Friday, February 15, 2013

Ward 2 Resident Announces Challenge to City Council Incumbent

Ward 2 resident Jarrett Stoltzfus announced his candidacy today for the seat currently held by City Councilwoman Ivy Thompson. Thompson has not officially announced her intentions for the upcoming election. Stoltzfus's announcement and biographical information were published on a website created especially for his campaign.

City Councilman Brent Bolin holds the other seat in Ward 2, and he is not up for reelection this year. In Ward 1, City Councilman Bill Updike has declined to defend his seat, but so far no one has publicized any intention to run.

Ward 1 City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau's seat is not on the ballot this year. However, at the City Council's special budget meeting on Tuesday, February 12, Mayor Malinda Miles said publicly that she might not run for a third term. If she declines to run the smart money says Tarlau will, potentially creating a second vacancy in Ward 1.

Candidates for mayor or city council must submit petitions with at least 20 valid resident signatures on April 1 in order to appear on the ballot. The citywide election will be held May 6. For more information, see Mount Rainier's official website.

Budget crunch details

The budget shortfall is even bigger than feared. For details, see City Councilman Brent Bolin's blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thanks, Jimmy!

Thank you to City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau for convincing Verizon to switch its cables from the old poles to the new poles. Next step, I hope, is removing the old ones.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On the budget

Dear Mayor Miles and Council Members Tarlau and Updike:
When I bought my home here a little over three years ago, the estimated property taxes gave me pause. However, home prices were low enough compared to the District that I took the plunge. I'm glad I did because I think Mount Rainier has a bright future. Our first priority should be to find more revenue in order to provide residents with the services they want. We should follow Hyattsville's example and annex adjacent commercial properties aggressively. I would also support temporarily raising taxes enough to maintain current service levels. Ultimately, I would like to see the tax rate go down, but first we need to increase our tax base. 

If the City Council has to make cuts, we need to be careful not to cut our feet out from underneath us. For example, the police department is not fully staffed. Skimping on police protection will tend to hurt our property values and erode our tax base. Crime has been reduced in Mount Rainier, but I would go so far as to suggest filling the vacant police position. Let's kick crime while it's down and eliminate problem areas like the BP Station at Eastern and Varnum for good. We should also consider investing in an economic development staffer, like we've had before, who can focus on increasing our prosperity while freeing up other staff to provide essential services. Finally, anything that tends to improve the public’s perception of Mount Rainier, and consequently attracts businesses and residents, would be a good investment now. This could include blight remediation, tree planting, code enforcement, and miscellaneous beautification projects.

Jesse Christopherson

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mount Rainier to Make Budget Cuts

Mount Rainier's budget for FY 2014 will be approximately $350,000 less than FY 2013 due to falling property tax assessments. City Council Member Brent Bolin has pushed for a special meeting tomorrow, February 12 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, to hear about residents' budget priorities. There are going to be cuts, and this is your chance to tell the city which services are important to you.