Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 12/22/09

County Council Meeting Minutes


November 17, 2009

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

November 17, 2009

 

The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on November 17, 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.

 

REGULAR SESSION

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session 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)(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.

 

REGULAR SESSION

 

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Councilman Travers led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.

 

CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA

 

There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES-NOVEMBER 3, 2009

 

The Council approved the minutes for November 3, 2009 as amended.

APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS

The Council approved vouchers as presented.

FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS

 

Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $7,123,303.58.


EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY

The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30  p.m. on November 17, 2009 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article

 

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: discussed personnel issues relating to FY 2010 budget-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.

 

REGULAR SESSION

GERMAN PARTNERSHIP COMMITTEE UPDATE-STUDENT EXCHANGE          

 

Jennifer Brant, Student Exchange Chair, German Partnership Committee, provided the Council with an update on the Student Exchange program between Dorchester County and Duren County, Germany.  She said that the program is in its third year and that out of the 86 children that participated in the program, 29 of which were Dorchester County.  She noted that four students from Cambridge South Dorchester High School and three from North Dorchester High School traveled to Duren County in August 2009 and stayed for two and a half weeks.  Ms. Brant advised that one student expressed an interest in living in Duren County while another student wants to participate in a one year student exchange.  She noted that Adelaide Kilmon and Jennifer Crier, teachers, accompanied the students on the Germany trip.  She acknowledged that Ms. Kilmon was present.

 

Giovanni Andriani and Courtney Harris, Dorchester County students, provided details concerning their August trip to Duren County.  They both expressed a desire to return to Germany.

 

Allen Nelson, Executive Director, Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, stressed the importance of continuing the student exchange program which helps students understand different cultures in global businesses and that he believes jobs will be created in the future as a result of the partnership with Dorchester County and Duren County.  He thanked the Council for its support in the partnership.

 

LEGISLATIVE SESSION

 

The Council adjourned to legislative session. 

 


PUBLIC HEARING                                                                                                  

 

BILL No. 2009-13 - AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY MARYLAND PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY GRANTED BY SECTION 9-311(D) OF THE TAX – PROPERTY ARTICLE OF THE ANNOTATED CODE OF MARYLAND TO GRANT A PROPERTY TAX CREDIT AGAINST THE COUNTY PROPERTY TAX IMPOSED ON PROPERTY OWNED BY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF TALBOT & DORCHESTER COUNTIES, INC. BY ADDING ARTICLE XVII TO CHAPTER 144 OF THE DORCHESTER COUNTY CODE.

 

E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, advised that a public hearing was being held on a bill to grant a property tax credit against real property tax imposed on property owned by Habitat for Humanity of Talbot and Dorchester Counties, Inc. which will add Article XVII to Chapter 144 of the Dorchester County Code.  He explained that legislation enabling the Council to grant this real property tax credit was passed during the 2009 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session.  He noted that the public hearing had been advertised and that no individuals signed up to speak on the legislation.  Mr. Merryweather acknowledged that Jackie Noller of the Habitat for Humanity of Talbot and Dorchester Counties was present.  Ms. Noller spoke in favor of the bill.  She advised the Council that the organization’s name was changed to Habitat Choptank.  She noted that the organization is non profit and currently owns four properties in Dorchester County.  Ms. Noller explained that on October 27, 2009 the Talbot County Council passed legislation to grant a real property tax credit to all properties the organization owns in Talbot County. 

 

In response to a question from Mr. Merryweather, Ms. Noller confirmed that once the properties have been transferred, the new homeowners will be responsible for paying all taxes.

 

She said that their goal was to build seven houses in July 2010 with two to three of those houses being built in Dorchester County.  She explained that one of the four lots will be transferred by July 2010, two by the end of 2010 and two in 2011.  Ms. Noller noted that the families who the properties will be transferred to are already identified.  She thanked the Council for its support of the organization.

 

The role call on the enactment of Bill No. 2009-13 was as follows: Elzey-aye; Price-aye; Newcomb-aye; Travers aye; Nichols aye.

 

Mr. Merryweather explained that the legislation takes effect in sixty days and that the property tax credit will be retroactive from June 30, 2009.  He asked Ms. Noller to provide Jane Baynard, County Manager, and Diana Willey, Assessments and Taxation, with a list of those properties once the 60 days have elapsed.


INTRODUCTION                                                                                                                               

The Council introduced Bill No. 2009-14, AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY MARYLAND TO ADD NEW CHAPTER 12 ENTITLED “CRIMINAL LAW” TO THE CODE OF PUBLIC LOCAL LAWS OF DORCHESTER COUNTY MARYLAND BEING ARTICLE 10 OF THE CODE OF PUBLIC LOCAL LAWS OF MARYLAND TO ESTABLISH REGULATIONS TO PROHIBIT THE POSSESSION AND DISTRIBUTION OF SALVIA AND ITS RELATED PARAPHERNALIA.

