HYATTSVILLE — The Hyattsville City Council assembled with city staff members to hold a meeting that covered the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, an elaborate plan which emphasized a number of initiatives including the construction of public works facilities, public safety improvements and city programming that aids local youth and seniors, on March 27 at the Hyattsville Municipal Building.
In attendance were Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth and councilmembers Edouard Haba (Council President, Ward 4), Kevin Ward (Council Vice President, Ward 1), Bart Lawrence (Ward 1), Robert Croslin (Ward 2), Thomas Wright (Ward 3) and Joseph Solomon (Ward 5). City Administrator Tracey Douglas presented an extensive overview of the budget for fiscal year 2020. The budget’s proposal was originally presented on March 18.
“Tonight, what we’ve done is lifted the highlights out of that document, and we want to present you with a better financial overview of the things that will likely get done this year,” Douglas said, also pledging to work hard with her colleagues to accomplish everything identified in fiscal year 2019.
Treasurer Ron Brooks addressed some recent questions from councilmembers on contract services, reduction in capital outlay, user highway, service charges for ‘summer jams’ and interest estimates.
Douglas began the evening with an organizational overview and a fiscal year 2019 program and budget update, which covered the following: an ongoing $3.5 million department of public works facility renovation, infrastructure investment and other ongoing initiatives (LED lighting upgrades, public parks and public safety improvements/community programming for youth, telephone system upgrade, election program support and citywide WiFi).
She also addressed fiscal year 2020 budget programs and priorities and provided legislative and departmental updates.
The general fund, outlined by Douglas and Brooks, has total revenues of $20.726 million and expenditures of $20.724 million. Special revenue funds ($1.35 million) and capital improvement funds ($8.55 million) bring the total funds to $30.6 million.
According to the presentation, the estimated total revenue for fiscal year 2020 is $20,726,491 with some of the major revenue estimates being real estate ($13,655,051) and income taxes ($2,642,107). The estimated expenditures are $20,723,639; as noted in the illustrated pie chart, police public safety is largest expenditure at $7,549,028, followed by public works ($4,588,278) and general government ($3,885,859).
City Clerk Laura Reams pointed out what she said were some minor increases in the mayor and city council budget for fiscal year 2020 – salary raises and funding increases for professional development and conferences and addressed upcoming health, wellness and recreation committee initiatives.
Also, she mentioned new implementations for the upcoming May 2019 election, along with an election budget.
The Board of Supervisors has selected a new election vendor and will roll out paper balloting, same-day voter registration will be implemented for the first time and Hyattsville will make history as the first city in Maryland to offer pop-up polling locations, Reams said.
“The Board will host pop-up polling on Wednesday, May 1, bringing polls to highly trafficked locations in the city that are not typically used for voting,” she said. “We are very excited about this initiative.”
Human Resources Director Vivian Snellman announced plans to fill some vacancies in the Hyattsville Police Department and discussed the importance of some new various employers of choice programs.
According to Snellman, the Office of Human Resources has also prioritized expanding volunteer hours for employees, expand college internships for students, implementing a health and wellness program (HEAL) and administering a work-study program with Northwestern High School. The human resources department expects a 1.4 percent increase in the budget for fiscal year 2020.
Jim Chandler, the assistant city manager, highlighted the departmental budget and program priorities for the City of Hyattsville Department of Information Technology, elaborating on future operational services, facility and capital projects support, and citywide WIFI assessment plans. The IT budget includes maintaining current staffing levels, funding for contractual obligations, additional IT project-based funding and professional development and training IT manager training; the department’s budget will decrease by 4.7 percent.
Chandler also provided an overview of the highlights and initiatives of the department of community and economic development budget. The programming outlook for the department will “develop a strategy and toolkit that will enable the city to respond” to budgetary requests for funding and affordable housing strategies, Chandler said.
Next, Department of Public Works Director Leslie Riddle conveyed major highlights included in the department’s budget, primarily in the areas of construction projects and programs targeted to foster infrastructural improvements for bikers, pedestrians and parks.
Primarily due to the new full-time administrative assistant position and the movement of the superintendent to an administrative role, the department of public works will have an administration budget increase of 39.2 percent, Riddle said.
Jake Rollow, director of the Department of Community Services, presented highlights of the department for fiscal year 2019, underlining a combined 17.1 percent drop in the communications and park operations budgets and a combined 12.1 percent upswing in the cable television and volunteer services budgets, in addition to a 55.2 percent increase in the senior services budget.
The final presenter of the evening was Hyattsville Police Chief Amal Amad, who gave a run-through of the police department’s budget, targeted safety initiatives and priorities.
In accordance with its proposed fiscal year 2020 organizational chart, the police department is asking for the addition of a full-time civilian position to its staff, Amad said.
After Douglas gave a rundown of the capital improvement budget and budget offsets, Councilman Wright acknowledged Douglas and the departmental leaders who delivered fiscal year 2020 budget presentations.
“What an outstanding presentation. It was amazing,” Wright said.
“It was well thought out, and it was very organized, it was actually easy to go through. Everything was straightforward. It just really was an excellent piece of work, so thanks to everyone who took the time to do that. It was an amazing job.”
Following a brief dialogue between Mayor Hollingsworth, Councilman Solomon, Douglas and Brooks surrounding customer service, the acquisition of new auditors and renovation costs for the Hyattsville city building, the meeting adjourned.