Your Help Needed With Strategic Plan

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Dear neighbors,

The city is currently working to develop a strategic plan to identify key needs and formulate strategies for addressing them over the next five years.  Topics that may be addressed in the strategic plan include public safety, transportation (e.g., traffic, transit), environment and sustainability, city-university relations, neighborhood quality of life, community services, and economic development.  This strategic plan is not just about development, it is about trying to set a framework for all aspects of your city government and how we can do a better job in the future.

Community input is an important part of this process, and we encourage everyone to participate in a community web-based survey to provide your input on the priorities and strategies that you think are most important for the city to pursue over the next five years.

To participate in this survey, please go to the City of College Park homepage (www.collegeparkmd.gov) and click on the link to the survey (first item under “Current Events”).  This link will take you to the online survey which is being administered by the city’s strategic planning consultant, Managance Consulting & Coaching.  The survey will be open through Wednesday, November 4th.  Managance will compile the survey results and submit a report to the city council so that we can incoporate the community’s ideas as we develop the strategic plan.

It  is important that all groups within the College Park community are well represented in this survey so that the consultant’s report will reflect your needs and priorities.  Please take 15 minutes of your time to complete this short but very importannt survey.

Thanks very much,

Stephanie Stullich

College Park City Council – District 3

8 thoughts on “Your Help Needed With Strategic Plan”

  1. Anything to help make College Park look like a real modern college town instead of a dying mid-western auto factory town.

  2. I noticed that there weren’t any directed questions about a dedicated CP police force.

    Please add this to the “other comments” space if you feel CP needs it’s own police force.

    Perhaps a tri-city effort with G-Belt and Berwyn Heights?

  3. Policing issues have been discussed at length for many years including all conceivable policing options. We are spending almost $1 million on contract police that give us near 24/7 coverage and we are going to be installing about 25 cameras next year and perhaps another 25 cameras in the following year.

    When the City grows a better property tax base a dedicated City police force makes sense, but for the near term we should work to make our low cost policing alternative as effective as possible. The early results look promising, so why rehash the arguments if the underlying facts have not changed?

    Bob Catlin

  4. Bob, I’ve often wondered why College Park does not have its own police force. Berwyn Heights, right next door and with 1/10th the population (but virtually identical in population density) has an authorized police force of 8 officers. They manage to do this with one of the lowest real property tax rates in the county. Looking at the boundaries of the city, I don’t think they even have much in the way of commercial real estate. What are they doing differently?

  5. Berwyn Heights has a residential property tax rate of about 48 cents and a commercial property tax rate of about 58 cents per $100. The higher property tax applies to the Greenbelt Road commercial strip and the business properties along the railroad tracks and Branchvillle Road.

    Before College Park raised its property tax rate to 32.2 cents to pay for the two contract police programs its tax rate was at 26.8 cents per $100.

    I estimated a while ago that to fund a City police department we would need to almost double our tax rate from 26.8 cents to about 50 cents per $100. In addition the cost of maintaining a police department had been increasing at a rate greater than general inflation, so over time you could expect that police spending would have to crowd out other program spending in the City or tax rates would need to be raised by small amounts fairly often.

    Our new police would be busy. College Park is not nearly as compact as Berwyn Heights and college towns with police departments, which are virtually all college towns, typically arrest a lot of students for a wide variety of misdemeanors (noise, drunkeness, vandalism, public drinking). These college towns often struggle to pay for the enhanced levels of policing that are needed when so much time is spent processing misdemeanor arrests.

    We could have a police department if we were willing to pay the much higher property tax rates which prevail in most cities and towns in the County, though, as many municipal tax rates in the County are in the 50 to 70 cent range.

    That is my quick answer to your question.

    Bob Catlin

  6. Bob, thanks for your response. The Berwyn Heights wikipedia page boasts that they have one of the lowest real estate tax rates in the county – perhaps College Park’s page should be updated to say that ours is even lower than Berwyn Heights 🙂

    I for one would love to see a dedicated College Park police force and would be willing to pay more in property taxes to see it happen. However, I have concerns about on how such a force would be used. I would prefer that such a department concern itself with stopping the very real crimes that occur in the City (such as the rash of thefts from vehicles that seems to be on the upswing) rather than attempting to raise revenue from traffic enforcement. I read the contract officer reports and it seems like they spend most of their time sitting around waiting for people to commit misdemeanor traffic offenses. For example, the report states that during the first week of October, the contract officers issued 33 traffic citations. By my count, there were 7 thefts from vehicles, 2 stolen cars, 6 thefts, 2 occurrences of breaking and entering, and 2 assaults in the City during that same period (source: crimereports.com) My observation has been that the only time I see officers in my neck of the City is when they’re camped out by a stop sign. I don’t see a few intoxicated students walking down Route 1, or residents failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection, as having as much impact on my property value as cars getting broken into right in front of my house (which has happened twice in the past 3 years.)

    This post is getting long so I’ll leave it off here. Bob, I live in your district and I really appreciate that you read and post on this site – I wish more of our elected officials were as responsive!

    1. Bob, I live in your district and I really appreciate that you read and post on this site – I wish more of our elected officials were as responsive!

      I do not live in your district but I also very much appreciate your input to the site. Having you as a active reader/commenter is really invaluable. Good Luck today at the polls. I’m pulling for you.

  7. Cities and towns with police departments don’t compare themselves to College Park or the couple of small towns in the County that don’t have police departments when they brag about having low property taxes. Not a fair comparison, they argue.

    The 2008 City budget for FY2009, which increased the City’s property tax rate by 2.4 cents to pay for more policing (120 hours more a week to get to about 300 hours a week of policing), only passed by a 5 to 3 vote.

    The revenue from the tickets our police (or any police) write goes 100% to the State of Maryland. That is how state law is written to stop local government from using traffic tickets to balance budgets. Red light cameras and speed cameras are a different matter, however. Though speed cameras come with local revenue limits as a precaution, too.

    Traffic stops can be useful. At least three times in the past two years traffic stops near my house have resulted in arrests for outstanding warrants, that I have observed. About 1,000 cars a day pass my house; at least 100 of them don’t stop at the stop sign at Ruatan and 49th Avenue.

    Thanks for your kind words and please vote tomorrow. City Hall 11 am to 8 pm, District 2 (and District 3).

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