Mayor Don Briggs
As always, May brings a lot with it, both in the expected and the unexpected. None more touching, as expected, than the many graduations: pre-K to kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. The passage of time, a child one day, a youth another, then on to an adult and out to the world that awaits. With each step comes the unexpected sinking feeling that they all happen so quickly. This year, we will see our fourth grandchild off to college.
On May 1, youwill find me participating as a forum panel member at Hood’s (College) Green Neighborhood Festival. On May 7-8, to the same subject, I will be attending a second two-day State of Maryland-sponsored program on climate change. This program was supposed to have been held in February, but there was the homage that had to be paid to the weather. Here is a catchy phrase for you: “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.” The program consists of three, two-day sets. The third set will be held in June on a very interesting topical subject presented by the Association of Climate Change Officers. Our town concentration has been on reducing waste and lowering costs, one of mitigation and re-adaption. We have done so primarily through shifting over 94 percent of town account energy needs to renewable energy. On May 6, at the town’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting, the town council will deliberate on the Mayor’s 2020 budget.
May 21 is the wrap-up session at St. John’s College Annapolis — Santa Fe Classics program. This year’s topic was: “Tyranny and Democracy.” The readings were from Plato, Chaucer, Hamilton, Shakespeare, Shelley, Kafka, DeTocqueville, and Ursula LeGuin. It’s my fifth year attending. From Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville’s observations of the new American form of democracy in the 1830s, I was captured by one sentence in particular: “There exists a love of native country that has its source principally in the unreflective, disinterested, and indefinable sentiment that binds the heart of man to the place where man is born” (My translation).
In April, I attended the spring Mount Athletic Advisory Committee wrap-up meeting for the school year, where members reviewed data on the student athlete academic performance. Competition and winning are important for a Division I School. The Mount has to be commended on its commitment to academics. It’s a delicate emphasis that many institutions lose. Well done.
The town celebrated Arbor Day in Community Park, on Saturday, April 13. Eight—not just any type, but native-adaptive—trees were planted along Willow Rill, where it crosses in front of the elementary school. Thank you to the town staff, Lion’s Club, the EBPA, and other individual volunteers.
The town was honored by the visit of a dozen University of Maryland grad students, who toured the town’s innovative water systems.
Once but a “unicorn,” our historic area 50-50 grant program genesis 2013, now has grown into over $880,000 of façade improvements in our downtown. Every year, we apply for grant money and our allotment seems to always be $50,000. Please contact our planning department if you have an interest.
Looking forward in the not too distant future for another spectacular Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29; a full slate of summer concerts; and, on August 6, National Night Out, sponsored by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department. From the official narrative, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement, while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.” The K-9 team, the SWAT team, and vehicles. Please plan to join us.
The town was recently awarded two grants. One, a $5,000 “Keep Maryland Beautiful” grant to be used for nine recycling bins for our parks, and another for $3,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to be applied to a storm water management project. Thank you to our planner, Zach Gulden.
I hope all had a wonderful Easter.
Mayor John Kinnaird
The Town of Thurmont recently appointed Harold Lawson to the position of Director of Public Works. Harold has been with the Town of Thurmont for 29 years and has served as Superintendent of the Water Department for the last 6 years. Harold is well acquainted with our infrastructure and will serve our residents well in this new position. I congratulate Harold on his appointment and look forward to working with him.
The months of April and May are always busy for our staff and the Board of Commissioners (BOC) as we craft the Town budget for the upcoming year. Our department heads have already submitted their preliminary budgets, and the BOC is in the process of reviewing the budget for each department. There are actually four budgets to be reviewed: the general fund budget covers streets, parks, police, Economic Development, Planning and Zoning, and office staff. The revenue for the General Fund Budget is received through property taxes, permit fees, tax equity refunds from Frederick County, and other user fees. The other three budgets being reviewed are for the Water, Electric and Wastewater Departments. These departments function as Enterprise Funds and are self-sustained by the fees paid for the services each provides our residents. Currently, the BOC has completed a first review of each budget and has recommended several changes in each. The next step will be the official introduction of the budget, at which time addition recommendations can be made by the BOC and public comment will be received during a public hearing on the final budget. Currently, the budgets all show a positive balance of revenue over expenditures. As of today, April 24, 2019, we have based the General Fund budget on the Constant Yield Tax Rate. This rate is calculated to generate the same amount of Property Tax revenue we received during the current (2018-2019) budget year. If we hold to the Constant Yield Tax Rate, our residents will actually pay a slightly lower Property Tax Rate this coming year. The Tax Rate for the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year was 30.41 cents per hundred dollars of assessed property value. If the BOC decides to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate, the Property Tax Rate for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year will drop to 29.92 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. This change is due in part to increased property values and the construction of several new residences. Generally speaking, we try to use the Constant Yield Tax Rate as often as we can, but increases in costs for materials and labor will sometimes require an increase in the tax rate, as we experienced last year. I invite you to watch or attend the upcoming budget discussions and public hearing; you will be surprised by the amount of effort that is put into the Thurmont Budget process.
This summer, we will be hosting two Summer Concert in the Park events. The first will be on June 9 and will feature the Spires Brass Band; the second will be on August 25 with our own Gateway Brass Ensemble. The concerts are held at Memorial Park and begin at 6:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and join us for this great small-town tradition!
As always, I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or by email at email@example.com. I hope everyone has a great spring!