County Council Meeting Minutes
January 30, 2007
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
January 30, 2007
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on January 30, 2007 with the following members present: Present were William V. Nichols, President; Jay Newcomb, Vice President; Effie M. Elzey; Ricky Travers; Rick Price. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather,
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive
Session pursuant to paragraph (1)(i) of Section 10-508(a) to discuss employment of employees; pursuant to paragraph (3) of Section 10-508(a) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; and pursuant to paragraph (8) of Section 10-508(a) to obtain consult with staff, consultants or other individuals about pending or potential litigation; pursuant to paragraph (4) to consider a matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; and pursuant to paragraph (7) of Section 10-508(a) to obtain legal advice.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilwoman Elzey led the invocation and Councilman Price led the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
Ms. Baynard stated that there were no additions or deletions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES-JANUARY 16, 2007
The Council approved the minutes for January 16, 2007 as presented.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining from Simmons Center Market vouchers.
FINANCIAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Nichols reported total cash and investments as $10,478,566.66.
NATIONAL OUTDOOR SHOW MONTH-FEBRUARY 2007-PROCLAMATION
The Council presented a proclamation to the Buddy Oberender, Co-Director of the National Outdoor Show, proclaiming February 2007 as National Outdoor Show Month. Mr. Oberender thanked the Council for the proclamation and invited them to be timers for the muskrat skinning contest. He introduced 2006 Miss Outdoors, Brooke Wooten and 2006 Little Miss, Melissa Holiday.
COMMENDATION OF APPRECIATION-CINDY BETTS
The Council presented a commendation of appreciation to Cindy Betts, representative of Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Eastern Shore Office, for her support and assistance throughout the years in legislation issues and to extend best wishes on her retirement. Cindy Betts accepted the commendation and advised the Council that she retired January 12, 2007. She thanked the Council for the commendation.
COMMENDATION OF APPRECIATION-LEE WHALEY
Ms. Whaley stated that it was an honor and a privilege working with the Council on legislative issues. Joe Coyne of Resource Preservation and Development Corporation, stated that he appreciated her efforts in helping the Corporation with legislative issues. He presented Ms. Whaley with a letter of appreciation.
MENTAL HEALTH STUDY PRESENTATION-DORCHESTER COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Roger Harrell, Director of the Dorchester County Health Department introduced Patti Willis, VP Corporate Communications of Shore Health Systems and Kitty Nelson, Clinical Director Mid Shore Medical Health Systems, who worked with him in preparing a Mental Health Study for the area serviced by Shore Health Systems.
Ms. Willis thanked the Council for the opportunity to present to them the Mid Shore Behavioral Health Access Study. She advised the Council that that the common theme between The Memorial Hospital at Easton, Inc. and
Ms. Willis stated that emergency psychiatric evaluations increased over 40% in a four year period at both of the Shore Health System Emergency rooms and that unfortunately those who need admission for their conditions are force to wait longer times for beds at State Hospital due to a lack of availability of space in the community.
Mr. Harrell stated that several years ago the Eastern Shore Hospital used to receive all psychiatric patients for emergency evaluations but have ceased to do so which has resulted in more of the evaluations being preformed in local hospitals. He said that the problem with admitting people with these problems in State hospitals is that they are isolated from their family and support system which are beneficial in their recovery. He said that there are now special needs of the growing Hispanic Community in the area due to their limited ability to speak English as well as an increase in residents over 60 which have also created a new for a more uniform mental health system.
Ms. Nelson stated that improved access will require cooperation and collaboration among several different agendas and that a grant has been received in the amount of $13 million dollars to build an infrastructure in the State of
Mr. Harrell advised the County that there was new leadership at the
In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey what, if anything else needed to be done, Ms. Willis stated that the study was the first step in determining what additional services were needed to address the problem. She said that as a result of the study the grants she and Ms. Nelson previously mentioned were obtained and that the legislature needed to be made aware of the problem. She said that the subject is in the legislature now and that the Maryland Hospital Association has put forth legislation concerning mental health care. Ms. Willis stated that she and Mr. Harrell will be back before Council within the next year to update them of their progress.
