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Police Community Meeting – This Thursday, May 2 @ 7 pm, @ MoM’s

Despite Reduced College Park’s Tax Rate, Your Tax Bill May Still Go Up. Homestead Tax Credit Will Help

In case you haven’t applied for the Homestead tax credit application, please do so before the May 1st deadline. This is required if you want to start getting the credit beginning the 2019-2020 tax year. You’ll only need to apply once.

The Homestead Tax Credit law limits the amount of assessment increase on which eligible resident homeowners actually pay county, municipal, and State property taxes each year. This credit can significantly lower your real estate taxes regardless of your property’s value or your income level. If the property is used as your principal residence, you are strongly encouraged
to complete this application.

Residents can only apply for their one principal residence. The application needs to be made only once. The Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility Application is needed to ensure that homeowners receive the Homestead credit only on their principal residence. You can find more about the Tax credit program here.

In order to submit a Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility Application through the SDAT site, you must have been issued from this Department an application containing your Real Property Account Number and an Access Number. You will be required to enter the account and access numbers as part of the submission process.

You can find out if you have already filed an application by looking up your property in the SDAT Real Property database

Based on the tax rates we have for different jurisdictions, I’ve tried to calculate how your tax bill (on your $300,000 home) may look like in the next 2019/2020 tax year, with and without homestead tax credit. Please see the explanation on changes in the right column called “note”. I’ve used this worksheet  for the calculation.

2018/2019 Tax Bill (No Homestead Tax Credit)
JurisdictionTax RateAmounts
P.G. County0.925$2775.00
City of College Park0.335$1005.00
Park and Planning0.294$882.00
State of Maryland0.112$336.00
Stormwater/Flood Control0.054$162.00
P.G.- Supplemental Education0.040$120.00
Transit Commission0.026$78.00
Solid Waste Service Charge$34.42
Clean Water Act Fee$41.48
Total     $5392.42

 

2019/2020 Tax Bill (Without Homestead Tax Credit)
(property value = $360,000, due to increased assessment)
JurisdictionTax RateAmountsNote
P.G. County0.925$3330.00County is proposing not to change its tax rate next year
City of College Park0.325$1170.00College Park’s tax rate will go down by 1 cent next year
Park and Planning0.294$1058.40
State of Maryland0.112$403.20
Stormwater/Flood Control0.054$194.40
P.G.- Supplemental Education0.040$144.00
Transit Commission0.026$93.60
Solid Waste Service Charge$34.42
Clean Water Act Fee$41.48
Total   $6,469.50

 

2019/2020 Tax Bill (With Homestead Tax Credit)
(property value = $360,000, due to increased assessment)
JurisdictionTax RateAmountsNote
P.G. County0.925$2830.50County’s cap on property assessment is 2%. This means, with the homestead tax credit,
you’ll be paying tax on only 2% of the increased assessment, not on 20% increased value
($360,000 over $300,000)
City of College Park0.325$975.00College Park’s cap on property assessment is 0%. This means, with the homestead tax credit,
you’ll still be paying tax on last year’s assessed property value ($300,000),
plus at the reduced tax rate.  Your College Park portion of your tax bill go down from $1005 to $975
Park and Planning0.294$1058.40
State of Maryland0.112$403.20
Stormwater/Flood Control0.054$194.40
P.G.- Supplemental Education0.040$144.00
Transit Commission0.026$93.60
Solid Waste Service Charge$34.42
Clean Water Act Fee$41.48
Total   $5,775.50

[Photo credit: Depositphotos]

Remembering Jim Kowmas

Jim Kowmas, dedicated City of College Park Youth, Family and Senior Services and the Lakeland STARs bus driver, passed away in his sleep early morning Sunday, April 14, 2019.

Jim was 70 years old.

During his five-year tenure with the City, Jim was always dependable and dedicated to doing everything he could for our City seniors.

Jim leaves behind 5 daughters and 13 grandchildren. The family is grateful that they had all gathered the day before Jim’s passing to celebrate their long-awaited family reunion, where they all had a wonderful time.

