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Dr. Loh to Stay as President until June 2020

Here is a statement I got last night about UMD’s decision on Dr. Loh’s term until June 2020. Previously Dr. Loh announced that he would be leaving on June this year.

The message also talks about the search process for a new president. On a related matter, the College Park City Council approved a letter asking the UMD to get the City involved during the search process.

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UMCP President Wallace Loh to Continue through June 2020 
Regent Gary Attman to Chair Presidential Search Committee The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents and Chancellor Robert Caret today announced that Dr. Wallace Loh will continue, by mutual agreement, to lead Maryland’s flagship campus through June 2020. The board and the chancellor also announced plans to launch the process to select Dr. Loh’s successor, naming current regent and UMCP alumnus Gary Attman to chair the presidential search committee.”Selecting the leader of any USM institution is among the Board of Regents’ most important responsibilities,” said USM Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden. “The search for the next leader of Maryland’s flagship, the University of Maryland, College Park, will be critically important to the future of that institution and the entire state. We must take the time necessary to identify and select a bold and talented leader who can continue the upward trajectory of one of the nation’s great public research universities.””Over the last three months, we have been speaking with Dr. Loh and listening to members of the campus community, and to leaders and stakeholders across the state about the upcoming leadership transition,” Chancellor Caret said. “These discussions have informed our thinking about the path forward that will best ensure an orderly transition, continued strong leadership of the university without interruption, and a successful search process.”Loh announced last fall that he plans to retire at the end of the current academic year. Gooden and Caret cited several specific factors that played a role in postponing Loh’s retirement.First, the process to select a new president will likely take up to a year to complete, raising the likelihood that an interim president would need to be appointed if Loh retired this year.Second, the university is well underway with several major initiatives in which a permanent president’s leadership will be paramount. Loh will continue to lead strategic initiatives in education, research, and innovation. Some of these initiatives are on the College Park campus and some are in partnership with the University of Maryland Baltimore, the Universities at Shady Grove, the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, and universities abroad. These include:Continuing the implementation of athletics reforms recommended by the two independent investigations related to football;Ramping up the Administrative Modernization Program to achieve significant cost savings and greater efficiency across the campus through updated infrastructure and business systems;Continuing the development of the quantum computing initiative;With UMCP as the managing campus, assuming leadership of USM’s third regional higher education center in Southern Maryland and building the Universities at Shady Grove to better serve the growing needs of the state and region;Continuing the revitalization of the “Greater College Park” area, with a number of new development residential, retail, municipal and innovative corporate projects, currently under negotiation, expected come to fruition by 2020.Continuing the record-breaking progress of the university’s $1.5 billion capital campaign, Fearless Ideas.”The University of Maryland, College Park has flourished under Dr. Loh’s leadership for more than eight years, rising in national rankings, growing enrollment and diversity, and expanding its research enterprise,” Gooden said. “He is currently leading several initiatives critical to the university’s future, including implementing reforms to the athletics program, hiring key leaders, and continuing the capital campaign.””To ensure these efforts continue to progress for the benefit of current and future students and faculty, the board and Dr. Loh have agreed that it is in the university’s best interests for him to continue leading the University of Maryland, College Park while the search for the new president proceeds,” Gooden said.”For eight years, I have been honored to serve the state’s flagship institution as the accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni have propelled Maryland to new heights,” said Loh. “The board discussed with me having a smooth transition of leadership, and we mutually agreed upon a retirement date of June 2020. With all of Maryland’s supporters, I look forward to what we will accomplish together.”Regents Launch National Presidential SearchPresident and CEO of FutureCare Health and Management Corporation, which he co-founded in 1985, Regent Gary Attman holds a J.D. degree (with honors) from the University of Maryland School of Law, where he published in and served as editor of the Maryland Law Review. He also earned a B.S. degree in Accounting (magna cum laude) from the University of Maryland, College Park.He is a member of the Maryland Bar, a certified public accountant, and is a licensed real estate broker. Attman also serves on the boards of the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Associated Jewish Charities.In the coming months, USM will retain an executive search firm and name other members of the search committee, which will include representatives from the UMCP faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The committee will host a series of forums to receive input from the UMCP community. The committee’s work will conclude with its recommendation of finalists for consideration by the chancellor and the Board of Regents. The board will make the final selection. It is expected that the search process will take up to a year to complete

7th Annual Book Festival

City Honors Public Works Staff for Dedicated Service

The annual City’s Spencer Harris Awards recognizes the hard work, dedication and exemplary service of our Department of Public Works employees and safe driving by City staff.

This year, Spencer Harris Award went to Public Works staff Rodney H! Congratulations!

