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Marketing and Communications Audit

Marketing and Communications Audit

St. Michaels Journal: Quarterly Newsletter

STATE OF THE TOWN
We have all been through a difficult year with unforeseen challenges that have tested families, businesses, and government in ways we could never have imagined before the pandemic hit. We don’t know when it will be sufficiently under control and safe enough to return to the old normal, but as we enter 2022, the Town of St. Michaels is well-positioned. Town government is dealing with the same economic factors that have impacted private industry—a shortage of both personnel and supplies. But, thanks to pre-planning and our capable staff, the Town is doing better than most.
READ MORE HERE…

Questions and Answers from COSM Legislative Meeting– September 22, 2021

What residents have been talked to about “preserving that which our residents value” about our town?  As elected officials, the COSM routinely talk with residents of the community.  Residents express what they like and do not like about the community on a regular basis.  A comprehensive list has not been kept but the Commissioners believe that they are representing what a majority of what resident’s value and not individual interests.

Who decides what the correct balance between residents and businesses is?  Ultimately, the residents decide by electing officials that support their interests.

Commissioner DuPont, as a business owner please explain how you are currently helping the local businesses by recommending the Town implement an additional business license for all businesses?  I believe it increases the safety net and allows all businesses to operate on an equal footing.”  The Commissioners also noted that a revokable license protects all businesses from unfair competition.

Regarding the Commissioners statement that businesses did very well in 2020 and the cut in the marketing budget, can you please explain how you measure success?  Commissioner Breimhurst has spoken with a variety of business owners who all agree they are having a banner year.  Some even made record profits during the height of the pandemic.  The volume of visitors to St. Michaels is evident by the foot traffic on the streets of our community, reports received from Chief Smith, and in record accommodation taxes being received by the Town.

Did the Commissioners go to businesses to talk to business owners about what’s going on with all of this?  The Commissioners as a group have not gone door-to-door to visit businesses.  Commissioners do, on a regular basis, talk with business owners and hear their views.  

How do you know what businesses want if you don’t speak to them?  The Commissioners regularly speak with businesses and hear their views.  If a business would like a commissioner to visit their business to talk with them, they welcome the opportunity. 

Why can’t we have a representative of the businesses that owns property within the Town limits but that does not live within the Town?  By Charter, it is not allowed.

Tad, where is your full-time residence?  Is it in St. Michaels or is that in Clayborn?  203 Locust Street, St. Michaels”

It seems short sighted of you all to not be aware of how all the business owners are and if you are not, why don’t you realize that?  The Commissioners realize that there are different views on topics, can appreciate disagreement, and respect different opinions. 

Could we have confidence in you all that you will answer all these questions?  Answers are included here.

Can you confirm with us, as your audience, that you will answer these questions please?  Answers are included here.

So, you guys will attempt(?) every question that has been put to you?  Answers are included here.

I would like you to explain what “changing directions” means?  Commissioner Breimhurst previously provided a narrative on what “changing directions” means to the Commissioners.  Please see the Town website for that narrative entitled “Recent Statement on New Town Direction” HERE.

When is it that you plan on answering questions?  The commissioners will make every effort to answer questions in a timely fashion.  Answers are included here.

What is the compensation for the Interim Town Manager…the total compensation?  The Interim Town Manager receives $50 per hour for hours worked at approximately 32 hours per week.  In addition, the Town and Interim Town Manager pay the appropriate FICA tax on wages. The Town provides, at a direct expense to the Town, a room at approximately $65 per night plus applicable tax.  The Interim Town Manager receives a car allowance of $0.3659 per mile while commuting to and from St. Michaels and home ($75 each way).  No other benefits are provided (pension, 401K, sick leave, vacation, etc.)

St. Michaels maps ambitious schedule to confront rising sea levels

The Town of St. Michaels is moving forward with proactive measures to mitigate rising tides. The Commissioners of St. Michaels have recently approved a set of ambitious recommendations from the newly empaneled Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Commission. The CC/SLR Commission has identified priority projects based on long range predictions outlined in a report from GMB Engineers/Architects. The study predicts increasing tide levels over the next 30 years that will cause serious flooding along the Town’s waterfronts.

