Friday, April 15, 2011

Town of Chevy Chase Council Meeting

The following is an unofficial summary of the Town Council meeting last Wednesday:

Variance Hearings
The Town Council unanimously approved variances for three properties. The first provides a small variance needed to construct a small addition at 7005 Beechwood Dr. The second allows construction of a more substantial addition at 7009 East Ave. The third permits construction of rear porch at 4011 Thornapple St.

Proposed Changes to Permit and Variance Fees
The Town Council reviewed proposed increases to permit and variance fees that it had discussed at the budget work session and made changes that included reductions in the proposed increases for three fees, including the fee for a variance application, and a rise in the proposed increase of one fee. None of the proposed fees may legally exceed the cost to the Town of administering the Code and many remain substantially below the cost to the Town.

All of the proposed changes will appear in the upcoming addition of the Forecast and residents will have the opportunity to give their input at the budget hearing at the Annual Meeting before the Council considers them again.

Approval of Proposed FY12 Budget and Tax Rates
The Council unanimously approved the budget proposal that will be posted to the Town website and described in the upcoming issue of the Forecast.

The proposed budget maintains the constant yield tax rate which means that the property tax rate is set at a level designed to collect the same amount of revenue as last year. In this case, due to a decline in assessed value of properties in the Town, this will result in an increase in the tax rate from .10 to .105—equivalent to an increase from $100 per $1 million of assessed value to $105 per $1 million of assessed value—though the Town is projected to collect no more money from property taxes than last year.

The expenditures in the proposed operating budget for FY12 are 18.6% lower than in the FY11 Budget and 20.6% lower than in the FY10 Budget, though it is less drastic reduction from FY11 projected actual expenditures because the Council cut expenditures in mid-year by roughly 13.5% in response to a decline in expected revenues.

The one major change in services proposed is a change in yard trash collection from twice weekly to once weekly. Town residents will have a chance to comment on this proposed change and other components of the budget proposal at the Town Annual Meeting. The budget proposal, including the budget narrative which helps to explain each line of the budget, will be posted to the Town website.

Purple Line Mitigation Advisory Group Report
Rich Brancato of MAG reported to the Town Council on three proposals for the crossing at Lynn Drive other than an at-grade crossing. The Committee viewed none of the proposals as acceptable. The Town Council agreed by consensus to adopt MAG’s recommendation to work for a safe at-grade crossing at Lynn Drive, though the Council also discussed the need to obtain public input before making any final recommendation to MTA.

Street Lighting Evaluation
Joel Rubin, Chair of the Public Services Committee, reported on his committee’s recommendations regarding street lighting. The Council asked the Committee to flesh out aspects of the proposal further, especially potential costs, so it can be considered at the May Council meeting before the Town puts out a proposal or options for public comment.