I have joined the Administration of the City of Havre de Grace, MD. as a Member of the Board of Appeals.

As Municipal Clerk I was responsible for a variety of regulatory and licensing functions as well as the oversight of the election process and all records management and codifications for the municipality. I was also a Member of the Wayne Township Open Space Committee. During my tenure, Wayne Township adopted the first formal open space preservation plan for that community.

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EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering – New Jersey Institute of Technology (NCE)

PROFESSIONAL LICENSES:       Licensed Professional Engineer  (P.E.) –
State of New Jersey
Licensed Professional Engineer  (P.E.) –
State of Pennsylvania
Licensed Professional Engineer  (P.E.) –
State of Maryland
Licensed Professional Engineer  (P.E.) –
State of California
Licensed Professional Planner    (P.P.) –
State of New Jersey
 
CURRENT CERTIFICATIONS:             Certified NJ Instructor – Planning and Zoning
PREVIOUS CERTIFICATIONS:             NJ MUN. CLERK; NJ PUBLIC WORKS MANAGER; UNDERGROUND TANK DESIGN

Havre de Grace’s lights up gazebo entrance to promenade

The City of Havre de Grace has enhanced the Yacht Basin entrance to the Havre de Grace Promenade. North East (Cecil County, MD) based I-Lighting LED Lighting Solutions installed low-voltage lighting on the entrance gazebo to the popular Havre de Grace Promenade this week. The gazebo was fully lit for the first time at dusk on Monday, October 3, following the installation. The LED lighting is reliable and affordable offering safety, security and ambiance to this outdoor space for the residents of and visitors to Havre de Grace.

 

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K-9 Cody Park opens to plenty of “A-Paws”

For IMMEDIATE Release
Press Release
September 6, 2016

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K-9 Cody Park opens to plenty of “A-Paws”

                HAVRE DE GRACE – The Havre de Grace Activity Center at 100 Lagaret Lane went to the dogs this weekend. Not the community center itself, rather the half-acre fenced area behind the Activity Center where a soft opening was held for the K-9 Cody Dog Park.

The dog park features a fenced in area for both small dogs and large dogs, for safety. It also offers a water drinking fountain for both bipeds and quadrupeds, after dogs work up a thirst romping with new found canine friends.

“Havre de Grace residents who knew we were actively working on installing a dog park were eager to bring their pets to the park so we decided to open it early dawn to dusk,” explained Havre de Grace Mayor William T. “Bill” Martin. An official opening with ribbon cutting ceremony and activities is being planned for Saturday, October 1, with additional information to be announced as the opening date draws closer.

Despite the goal of adding more amenities in future, the fenced in area where dogs can run and play off leash was a wild success attracting visitors to the park from throughout Havre de Grace, Harford County, and even a couple who drove to Havre de Grace from Howard County for First Friday and stayed, with their pet, to visit Cody Park the next day.

Media Inquiries:

Patrick Sypolt Director of Administration 410-939-1800 or patricks@havredegracemd.com

 

2017 Independence Day Commission

Press Release
September 6, 2016
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2017 Independence Day Commission

 The 2017 Independence Day Commission was created by action of the Mayor and Council of the City of Havre de Grace during their Council meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. It will resemble the Havre de Grace Arts Commission in structure with a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Any members of the community who enjoy the Havre de Grace Independence Day Celebrations and wish to volunteer are welcome to join at-large.

The 2017 Independence Day Commission will be able to raise funds and receive tax deductible donations and sponsorships of the numerous activities and events that go into the celebration each year. The Commission is charged with developing the traditional events for the Havre de Grace Independence Day Celebration – the fireworks and the parade – in such a way as to continue this popular summertime celebration in perpetuity.

The previous committee is electing to dissolve their 501c3 status without election of new officers for personal reasons. To ensure planning and fundraising can continue seamlessly, the City of Havre de Grace and citizen volunteers have formed the 2017 Independence Day Commission to keep the tradition alive in the City of Havre de Grace

City of Havre de Grace to celebrate Economic Development Week

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HAVRE DE GRACE – The Havre de Grace Office of Economic Development and Havre de Grace Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA), will celebrate the sixth annual Economic Development Week in Maryland, Mon., September 19 through Fri., September 23, 2016. The weeklong celebration will emphasize the importance of economic development and showcase the efforts and initiatives improving business retention, job growth and quality of life for Maryland residents.

