Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 12/03/09

County Council Meeting Minutes

November 3, 2009

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

November 3, 2009


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on November 3, 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 the State Government Article §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)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.


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





Councilman Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council approved the addition of the consideration of a Community Development Block grant award for the Madison Woolford sewer extension project to the agenda.




The Council approved the minutes for October 20, 2009 as presented.


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 $11,179,618.41.



The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Dr. Frederic Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $417,159.89 from General Fund/PAYGO 2010 for a computer lease, $307,203.22 and $109,956.67.


The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Dr. Hildenbrand, in the amount of $26,027.25 from Transfer Tax Fund/PAYGO 2009 for the following non systemic projects: 1) paving/concrete site work, $21,277.25; and 2) purchase of capital equipment (a Dixie Chopper) grass cutter, $4,750.


The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Dr. Hildenbrand, in the amount of $84,020 from Bonds of 2008 for costs associated with the design of the School of Technology.



The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on November 3, 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)(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)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.


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) approved the request of the Emergency Medical Services Director to promote two individuals to an EMT-1 by a 3 to 0 vote; 2) discussed with legal counsel and staff 911 altering procedures- requested additional information; 3) sought legal advice on a proposed legislative initiative for 2010 session –agreed to discuss the matter in open session; 4) discussed with legal counsel issues regarding a possible Program Open Space funding amendment –took no action; 5) discussed with legal counsel a request for a property tax abatement-took no action.


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 rescheduled the presentation of a commendation to the members of the Dorchester Citizens for Safe Energy.


MADISON WOOLFORD SEWER EXTENSION UPDATE-SANITARY DISTRICT                                                  

Robert Tieder, Sanitary Commission Chairman, provided the Council with an update on the Madison Woolford sewer extension project.  He explained that bids for the project were opened on September 21, 2009 and that David A Bramble, the lowest bidder, was selected as the contractor for the project.  He noted that construction will begin on December 1, 2009 and that the project should be completed within 400 days.

The Council thanked Mr. Tieder for his update.



Based on written correspondence received from Cindy Stone, Director, Office of Community Programs, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Council accepted a Community Development Block Grant award for the Madison Woolford sewer extension project in an amount not to exceed $700,000 with no local County match.  The Council acknowledged that the funds are available through September 30, 2011 and that the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission will administer the grant.




Ms. Baynard stated that the Council is scheduled to meet with local legislators regarding proposed legislative initiatives for the 2010 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session on November 10, 2009 at 6 p.m. 


She advised that Sheriff James Phillips has submitted a request for Council’s support for legislation that may be introduced in the 2010 session which, if introduced, would result in a District Court trial date not being automatically scheduled for every traffic ticket due to the lack of action taken by a defendant.   Ms. Baynard said that Sheriff Phillips cited prior legislative initiatives and stated that he feels strongly that the legislation will limit overtime paid to staff to attend traffic court.  The Council agreed to support the legislation if it is re-introduced and asked the delegation to do so as well.


The Council agreed to seek legislation to amend Article 24, Political Subdivisions, Miscellaneous, Section 24-101, in the Annotated Code of Maryland to create a new subtitle entitled “Privilege Tax” to authorize the Council to impose by ordinance a privilege tax on certain public utilities, persons or corporations engaged in the business of transmitting electricity through one or more long distance, extra-high voltage electric transmission lines located in Dorchester County.   The Council requested that the proposed privilege tax legislation be amended to include two different base rates, one for above ground ($750) and one for underground transmission lines ($250).  The Council acknowledged that the proposed formula to calculate the tax is the number of miles of high voltage transmission lines in service within the County multiplied by a base rate and multiplied by the number of volts transmitted (measured in kilovolts where a kilovolt is 1,000 volts).  The Council recognized that that transmissions lines placed under bodies of water will not be taxed.  The Council further acknowledged that the revenue realized from the tax will be divided into thirds and will be used for the following: 1) to reduce the burden on electricity rate payers; 2) for environment programs and services to preserve the quality of air, water, land and natural resources in the County; and 3) for economic development and tourism.


The Council agreed to discuss with local legislators the removal or amendment of the

real property assessment cap on marshland which is currently assessed at $37.50 per acre.  The Council requested clarification of the real property assessment process from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. 