CC/SLR Chairman Roy Myers presented the aggressive project schedule to the Town Commissioners on August 25th. The Commissioners have approved the plan and will be working with the CC/SLR Commission to secure the necessary funding and grants to move the plan forward. Engineering studies will be underway over the next year and will be followed by the following specific projects:

2023 to 2025 Projected Timeframe

• Construction of E. Chew/W. Harbor Road Improvements
• Begin Phased construction of Honeymoon Bridge, Harbor walkways, Burns, Mill and
Cherry Streets Master Plan.
• Grant and Engineering Design completed for Muskrat Park and Church Street area.
• In conjunction with adjacent properties, complete strategies/plans for Mulberry Street,
Westside Harbor residents, Carpenter Street and San Domingo Town residents.

2025 to 2030 Projected Timeframe

• Complete Construction of Muskrat Park Improvements
• Complete Engineering Studies for Mulberry Street and Carpenter Street
• Complete construction of Master Plan – Construction for Honeymoon Bridge, Harbor
walkways, Burns, Mill and Cherry Streets
• Complete Engineering Plans for San Domingo/Back Creek harbor side of St. Michaels.
• Assist Westside Harbor residents in their plans as appropriate.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND A COPY OF THE GMB STUDY, CONTACT INTERIM TOWN MANAGER JEFF RHODES AT: jrhodes@stmichaelsmd.gov or more information HERE.

Recent Statement on New Town Direction

Some residents have recently expressed concern over a statement that the town of St. Michaels is moving in a new direction. The fact is it already has. Over the past year, The Commissioners of St. Michaels have been busy positioning the town to compete in a 21st century economy. We have made significant advances, and look forward to more:

For the first time in many years, the Town has CUT taxes for property owners, the result of a dozen public work sessions. The budget also has a new format, making it easier for residents to understand. It applies more accountability to all departments. Employees are now filling out time sheets for the first time since they were mandated by the employee manual ten years ago.

The Water Department has been restructured to stand on its own. It is now generating enough revenue to retire a considerable amount of debt. Water Department operations will be modernized with the installation of smart meters to minimize waste and streamline the billing process. This is just one of the infrastructure challenges to be tackled in the years ahead.

Working with the Planning Commission, the Town has upgraded its parking options, adding dozens of new off-street spaces in lots on Mill St, Boundary Lane, and soon, on Fremont Street. Parking patterns in parts of the historic district have been reconfigured to allow easier access for emergency vehicles.

The Town has established a Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Commission to ensure a viable future. The Town is committed to a proactive approach toward mitigating the flooding that has become increasingly severe. Efforts are also underway to reduce the Town’s carbon footprint and lower our utility bills.

The Town is moving toward privatizing trash collection, which is currently a severe drain on resources and manpower. The goal is to share the cost more equitably among private property owners and commercial enterprises. Contracting out the work will also give the Public Works team more time for the Town’s pressing maintenance issues.

Last year’s election made it clear that most residents opposed the Town office building project as proposed. We are now moving in a new direction toward a scaled-down and more appropriate building. The Town will be hiring a professional town planner to help us in that process.

With the help of the Maryland Municipal League, and a professional recruiter, the Town will conduct a nationwide search for a new town administrator with the necessary education credentials and experience to help us adjust to an evolving post-pandemic economy.

Over the past year, the Town has moved forward in a new and more efficient direction, while, at the same time, dealing with the impact of COVID-19. The Town is in a better place than it was a year ago, and the Commissioners look forward to even more advances. The following outline will serve as strategic guiding principles for St. Michaels government. Its purpose is to further advance the objectives of the town’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan for the 21st century:

To improve the PROFESSIONAL performance of the Town organization, the Town will:
Upgrade to the most current data and information software
Streamline and modernize the Town website, and enhance online communications
Update payroll and accounting procedures to current government standards
Uniformly enforce all provisions of the Town Code