                                     

Mr. Merryweather advised that Bill No. 2009- will add a new Chapter 12 entitled “Criminal Law” to the Code of Public Local Laws of Dorchester County, being Article 10 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Maryland to establish regulations to prohibit the possession and distribution of salvia and its related paraphernalia.  He noted the Somerset and Worchester Commissions have already passed such legislation.

 

The Council agreed to proceed with publication of a public hearing on this matter.

 

REAL PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT REQUEST-INTERSTATE CONTAINER    

 

Keasha Haythe, Economic Development Director, introduced Chad Brown, Comptroller, Interstate Container, and explained that he was present to request real property tax abatement for the Interstate facility in Cambridge, Maryland located at 903 Woods Road. 

 

Mr. Brown introduced Paul Zimmerman, Corporate Controller, Kelly Hurley, an employee in the Accounting department at the Cambridge plant and Anne Potter, an employee with the company’s sales organization.  He explained that for the last five years staff at the Interstate facility in Cambridge have been developing a new box product with the intention of replacing wax boxes with environmentally “green” boxes that are recyclable which will be used in the poultry, produce and seafood industries.  He advised that $6 million to $7 million will be invested in the Cambridge facility in order to preserve existing jobs and enhance business.  He noted that there is a demand for recyclable containers and that the boxes are waterproof and can be repulped at a paper mill.  He advised that wax boxes are currently disposed of in landfills.

 

Ms. Potter explained that the boxes are currently being manufactured at the Cambridge Interstate Facility and are shipped and sold from the company’s North Carolina warehouse.    

 

Councilwoman Elzey questioned what, if any, incentives are being given to companies to use and recycle the new “green” boxes.  Mr. Zimmerman advised that there was not an incentive program but that companies can sell the used product back to Interstate Container and other manufacturers to recycle instead of paying fees to dispose of the boxes at landfills.    

 

Mr. Zimmerman thanked the Council for considering his request on behalf of Interstate Container for real property tax abatements for its Cambridge facility.  He explained that he is working with Ms. Haythe and John Mason, Business Attraction and Expansion Manager, to obtain federal grant funds to support the expansion of the Cambridge facility.

 

In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Brown stated that railroad car traffic will not be reduced as 95% of the paper required to construct the boxes is shipped by rail to its Cambridge facility.    He noted that only the staff at the Cambridge facility are manufacturing the boxes.  In response to questions from Councilman Travers and Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Brown stated that the plan is to convert to selling all “green” boxes and that waterproof “green” boxes can be manufactured.

 

Mr. Merryweather stated that Interstate Facility qualifies under Tax Property Article, Section 9-205, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, based on the expansion of the business and the development of a new product.   He noted that once draft legislation is prepared and introduced, a public hearing will be held, and if passed, the bill will become effective sixty days from that date.  The tax credit would be effective for the tax period beginning July 1, 2010.

 

In response to question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Zimmerman stated that they will be comfortable with placement of a provision in the proposed legislation that the real property tax credit will be effective as long as employment remains at a specified level.  Based on a question from Mr. Merryweather, Mr. Zimmerman advised that there are

approximately 100 individuals employed at the Cambridge facility.

The Council agreed to pursue local legislation to grant a real property tax credit for Interstate Container pursuant to Tax Property Article, Section 9-205 and requested that the bill include the provision that the tax credit will not apply if the company’s employment falls below active 90 employees at the Cambridge facility.   The Council requested Mr. Merryweather draft legislation for introduction.

 

OVERTIME DISCUSSION     

 

Councilman Newcomb explained that the Council has deferred its discussion on overtime in order to address a projected $1.4 million income tax revenue reduction for FY 2010 based on November distributions from the State of Maryland.  He noted that the Council previously identified and reallocated funding in order to offset a $1.8 million loss in Highway User Revenue funds based on State aid reductions in September 2009.

 

In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Michael Spears, Finance Director, recommended that the Council use $500,000 allocated for the FY 2010 annual required contribution to the post employment benefits under the accounting standard GASB 45 and $500,000  FY 2009 fund balance to offset the estimated shortfall of $1.4 million, leaving $.4 million remaining to identify.

 

Ms. Baynard explained that it has been the Council’s historic fiscal policy to use undesignated fund balances for PAYGO capital expenditures for the following fiscal year and that if the Council chose to use the FY09 Fund balance to offset the income tax revenue shortfall there will likely be no funding for capital projects for FY11 as well as a suspension of the fiscal policy.

