For a long time, former Mayor Moyer denied that the Sister City Program cost the taxpayers any money. Recently the city admitted to spending money on the program, but I still have not been able to find a line item for the program in the city's budget. My best guess is that it exists as part of the Boards and Commissions Budget, or as a part of the Mayor's Special Projects Budget.
The old Mayor didn't even acknowledge our financial problem, so Josh's efforts are a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen if the contractual positions that have been added will be more than balances out by job cuts or monetary savings elsewhere.
Here is the press release:
Annapolis, MD (01-12-10) – As part of his continuing effort to attack the city's financial deficit, Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announced today that he is redirecting the $27,500 remaining in the Sister Cities program to the general fund for the current 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," said Mayor Cohen, whose administration is focused on eliminating an estimated $6.5 million budget deficit for FY 2011.
The Mayor also is convening a group of community stakeholders to review the Sister Cities program and recommend ways to explore public/private partnerships that would provide long-term benefit to the city.
"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," Mayor 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."
Individuals who have accepted the Mayor's invitation to review the Sister Cities program and make recommendations include:
Linnell Bowen, Executive Director, Maryland Hall for the Performing Arts Reginald Broddie, Chief Professional Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Bob Burdon, President and CEO, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce Connie Del Signore, President and CEO, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau Kevin Maxwell, Superintendent, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Joe Rubino, Director of Governmental Affairs, U.S. Naval Academy.
Annapolis first began as a Sister City in 1980, partnering with Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since then, Annapolis has partnered with many other cities, including Wexford, Ireland; Dumfries, Scotland; Tallin, Estonia; Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rochefort, France; Richmond, North Yorkshire; and Newport, Wales.