Councilman Carl Stokes was critical of the Charles Village Community Benefits District on Monday night following a City Council meeting.
During the meeting Stokes spoke against legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke that would allow Waverly Main Street to appoint members to the benefits district’s board. Currently Waverly Merchants Association is supposed to appoint members to the board but that group is no longer active. Waverly Main Street and Waverly Merchants Association have jointly appointed two members to the board that have been voting on issues such as the district’s financial plan.
Stokes questioned whether it was legal to have these members voting on issues when its currently specified that Waverly Merchants Association should be appointing those board members.
Clarke defended the legislation saying that both of the groups had signed a letter, which is posted in the doorway of the benefits disrict's office, agreeing to the joint appointments that lawyers on the benefits district said was suffice for the appointments.
After the meeting Stokes said he was “besieged” during the weekend by community members with complaints about the benefits district and its budgeting process.
"So the Charles Village Benefits District, which is a place for a lot of intrigue, and lot of unhappy people who believe that some of the leadership of the Charles Village Benefits District does not listen," Stokes said.
The benefits district was created in the mid 1990s to provide supplementary sanitation and security services in the Charles Village, Abell, Old Goucher, Remington and parts of Waverly. The district charges property owners within its boundaries a surtax of 12 cents for every $100 of assessed values.
Stokes also said he has been approached by members of neighborhood association about creating legislation to have it removed from the benefits district. But Stokes declined to say which neighborhood has approached him because the association as a whole had not voted on it.
Some residents have been critical of the district because they say it doesn’t provide the services it promised when it was created. Some residents have been upset because the district has sought an increase in the surtax for the past two years.
Last year the district sought to increase the surtax to 13.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. But the Board of Estimates, which must approve any surtax increases, rejected that proposal. Currently the benefits district wants to increase its surtax to 12.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to pay to hire off duty police officers to bolster security. The benefits district has not raised its surtax rate since its inception.