To promote PROGRESS in St. Michaels, the Town will:
Promote St. Michaels as a safe exurban live/workspace for individuals, families, and domestic partnerships
Encourage and support small business startup ventures, particularly minority owned
Develop appropriate policy for controlled growth and renewal
Protect the quality of life for residents, while enhancing and elevating the visitor experience
Take a proactive approach to confronting the effects of climate change and sea level rise

To ensure PARITY and live/work balance, the Town will:
Pursue balance between the needs of the business community and the rights of all residents
Provide an equal voice to all stakeholders
Promote equal burden-sharing among all interests
Promote the common goal of elevating the Town’s image and reputation

PROSPERITY is the end result of advancing the goals listed above. We seek a diversified economy that provides more employment and investment opportunities for the Town’s current residents, future residents, and businesses, while preserving our small-town charm. We must foster the correct balance between a vibrant tourist trade and a livable and sustainable community to ensure that all prosper.

Above all, we are committed to preserving that which our residents value most about our Town, while nurturing a business environment that provides opportunity for all. To that end, we look forward to working closely with all stakeholders, and welcome any and all ideas and suggestions as we move forward together.

St. Michaels Town Office is now open to the Public

The town office is now open to the public. We will reassess conditions and make a determination on how to move forward when necessary. Masks and minimal social distancing of 6′ are required. Please make appointments with staff members when possible.

Meetings of boards and commissions will be held in-person or remotely using Zoom as they deem necessary. Please check meeting post on the “View News & Meetings” list on our homepage for individual meeting requirements.

For meetings with in-person attendance, there will be limited seating of approx. 10 members of the public to ensure proper distancing. Masks are required to enter the Town office and while occupying all common areas. Public comment will be taken at the beginning and end of each meeting. We encourage the public to send questions and comments to commissioners in advance of meetings.

Residents, businesses, or contractors who needs access to a Commissioner or staff member, may request to arrange to meet with proper distancing in our meeting room.

Please submit applications and make payments by mail or place in the “dropbox” located next to the office’s front door when possible.

For Public Works concerns, call (410) 745-5147.

In case of emergency, contact St. Michaels Police Department at 410-745-5000 or call 911.

By Authority of the Commissioners of St. Michaels

(No title)

The Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Commission consists of seven members appointed by the Commissioners of St. Michaels, with an ex-officio member from the Town Commissioners and the Planning Commission. Preference will be given to Town Residents on the Commission. Membership shall consist of representatives of the Waterways Management Advisory Board, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, waterfront business owners, and town residents, both waterfront and non-waterfront. The Panel meets as frequently as needed, but no less than once every three months.

The Commissioners have been studying Climate Change and Sea Level Rise and see the effects on St. Michaels. Chapter 14 of the St. Michaels Comprehensive Plan 2015, entitled Climate Resilience, recognizes the challenges associated with being a coastal community on the east coast with low sea-level, high water tables, and hurricane risks, and recognizes that it is crucial that the Town improve its resiliency measures, and as such have created this commission.

Climate Change/Sea Level Rise AGENDA, February 10, 2022

ZOOM MEETINGS
The Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Commission will hold Zoom meetings until further notice. If you have not used Zoom, please take a few minutes to download the free app to your computer or smart phone prior to joining the meeting, click HERE.

Join meeting by computer or smart phone by clicking link below:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3264261778
Meeting ID: 326 426 1778

Join by phone with audio only:
+1 301 715 8592
Meeting ID: 326 426 1778

Harbor and Stormwater Infrastructure Study
To read the study click HERE.
The Town of St. Michaels, MD received a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Grant through the State of Maryland Community Resilience Program to perform an analysis of the St. Michaels harbor and stormwater infrastructure, while considering projected sea level rise over the next thirty years. The study’s objective was to develop viable, cost efficient strategies to increase the town’s resiliency relative to both rainfall and tidal induced flooding. Eight areas of study were determined, and six flooding and sea-level rise projection maps were created as part of the study scope of work. The critical study areas were evaluated within these flooding and sea-level rise scenarios to evaluate risk and define future City mitigation and adaptation efforts. Importantly, this report outlines the Next Steps our Town might take to prepare for and put plans in place to begin these mitigation efforts. The report was prepared by George, Miles & Buhr, LLC.