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Annapolis drops sidewalk-repair fee

The Baltimore Sun

The Annapolis city council eliminated a controversial fee to maintain the city's sidewalks and approved refunds to the thousands of residents who paid it.

How the city will maintain its 120 miles of sidewalks is unknown. Legislation approved at the council meeting called for more study of the issue.

The council passed the fee - $25 for individual property owners and $125 for business owners - last year with little fanfare. But when residents received the bills last month, residents made clear their disdain for the fee, calling and e-mailing members of the council and speaking out at meetings.

Previously, property owners were responsible for maintaining the sidewalks abutting their properties.

Of two measures approved last night, one, introduced by Aldermen Frederick M. Paone, David Cordle and Julie M. Stankivic, will eliminate the fee, and the other, introduced by Alderman Richard E. Israel, will refund it to about 4,500 residents.

The state attorney general's office weighed in on the issue this month in an advisory opinion, which said the fee was a tax and was unlawfully levied.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said last night: "What we need to do is go back to the drawing board. What are the pots of money we can call upon to do repairs?"

She said she expects refunds to be made by fall.

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