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Councilman Critical of Charles Village Benefits District

Councilman Carl Stokes said that he was "besieged" by unhappy residents.

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 Currently Waverly Merchants Association is supposed to appoint members to the board but that group is no longer active.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 for the

Last year the district sought to increase the surtax to 13.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. But the 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.

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Able Baker April 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Intrigue? Really? I can certainly see his point that the leadership of the CVCBD isn't responsive. There's no feedback mechanism (like complaint tracking numbers similar to 311) so that a resident can follow up on a complaint, and they can be slow to respond to cleanup calls. They claim to clean streets twice a week, but they don't post a schedule or indicate when they've actually cleaned them.
Dave Stahl April 18, 2012 at 12:34 AM
If Mr. Stokes is concerned with the legality of Waverly Main Street''s actions why not support the legislation that cures the "problem". Certainly, the Waverly business community should be represented on the Board. What organization is better suited to recommend those appointments? One can find many faults with CVCBD but this one is trivial. There are plenty of serious problems in this City to occupy Mr. Stokes time.
Able Baker April 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Stokes has said publicly that he's against the Benefits Distrcit in principal, so it's not surprising.
Christian April 18, 2012 at 05:15 PM
This is for Dave Stahl - Mr. Stokes is doing precisely that he is supposed to be doing as a member of the City Council on the Board of the CVCBD and that is pinpointing the errors that exist so that they can be corrected. Yes, the legislation can be amended, but you amend the legislation before you appoint an entity on the board. With respect to the lawyers interpretation, they are usually 50% right and 50% wrong and only a court of law would prove if they are correct. So before you state that there are more important issues in Baltimore, consider the fact that approximately $10,400,000. has been wasted. Just think of what could have been done in this area had the funds been made available to the community.
jennifer erickson April 20, 2012 at 10:07 PM
If you're looking for the reports, go to the CVCBD website: www.charlesvillage.org to Sanitation, then click on reports. As to a feedback mechanisam, the CVCBD is not the City and is certainly not staffed like the City.l BUT you can use the same 311 reference number when you called in the City sanitation issue by giving that to the CVCBD. Contact (via email or phone) Matt Bradby, Sanitation Supervisor, of the CVCBD. He will help work your 311 issue using your 311 reference number or even help 'fix' your issue if the CVCBD is able (if trash is on public vs private property, etc.) Its easy peasy. The CVCBD is there to help.
Christian April 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Jennifer - Duplication of efforts is not what is supposed to take place at the CVCBD. The CVCBD is supposed to provide supplemental services, not duplicate the services that the city already provides. What you are considering is employing another person to perform a task tha you can easily remedy by speaking directly to the city. We have had lights put in on 26th Street, lights repaired on North Calvert Street, the 26th Street Playground fixed on several occasions and a multitude of other things accomplished without going to the CVCBD and this is how a neighborhood operates. We don't need someone in an office picking up what we started and then have to follow up at a later date. We don't need the CVCBD sitting at tables giving out things to clean up the streets, when they tell the city that they are cleaning up the streets. We will be down at North Avenue and Greenmount Avenue today with the Mayor's Clean Up come on down and pick up a broom and/or shovel and pitch in as that is what neighbors do.

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