His family is hoping to have an event celebrating Jim’s life this summer; the date is yet to be decided.

The City sends our deepest condolences to his family. Jim will be greatly missed.
[City of College Park]

City Celebrates Arbor Day 2019

The City of College Park celebrated Arbor Day last week at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Old Town. With the help of residents and the College Park Nursery School, the City planted an American Linden tree and performed poems and a song to celebrate the occasion. The City also received its 2018 Tree City USA Award for the 30th consecutive year.
Thank you to all who attended and celebrated all things trees with us! Check out the video we made of the event, by clicking here.
[Source: City of College Park]

Discounted Compost and Mulch Madness!

Discounted Compost in College Park
Between now and the end of April, College Park residents can pick up compost at Davis Hall from Monday through Friday between 7:30 and 11:45 am or between 1 and 3 pm at a 25% discount rate of $21 per cubic yard!

Mulch Madness!
Saturday, April 27, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Prince George’s County Organics Composting Facility, 6550 SE Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro
The highly anticipated Mulch Madness event is back and celebrating twenty years on April 27th! Mulch Madness is a FREE event open to County residents only. Learn to reduce water usage, prevent soil erosion, and reduce the use of herbicides.

This Saturday: Maryland Day, Yard Sale, and School BBQ

This Saturday, celebrate Maryland Day, a day of learning, fun and discovery. You’re invited to bring the whole family and enjoy hundreds of fun-filled activities, demonstrations, exhibits, performances and other events demonstrating the impact and value of our world-class university.

Maryland Day 2019, Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free admission and parking. https://marylandday.umd.edu/

Al-Huda School Community BBQ
Also, this Saturday, from 2pm – 4pm join the Al-Huda school community at their school. The school community will be excited to have you come chat and chill and have some good tasty Burgers, BBQ Chicken, Hotdogs, and some good snacks! meet and greet others!

When: 2 pm – 4 pm

Where: Al Huda School, 5301 Edgewood RD

 

College Park United Methodist Yard Sale: 
Before you head over to Maryland Day or when you’ve gotten tuckered out from yard work, swing by College Park United Methodist to get some good finds. This will be a sale like no other! Don’t miss clothes, furniture, crafting items, books, and more!

When: 9 am – 1 pm

Where: College Park United Methodist Church

 

 

 

Council Decides to Borrow up to $14 million, Clearing Potential Spending of $21 million or More on New City Hall

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council voted 7-1 to borrow up to $14 million to build the new City Hall.

The decision will now allow the City Hall project team to finish designing the new City Hall with the latest schematic design. Once completed, the new City Hall can potentially cost taxpayers $21 million or more.

In addition to (up to) 14 million dollars the City may borrow, the City will spend at least $5.5 million from its general budget fund. It will also be spending $1.4 million from the State and other grants. If the project needs more funding, it may spend from City’s general fund and other potential sources.

The City has also spent $1.6 million to buy two properties on Route 1 as part of the project. As part of the negotiation with the UMD, the City expects to recoup this acquisition cost. Additional credit may come from the value of the shared use of the land where the current City Hall stands.

If the City borrows $14 million for 30 years, it will be paying $758,000 per year as debt services cost (capital + interest) to pay off the loan.

The borrowing of a potential 14 million dollars will put City’s debt to expenditure ratio at 8.2. The City expects to borrow additional funds soon to support an estimated $4 million Duvall Field project. It is recommended to keep the debt to expenditure ratio at 10.

Several residents spoke (at the meeting) and sent their comments to the Mayor and Council before the vote. Almost all of them expressed their concerns about the high cost. Please see some of the email comments below. I much appreciate everyone’s input.

Out of my concerns about the high cost of the project and its potential negative effect on other potential resident-centric projects, I cast the lone vote against the proposal. I still hope the Council will spend cautiously as the City Hall project moves forward.

It is irresponsible to accept the unlimited costs of the new city hall.None of you would accept construction work with a contract that made you responsible for an unlimited increase in construction costs. You have done just that to the residents of our city.

