Delivering a more open, accountable and financially responsible City government
One of the policies I took to the election was to ensure ‘a more open, accountable and financially responsible City government’. Over the past 15 months, we’ve made enormous progress delivering on that commitment.
Righting the ship: our strongest financial position in a decade
Did you know that last December Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the City’s Aa2 general obligation bond rating with a positive outlook? This is a testament to the many steps we’ve taken to overhaul City finances, eliminate inefficiency and waste, and take Annapolis to its strongest financial position in more than a decade. This year, for the first time in over ten years, we have fully funded mandatory pensions and we are no longer borrowing money for road maintenance.
Steps we've taken include:
- Revamping the operating budget process and the Capital budget process.
- Ending the practice of drawing on ‘revolving funds' – a secondary set of books where departments could get funding after appropriations ran out. Now, all monies expended in the City are budgeted and all departments are accountable for not overspending.
- Identifying and eliminating numerous inefficiencies to improve our bottom line.
- Requiring the Director of Finance to certify the availability of funds and sufficient appropriations for any contract prior to spending the money.
- Implementing new budget management and reporting tools to reduce error and show our real world financial position for the first time in many years.
These impressive results are testament to the exceptional fiscal management of our new City Manager Teresa Sutherland, Finance Director Jodee Dickinson, and to their team’s exhaustive efforts to right the financial ship of the City. Having the right people in these vital roles has helped the Council make sound financial decisions, eliminate the City’s structural deficit, and meet the demands for excellent service our residents deserve and pay for.
The right people in the right roles
Hiring the right people for the right role is a lesson I learned in building my businesses. It’s a lesson I will continue to apply to City management, including to the process of appointing our next police chief – another vital leadership position I’m determined to get right.
I outlined some of my reasons for dismissing Police Chief Baker in a recent opinion piece published in the Capital Gazette. In light of some ongoing public commentary, I want to reiterate clearly: this was a considered, thoughtful decision and any suggestion that appropriate protocols were not followed is simply incorrect.
Delivering on vision and values
One of the promises I took to the election was to “implement community policing and ensure mutual respect underpins essential community services that guarantee safe, secure neighborhoods.” This is a commitment I take very seriously because it goes to the heart of my vision and the values that underpin it.
Over the past 15 months, in considering the role of the Police Chief, I’ve had a wide range of information and data to draw on, including feedback from many groups and individuals – rank and file officers, other law enforcement agencies and members of the City Council.
While I remain confident in the work of our police force on the ground and the many great results they’ve achieved, over time I’ve grown less confident in the leadership being shown and increasingly concerned about problems with potential to impact some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They are the ones with most to lose if we don’t get this right. As Mayor, I can't ignore these ongoing problems simply because some aspects of our policing are going well. I wouldn't be delivering on the vision and values I took to the election if I did.
A new process to choose our next Police Chief
To ensure we get the whole picture right and deliver on the vision for One Annapolis, we are implementing a new process for selecting the next Police Chief over the next 60 to 90 days. To start, we have put together an exceptionally strong and diverse selection panel:
- Elizabeth Alex – a Senior Director of Community Organizing at CASA (Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia)
- Charlton "Chuck" Howard – Eastport resident, Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Office of Special Counsel for the Child Support Administration
- Lisa Myers – Chief of the Howard County Police Department
- Lon Powell – Parole resident, community leader and a Senior Staff member, Department of the Navy support agency
- Kevin J. Simmons – Deputy Fire Chief and the City’s Director of the Office of Emergency Management. Teresa O. Sutherland – City Manager
- Rev. Stephen Tillett – senior pastor of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church and a past president of the Anne Arundel County Branch NAACP.
My press release announcing the new process has more details on the qualifications and experience of each member of our selection panel.
City policing listening sessions – please get involved!
With our panel in place, we now want your feedback. Over the next three weeks we will hold four community ‘listening sessions’ across the City. These will give all residents the opportunity to share priorities for building safe, secure neighborhoods and identify the qualifications we want in our next Police Chief. The selection panel will use this feedback to write selection criteria for the Police Chief position, so please get involved.
The first session will be held at 7pm, Monday March 25, at American Legion Cook-Pinkney Post, 1707 Forrest Drive. The remaining three sessions will be held in the week commencing Monday, 1 April. Please go to the City website for more details on timing and location of each session. We need to hear all voices so we can get this right for our whole community.
In brief: other things to know about and get involved with
Solidarity with the People of Christchurch
Last Friday I released a statement expressing support for the people of Christchurch following the tragic shootings which took the lives of 50 people as they peacefully prayed in their mosques. Annapolis understands first hand the devastating impact mass shootings have on the families of victims, survivors and the community as a whole. This tragedy has broken our hearts all over again and has made me more committed than ever to tackling the issue of gun violence and doing all I can to end these senseless acts.
Have you read the Urban Land Institute's Report on City Dock?
The report, titled Reclaiming a Local and National Treasure, is the result of collaboration by key stakeholders, including Historic Annapolis. It provides a blueprint for how we reimagine our most valuable real estate, protect it from flooding, and ensure it remains a thriving, accessible centerpiece for our City. Action Committees, to plan implementation, are now in place. Follow updates on the City website to stay informed and involved.
Study on the economic impact of rising sea levels
A new study, titled Rising Seas can Hurt Local Economies, was recently published by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment. The study looks at the impact of sea level rise and nuisance flooding on the City of Annapolis and on local businesses. Findings will help inform City planning on this critical issue.
Keeping in touch
In my last update I promised to stay in touch more regularly, including via more regular updates and this new website: gavin4annapolis.com
The website will be a hub where you can find latest news and keep in touch. Let me know what you think and tell me what you'd like to hear more about, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org