Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 10/30/09

County Council Meeting Minutes

October 6, 2009

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

October 6, 2009


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on October 6, 2009 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; William V. Nichols, Vice President; Effie M. Elzey; Ricky Travers; and Rick Price. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney; Jane Baynard, County Manager and Donna Lane, Executive Administrative Specialist.





The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant to §10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter; pursuant to §10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; and pursuant to §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto.

Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all present Council members.





Council Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council approved the following additions to the agenda: a discussion regarding the proposed Technology Park and a proclamation declaring a Dorchester County Dueren County Sister Partnership Celebration week.




The Council approved the minutes for September 22, 2009 as presented.  Councilman Price abstained because he was not present at that meeting although he provided written proxy votes.



The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining from payments made to Simmons Center Market.




Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $2,446,351.43.


Phillip Bramble, President, Dorchester County Board of Education, submitted the Board’s FY 11 Board of Education Capital Improvement Plan and a ten year capital improvement worksheet to the Council for review.  He acknowledged that Dr. Henry Wagner, Assistant Superintendent; Gary McCabe, Assistant Superintendent for Administration; Chris Hauge, School Facilities Engineer; and Mike Lynch, Facilities Planner were present.  He noted that in addition to submitting the plan they were present to ask for Council’s guidance in determining the timeline for the renovation/addition of Warwick Elementary and future projects based on current budget constraints.  He said that the Board of Education’s current goal is to secure the balance of the State share of funding of $8.9 million for the Dorchester Career and Technology Center project in FY 2011.  He asked the Council for its support in this funding request to the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC).


In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey regarding the number of students enrolled in County schools, Mr. McCabe stated that the official enrollment count will not be final until October 30, 2009.  He explained that the count is based on enrollment in County schools as of September 30, 2009.  Mr. McCabe said that although enrollment decreased last year by 100 students he did not believe the current enrollment dropped that low. 


Mr. McCabe noted that the FY 11 Capital Improvement Plan was only a planning document at present and included a County funding contribution of $420,000 in FY 2011 to complete the Career and Technology Center.  He explained that the anticipated funding needs recognized savings during the Dorchester Career and Technology Center construction phase which would be used to offset the original anticipated needs for the local share of the last phase of the new school which will reduce or eliminate the need for additional County funding. 


Dr. Wagner asked the Council for its guidance in determining the timeline of the Warwick Elementary project.  He noted that according to State guidelines the rated capacity of students for that school was 249 and that there were over 300 students enrolled in Warwick Elementary.  Jane Baynard, County Manager, noted that the Council had requested that the Board of Education re-evaluate projects beyond the Dorchester Career and Technology Center during the County’s FY 2010 budget process including delaying future systemic improvements by at least one year.


The Council conceptually approved the Dorchester County Board of Education’s Fiscal Year 2011 Capital Improvement Plan for planning purposes only and agreed to fund the local monies necessary to affect the final phase of the Dorchester Career and Technology Center Project in FY 2011 of $420,000.    The Council acknowledged that the final approval of the Capital Improvement Plan would be contingent upon the Council’s FY 2011 budget approval.   The Council agreed to execute a letter of support for the Capital Improvement Plan and further agreed that the Board of Education should restructure future year’s plans to delay the Warwick Elementary and North Dorchester High School projects by one year.  Councilman Price opposed.  The Council acknowledged and encouraged the Board of Education to seek the remaining $8.9 million of the State’s $14 million commitment for the construction phase of the Career and Technology Center from the IAC to be fully funded in FY 2011. 



The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on October 6, 2009 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article §10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter; pursuant to §10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; and pursuant to §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto.


Motion made, seconded and carried to conduct a closed session pursuant to the above.  All members of the Council voted in the affirmative to conduct the closed session for the purposes stated above and to discuss the topics listed above.