Direct the city attorney to limit the expenditures of the city…or better yet, get out of this contract.

P.K.

I am writing you today regarding the possible new construction of a city hall for College Park. I am planning on coming to the meeting this Tuesday night since this is such an important topic. But just in case I can’t make it, I would like you and the Council to know my opinion of this project. The Town of College Park was an old quaint area that many enjoyed to eat, explore, and gather with friends. I agree that improvements eventually were needed but on a scale that fit the area. The large high rise buildings up and down Route 1 don’t fit into the.areas they occupy, .plus the development has stripped the overall college feel of the town. Why 8 to 10 story buildings were ever approved mystifies me. The town no longer has a branded look to it but a hap-hazard mismatched high rise building here and there along with single story buildings. Meanwhile nothing has been done to relieve the infrastructure on Route 1. To me there seems to be NO planning or cohesiveness that has gone into the total creation of building a college town.

Therefore, I am appealing to the Mayor and Council to halt the construction of another building that does not fit into the overall college feel and look of the Town of College Park. An urban designer needs to layout a unified approach to the entire College Park Route 1 area to make a more unified cohesive approach to development. This plan also need to include some type of relief for the congestion on Route 1. My family avoids driving on Route 1 in either direction and going into College Park altogether now. If your plan was to develop the area specifically for the University students you have succeeded with that plan.

Please save the exorbitant amount of money that building the town hall will cost and hold it until a plan can be created to unify the Route 1 area from the University to 495. As with any project, additional monies will be needed before the project is finalized. There are always issues that come up so 20.6 million is not the final cost.

Thank you for your time and permitting me to voice my opinion,

K.B.

I just wanted to let you know that I am concerned about the substantial increase in the proposed cost for the new city hall. It has always struck me as a very expensive undertaking with little benefit to the community, now it’s a proposed exorbitantly expensive undertaking with little community benefit. I do believe that the City employees should have better working conditions but don’t believe this is the appropriate way to reach that goal.

G.E.

The incredible leaps in the cost estimates for a new City Hall leave most residents with their mouths agape, their hands on their wallets, and a realtor on their speed-dial . There must be some way to back down the costs a big bit, actually a lot, from what appears to be a palatial cost that will be passed on to us, and on and on to our children’s grandchildren in higher property taxes from now until all the cows come back. (Of course, when the cows return, there will be scarcely anyone one left to pay the tab. Can anyone blame them!)We also know that initial, pre-building cost estimates are usually only partial payments on the usual ever-growing cost of a complete and final project. Which means millions more… well, you should be wise enough to get the drift.

The City (which means You and Staff) must find ways to lessen this costly burden. Currently, at least, the Mayor and Council are required to still reside in the City, but what sort of enticement will increased property tax rates mean for future residents. Doesn’t this have a chilling effect on the tax base upon which the City must depend? Don’t we already have a much smaller tax base to milk as the University expands and this project proceeds?

Look closer. Find solutions. This is an issue with a long history that appears to have a much longer and onerous future. There must be ways to cut costs and change the dynamic and ever-growing astronomical costs of a City Hall for such a relatively small populace.

C.P.

I am writing with regards to the vote on City Hall’s building.

I do believe that we need a new City Hall building, however I am still not comfortable with where it is located, but mostly the cost of the building. Especially with the rising cost now shown for the building, the cost of living increasing & the unknown future we have in general.

There are many factors that leave me very concerned. One is that I am concerned about how much the people in the community will have to deal with the expense. Many of those in College Park are just making ends meet and the taxes can affect their ability to live day to day. Our seniors & disabled live with very little income (SSI being only $771 a month & you may be lucky to get $100 a month in food stamps), that could cause them to be homeless or lose what they have. Many of the seniors may have paid their house off, so cheaper living in their home vs the average cost to rent a single room can be over a $1000 to $1500 a month. The fact is that section 8 has been close for many years, so those who are not on the list, can’t get on the list and those who are, the waiting is many years. Also, the vouchers for those with mental health or physical disabilities, to senior citizens is unavailable. Do you realize that there is a fight to get on the MIAD or ACIS list for just the mentally ill? That is why you see so much homelessness. So, I feel that we are not taking part in protecting our community of people who live here now.

