BERLIN – At the second meeting of the month, the Berlin Mayor and Council discussed several topics briefly this week including trash pickup in newer developments, support for the microbrewery concept, the town website and reinvesting reserve funds.
Two more developments have asked the town of Berlin to provide basic trash or snow service, tasks which most town taxpayers already receive.
On Monday night, Holly Moreland of Jamestown Place Townhouses Homeowners Association asked Berlin to take over both trash pickup and snow removal.
Many Berlin developments, while taxpaying parts of the town, are on private roads, which do not automatically receive those services.
Developments like Jamestown Place off William Street have been paying out of pocket for their trash and snow services, which those provided throughout the rest of the municipality are funded through property taxes.
Berlin now has a policy of taking over those services when asked by the developments in question, after the development signs a liability waiver.
Snow service can be offered right away, said Mayor Gee Williams, but trash service will take a little longer to institute.
Public works has to make sure it has enough of the new trashcans to provide to residents and make other preparations. Berlin recently purchased a state-of-the-art trash truck, which has the capability of mechanically picking up an individual trashcan and dumping its contents in the truck’s storage bed. With the new purchase, new wheel-based trashcans, adorned with the town seal, were issued to property owners.
Councilwoman Paula Lynch suggested that Berlin Public Works Director Mike Gibbons make sure it is feasible to provide trash and snow services to Jamestown Place. He already has, Gibbons said.
“In anticipation of this, we started looking. We knew we were going to start getting requests,” said town administrator Tony Carson.
Despite the increased demand for town-provided services within municipal limits, Berlin has no plans for a blanket extension of trash pickup and snow remova1 service to every development in town now sitting on private roadways.
“We’re allowing each homeowners association to make that decision on their own,” said Williams.
Arnold Downing, speaking as a citizen and member of the Franklin Square Townhouse Homeowners Association and not as Berlin’s police chief, also took Monday night as an opportunity to request snow removal services for that development.
The microbrewery concept floated at the last Berlin council meeting received unanimous support from the Worcester County Commissioners last week, Berlin Economic Development Director Michael Day reported to the town council Monday night.
Day said state elected officials would also try to extend the legislation to cover the entire county.
“It’s a great idea,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas at the recent commissioners meeting, when Day presented the microbrewery concept and asked for the county’s support in pursuing state enabling legislation.
“I think it would be a huge asset not only to Berlin but to Ocean City and all of Worcester County,” said Commission President Bud Church.
The town Internet and technology committee formed last year has yet to deliver a report on updating the town website, Councilwoman Lisa Hall noted Monday night, and asked for a progress report.
“Frankly, the appearance [of the website], it’s not pretty at all,” Hall said.
Other towns have inviting websites, Hall said, and asked what the council had to do to move the process along.
There are a lot of things the committee is working on regarding better connections with the public, Williams said.
The mayor said he would check in with committee chair Thom Gulyas for an update. Recently, the committee had to cancel a meeting because of bad weather, Williams pointed out, adding that he would get everyone back together and get the energy flowing again.
The web site needs to be a priority, Hall felt.
“If I was looking to move [here] and I clicked on that website, I wouldn’t go any further,” Hall said.
Financial advisor Charlie Cursio urged the town council to make some changes in the way it handles funds held in reserve.
Berlin, Cursio said, is holding a lot of cash in pooled investment funds, which only yield a market level interest rate which is “infinitesimal.” The town should invest those funds in a different way, he suggested.
“Right now it’s earning less than 1 percent…there’s lots of safe investments which will earn more than that,” Cursio said.
Williams said the suggestion would be discussed further during an upcoming town staff meeting.