BERLIN — As the mayor and council begin budget preparation and deliberations, representatives from Diakonia presented a video showcasing the charity’s good works and appealing to the council for a donation.
Diakonia provides transitional housing for homeless people and families as well as providing a food bank and other social services type functions. Among their greatest accomplishments is the elevation of people from unemployed and homeless to employed and in a stable home.
Claudia Nagle, executive director for Diakonia, testified that the charity was already overwhelmed with requests and was already unable to address the needs with which they were presented.
Councilman Elroy Brittingham asked Nagle what the charities back up plan was for dealing with the homeless problem when they were out of funds and room. According to Nagle there is no backup plan.
Joel Todd, one of the Diakonia board members, added that for the first time in its history the charity was considering taking out a loan to meet operational demand. They requested a $7,500 donation from the council as part of the coming year’s budget.
Councilwoman Paula Lynch asked that they present the council with their proposed operating budget. Nagle consented and Mayor Gee Williams said he would have the council consider the request as part of the proposed general fund budget.
Councilwoman Lisa Hall and Town Administrator Tony Carson will be attending a course on the need for and proper use of a rental inspection program. Hall suggested other council and staff members consider taking the course provided through the Maryland Municipal League. She worried that many town rentals were lacking upkeep.
“We don’t want to look like Camden Avenue in Salisbury,” she said.
The council heard a request from Stacy Esham of the non-profit Small Miracle Foundation, which requested a waiver process for the charity work they do. The collection of volunteers repairs the homes of those who are too poor or infirm to make necessary repairs for themselves.
As they prepare to do their first permitted work in Berlin they asked that the council establish a process similar to the one Worcester County has wherein they present a doctors note saying that the needed work is being done for the infirm and the county waives the inspection and permitting fees.
The fee for the house in question was $65 but the council wanted to make sure that if they passed a law of this type the Small Miracles Foundation would approach the other municipalities and get them to commit to similar waiver rules.
“You’d be surprised what we can do with $65,” Esham said.
After approving the most urgent permit for the work to commence shortly, the council directed Chuck Ward, planning and zoning supervisor, to work with the town attorney on new guidelines for similar work. Councilman Troy Purnell, along with Williams, asked that the proposed changes be short, clear and direct.