Thank you and congratulations to all winners and nominees!

My FY20 Budget Requests

Recently I submitted a list of requests in the FY 20 budget. Some of this requests came from the NCPCA that I also support. The NCPCA will likely send a separate list later.

Request 1: Funding for Community Space in North College Park to support expanded all ages programming. I am requesting $50,000.00 based on a 2018 survey of rental space costs in the Hollywood Commercial District;  however,  review by staff of costs for rental space may result in a revised funding amount.  Background: In the FY20, M-NCPPC budget, the City Council has requested “$100,000 of annual funding for seniors and all age groups.” These funds will be in addition to the $50,000 that former County Councilwoman Mary Lehman secured in the current FY19 M-NCPPC budget. Current County Councilman Tom Dernoga, representing north College Park, is committed to securing the additional funding of $100,000 in the FY20 M-NCPPC budget.  With the funds from M-NCPPC the City will be able to expand the number and types of programs available to city residents. Currently all activities for seniors are held at the United Methodist Church in north College Park. Unfortunately, this location may not be available able to support additional programming due to other uses at United Methodist therefore it is prudent to secure another location in north College Park so that city residents can take full advantage of the programming that will be available through funding from M-NCPPC.

Request 2: Funding for solar-powered illuminated speed signs that flash when drivers approach, as are now installed on many streets on some of our neighboring jurisdictions (such as on Montgomery Road in Laurel). One sign can be installed on a pilot basis, on the eastbound Edgewood Rd after 47th Place near the Hollywood Elementary School.

Request 3: Funding for 15 additional Doggie Depot poop stations.

Request 4: Security cameras and expand the area of concurrent jurisdiction of U.M. Police on north and west sides of College Park.

Request 5: Funding for a consultant to review City procurement processes and purchases, and to optimize departmental duties and procedures of City government.

Request 6: Funding for a pilot study of a neighborhood food composting facility in College Park.

Request 7: Street signs that alert solicitors of the requirement to obtain a City permit, as are now installed in Berwyn Heights.

Request 8: Funding and obtain grants to develop a pilot coupon program for use of seniors and low income residents when making food purchases at City’s Farmers Markets.

Request 9: Groundwater study in North College Park to identify problems of surface flooding, ponding, mosquitoes and mud, and to fund necessary improvements, or to make improvement requests to the County.

Request 10: Comprehensive study of existing infrastructure and all development that is underway or planned in College Park.

Request 11: Funding for a resident-oriented City emergency evacuation plan.

Request 12: Funding to explore improvement of transportation options in College Park that do not require the use of US 1, and to explore methods such as parking, road construction, bike lanes, sidewalks, development requirements, etc. to reduce traffic on US 1.

Request 13: Funding for consolidated in-house or consultant-provided architectural and engineering services as a way to reduce costs, reduce the time required for studies, and to improve the delivery of City projects.

Free Forster Orientation Class

County’s Foster Program is always looking for volunteers! This program helps give animals a second chance at finding their fur-ever home. Our next class is tomorrow, Saturday, January 26th at 9:30 am. For more information on the foster program, and to RSVP, call 301-780-7202.

Animal Services Facility 3750 Brown Station Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

Information on all of our animal services can be found at: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/204/Animal-Services

Workshop: Importance of Having a Will

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Saturday, February 9

12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Old Parish House

4711 Knox Road
Ms. Cereta A. Lee, the Register of Wills for Prince George’s County, with the City of College Park, presents a workshop on the Importance of Having a Will.
For more information, contact the City’s Clerk’s Office at 240-487-3501. RSVP is not required.

op: Importance of Having a WillSaturday, February 912:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.Old Parish House4711 Knox Road
Ms. Cereta A. Lee, the Register of Wills for Prince George’s County, with the City of College Park, presents a workshop on the Importance of Having a Will.
For more information, contact the City’s Clerk’s Office at 240-487-3501. RSVP is not required.

Furlough Potluck

The Community Dinner at College Park United Methodist Church is hosting a Furlough Potluck next Wednesday evening, Jan. 30 at 6:00 PM.

The address is 9601 Rhode Island Avenue, College Park, MD 20740.

The Wednesday evening community dinner crowd will provide the food.

The group invites those affected by the Government Shutdown to come enjoy the food and fellowship.

For more information, please call (301) 345-1010.

Auditors Present FY18 Annual Financial Report

The City’s auditors (Lindsey + Associates, ) just finished our annual CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), a review of our financial practices to ensure that there is minimal risk of fraud or material misstatement.

The auditor found that the City’s financial statements fairly present the financial position of the governmental activities of the City and its major funds, and that there were no material weaknesses in the City’s financial report .