 

Councilman Newcomb acknowledged that several Department Heads were present.  He asked them for comment on implementing furloughs or salary reductions to assist with the budget shortfall.

 

Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, and Madeline Moore, Youth Services Director, expressed their opinions that the employees in their departments are more amicable to furloughs than pay reductions. 

 

In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Spears stated that $12 million in income tax revenue was received in FY09 and that $9 million was budgeted for this year.  He noted that the $1.4 million loss is due to revenues being reduced even more than the Council’s conservative budget estimates.

 

Based on a question from Ms. Moore, Ms. Baynard stated that the contributions for employee retirement to the State of Maryland Pension system will remain the same if furloughs are implemented based on the measure being a temporary action.  She noted that this is the manner in which the Maryland State Retirement System manages the State employees’ furlough plan.

 

Warden Don Satterfield stated that employees at the Detention Center have advised him that they prefer furlough days over salary reductions.  He said that he may have to decrease the number of sworn officers on each shift in order for all Detention Center employees to take furlough days but felt it could be accomplished while complying with Correctional Standards.

 

William Jones, State’s Attorney, stated that although his employees prefer furloughs, implementing them will be challenging based on the current case loads in the Courts and the fact that the courts may be open even if County officers are closed.  He asked Council to consider the impact furlough days will have on those employees who earn minimal salaries.

 

Vernon Hurley, 911 Center Director, stated that his employees also prefer furlough days and asked for some flexibility in this department in order to manage schedules to continue to maintain services on a 24/7 rotation.

 

Keasha Haythe, Economic Development Director, and Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director, stated that their staff also prefer furloughs.

 

Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, stated that although he has not asked his employees about furloughs versus salary reductions he prefers furlough days.

 

In response to a question from Wayne Robinson, Emergency Management Director, Councilman Newcomb expressed his belief that all grant employees will also be given furlough days.

 

C.R. Newman, Maintenance Director, stated that his staff was in favor of furloughs and suggested that County buildings be closed in order to maximize savings on facilities. 

 

At the request of Councilwoman Elzey, the Council agreed to send a letter to local legislators regarding Council’s concern about State budget reductions being made after the start of a fiscal year.

 

The Council agreed to implement 40 hours of furlough (unpaid) leave, five furlough days, with three days being identified immediately and two being determined at a later date to occur in 2010 contingent upon need.  The Council members agreed to implement furlough days on the day before Thanksgiving, the day before Christmas, and the day before New Years and asked that the following departments provide Council with a schedule for implementation of furlough leave in their respective departments to verify the time off can be granted without incurring overtime costs by its next regular session: Emergency Medical Services, 911 Center, Corrections, Sheriff, Landfill and State’s Attorney’s Office.  Councilman Nichols opposed.  He explained that he does not believe that the Council has received enough information to make the decision to implement furloughs.  He noted that when the Council previously made the decision to reduce the FY10 budget by $1.8 million due to highway user revenue reductions, the Council was presented a list of options to consider.

 

The Council agreed to use the $500,000 from the FY09 fund balance and $500,000 allocated for GASB45 to offset the projected $1.4 million income revenue deficit.  Councilman Price and Councilman Nichols opposed.  Councilman Price expressed concern about the need for funds for capital expenditures in FY11.

 

The Council thanked the task force members and the Department Heads.

                                                                                   

ROADS BOARD                   

 

2010 STONE BID

 

The Council approved the request of Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, to advertise a request for bid proposals for supplying crushed stone for blacktop work, tar and chip and other stone requirements for the period of January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

 


OTHER

 

Councilman Travers expressed his appreciation for the hard work performed by County staff over the weekend during a storm that caused some flooding in areas of South Dorchester.  In response to a question from Councilman Price, Mr. Weber stated that the storm resulted in several trees being torn down and caused minor damage to the Hoopers Island causeway.

 

The Council requested that Mr. Weber have staff view the “Do Not Litter” sign on Ennals Road which may not be facing oncoming traffic and to move the sign if necessary.

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS

ELLIOTT ISLAND SHORELINE PROJECT REBID-PUBLIC WORKS

 

The Council approved the request of Mr. Weber to award the re-bid for the Elliott Island Shoreline Restoration and Wetlands project to Environmental Concern, LLC, the lowest bidder, being contingent upon the approval of the supplemental bid price by Mr. Weber and the Maryland Department of Environmental.  The Council acknowledged that the supplemental bid price submitted by Environmental Concern is a per cubic yard price for delivering clean sand to the site in lieu of using material at the placement site in the event that dredge material does not meet Maryland Department of Environment specifications.