Secondly, I am not seeing the UMD taking more steps for College Park as I feel they could. I know that there are programs run by the UMD & students participate, but I see more the students participating than the UMD. Also, it is a small group of students that do this, which I feel the UMD can be more of an active role here. Further, many of the active participation the UMD does financially, there is a tax write off, but this isn’t the fact for the people who live here. So, I want to see more active participation from UMD, especially where they promote what they do and show what they do. I want their voice.

Sadly, the UMD/UMMS has done some shady acts & it is more important that I know they are participating for bettering the community and not all about some underlying purpose that promotes for them and hinders the community. Even one person having ulterior motives can be conflict of interest in our city.

Again, I am not against City Hall having a new building but I have concerns in where it will be & the cost of it being placed so high on the residents.

D.C.

Good morning. I just wanted to go on record that I am against extra funding for the new city hall. I understand that the city can afford it but I am concerned about the high cost verses the benefits.

P.G.

I have lived in College Park since 1968 and have paid a lot of various taxes. I would appreciate tax money, or any grants you get go to the benefit of seniors or other residents who need some services from the city. A senior center would be good. Tax write offs to big businesses that cater to visitors to the university, are not something that seems necessary for a city. That is the business of the university. They keep trying to be #1. At whose detriment ?
I am concerned by the $7.5 increase in the projected cost of City Hall for College Park and the knowledge that this may not be the last increase in costs. I ask that the Council set a limit for what can be expended on this project and work to keep costs within that limit. Without a limit on what can be expended new ideas for enhancing the project may continue to increase the City’s cost and the debt that the City will be responsible for in years to come.The recent Diamondback article about City Hall stated that up to $5 million in costs could be shaved off total costs if adjustments were made to floor heights or specific features like an outdoor water installation, per Katie Hearn of Redgate, the City’s real estate advisor. I ask the Council to establish a final limit that can be spent on the project and then work within that number. When costs are below the limit, features like a water installation can be added but when necessary costs like labor and material increase then spending would be reduced in ways suggested by the real estate advisor to keep costs within the agreed upon range. In light of recent labor and material costs increases, I ask the Council to consider adoption of the cost saving measures outlined proposed by Redgate.

The distribution of costs between the City and UMD is not clear to me. I ask that the Council work out all details of the arrangement with UMD before proceeding further into this project. Who will be responsible to building maintenance, interior and exterior? How will costs be shared? To me it appears the City has a significant amount of leverage due to the amount of land the City owns and ownership of the parking garage. Recent costs projections show that UMD is footing construction costs for the retail portion of the property? Will tenant revenue be shared with the City? I would prefer to see the City invest in the retail portion of the property to establish a revenue source in the future.

Finally, if the construction is delayed because of actions by UMD, and the time City staff are housed at 8400 exceeds the agreed upon limit, the City should not be responsible for rent payments to UMD.

C.N.

Thanks for sharing the data about the costs of the city hall. I have the following thoughts:1. Are we sure that $21 million will be the final estimate that college park will end up paying out of the 47 million in total? Is there a chance the cost to us could increase by another 61% or is this budget locked in more or less.

2. On this topic, if the cost end up going over 47 million, who will pay more of those overage costs, College Park or UMD? I noticed we ended by paying 61% more for the higher costs in total (21 versus 13 million) while UMD is paying 13% more (27 versus 24 million). I am just concerned if costs keep increasing we will have to cover more and more of the bill.

3. If we end up having to pay 21 million, would we be able to make a new city hall in another location for a cheaper cost overall? While I also support the need to address the lack of space of our City employees in the current City Hall, I am not entirely convinced we need to locate city hall in downtown college park, given that I doubt the mean center of college park’s overall population (excluding UMD residents) lives where the new City Hall is being considered.