The Report includes a lot of interesting information about the City’s financial health. The assets of the City exceeded its liabilities as of June 30, 2018 by $31.6 million (net position). Of this amount, $2.17 million is unrestricted and may be used to meet the City’s future obligations.

All of the $2.17 million unrestricted net position is related to governmental activities. In comparison with the prior fiscal year, the City’s total net position, all of which are related to governmental activities, increased $4.4 million from $27.2 million in FY 2017 to $31.6 million for FY 2018, as noted above. During FY 2018, the City’s long-term debt (excluding net pension liability and compensated absences) decreased by $774,000 as a result of paying down the principal of the Suntrust Master Lease and Parking Garage bonds. Total governmental funds’ fund balance increased from $19.7 million as of June 30, 2017 to $20.8 million as of June 30, 2018.

At the end of FY 2018 a planned transfer of $4.9 million of unassigned General Fund fund balance, over and above the Council adopted a goal of 25%, was made to the City’s Capital Projects Fund for future capital needs.

This transfer was in addition to the budgeted operating transfer of $3.1 million. Even with this transfer, the unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $5.44 million, as of June 30, 2018, representing 33.6% of total General Fund expenditures for FY 2018. (In FY 17, the unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $9.35 million, as of June 30, 2017 represented 62.9% of total General Fund expenditures for FY 2017.)

College Park Woods Swimming Club property Update

At last night’s meeting, the City Council discussed the next steps concerning College Park Woods Swimming Club property.

The City purchased the property on July 27, 2018 for $256,100 with Program Open Space funds.

The Council decided the following

(a) Decommissioning the pool: Drain pools, cap supply line, provide drains, infill pools and remove all related equipment at a cost of approximately $70,000. The other option was to remove concrete pools, related concrete aprons and all related equipment at cost of approximately $195,000.

(b) Renovating current facility or construct new facility :
Construct a new facility at a cost of approximately $490,000. The other option was to renovate the current facility at a cost of approximately $410,000. (2)

(c) Location of the new facility include: The Council decided to construct the new facility at the current location. The other option was to construct the new facility at the top of the hill adjacent to Marlbrough Way.

Recognizing College Park’s Best Businesses

A few months back, I asked staff looking into the possibility of establishing a business recognition award that would be awarded to an outstanding College Park business on an annual basis.

The purpose of the program would be to highlight how the awarded business has positively impacted the College Park community (and thus serves as an example for other College Park businesses) and provide the awardee with a public relations opportunity to promote their business.

Business appreciation programs are widespread nationally and are administered by a variety of organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, non-profit groups, newspapers and cities of all sizes. While these programs are issue or attribute-based, many city’s programs are broad and simply honor businesses that they believe have positively contributed to their community in a meaningful way.

Staff is recommending that, at least at the onset, the College Park Business of the Year Award be broadly applicable in order to grow community and business buy-in and minimize staff time and resources. The program could grow in specificity and scope once credibility and reliability has been established.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will discuss the nomination process, eligibility, selection process and the award presentation.

Public Forum: Extending Council Term from 2 to 4 Years

The City of College Park has established a Charter Review Commission (CRC) to hear from our residents on the benefits and concerns associated with changing the length of the term for elected officials from two to four years, and on the benefits and concerns related to staggering those terms or having them run concurrently. The Commission’s first Public Forum will be held on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 4500 Knox Road. If you prefer to submit your comments in writing, please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/CRCcomment For more information, please contact the Office of the City Clerk at 240-487-3501

Weekly Highlights of Contract Police Activity January 4 – 10, 2018

1/4 Contract officer conducted a traffic assignment (Speed Enforcement) in the 9000 block of Baltimore Avenue. (61 citations were issued as the officer was operating the portable “Mobile Camera.”)
1/4 Contract officers responded to a call for service for a report of a Breaking and Entering Report in the 4700 block of Pontiac Street. Residence check and no crime committed.
1/4 Contract officer on routine patrol observed an occupied suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn located at 9137 Baltimore Avenue. Field interview conducted after the officer smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Field Observation Report completed.1/6 Contract officers responded to the area of Baltimore Avenue and Cherry Hill Road for the report of the sound of gunshots. Area check with negative results.1/7 Contract officer conducted a traffic assignment (Speed Enforcement) in the 9000 block of Baltimore Avenue. (94 citations were issued as the officer was operating the portable “Mobile Camera.”)1/7 Contract officer observed a vehicle displaying stolen tags in the 8100 block of Baltimore Avenue. The suspect was taken into custody for theft.1/9 Contract officer conducted a traffic stop in the 7500 block of Yale Avenue. The driver was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant.1/10 Contract officer responded to a report of an assault in the 9100 block of Baltimore Avenue. The suspect was taken into custody for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and failure to obey a lawful order

