hit a speed bump last night when the City Council was unable to come to agreement on a capital improvement plan, an issue which has quickly become the most contentious issue of the budget season.
The CIP, released to council on Monday, lays out
However, the CIP was roundly criticized by a number of City Council members over transparency issues and a perceived lack of investment in various areas of the city.
Councilor Paula Perry (Ward 4) criticized the CIP, saying that it didn't call for enough improvements in her West Hyattsville ward. Instead
"There is only one thing in Ward 4 that's in the CIP," said Perry. "Everywhere else, it's all in the historic district."
, there are a lot of my residents who could care less about it," said Perry. "They want amenities, they want safe streets, and we don't have any of that right now."
Her comments were echoed by Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier, (Ward 5), who represents much of West Hyattsville.
"Development is wonderful, but i have to go to the other side of Route 1 to see any development," said Frazier to the council. "I want some money spent in Ward 4 and Ward 5."
Councilor Tim Hunt (Ward 3), said that he wanted to see some representation of the University Hills streetscape improvement project in the budget document. Without these numbers, he was skeptical of the city's commitment to improving the infrastructure in University Hills.
"My overarching fear is that we do not have enough money and will not have enough money in five years to do things that are essential," said Hunt.
Hunt did say that he was in support of quick action on finishing the Arcade building.
He also said that he was reluctant to vote on the measure during the meeting, noting that the budget documents had not yet been posted to the city website for the public to access.
"Nobody in public has this information right now," said Hunt. "To vote on it right now, I don't even want to think how I'd feel if we vote on this. It'd be an absolute travesty."
When Hunt moved to table the motion to allow for public review of the documents, Mayor Marc Tartaro warned that tabling the CIP would also derail the other budget measures on the table at the meeting.
"Effectively, with tabling the CIP motion in front of us, we will not be able to proceed with passing any of the other motions," said Tartaro.
Hunt's motion to table the measure failed by a vote of five to four, with Council members Frazier, Perry, Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1) and Shani Warner (Ward 2) voting to table and against Council members Matt McKnight (Ward 3), David Hiles (Ward 4), Eric Winguard (Ward 1) and Mayor Tartaro. , per the city charter.
Then, Hiles called the measure to question, a procedural move designed to force a vote on the measure, but it too failed to muster six votes. Again, Frazier, Perry, Hollingsworth, Hunt and Warner voted against McKnight, Hiles, Winguard and Tartaro.
In short, the City Council couldn't muster enough votes to table the CIP, nor could they muster enough votes to vote on the measure. Stuck in limbo, Tartaro claimed executive authority and removed agenda, skipping forward to a staffing presentation from the city's human resources director.
But not before the City Council had a chance to discuss the failed CIP votes.
McKnight disagreed with assertions that the public has been unable to comment on the CIP.
"If residents are interest in the budget, they come to the meeting. There's an article on Patch that gives a rundown of the article," said McKnight. "They would have commented by now if they were interested in commenting. I am tired of spending every night of the week here tabling things for no apparent reason."
Warner took a different tack.
"None of us likes to be here," said Warner, noting that the council has recently been meeting far in excess of the 2 meetings per month required by the city charter. "We are all going above and beyond coming here every single week, but it's not unreasonable to say that these are enormous decisions we are making."
"To ask for an extra five days for our citizens, who really care about these things and whose lives they impact…this is not a dereliction of our duty to not move forward on this," said Warner.
Council members Nicole Hinds Mofor (Ward 5) and Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4) were absent at last night's meeting.