 

MATERIALS-RECONSTRUCTION OF WINGATE AND ELLIOTT ISLAND BULKHEADS-PUBLIC WORKS

 

The Council approved the request of Mr. Weber to award the bid for the supply of wood and hardware material for the replacement of the bulkheads at the Wingate Dock and Elliott Island Boat Ramp to the lowest bidder Culpeper Wood in the amount of $31,024.92 for wood and $4,004.85 for hardware.  The Council acknowledged that the cost of the materials will be paid with Department of Natural Resources Waterway Improvement Grant funds.  The Council further acknowledged that County staff will be providing the labor for the replacement of the bulkheads. 

 

FY10 MARKETING GRANT-MARYLAND OFFICE OF TOURISM-TOURISM

 

The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, and accepted a grant award from the Maryland Office of Tourism Development in the amount of $22,602 for the period of July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 to fund marketing efforts.  The Council acknowledged that the match for the grant is being provided through the Tourism Department’s FY 2010 operating budget.

 


FY10 MARYLAND HERITAGE AREA AUTHORITY OPERATING ASSISTANCE GRANT-TOURISM

 

The Council approved the request of Ms. Fenstermaker and accepted the FY 2010 Maryland Heritage Area Authority Operating Assistance Grant award in the amount of $93,330 for assistance to support management and activities of the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area.  The Council acknowledged that the grant award will be matched with cash matches identified from the Tourism operating budget ($62,045) and from the Department’s Mini-Grant Program ($10,000) and an in-kind services match of $21,285.

 

AMENDMENT TO RULES AND REGULATIONS-HOLIDAY LEAVE-HUMAN RESOURCES

 

The Council agreed to amend the County’s Rules and Regulations, Section IV.B.1. entitled “Paid Holidays” of the County’s Rules and Regulations to reduce the number of alternate holidays allowed for any employees who work either Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day from two additional days to be taken in the remainder of the fiscal year to an even exchange of a single holiday to be taken at a later time.  The Council requested that Ms. Dennis prepare the appropriate notice to departments.  The Council acknowledged that the amendment was posted for ten days in all County departments and that no comments were received from staff.

 

REVERSION OF FUNDING REQUEST-PROGRAM OPEN SPACE

 

The Council approved the request of Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director, to amend the Program Open Space McCarter Park Tennis Court Renovation project by canceling the project and asking the State to revert the State Open Space Funding in the amount of $77,400 back into the County’s unobligated Program Open Space Development Fund.  The Council recognized that Mr. Eberspacher intends to submit a new project in FY11 to use the majority of these development funds for a two to five year old children’s play area at Sailwinds Park East.  The Council authorized Mr. Eberspacher to send a letter to the County’s Program Open Space representative to cancel the project and to request the reversion of the funding to the County’s unused development account.  Additionally, the Council approved Mr. Eberspacher’s request for Recreation & Parks maintenance staff to work with County Highway Division staff to remove the existing tennis court at McCarter Park and install topsoil and grade the entire area at an estimated cost of $7,189.61.  The Council authorized such expenditure in-house with no formal bidding procedure.

 

HAZMAT BILLING DISCUSSION

Ms. Baynard explained that the County Council entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Rescue Fire Company in January 20, 2004 to recognize that company’s providing hazmat services in the County for billing residents who receive such services and agreed to assist by providing that fire company access to the County’s ALS/BLS billing system.  Councilman Newcomb advised that he asked to place this item on the agenda because he received several complaints from residents regarding bills for hazmat services and said that those residents believed the County Council initiated the charges because the invoices are on County Council stationary.   The Council discussed taking the County Council’s name off the letterhead.  Mr. Merryweather stated that the Council’s name should still remain at the top of the letterhead but that Council could better itemize and define on the bill that the services are rendered by the Rescue Fire Company.  Ms. Baynard noted that the Council does not collect the revenue from the services but, rather, the County only retains a small administrative fee and all other proceeds are provided to the hazmat company.  The Council took no action and requested a sample of the hazmat bills be submitted for review along with a current fee schedule.   Council agreed to reschedule this discussion at a future meeting once the requested information was received and reviewed.

 

BOARD APPOINTMENTS-COUNTY FSA REPRESENTATIVE-911 ADVISORY COUNCIL

 

COUNTY FSA REPRESENTATIVE

The Council agreed to nominate Marine R. Greenhawk to serve as the County’s representative on the Farm Service Agency Committee.

 

911 ADVISORY COUNCIL

The Council deferred consideration of an appointment of a Consumer representative to the 911 Advisory Council and requested clarification on whether Steven Stack is eligible t