Ms. Baynard advised that the Council will also address the following items with local legislators for possible submission during the 2010 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session: 1) amending Section 4-201 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to require that, upon appointment, the Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools must take up primary residence in Dorchester County within one year from the first date of employment; 2) amending Section 9-622(A)(ii) of the Environment Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to add a sixth member to the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission to represent newly established Madison-Woolford-Susquehanna Sanitary District; 3) amending Article 2B, Alcoholic Beverages, §6-301(K), Beer, Wine And Liquor License-Clubs, to bring armed forces and nationwide fraternal organizations into compliance by lowering membership requirements; 4) amending Article 2B , Alcoholic Beverages, §16-507(k), Local Penalties, to increase the amount of fines the Dorchester County Board Of License Commissioners may impose.


Councilman Newcomb advised that on November 10, 2009 the Council will meet with the Board of Education at 5 p.m., local legislators at 6 p.m. and with Maryland Department of Transportation representatives at 7 p.m.





The Council approved the request of Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, to execute a Building Permit Issuance Agreement between the County Council and T. Noble Jarrell, III which precludes Mr. Jarrell from obtaining a building permit on Lot 2 of his proposed two lot subdivision located adjacent to the Sunnyside Landing subdivision.  The Council acknowledged that access to proposed Lot 2 will be from Vista Del Mar Way, which is the same road serving that subdivision and that once that road has been accepted into the County road system, the agreement between Mr. Jarrell and the County will be automatically terminated.



The Council adopted a fiscal policy and procedure to specify how and when business expenses relative to meals may be incurred by County employees and what documentation must be submitted in order to ensure the proper use of County resources and the compliance with federal regulations with the following amendment to Section V-Exclusions:  This policy does not apply to meals, hospitality and refreshments associated with Council approved social gatherings and events or meals purchased by employees while on travel status, which is defined as travel requiring an overnight stay necessary for an authorized County business purpose.  The Council acknowledged that Department Heads had been given the opportunity to comment on the policy and procedure with comments being received from Becky Dennis, Human Resources Director, and Madeline Moore, Youth Services Director.




The Council approved the request of Nancy Shockley, Local Management Board Director, to accept the Community Development Block Grant award for the Dorchester County Boys and Girls Club in the amount of $80,000 with no local County match for the grant period of September 1, 2009 to September 30, 2011.  The Council acknowledged that the funds will support the salary of an Executive Director for the Dorchester County Boys and Girls Club and operating expenses.



The Council approved the request of Sheriff Phillips to purchase a 12x20 temporary building to expand the kennel capacity for Animal Control at the Public Safety Complex from Amish Direct for $4,100 from the FY10 Animal Control budget.   The Council acknowledged that Sheriff Phillips obtained three quotes and that Amish Direct was the lowest bidder.  The Council further acknowledged that Sheriff Phillips may submit a future request for authorization to purchase cages for this kennel expansion provided costs can be funded from the Dog Control budget.




The Council approved the request of Warden Don Satterfield, Dorchester Detention Center, to purchase a Roof Mounted 10 ton HVAC unit to serve the Sheriff’s Office side of the Public Safety Complex from Dorchester Service Associates at the cost of $10,975

with FY10 Detention Center building maintenance funds.  The Council acknowledged that Warden Satterfield obtained three quotes and that Dorchester Service Associates’ bid was the lowest.  The Council expressed concern that two of the quotes submitted referenced the installation of a digital thermostat, which pursuant to Warden Satterfield, is not necessary because the HVAC unit temperature is regulated by a computer system.  The Council also expressed concern that at least one additional vendor was unable to provide a quote because there was a short time frame given in which to submit proposals.




The Council approved the request of Keasha Haythe, Economic Development Director, to accept a resolution authorizing the assignment of a August 10, 2005 Maryland Department of Economic Development grant obtained by the County and the transfer of grant funds of $100,000, including principal and accrued interest, to the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, Inc., (ESEC) a non-profit corporation.  The Council acknowledged that ESEC will act as the County’s agent in managing these revolving loan funds to be used solely for Dorchester County businesses.   The Council also approved the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding between Dorchester County and Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center to facilitate the needs of the economically disadvantaged and underemployed residents of Dorchester County and to develop and assist existing businesses by providing a revolving loan fund owned and administered by the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center for Dorchester County.




The Council approved the request of Joseph T. Newell, Executive Director to appoint Carol Asplen-Masden and Jack Frego to the Board of Directors of Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc. to replace Renee Redmer and Gregory Meekins, respectively, effective November 1, 2009.  The Council acknowledged that the terms of Ms. Asplen-Masden and Mr. Frego will expire on November 1, 2013 with the possibility of one term renewal.