As part of the celebrations the Havre de Grace Office of Economic Development (HDGOED) and Chamber of Commerce (HDGCC), will host a Business Appreciation Happy Hour on Tuesday, September 20, at Tidewater Grill, 300 Franklin St., Havre de Grace, from 5 to 7 p.m., with a cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres. In addition, Erika Quesenbery of HDGOED and Cathy Hutchins Vincenti of HDGCC will visit 15 new businesses throughout Havre de Grace who opened between September 2015 and September 2016 to present them with Certificates of Appreciation. They will also present certificates to one business marking 20 years in Havre de Grace and two business who have been in business for 50 years in 2016 in the city.

In addition, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, HDGOED and HDGCC will join representatives of the Harford County Office of Economic Development and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman to present certificates of recognition to four additional Havre de Grace businesses, as recognized by the county economic development organization.

The Mayor and Council of the City of Havre de Grace, by official proclamation on Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the day after Labor Day, declared September 19-24, 2016, “Economic Development Week” in the City of Havre de Grace.

“Havre de Grace is a city blessed with a strong core of volunteers, and incredible partners in the Chamber of Commerce and Havre de Grace Alliance,” said Erika Quesenbery, Economic Development Coordinator and Main Street Manager for the City of Havre de Grace. “The very heart of our city are the businesses and business owners who have made the investment in Havre de Grace that continues to attract visitors, tourists and locals to our city.”

To learn more about the City of Havre de Grace visit www.havredegracemd.com or www.explorehavredegrace.com or to learn about the Havre de Grace Chamber of Commerce visit www.hdgchamber.com. Details on Economic Development Week across the State of Maryland can be found at www.medamd.com.

Media Contact: Erika Quesenbery
Title: Havre de Grace Office of Economic Development
Coordinator and Main Street Manager
Email: erikaq@havredegracemd.com
Phone: 410-939-1800

City Administration’s Response to the W&S Commission’s Recommendations

City Administration’s Response to the W&S Commission’s Recommendations as Outlined in the State of the

Water / Sewer System FY15

August 1, 2016

On February 1, 2016, the HdG Water/Sewer Commission presented their Annual Report on the State of the Fund with Executive summaries and Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 17) as per City Codes Chapter 25 Article XI, Section 25-69B. This report is filed to address those recommendations and are presented in the order in which the recommendations were outlined. The responses are a result of and echo the cohesive and integral efforts of the several departments within our organization, most notably Director Whittie and his Public Works team as well as Director DeHority and his Finance team.

  1. The 20 / 80 method of collecting Capital Costs Recovery Fees (CCRF) should be discontinued.

Response – The 20 / 80 method of collecting CCRF stopped on June 30th, 2016 as a result of the recommendation by the Commission and the “sunset clause” incorporated into the fee schedule at the time it was originally adopted.

 

  1. Continue the collection of the Debt Service Fee (DSF) beyond FY17.

Response – The DSF was created as a revenue stream to supplement the current CCRF. The DSF provides less than 25% of the necessary revenue to satisfy the annual payment. This recommendation was made prior to the Administration’s announcement of its’ plans to aggressively pursue improvements at our Fund 9 facilities and their respective supporting infrastructure. Additional work is currently underway involving an engineering study of the Water Treatment Plant to develop and implement cost reducing systems while increasing production. A second study is currently underway and is focused on the financial and administrative side of operating the Fund 9 enterprises. Both projects will have an impact on the DSF and the Administration will withhold action on the initial request until the impact(s) are known. It is important to note, that all information (impacts) are shared jointly with the Water and Sewer Commission as well as the Council to provide all stake holders as much information as possible when making decisions.

 

  1. Examine the reasons for the recent drop in water consumption by commercial and industrial consumers.

Response – Consumption has declined for two major reasons, the loss of businesses from our commercial and industrial sector but more importantly, the strategic and effective measures those patrons are taking to reduce water consumption and thereby lowering their expenses while improving their impact on our natural resources. (I.e. typically, if less water enters a production facility less water leaves a production facility for treatment as waste water. For example cooling towers and apparatus are now recirculating water as opposed to disposing of it after one cooling cycle.)