Action taken at the closed session: 1) discussed with legal counsel and Board of License Commissioners members relating to the legal interpretation of Article 2B-Councilman Newcomb was not present; 2) approved the continued funding of an expert witness to assist with legal issues pertaining to current litigation by a 5 to 0 vote; 3) discussed with legal counsel a matter concerning contractual services – took no action; 4)     discussed personnel issues relating to FY 2010 budget-took no action; 5) approved the request of the Emergency Medical Services Director to promote two individuals to an EMT-1 by a 5 to 0 vote; 6) deferred matter relating to proposed Technology Park to regular session.


The above information is being provided to the public pursuant to and in compliance with Section 10-509(b) and (c) of the State Government Article.





The Council presented a proclamation declaring October 2009 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Jeanne Yeager from Mid Shore Council on Family Violence accepted the proclamation.  Chief Kenneth Malik thanked the Council for presenting the proclamation and expressed his support for the Mid Shore Council on Family Violence staff.


PROCLAMATION-DORCHESTER COUNTY DUEREN COUNTY SISTER PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATION                                                                                

The Council presented a proclamation declaring October 11 to October 18, 2009 as Dorchester County Dueren County Sister Partnership Celebration week.   Debbie Herr accepted the proclamation.




Ms. Baynard noted the Council, at its September 22, 2009 meeting, asked the Humane Society Board of Directors accept the additional $15,150 allocated in the County’s FY10 Animal Control budget for the remainder of the fiscal year as a $50 per dog housing fee increase, intended for and to remain as an open admissions shelter for the remainder of the year.  She advised that immediately prior to this meeting the Council was provided a copy of a proposed contract from the Humane Society for the FY2010 budgeted allowance for services in exchange for sheltering up to 300 dogs delivered to its animal shelter by Dorchester County Animal Control Officers.  She stated that the new agreement required monthly payments with a limit on the dogs accepted.  She advised that Sheriff Phillips had reviewed the contract and expressed concern about the cap of 300 dogs.  She acknowledged that members of the Humane Society Board were present.  Ms. Baynard also noted that the terms of this contract deferred from prior years’ agreements which charged per dog and included an operations cost.


In response to question from Councilman Newcomb, Dana Dickerson, Humane Society Board Treasurer, advised that 72% of the Humane Society’s revenue was from donations and adoptions and that there was a $58,000 shortfall in funding last year.


Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. Jerilyn Gibbs advised that if an agreement is not made between the Humane Society and the County Council they will continue to be a limited admissions “rescue” facility.


Tom Keating, Humane Society Board member, spoke in support of the Humane Society’s proposed contract. 


Dotty Travers and Henrietta Jarrett, Dorchester County residents, expressed their concern about the proposed contract and the Humane Society’s need for additional funding.


The Council agreed to defer consideration of the contract submitted by the Humane Society to provide housing and care for 300 dogs for the remainder of FY 2011 at an annual cost of $92,150 and requested that Sheriff Phillips present to the Council his recommendations regarding the care and control of dogs in the County for the remainder of the fiscal year at its October 20, 2009 meeting.  Councilman Price opposed.



Rodney Banks, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director, stated that a public hearing was being held on the inclusion of a Water Resource Element into the County’s Comprehensive Plan pursuant to House Bill 1141 which was passed during the 2006 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Assembly.   He explained that pursuant to this legislation counties and municipalities that implement planning and zoning authority to adopt the Water Resource Element which requires a substantial review and evaluation of water, sewer and storm water capacity for current and projected uses. He stated that a draft of the Water Resource Element was reviewed by State representatives and that comments have been received from state agencies including the Maryland Department of Planning, Maryland Environmental Trust and the Maryland Department of Environment.  He noted that the Planning Commission also held a public hearing on the Water Resource Element.


Mr. Banks advised that Benjamin Sussmann, Project Manager, Environmental Resource Management, was hired as a consultant to assist in developing the document. 


