Greg Bassett: Second ‘Salisbury Rising’ coming in July

Ran into a reader at the Civic Center War Memorial event on Monday who reminded me he liked hearing about what upcoming issues we’re watching at Salisbury Independent.

Obviously, it’s budget time. The City Council has two more sessions planned to make changes and then greenlight the fiscal 2018 budget that takes effect July 1.

In the county, the Wicomico Council was expected to wrap up its budget adjustments with a final vote this past Tuesday night.

Next week we’ll have a Brice Stump feature on the repair work under way at the County Courthouse. The photos are amazing and Brice has uncovered some news about the future of the old clock mechanism in the clock tower.

There’s an effort to privately fund a mounted patrol for the Salisbury Police Department. The city had such a patrol back in the Coulbourn Dykes era.

In July, we’ll publish our second “Salisbury Is Rising” special section. Last year’s inaugural issue was a smash with both readers and advertisers.

The purpose of the section is to update readers on recent community successes while previewing what’s on the drawing board: the traffic circle, River Walk apartments, the Boat House and Phase II of Streetscape, just to name a few.

Plus we’ll profile some business folks and developers who are working hard to take Salisbury to new and higher levels.

Correction

I made a pretty significant mistake in the print version of my city budget story that published last week.

Somehow, I managed to tie the City Council’s decision to reject Mayor Jake Day’s tax cut to their concerns about escalating city sewer and water rates.

In fact, the two issues are not related in the council’s decision making.

The council is reportedly leaning toward keeping homeowner’s taxes flat in return for a lower-than-advocated increase to landlords.

City sewer and water fees have taken up a lot of the council’s time during this budget review. Members have talked interchangeably about sewer fees and property taxes.

Given the assessment numbers of some properties, when compared with the occupancy numbers, a lot of Salisbury resident pay more for sewer and water than they do in taxes. Also, taxes are usually handled through escrow accounts in mortgages, so people aren’t as aware of their taxes as they might be.

But when that quarterly sewer bill arrives in the mail, people notice.

This Monday, June 5, is when the council will meet again and talk budget. That night, they could also make a final decision about whether to have a two-tier tax system.

MDDC Awards

Stepping into the Braggadocious Department, Salisbury Independent recently won a first-place award in the Public Service category from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.

It’s the second consecutive year we’ve won the coveted category. Last year we were recognized for our reporting on the opioid crisis facing the community. This year’s topic was a whole lot more tame: ballot referendums.

In a series of stories, we detailed the proposed County Charter amendments that voters ruled on in November. The judges saluted us for “engaging a series of complicated questions, and explaining to readers and voters what their options were.”

Photographer Tony Weeg also won an award in the Local Government coverage category for his photographs of the historic Lemon Hill Standpipe, which will undergo renovation this summer.

Way to go, Tony!

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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