 

  1. Reconsider the annual budgetary revenue estimates used for CCRF (number of connections necessary to balance Fund 9).

Response – The Administration has taken that approach and made it a practice as illustrated in the FY17 Budget whereby proposed connections are projected to be a realistic 59 connections as opposed to adjusting the number of connections to satisfy (balance) the budget.

  1. Emphasis on a reduction in operating expenses, using best practices in:
    1. Allocation of employee capital
    2. Capital investments in automated monitoring and response systems
    3. Review of current policies and procedures

Response – All three areas noted are ongoing and part of the “agenda” of this Administration. Investment and allocation of employee capital, automated systems as well as processes and procedures are incorporated in the two studies previously mentioned. Additionally the Administration in concert with the Benefits and Compensation Commission has had a positive effect in the reduction of employee expenses. Thus far the City has reduced employee capital by $197,000.00 and chemical expense by $62,000.00 (39%).

  1. The Director of Public Works needs to perform an in-depth study of the current Capital Improvement Projects Plan and create a tiered priority list based on critical infrastructure and component needs.

Response – A preliminary tiered priority has been performed. In addition, Mr. Whittie has recently engaged the services of an engineering firm as previously mentioned. One of the task outlined to them is the prioritizing of projects so as to facilitate the proper timing for each project and its impact to upgrading the entire system. This catalogue of work being recommended by the engineering firm will then be “dove-tailed” into other projects which are outlined for Fund 9 areas of responsibility.

 

  1. Explore alternative revenue sources to meet current debt, operations and capital needs.

Response – The Administration is doing just that through expediting the end of our current obligation with the County while exploring alternative customers for our most precious resource.

 

  1. Consideration of a rate increase of 10% for FY17.

Response – The City Council approved a rate increase of 10% for the water and sewer charges for FY17.

 

  1. Explore and if needed develop an Employee Succession Plan for both the Water Plant and Waste Water Plant. Possibly create an apprenticeship program and cross training for both facilities.

Response – A training and succession plan is currently in the development stage at the present time. Director Whittie has assured the Administration that at this juncture the City has redundancy in all positions for both the WTP and WWTP facilities.

 

  1. Implementation of a fats, oil and grease (FOG) program.

Response – The City routinely sends fliers to all commercial restaurants requesting that they refrain from putting grease, fats and oils into our sewer system. The Harford County Health Department is tasked with periodic inspections of grease traps which are a required component in restaurant facilities. The City monitors its infrastructure and when issues arise involving FOG components, takes immediate and decisive action to bring about a permanent remedy. Director Whittie oversees this process and has authority to enforce compliance.

 

  1. Solicit State officials to assist in debt restructuring and/or assistance.

Response – The Director of Finance periodically solicits State officials for restructuring and assistance to offset loan expenses. One facet which has hampered our efforts in the past has been the reluctance of City Council to raise the utility rates to coincide with the increased costs realized in Fund 9. With the approved rate increase coupled with the approved bond bill to borrow money for much needed improvements in the Water Treatment plant our collective efforts to improve our financials in this area are greatly improved. Annually the City petitions our Annapolis representatives for relief from and /or restructuring of our State debt.

 

The Commission concluded with stating that a “Blue Ribbon Commission” be established and led by the Director of Public Works to consider:

  • Alternative water customers
  • Aggressively market new businesses that require high water volume
  • Review the Harford County / Havre de Grace Water agreement
  • Annexation of areas contiguous to our boundaries
  • Evaluate current water and waste water capacity allocations and place time tables on developers
  • Investigate the availability of participating in a Waste Water Capacity Credit Sharing Program
  • Perform a critical review of the current Water / Sewer Fee Structure, including the Debt Service Repayment logic.

Response – Given the breadth and scope of the items to be addressed and the involvement of the Public Works Director in matters directly impacting the department it is recommended that the Director of Administration in concert with the Administration, staff and the Admin. Committee lead the effort to answer the action items set forth above.