Thanks for hearing me out and the hard out you all are doing

D.S.

At tonight’s meeting, I hope you will move forward with the city hall development. While the project costs have increased, it is a badly needed project and one that will set the city up for years to come. If cost savings can be made in certain areas without impacting the overall function of the building and its ability to serve city staff and residents in the long term, those should be considered. But its time to move forward with this important project.

N.B.

My husband and I do not approve of the new budget proposed for the new City Hall. Several of my neighbors also shared their disapproval but are not inclined to voice their concerns due to their cultural beliefs. We believe that breaking up that part of the strip makes that part of the UMD retail district look weird. You will be taking away the charm and businesses that are already part of the campy weave of Rte. 1.

Our city’s take on the Baltimore Corridor is looking like chopped up blocks of mega tenant apartments between regular storefronts.
Nobody wants a mega apartment/condo/mixed retail space a few blocks from their home. Yet the city just rams it down our throats. No body cares what we suffer only what goes in their pockets and resumes.

Very sad state of affairs indeed. It is a disgrace that my neighbors can’t send their kids to a nearby school (Hollywood), nor CP Academy due to overflow, nor for us to have our own police, yet we have millions budgeted for something that is not greatly needed at this time such as the this City Hall Project.

All of the neighbors believe that we are paying steep taxes for garbage and recycle pick up.

Fazlul, it is so sad to know our voices are silenced most of the time, and ignored all of the time otherwise these projects which are not neighborhood friendly never cease to win.
Thank you for hearing our concerns.

A.B.

20 million dollar city hall?
NO !!! JUST NO !!!!
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MINDS?????
NO!!!
J.G.

In Spending Big on New City Hall, Let’s not Forget other Amenities Residents are Asking

First, I totally support the need to address the lack of space of our City employees in the current City Hall. The new City hall can accommodate more employees. Many of the Public Services employees will now be accommodated in the new Hall. They cannot be the Calvert Road site, as the UMD is building the Day Care Center there. I worry, however, that we’ll most likely run out of space as the City and its government grow in future.

That said, I ask if the recent large increase in the project’s cost justifies building a new $20.6 million City hall. As much as we should strive to address the employees’ needs, we should find ways to reduce the project’s cost through value engineering and other means.

Here is why we should worry. Our operating budget is rather limited ($20 million), thus the only way we can afford building such an expensive City Hall is by borrowing a significant amount ($12 million or so). This should worry everyone in our little town, as our next generation of College Park residents will have to carry this debt for 30 years to come. This may not be the case for our partner (in the City hall project), the University of Maryland, which has a 100 time larger budget ($2 billion). The bottom line is – just because our little town can borrow and spend, we should think many times before we spend and how much we should.

It’s true we’ll be getting some infusion of new revenues from new developments in coming years, but, please note some of these projects will not give immediate revenue. For example, we’ll need to wait several years to get revenue from the Bozzutto development because of the large tax break the Council gave to them recently.

Then there is a fear of nation-wide recession, which has been happening in cycles. The last time we had the recession was in early 2000’s. Though the economy is doing fairly well now, no one can guarantee when the next recession may happen. The City revenue from property taxes will go down significantly when recession will hit us.

Spending now on large borrowed fund for the City Hall project will also likely give many pauses to the future City Councils when they will be asked by the residents for more amenities in our town. Many of these are not new requests, but there will likely be more as opportunities arrive. Here are a few of them.