Stewart Bounds, President of Chesapeake College, advised the Council that he was present to advise the Council of the
Mr. Malone stated that the student population of the
Mr. Malone stated that the Cambridge Center Strategic Plan was spearheaded by the Advisory Committee, endorsed by the College and approved by the Chesapeake College Board of Trustees. He said that the vision of the Board for the
Mr. Malone stated that the first initiative to provide the same level and quality of services and programs as is available in Wye Mills, was the evaluation of student needs as well as the evaluating of the success rates of Cambridge students in comparison with the students who attend programs at the main campus of the College to evaluate if they are completing programs in the same amount of time and achieving the same credits.
He said that the second initiative is to focus on the needs of each student and supporting their educational goals by expanding the programs and services at the
Mr. Malone stated that the third initiative was to meet educational and workforce training needs of the business community through credit and non credit work including the expansion of the Institute for Adult learning at the
Mr. Malone stated that the fourth initiative was to meet the needs of the under prepared and first generation college students by reviewing how to implement academic support programs to help those individuals who are having problems by restructuring classes, increase staff and providing supplemental support.
Mr. Malone stated that the fifth initiative was to increase the availability of dual enrollment for
Mr. Malone stated that the Cambridge Center is experiencing space limitations and it is estimated that twice the current space is needed in the long term for the Center and estimated the need for 50,000 square feet, which could be accomplished by purchasing property near the existing Cambridge Center and doubling the building’s capacity or by acquiring a new piece of property to build the Cambridge Center on. He said that the Board of Education is working with Brad Broadwell, Economic Development Director, to evaluate its options including purchasing a new building. Mr. Malone stated that the Maryland Economic Development Corporation owned the building that currently houses the
Mr. Malone stated that the seventh initiative was to increase the visibility of the college and
In response to a question from Councilman Travers as to whether the Spring session of the College was successful, Mr. Bounds stated that it was a very successful Spring session in that there have been a lot of full time students enrolling in the College. He said that more than half of the students in the County are choosing
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Midcap stated that a long distance learning center has been at the
In response to a question from Councilman Nichols as to how much progress has been made in pinpointing a new site for the Cambridge Center, Dr. Bounds stated that they just started discussions about looking for a new site and that Mr. Broadwell and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation are a key element in their potential plans for a relocation of the Cambridge Center. He said that Mr. Broadwell has been helpi8ng identify potential sites as well as helping him in the search for a new tenant to pick up the lease at the current Cambridge Center site. He said that one of the consideration in identifying a potential site is the parking because of the need for more parking. He said that
In response to a question from Councilman Travers concerning the length of the
Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb as to whether the College has had to turn down students due to the limited class size at the
In response to a question from Councilman Price as to the amount of adults attending classes to obtain new skills, Dr. Bounds stated that there is a large adult population in both non-credit and credit classes but that most of the growth has been due to high school graduates utilizing the College as the first step in their search for higher learning.
Dan McDermott, Executive Director of the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, stated that he was requesting the Council concurrence on his request to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for a Rapid Response grant application in the amount of $300,000 to allow the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board staff to provide services and training to the employees of Icelandic USA that will be losing their jobs due to the closing of the company. He introduced Melissa Mackey, an employee with the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board.
Ms. Mackey thanked the Council for allowing her the opportunity to speak and stated that Icelandic officials had given December 12, 2007 as the final closing date for the plant. She said that the first layoff will occur on March 31, 2007. She stated that the money will help the Board assist working in transitioning to a new job as well as to compensate several organizations including
Ms. Mackey stated that a survey has been distributed to the employees and that they will be meeting with them on an individual basis.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers as to when the job fair will take place, Ms. Mackey stated that the job fair will be on April 25, 2007 and that the employees at Icelandic would receive training the day before the fair to prepare.