The Council approved the request of Scott Eberspacher, Director, Recreation and Parks, on behalf of the Recreation and Parks Board, to reappoint Bill Swann and Herschel Johnson, effective December 31, 2009, to that Board.  The Council acknowledged that the terms of Mr. Swann and Mr. Johnson will expire on December 31, 2013.

The Council also the request of Mr. Eberspacher to appoint Antoine Patton as a new member on the Recreation and Parks Board to finish the term of Joe Dickerson which ends in December 2012. 



Ms. Baynard advised that in the interim between meetings the Council, by means of telephone poll,  took the following action(s): 1) agreed to hold an employee holiday luncheon and to sole source with Old Salty’s to cater the luncheon by a 4 to 1 vote with Councilman Newcomb abstaining; 2) amended its October 20, 2009 decision regarding Warden Don Satterfield’s request to sole source to purchase a replacement unit for the roof mounted HVAC unit located on the Sheriff’s Office side of the Public Safety Complex to allow the Warden to obtain no less than three prices and provide those to Council for consideration, instead of advertising a request for bids by a 5 to 0 vote.



Pete Macinta, a Dorchester County resident, questioned whether the “privilege tax” for high voltage transmission lines, if passed, will result in increased consumer costs if the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project commences and high voltage lines are installed in the County.   Councilman Newcomb stated that it was his understanding that the MAPP transmissions lines will benefit residents in other states and that any additional consumer costs may be passed on to all of the customers who will benefit if the lines are installed.  Ms. Baynard advised that the proposed “privilege tax” legislation includes setting aside one third of the revenues realized from the tax to reduce the burden on electric ratepayers in the County.


In response to a question from Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, Councilman Newcomb advised that the 1,000 acre purchase approved by the State Board of Public Works was for land located in the Fishing Bay area of the County and that any property owned by the State is exempt from the payment of real estate taxes.  He explained that the Council does receive a payment in lieu of the taxes for land owned by the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and that Council recently requested information on why that payment is decreasing even though more land is being purchased.   Councilman Newcomb noted that Comptroller Franchot asked him to relay to Council that he voted against the purchase of that property because the purchase price was much higher than the assessment value of the property and not the fact that the property was located in Dorchester County.


Bruce Coulson, a Dorchester County resident, invited the Council to the November 21, 2009 meeting of the Dorchester County Resources Preservation and Development Corporation at 10 a.m. at the Church Creek fire hall during which members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide information on the Community Rating System, a part of the National Insurance program, and updates to the Dorchester County Flood Insurance Rate Map.



Based on a recommendation from Councilwoman Elzey, the Council agreed to re-appoint James Spicer, to the Agricultural Reconciliation Committee.  The Council acknowledged that Mr. Spicer’s term will expire on August 31, 2012.  The Council also agreed to re-appoint Harold Robinson to the Seafood Reconciliation Committee, based on Councilwoman Elzey’s recommendation.  The Council acknowledged that Mr. Robinson’s term will expire on October 29, 2012.


The Council agreed to place on the November 17, 2009 agenda the appointment of a  911 consumer representative to the 911 Advisory Board because the term of Steve Stack expired on  March 13, 2009.


Councilman Price noted that parts of the Choptank River have been re-opened for the harvesting of shellfish but there are other areas of the river, including near Green Point, that remain closed.


Councilman Price and Councilman Newcomb expressed concern that although letters were sent to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Environment and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources asking them to attend a future Council meeting to discuss the oyster harvesting closure, no response was received.  Councilman Newcomb also expressed concern that the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Environment did not respond to Council’s written request to attend a meeting to discuss the Bay Restoration Fund and the process in obtaining funding to replace septic systems.


The Council agreed to send a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley asking his guidance in setting up these meetings.


At Councilman Newcomb’s request, the Council agreed to send a letter to Walgreens congratulating them on the opening of the new Cambridge store and for enhancing the  

Shoal Creek shopping center.


The Council expressed concern about recent auto accidents that have occurred involving law enforcement personnel and requested that information be obtained on whether any administrative actions is taken if deputies are involved in an auto accident in which they are found to be at fault.  


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



                                                                        Ricky Travers



                                                                        Rick Price


Approved the ______day of  November, 2009.