    1. North College Park Community Center: For more than 10 years, the residents of north College Park is asking to build a community center in the north side of the town. A survey few months back showed significant interest among residents – an overwhelming 94% favored for the center. With north College Park having the largest concentration of single family homes with diverse age groups (from toddlers to seniors), residents in this area want to see an activity center that has the potential to bring families together. The City has been asking the County to build the center for many years now, however the County appears to have a little interest in building one. The County’s 2040 vision asks to only build large regional center and not small centers in local communities. Unless the City invests capital funds in this project, either directly, or partnering with other public entities, there is little chance to see the center being built.
    2. Senior Center: The senior community in College Park are also asking a senior center in the town. There is a growing population of seniors in the city and a recent petition of several hundred seniors asked the City to build a separate center for them. Thanks to north College Park residents, whose advocacy has resulted in getting $50,000 from the County for senior programming from last year. Seniors however want more – a full time place that they can call their home and where they can socialize with other like minded seniors.
    3. College Park Police Department. College Park does not have a City police department. Though the public safety situation in the city has improved over the years, we can make the situation even better. City residents pay a significant amount of their tax dollars to the County to support PGPD – the County’s police department. Unfortunately, the PGPD operates on a very large jurisdiction, and their officers often focus on areas that need more attention in the County. The City has been spending more and more on its contract police program. We soon to have about 15 FTE in the program. Diverting residents tax dollars from the County to the City can help support running College Park’s own police department. A recent City-run police study has also recommended to consider starting our own police department. Unfortunately, starting a police department will need some significant capital investment
    4. Duvall Field: The Duvall Field project’s first phase has been completed and we’re going through the second phase. The early estimate on this new phase is rather high ($4 million). The Council will most likely borrow money to support the project. This will further tighten our ability to invest in future capital projects.
    5. Complete Streets / Rhode Island Ave Reconstruction: The complete Street project aims to connect neighborhoods using multiple modes of transportation, such as through biking, pedestrian walking, scooters etc. Staff has identified City streets that could improve the connectivity.  City has also started a project to build protected bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue, north of MD 193. The existing funds will allow us to complete the design, however, we haven’t identified the funding source for construction. We’re also looking at owning the street from the County. We’re expecting the County to repave the road before they give it to us. We’ll need funds for the reconstruction if we decide to do the reconstruction and the County doesn’t agree to pay for the work.
    6. Baltimore Avenue Pedestrian lighting: The SHA has proposed to share the cost for installing pedestrian lights on Baltimore Avenue from College Avenue to MD 193, as part of the Baltimore Avenue reconstruction project. Unless we can provide it from City’s general funds, we’ll need to borrow along with other capital projects (City Hall, Duvall Field).
    7. Senior housing: Seniors are also asking dedicated housing units in the City, as they have special accessibility requirements. Other towns have invested in building separate senior housing / village. This could be possible either through public-private ownership, or offering tax incentives, both of which may need investment or sacrifices from the City.
    8. Attick Towers: The discount-rate senior housing Attick Towers needs some major renovation. The building is very old and rooms are small to meet the seniors’ needs. The City can help the renovation or redevelopment either investing directly or by giving them loan guarantees.
    9. Project X – There could be many projects coming in future that we do not know now. A property may come to market which residents may think suitable to bring some amenities there. For example, very recently residents asked the City to buy the College Park Woods property. The City did not think of acquiring this property until fairly recently. There could be other projects that we as a City, should be able to seize on, as opportunities come.

On some of these projects, many residents are already frustrated by the lack of progress or attention from the City leaders. Recently, I got this email from one of my senior neighbors telling about her final wish about building a Senior Center

If I die tonight, I want you to know that you are a great neighbor and council member.   I will do my best as an angel to manifest the miracle of a Senior Center in College Park.  Not only will it have an indoor heated swimming pool and therapeutic whirlpool, but free massages as well.  There will be a room full of soft, cushy recliners where people can relax and listen to the sounds of musical meditations.  There will be a free juice bar with delicious concoctions.  There will be the scent of flowers in the air.  There will be a gourmet restaurant with delicious cuisine from all over the world.  

I had similar comments from residents when I talked to them about other amenities. Seeing very little progress made by the current and past City Councils, some residents are rather surprised that we continue to talk about these amenities.

Here is what I want to tell to my neighbors and colleagues about tonight’s vote. Let’s exercise cautions tonight as we invest residents’ tax dollars in our new City Hall. Let’s help our residents to make their wishes come true.

