For those who don’t read far into these messages, I’ll lead with a request that residents, in the area near the planned Busboys & Poets, meet with me Tuesday, May 14, at 6 pm in my office, following my next Ward 1 drop-in office time, Tuesday 5-6 pm. There is a pressing matter to discuss, the opportunity to weigh in on the restaurant’s operating hours.
A Busboys & Poets location is planned for Carroll Street NW between Maple and Cedar. B&P’s license application would allow operations until 2 am Sunday-Thursday and 3 am Fridays and Saturdays. None of the 4 current stores operate that late. They close at 11 pm or midnight Sunday-Thursday and at midnight, 1 am, or 2 am Fridays and Saturdays. I have a hard time imagining that many of the residential neighbors would be pleased by a late Takoma closing time. Let’s talk about closing times and strategies to get what we want.
My office is at 7006 Carroll Avenue #202. The entrance is between Mark’s Kitchen and the Middle East Cuisine. Just drop by, the 2nd Tuesday of each month 5-6 pm and the 4th Wednesday 8-9 am.
Next, on to the Monday evening, May 13 city-council meeting. Let me call out two items on the agenda:
- Fiscal year 2014 tax rates & a first vote on the city budget
- Voting initiatives including extending the vote to 16 & 17 year olds.
FY14 Tax Rates
The council is applying last spring’s unanticipated $693,220 in tax-duplication revenue from Montgomery County to decrease the fiscal year 2014 tax rate to 2 cents per $100 assessed value below the “constant yield” rate of $0.6016, and we controlled tax-funded spending growth so that we are able to decrease the rate further, to $0.57, one cent below last year’s. (The “constant yield” rate is the tax rate that would generates the same revenue this year as last. Property tax assessments went down so the CYR went up. I had wanted to give back the extra county tax-duplication revenue last year, but only Councilmember Terry Seamens supported this step.)
You will see your city property tax bill go down in FY14. The tax rate ordinance is online.
The May 13 council meeting will include a second-reading vote to amend the Takoma Park City Charter to:
- Create Same Day Registration, allowing residents to vote in city elections even if they register only on election day or the period immediately before it.
- Extend the vote in city elections to on-parole and on-probation felons.
- Extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.
- Create early voting for city elections.
The council will then consider a Right to Vote Resolution, “Affirming the Right to Vote, Establishing a Task Force on Voting, and Supporting a Constitutional Amendment to Grant an Individual Right to Vote.”
The council has heard from a number of residents who oppose extending the vote to teens, but opponents are in the minority. Myself, I see very little down-side, very little risk of harm in allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in city elections. I see potentially significant benefits. Studies show that those who first vote at a younger age, vote at a higher rate when they are older. The teens we’ll be registering will be registered to vote in subsequent federal, state, and county elections, if they are 18 by the next general-election day.
I’ll note two additional points. 1) We have a large disparity in Ward 1-2-3 voter registrations compared to Wards 4-5-6, a ratio of 8 voters registered in the single-family-home dominated wards compared to the rental-building-heavy wards. But just about every 16 year old and most 17 year olds, in every ward, are in high school. Via outreach through a few schools such as Montgomery Blair High School, we can hope for an even ratio of new registrations. And 2) by involving 16s & 17s, we will through them reach their families. I hope — I expect — that 16s & 17s who vote will push older family members to vote as well.
That’s it for now, but as always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns, 301-873-8225.
Stay tuned for another update very soon.