Challenge to revenue-authority plan falls short


Annapolis dwellers critical of a measure that would allow a nonelected board to pay for large-scale development in the city have failed to bring the issue to a referendum.

Critics of the proposed revenue authority collected roughly 2,500 signatures but were more than 1,000 names short when they delivered their petitions to City Hall Friday, city officials and residents said.

"You have to amass a huge number of people in a short period of time. It's a daunting task," said Jim Vance, one of more than 60 residents who collected signatures in the referendum drive.

The council, in a 5-3 vote in May, approved a charter amendment giving the city the power to create such a board. Revenue authorities finance local construction projects and urban revitalization plans privately, without taxpayer dollars.

The city had tried to establish a revenue authority through the state legislature, but after failing repeatedly it voted to give itself the power to form the panel. Now aldermen must create a proposal outlining the size, scope and structure of the panel.

By law, the council may institute a revenue authority as early as next Tuesday, although Finance Committee Chairman Carl O. Snowden has said the council won't name the board until fall, after an ad hoc committee has reviewed the matter.

Mr. Snowden said he already had some ideas about projects in the West Street corridor that the revenue authority might pay for, bringing development to struggling areas of the city.

"Annapolis has to compete with surrounding jurisdictions," Mr. Snowden said. "This will help the city to be self-sufficient."

Mr. Snowden would not specify what projects he hoped a revenue authority might fund.

The council approved two amendments by Alderman Louise Hammond barring any revenue authority from paying for a conference center or seeking government money. Nevertheless, critics worry that such a panel could overdevelop the city with little public input.

"It's totally unnecessary," said John Hammond, who was one of the more active petitioners. Mr. Hammond, who once held the Ward 1 council seat now occupied by his wife, said the council never explained why the city needs a revenue authority and never said whether it has any specific projects it wants to pay for outside the control of the city council.

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