I look forward to seeing you tonight at the City Hall and hearing from you. If cannot come, please send an email with your thoughts to the Mayor and Council at cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov before 5 pm today. Thank you!

 

Trying to Make Sense of New City Hall’s Increased Building Cost Rate

As you know, the cost to build our new City Hall has gone up by nearly $8 million over the past 8 months. One of the reasons for this high-cost increase is attributed to the increased rate per square foot of construction. The City Hall developer has told us last week that the City will need to pay $420 / sqft now, instead of $350 / sqft, that we ‘re told to pay 8 months ago.

That is a 20% rate increase over a very short period of time.

For the past few days, I’ve spent some good amount of time in trying to understand the reasons behind the cost increase.

Those of you who are familiar with the construction industry, the rate of the construction cost of any building mainly depends on two factors – material cost and the labor cost. For a larger building, the rate does not quite change, the total cost only changes.

The City Hall developer told us they anticipate a 60% to 40% ratio of labor to material cost for the project.

Developers also factor in contingencies/markup/profit, and special design elements of the structure when they make estimates.

I first looked into the recent material cost rate. Based on what we’ve heard about other recent City projects, I thought that the material cost was the main culprit behind the rate hike. For example, the cost rate for the Gateway Park project went up significantly last summer (over 3 years period) when the City Council approved its construction budget. This was mainly due to the tariff the U.S. imposed on importing steels and aluminum back in March 2018. Because of the imposed tariff, the market was very volatile last summer, when we approved the Gateway Park project.

But I was wrong for the City Hall project.  The material cost has largely gone down from last summer to date, by as much as 5% for some materials. I found this by looking at the rates of the main building materials, such as steels, aluminum, etc based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data.

Aluminum

Steel


Lumber

That said, around this time frame, the labor cost has appeared to go up a bit. This has been reflected by the RS means historical cost index table, which keeps track of the overall construction cost (labor, material etc) over the years. (please see below).

According to this chart, the price index has only gone up from 222.9 to 227.3 from July 2018 to January 2019. Based on the guidelines presented in the chart below, if the rate in July 2018 is $350,  the rate in January 2019 should be $356.9 [= (227.3/ 222.9) * $350]. This only reflects a 1.9% increase.

It’s true that the City Hall developer had to factor in contingencies, plus some interior and exterior features in their latest estimate, however, I find it rather puzzling that those features amounted to a whopping 20% rate hike just in an 8 months period.

Council to Approve Business Recognition Program

At tomorrow night’s meeting, the Council will consider approving the College Park Business of the Year program.

If approved, City Staff will begin accepting applications on May 1st.

The College Park Business of the Year program was discussed during a Worksession on January 22, 2019. The City Council requested to see formal guidelines and the application structure before approving the establishment of the program. The proposed guidelines and application are attached. The program will highlight one business each year that has demonstrated exceptional achievements in one or more of the following areas

  • Growth
  • Community Service
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Legacy.

Staff is recommending that the Business of the Year will be announced in October. The awarded business will be invited to attend a
City Council Meeting in which they will officially be proclaimed the College Park Business of the Year. The awarded business will also receive a plaque and special College Park Business of the Year logo as a demonstration of their achievement and for promotional purposes.
Businesses will only be considered eligible to receive the award if they meet the following threshold requirements:
• Locally-owned independent business
• Has a physical College Park address
• Has been open at least one year at time of nomination
• Is in good standing with the City of College Park

The program would award a $125 plaque to the Business of the Year. The logo used for the plaque will be designed inhouse.

 

Celebrate Arbor Day this Friday, April 26th

Arbor Day

College Park will be celebrating Arbor Day on Friday, April 26th (National Arbor Day) at 9:30 am at St Andrews Episcopal Church, located at 4512 College Ave.

