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Council takes issue with Dotson's remarks

Statements North Beach Town Councilman Gregory Dotson made in announcing his candidacy for mayor were disputed during the council reports segment of the municipality’s Thursday, July 10 meeting.

In his announcement last week, Dotson stated he and other town residents “have called for fiscal restraint, but we’ve been ignored. Instead, our town has continued spending our hard-earned tax dollars in a wasteful manner, which has pushed us deeper and deeper into debt to the tune of more than $10 million; an increase of more than $4 million in less than four years.”

That brought a sharp rebuke from Councilwoman Gwen Schiada, who labeled Dotson’s remarks “misinformation. Our debt is not more than $10 million.” Schiada said the debt has recently incurred is around $8 million, with half of that being on items the town had to spend. The items include funding for the town’s share of the Chesapeake Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades, land acquisitions that will curb added residential development and stormwater management and street improvements. To Dotson, Schiada said, “you voted for all of those.”

Schiada added that the debt the town incurs “is very fiscally conservative.”

“I think this council can be pleased with its financial record, although it’s been misstated several times,” said Mayor Mark Frazer.

On Friday afternoon, July 11, Dotson e-mailed a work sheet to members of the media. The document, entitled “Debt Service Town of North Beach, Revised 09/24/2013,” indicated on line 92 that the “Total Existing Debt” was $10,392,699.99.”

“So, as you can see I did not make this up,” Dotson stated in his cover letter. The spread sheet was sent to the mayor and town council last September by Town Treasurer Joanne Hunt as an updated debt work sheet for FY 2014. “I am providing you with this update today to include the WWTP [wastewater treatment plant] ENR [enhanced nutrient removal] project we settled on yesterday and the payoff of our FY 2009 equipment loan.”

“This information dated September 2013 is almost a year old,” Hunt stated when contact shortly after Dotson’s missive arrived.  “The debt column reflects the original amounts of loans.  The debt service spread sheet dated 07/07/2014 has the loan balances as of 07/7/2014 (see spread sheet attached).  The total outstanding debt for the town of North Beach on 07/07/2014 is $8,690,860.00.”

Earlier in the meeting, the council voted on the awarding contracts for the walkways of the proposed Bayfront Park, also known as the 3rd Street Park and Sculpture Garden. The low bidder for labor, materials and equipment was Atlas Concrete of Leonardtown ($22,450) with Howlin awarded a $9,796 contract for supplying the concrete needed for the project. The town council had rejected previous bids on the project for being too high.

“This is taxpayers’ money,” said Dotson. “I’m not going to vote for this. It’s excessive.”

The contracts were approved 5-to-1.

Proposed living shoreline receives grant

Gene Slear of Environmental Concern Inc. gave meeting attendees an overview

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