Mr. Sussmann provided a power point presentation on the development of the Water Resource Element.  He advised that approximately half of the homes in the County are on a public water system and are connected to a public sewer system.  He explained that public drinking water systems are adequate up to 2030 with the exception of the Town of Hurlock which will likely need to find additional water supplies and that there will be adequate wastewater capacity until 2030.    He noted that the final recommendations as a result of the Water Resource Plan review included tailoring land use regulations to encourage new development in prior funding areas, working the Maryland Department of Environment to identify new sources of drinking water where appropriate and identifying unincorporated areas where new County operated public water and wastewater systems may be appropriate. 


There was no public comment.


The Council adopted a resolution to amend Dorchester County’s Comprehensive Plan to include the Water Resource Element.


HISTORIC PRESERVATION-ELIZABETH BECKLEY                                                                                             

Elizabeth Beckley, Preservation Maryland, National Trust for Historical Preservation, provided the Council with information regarding the benefits of forming a Historic Preservation Commission in the County to protect the County's historic and cultural resources and to assist with the Harriet Tubman Park initiative.  She said that having such a Committee will be beneficial in addressing future projects and their effect on Dorchester County including the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway project. 


She asked the Council to consider forming a working group representing individuals within the County including farmers, businessmen and women, non-profit organizations and County government representatives to review preservation and conservation alternatives and to provide a recommendation to the Council in a timely fashion regarding the development of a historic preservation ordinance and other conservation tools.  In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Ms. Beckley stated that four of the nine counties on the Eastern Shore have formed historic preservation committees.


Libby Nagel, a Dorchester County resident, expressed her support of the formation of a Historic Preservation Committee which will help protect County land from overdevelopment.


The Council agreed to consider forming a Historic Preservation Committee and requested that Ms. Beckley provide a sample resolution to form the committee for its review and consideration.



Roger Harrell, Health Officer, introduced Cheryl McLaughlin, Chief Emergency Preparedness Officer, and advised that she will provide information on the seasonal flu and the H1N1 vaccines. 


Ms. McLaughlin advised that the four pillars of public health consisted of surveillance, mitigation, education and communication and vaccination.  She explained that surveillance includes the receipt of information from local school and hospitals regarding reported cases of H1N1flu and seasonal flu and from local pharmacies regarding over the counter sales.  Ms. McLaughlin noted that mitigation is the development of a continued operations plan and conduction of drills.  She explained that as part of the education and communication aspect of public health, Health Department staff distributed posters promoting proper hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and hand sanitizers.  She said that although the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu have more similarities than difference, the young are having the most complications with the H1N1 whereas the seasonal flu affects the older population more.   Ms. MacLaughlin stated that stimulus funds have been received to provide free seasonal flu shots to grades kindergarten to fifth grade and that unfortunately they were unable to only vaccinate students at one public elementary school due to lack of the vaccine.   She said that they also received funds from the Center for Disease Control to provide the H1N1 vaccine to the public free of charge.  She said that the Health Department will be responsible for providing that vaccine in all public and private schools in all grades.  She said that the five priority groups to receive the H1N1 vaccine first were pregnant women, caregivers and those in contact with under six months of age, individuals 6 to24 years of age and individuals 24-64 years of age with underlying health conditions and health care and emergency personnel.  In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. McLaughlin stated that because the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu are two different strains individuals should have both shots.


Based on a question from Councilman, Ms. McLaughlin advised that nursing homes will provide vaccines to their residents.  She said that the staff at the Pleasant Day Adult Center bring their clients to the Health Department to receive shots.


Mr. Harrell encouraged everyone to obtain a regular flu shot.  He also encouraged those eligible to receive the H1N1 vaccine to take advantage of that opportunity.  He said that they remain in constant contact with the County’s Emergency Management staff and will provide the Council with updates.  He thanked the Council members for the opportunity to provide them with information on the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu.


The Council thanked Mr. Harrell and Ms. McLaughlin for their presentation.