Weekly Highlights of Contract Police ActivityJanuary 4 – 10, 2018

1/4 Contract officer conducted a traffic assignment (Speed Enforcement) in the 9000 block of Baltimore Avenue. (61 citations were issued as the officer was operating the portable “Mobile Camera.”)
1/4 Contract officers responded to a call for service for a report of a Breaking and Entering Report in the 4700 block of Pontiac Street. Residence check and no crime committed.
1/4 Contract officer on routine patrol observed an occupied suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn located at 9137 Baltimore Avenue. Field interview conducted after the officer smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Field Observation Report completed.1/6 Contract officers responded to the area of Baltimore Avenue and Cherry Hill Road for the report of the sound of gunshots. Area check with negative results.1/7 Contract officer conducted a traffic assignment (Speed Enforcement) in the 9000 block of Baltimore Avenue. (94 citations were issued as the officer was operating the portable “Mobile Camera.”)1/7 Contract officer observed a vehicle displaying stolen tags in the 8100 block of Baltimore Avenue. The suspect was taken into custody for theft.1/9 Contract officer conducted a traffic stop in the 7500 block of Yale Avenue. The driver was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant.1/10 Contract officer responded to a report of an assault in the 9100 block of Baltimore Avenue. The suspect was taken into custody for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and failure to obey a lawful order

Got a new Property Assessment? Here is How to Appeal

I have been told that a number of our residents got assessments for their properties.

In case you don’t agree with assessment, you may want to appeal the assessment.

Finding the on-line appeal form is very tough (the people at the local office also had a hard time finding it).  These links are helpful, and when you click the first link (“Assessment Appeal Process” page), you’ll see a small yellow box in the top right-hand corner of the page.  That’s actually a link to on-line form (the only link on the page). 

The deadline for filing an appeal regarding the recent notice is February 11.

Assessment Appeal Process: https://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Assessment-Appeal-Process.aspx

Direct Link to on-line appeal request: http://assessmentappeals.dat.maryland.gov/start.aspx

Real Property Search: http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx

Free meals for furloughed federal workers

With the continuing federal government shutdown putting undue financial pressure on the families of furloughed employees, Congressman Jamie Raskin and the transit workers union are offering free meals to furloughed federal employees and their families every day this week, from 12-6 pm at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center at 10000 New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring.

Workers only need to bring their federal employee identification card. The Center has free parking and is accessible by bus.

More details are below

[Source: Senator Jim Rosapepe]

Council to Make Some Changes to City Code Re. Administrative Functions and Benefits

At last night’s meeting an ordinance was introduced to make some changes to the Chapter 4, Administrative Organization, and Chapter 62, Personnel and Employee Benefits, of the City Code.

The Changes are as follows:

(a) §4-2, A. 2: Remove reference to the Assistant City Manager and the Police Commissioner. The Assistant City Manager role is addressed elsewhere, and we do not have a Police Commissioner.

(b) §4-2, A. 3: The City Manager would like to have full authority to select the Assistant City Manager without the approval of the Mayor and Council; to eliminate the requirement of giving the Assistant City Manager a contract; and to eliminate the requirement for the Assistant City Manager to live in the City.

(c) §4-3 The Department of Human Resources will be added to the list of departments and job titles to reflect changes that were made under City Manager Finz in 2003.

(d) §62-1 describing the Service Recognition Program for employees is eliminated. This function is described fully in the approved Personnel Regulations and does not need to be duplicated in the Code.

(e) §62.-2 becomes §62.-1 and language has been added to clarify that elected and appointed officials are not entitled to employee benefits other than those required by law, such as workers compensation and the option to participate in the Maryland State Pension Plan.

f) §62-4 becomes §62-3 and the City Manager’s job description has been updated to reflect current duties. In the next section the Assistant City Manager’s job duties are eliminated and will be outlined,

(g) §62-5 becomes §62-4 and in §62-4A language has been added to clarify what changes to personnel and employee benefits must be approved by the Mayor and Council.

(h) §62-6 Conduct of Employees is eliminated because this topic is fully covered in the approved Personnel Regulations.

(i) ARTICLE III Pension Plan is renamed, renumbered and rewritten to reflect what has been done.

(j) ARTICLE IV Local Government Health Benefits Trust is, renumbered and rewritten to reflect changes that have taken place over many years and leaves the only language required for us to have participated in the Health Benefits Trust.

A public hearing will be scheduled for January 29, 2019 at &:30 pm at the Council Chamber.