The City will receive the Tree City USA award for the 30th consecutive year. All are welcome to attend.
Spring is a great time to plant trees. If you would like a tree planted in the right-of way in front of your home please contact Brenda Alexander to discuss options, 240-487-3595 or balexander@collegeparkmd.gov.
Are you thinking of adding a tree to your property this Spring? The City has a program to reimburse the cost (up to $150.00) of approved trees on private property, it’s called the Tree Canopy Enhancement Program (TCEP). Click here for more information and application.
[City of College Park]

City to Buy First Hybrid Bus for Transporting Seniors and Students

At next week’s meeting, the Council will consider awarding a contract in the amount of $86,057.00 to Apple Ford for the purchase of one 2019 E450 Ford XL Hybrid 21 Passenger Bus package to replace the 2003 vehicle as planned.

The new bus will replace the old bus (Bus #122), which currently has 114,699 miles traveled, been in service for 16 years and has extensive maintenance issues occurring with the body and chassis portion of the bus.

The expected useful life of the bus is approximately 10 years.

The bus is the largest bus in the fleet and is utilized most frequently by the Department of Youth, Family and Seniors Services for a variety of transportation needs, including seniors transportation and transporting Lakeland STARs students to the UMD campus an average of 11 times a semester. This bus does require a CDL license.

Last month, the Council was considering to buy a regular bus by awarding a contract at $73,910.00 to American Bus Sales Service for the purchase of one 21 Passenger Bus. Thanks to north College Park resident Matt Dernoga, who asked the Council to look into a hybrid bus option.

Green Housekeeping Workshop

Learn how to keep your household clean, green and healthy! Did you know that some cleaning products can be as bad for your health as smoking? Join us for a workshop highlighting best practices for greening your cleaning routine. Participants will learn easy and affordable ways to maintain healthy households. Light refreshments will be served. Free parking. For more information to or RSVP, contact Todd Larson at toddlarson_99@yahoo.com. Sponsored by the City’s Committee for a Better Environment.

[City of College Park]

Spring Cleanup Month at DPW – Document Shredding this Saturday, 4/20!

Spring Cleanup Month continues at the City’s Department of Public Works!

This Saturday, April 20 there will be on-site document shredding services from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Bring your old tax records, medical paperwork, and any other confidential information to be shredded while you wait. All paper will be recycled. You must be a resident of the City of College Park and bring proof of residency to participate.

For more information about our Spring Cleanup Month events, visit here

[City of College Park]

City Hall Project Cost Rises by $8 million in 8 Months


The estimated project cost of the City Hall has gone up from $12.9 million in  July 2018 to $20.6 million in April 2019. The total project cost is now estimated at $47.6 million, with the UMD paying the rest ($27 million).

At last Tuesday’s Council meeting, the City Hall project team gave those numbers.

Please note that the new estimated figure ($20.6 million) does not include the $1.6 million the city spent to acquire the Route 1 properties, $500, 000 for the previous studies, and $7.48 million for the debt services cost (to borrow $12 million).

With these numbers, City Hall’s overall project cost will top $30 million.

 

2011 – 2019

See how City Hall’s project cost increased over the years

The architect and the design team attributed the increased cost to the rise in labor and material cost. The team now estimates the construction cost rate at $420 per-square-foot, compared to $320 per-square-foot 8 months ago. The increased estimate is also partly due to increased space (from 30,000 sq ft to 33,000 sq ft) of the building and some additional interior and exterior design elements the architect added to the latest design. (I’m still looking into these factors). If you’re in search for affordable interior design services for your home, professionals like Weston Interior Designer are one call away.

At the meeting, Scott Vieth from Design Collective (the architect) gave a brief overview of the 2018 project design and square footage and then showed the more detailed March 2019 schematic design. This update included perspective views of the building, the site plan and plaza, floor plans, and the square footage for the different occupants (City, University, and retail). Katie Hearn, the project manager from Redgate, and Matt Weirich from Davis Construction discussed the project budget and the cost estimate. City Staff discussed the funding sources for the City portion of the project. The presentation from this week’s meeting on City Hall can be found here on the City’s website.

The City Council plans to vote on what direction to take with the project at its next Council meeting on April 23.