The Council approved a request from CAG Little Horn Point, LLC for a proposed conservation easement donation on their 117 acre property to the Maryland Environmental Trust and Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and acknowledged that the easement may provide a 15 year tax credit on the land.  Ms. Baynard noted that the impact to the County’s property tax base would be $5,156.00 annually.




The Council approved a request from Waterfowl Habitat, LLC for a proposed conservation easement donation on their 163 acre property to the Maryland Environmental Trust and acknowledged that the easement may provide a 15 year tax credit on the land.  Ms. Baynard noted that the impact to the County’s property tax base would be $61.50 annually.




The Council approved the written request of Kay Trice, Finance Officer, Dorchester County Department of Social Services, and agreed to execute a Standard Contract Modification Agreement between the Dorchester County Council and the Officers of Grants Management, a unit of the Maryland Department of Human Resources which reflects a 10% budget reduction to $35,405 effective October 1, 2009 for FY 2010 of Emergency Transitional Housing Services funds.  The Council acknowledged that the funds were reduced pursuant to the State of Maryland FY2010 budget bill which mandates that all State agencies reduce their appropriated FY 2010 funding in contractual services.  The Council further recognized that this was a multi-year contract and that it is Ms. Trice’s understanding that funding for FY 2011 and FY 2012 is currently intact.




The Council agreed to execute a letter of support for the grant application submitted by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to Preservation Maryland for a grant to commence the rehabilitation of the Hooper Island lighthouse.  The Council acknowledged that any local match will be provided by the U.S. Lighthouse Society and that there are no County funds available for this project.




The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director,

for one staff person to attend the Adventures in Travel Expo in Washington, DC on March 6 and March 7, 2010 by expending funds for the registration fee ($1,487.50), food (approximately $100) and  parking (approximately $40) from the FY10 Tourism budget.  The Council did not approve her request for lodging and requested that the staff member attending this event travel to and from the expo on a daily basis.   Councilman Nichols opposed.


The Council approved the request of Vernon Hurley, 911 Director, for Chris Abbott to attend the PSSI CAD User Conference in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand from November 9 to November 13, 2009.  Councilman Nichols opposed.  The Council acknowledged that the trip will cost approximately $1,200 including airfare and hotel and will be paid from the 911 Center budget.  The Council further acknowledged that the cost for the actual conference sessions is being covered by the CAD vendor.    The Council discussed whether Sheriff James Phillips would consider allowing Mr. Abbott to represent the Sheriff’s Office as well but took no action.




The Council approved the request of Nancy Shockley, Local Management Board Director, on behalf of the Local Management Board, to change the name of that Board to the Dorchester Community Partnership for Children and Families.  The Council deferred Ms. Shockley’s request to amend the By-Laws of that Board until further clarification can be provided by Ms. Baynard regarding the request as it relates to the resolution to establish the Board.




The Council denied the request of Keasha Haythe, Economic Development Director, to contract for the re-design of the Economic Development website at this time and agreed to reconsider this request once the Technology Park Project is closer to completion. Based on the price estimates provided the Council instructed that any future requests for this project must follow County bidding requirements, including seeking Council’s pre-approval to advertise.





The Council approved the request of Madeline Moore, Youth Services Director, to submit a grant application to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for $113,000 to $115,000 for a gang prevention program with no local match.  The Council acknowledged that the grant funds are for one year only and will cover 2.26 positions and all material and other costs for the project.



Based on a written request from Kimberly C. Doyle, Chief of Grant Operations, at the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, the Council agreed that the only Authorized Official to sign grant applications, sub-awards, grant modification requests and/or programmic and fiscal reports to that agency shall be the President of the County Council.  The Council agreed that there will be no alternate authorized signatory for these documents.




The Council agreed to the observance of Halloween on Saturday, October 31, 2009 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for children ages 12 and under. The Council agreed that this policy will not supersede prescheduled times and dates set by municipalities.