Mr. McDermott stated that the two keys items that have to be utilized in administering the grant is involving the community and having flexibility to provide what the displaced workers will need in order to obtain a new job. He advised the Council that the monies received will be used only to help the displaced Icelandic workers.
The Council agreed to sign a letter of concurrence for the Rapid Response program to be submitted by the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board. Councilman Nichols abstained. The Council requested that Mr. McDermott update the Council periodically.
RECONSIDERATION OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION -LIQUOR BOARD
Councilman Newcomb and Councilman Nichols excused themselves from the meeting in order for the remaining Council Members to reconsider proposed legislation submitted by the Board of License Commissioners.
The Council agreed to designate Councilwoman Elzey to conduct the meeting in reference to a request to submit proposed legislation from the Board of License Commissioners due to the fact that Councilman Nichols and Councilman Newcomb are liquor licenses holders and could not participate in this discussion.
Mr. Merryweather advised the Council that the proposed legislation was before the Council for the second time and that the proposed legislation would require that an individual who has received Alcohol Awareness Training Certification be present at the business during the hours alcohol is being sold. Ms. Baynard advised the Council that the matter had been deferred on January 16, 2007 and was before the Council for its final consideration as legislative bills had to be introduced in the Senate by February 2, 2007 and in the House by February 9, 2007.
In response to a question from Councilman Price, as to whether they had been any changes made to the language of the amendment based on the concerns cited by the public at the January 16, 2007 meeting, Ms. Baynard stated that the only change was that the provision making it mandatory for the store owner to keep a log of every time he was out of the office. She noted that at the last meeting Bruce Coulson, a resident of
Mr. Merryweather recommended that, based on the comments and concerns received from the public at the last meeting, the Council defer reconsideration of the proposed legislation until the next legislative session so that public hearings can be held at that time before the Council reconsiders the legislation.
Councilman Price expressed his concern that the proposed legislation was submitted to the Board towards the end of the time limit for legislation to be introduced. Ms. Baynard stated that the Board of License Commissioners brought forward the legislation immediately after attending alcohol awareness training and realizes that legislation needed to be introduced to make it mandatory for those individuals who are certified to be present at the place of business at all times when alcohol is sold. She explained that although a public hearing was not held, it has been the practice of Senator Richard Colburn for several years to conduct a public hearing on the alcohol issues in Dorchester County and that she believed he would be doing so again this year.
Portia Ennals, a resident of
Council deferred the Board of License Commissioners’ request to submit the proposed legislation that would require that an individual who has received Alcohol Awareness Training Certification be present at the business during the hours alcohol is being sold to local legislators for introduction in the 2007 Maryland General Assembly legislative session until the 2008 Maryland General Assembly legislative session after public hearings have been conducted on the proposed legislation.
COMPUTER LEASING PROGRAM CONTRACT DISCUSSION
Ms. Baynard advised the Council that Mr. Merryweather had expressed concern with certain language in the Computer Leasing Program Contract between the Dorchester County Council and Dell Financial Inc., in particular language holding the County responsible for legal fees for certain actions and a restrictive indemnity clause limited the County’s exposure against Dell Financial Inc. She stated that in talking with Dell officials, Mr. Merryweather was advised that the language was standard language and that Dell was not willing to change the lease contract. She said that Mr. Merryweather had advised her that he believes entering into the Computer Leasing Program Contract is a
reasonable risk based on the public good and that the next step if the Council would agree to enter into lease agreement would be to proceed with local legislative action on the Capital Lease which would require a 60 day enactment period.
Mr. Merryweather stated that it was the County’s policy not pay attorney fees or enter into contracts with indemnity clauses but that he believed entering in the contract would be a reasonable risk based on the public good as it will allow for the updating of computers for the County and provide the County with a means of receiving the latest technology.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers as to whether the County will be liable for any costs as long as there was no default of the contract, Mr. Merryweather stated that that was not the case and that other items could come into play to create a situation where the County would be obligated to pay attorney fees but that he believed that the Council should enter into the contract.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey concerning other counties who have entered into a similar contract, Mr. Merryweather stated that Dell advised him that over 600 other municipalities had entered into this type of computer leasing program contract.
