Anne Arundel County

Sister Cities funds redirected

Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen has redirected funding from a city-financed cultural exchange into the city's general fund, citing an estimated $6.5 million budget deficit.

Cohen said he has redirected the $27,500 remaining in the account of the Sister Cities program into the general fund for this fiscal year.

"Now is not the time to be spending $27,500 on the Sister Cities program when we are struggling even to fund essential services," Cohen said.

The mayor also has convened a group of community stakeholders to review the program, which in recent years, under former Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, has come under scrutiny by some City Council members as a waste of city resources.

"A strategically thought-out international exchange program has the potential to add value to our economic development efforts as well as our educational and cultural institutions within the city," Cohen said. "It is time to take the Sister Cities program out from under the umbrella of city government and make it a more community-based initiative."

Those who have agreed to review the program are: Linnell Brown, executive director, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts; Reginald Broddie, chief professional officer, Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County; Bob Burdon, president and CEO, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau; Kevin Maxwell, superintendent of Anne Arundel County public schools; and Joe Rubino, director of governmental affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Annapolis began participating in the partnership in 1980, pairing with Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia. Over the years, Annapolis has partnered with such places as Newport, Wales, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.