The Council agreed to send a letter to all entities on the Eastern Shore, including local governments, municipalities, Heritage Area Boards, Chamber of Commerce, the Mid Shore Regional Council, the Upper Shore Regional Council and the Lower Shore Regional Council, regarding the Council’s position on the proposed Mid Atlantic Power Pathway project as currently proposed.  The Council further agreed that Charles MacLeod, Special Legal Counsel, may compose a condensed letter to provide to all media outlets on the Eastern Shore.


Based on the comment made by Ms. Nagel that one 85 acre property owned by John Sutherland on Route 50 towards the Town of Vienna was purchased by Delmarva Power, the Council requested clarification from Mr. MacLeod on whether the statement in the letter that there no right-of-ways have been obtained for the project is accurate.




Ms. Baynard stated that in the interim between meetings the Council took action on the following by means of telephone poll:  1) approved the request of Bob and Cathy Geisler to hold a Prayer Rally at Noon on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 in Spring Valley at the Circuit Court House by a 5 to 0 vote and requested that no activity take place on the steps of the Court House or near any of the building’s signage; 2) agreed to move forward with proposed legislation to establish regulations to prohibit the possession and distribution of salvia and its related paraphernalia and asked staff to draft legislation by a 5 to 0 vote; 3) denied the request of a County resident to temporarily suspend, reduce or postpone fees affiliated with obtaining County building permits based on current budget constraints by a 5 to 0 vote.



The Council approved the written request of Ed Kinnamon, Clerk/Treasurer, on behalf of the City of Cambridge, to Council members to participate in the pre-funding of  water and sewer infrastructure construction along Buck town Road to the proposed Technology Park acknowledging that the County will reimburse 76% of any bond counsel and financial advisor fee for this pre-funding pursuant to Section IV, paragraph 11, entitled “Repayment of Loan 1” of the Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement dated March 31, 2009.  The Council acknowledged that this interim financing in necessary because the approved loan granted by the United States Department of Agriculture will not be initiated until the project is completed.  The Council also agreed to provide a letter in support regarding the City’s efforts to assist them in their efforts obtain this interim funding to submit to lending institutions to assist them in their efforts to obtain this funding.



Carol Ember, a Dorchester County resident, noted that she asked the Council at its September 22, 2009 meeting to consider forming a committee to make decisions regarding animal control and care which will consist of a cross section of representatives from the entire County including the County Council.    She said the Council agreed to consider her request and again asked the Council to form the committee.  In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Ms. Ember explained that the committee members will be charged with determining a reasonable budget for animal control and consider a mandatory spaying and neutering program.  Councilman Newcomb that the County is only legislatively mandated to enforce dog control in the County.


The Council denied Ms. Embrey’s request to form a committee.

Ms. Nagel advised the Council that a recent article in a local news publication erroneously stated that she recommended that residents boycott Ocean City because Worcester County representatives sent a letter in support of the Mid Atlantic Power Path project.


Mr. Harrell thanked Councilman Price for participating in the walk to school day at Warwick Elementary.



At the request of Councilman Price, the Council agreed to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Environment and the Department of Natural Resources with a copy of the Dorchester County Waterman’s Association and local legislators inviting members of their staff to meet with the Council and residents regarding the closure of waters located in Dorchester County and more particularly, from Warwick River from the Talbot County shoreline to the Dorchester County shoreline, for the harvesting or storing of shellfish which became effective February 9, 2008. 


Councilman Price advised the Council that at a recent Dorchester County Volunteer Association those volunteers that were present expressed their appreciation of the Council for the payment of workers compensation for active firefighters.


Councilman Newcomb advised that the next County Council meeting was scheduled for October 20, 2009. 


With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.



ATTEST:                                                         DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:


______________________________            ____________________________________

Jane Baynard, County Manager                       Jay L. Newcomb, President



                                                                        William V. Nichols, Vice President



                                                                        Effie M. Elzey