Ms. Baynard noted that several of the advantages of entering into the contract would be that the County would receive state of the art equipment and would not have to be responsible for disposing of old computers and computer components.
Based on Councilman Travers question concerning how many computers would be purchased and the affect of any entering into the contract would have on the 911 Center, Ms. Baynard stated that it was her belief that 125 computers would be purchased and that 911 screens and computers may be replaced but that it would not affect the 911 servers which are specialized servers.
The Council agreed to the request of Don Keyes, Information Technology Director, to enter into a Computer Leasing Program Contract with Dell Financial, Inc. to lease 125 workstations and five laptops at the cost per year of $40,167.53 for a total cost of $120,502.68 over a three year period. and agreed to pursue local legislation to enter into the Capital Lease agreement. The Council acknowledged that the risk in entering the contract is a reasonable risk based on the public good.
FY08 RURAL LEGACY APPLICATION APPROVAL REQUEST-PLANNING AND ZONING
Rodney Banks, Planner, advised the Council that the County had just received funding through the FY07 Rural Legacy Fund in the amount of $750,000 for the Marshyhope area and $2.1 million for the Nanticoke area to purchase 1200 more acres of land for conservation and stated that he was before the Council to request that the Council agree to submit a FY08 Rural Legacy Application in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for preservation funds for the Marshyhope area and the Nanticoke area.
The Council approved the request of Mr. Banks to submit a, allocated through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Council acknowledged that the application will identify both the Marshyhope and Nanticoke Rural Legacy areas but will prioritize the Marshyhope Rural Legacy area.
PROPOSED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UPDATE MEETINGS
Ms. Baynard advised the Council that the Proposed Economic Development Update Meeting matter had been erroneously placed on the agenda. She stated that it was instead a memo to the Council confirming that Brad Broadwell, Economic Development Director, will be providing the Council with regular monthly updates and that based on the subject matter of those updates the Council may meet in open session or in executive session pursuant to the Open Meetings Act.
REQUEST FOR ABATEMENT OF EXCISE TAXES-HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Jackie Noller, Chairman of the Core Steering Committee of the Habitat for Humanity, advised the Council that she was requesting an abatement of excise taxes for the second house constructed by Habitat for Humanity. Ms. Baynard noted that the Council did not have the authority to abate excise taxes but could reimburse Habitat for Humanity for their payment of the excise tax.
Ms. Noller reminded the Council members that they approved the reimbursement of excise taxes to Habitat for Humanity for the first house that was constructed. She advised the Council that the first home will be dedicated on Saturday and that the family moved in the house last week. She thanked the Council for its past support and stressed that she was not requesting a monetary contribution from the County to construct a Habitat of Humanity home but to request reimbursement of the excise tax.
She advised the Council that the plan is to build three Habitat for Humanity homes in 2007 with the possibility of a fourth house being constructed in Hurlock. She thanked the Council again for its past support and noted that the approximately $3,500 in excise tax that the County pays is enough to help build part of the framing of the next Habitat for Humanity home.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers concerning the length of time it took to build the first Habitat for Humanity home in
In response to a question from Councilman Travers concerning whether or not the properties for those three homes were purchased, Ms. Noller stated that each lot has been purchased and that they are looking for a fourth property in Hurlock. She noted that Habitat for Humanity homes are affordable housing homes and that an individual must make an income of 70% of the median income for Dorchester County to qualify as well as well as perform 400 hours of commitment.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb as to how soon Ms. Noller would be coming back before the Council to request an reimbursement of excise taxes for the third home to be constructed, Ms. Noller stated that she would be coming back before Council no later than June 2007, and possibly sooner to discus with the County other ways they could provide help to Habitat for Humanity in constructing the homes.
The Council approved the request of Jackie Noller to reimburse the excise taxes paid on the second house constructed by the Habitat for Humanity. The Council acknowledged that the reimbursement of the excise taxes will be paid from FY07 Contingency funds.