Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 01/25/10

County Council Meeting Minutes

January 5, 2010

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

January 5, 2010


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on January 5, 2010 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; Effie M. Elzey Vice President; William V. Nichols; 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)(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; pursuant to §10-508(A)(4) to consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; 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 Council members.





Councilman Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council approved the addition of a budget discussion item to the agenda and incorporating the Pay Policy Resolution under Manager’s Comments into that discussion.




The Council approved the minutes for December 15, 2010 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 $2,361,445.12.


The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on January 5, 2010 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; pursuant to §10-508(A)(4) to consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; 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) deferred a request from the Public Works Director to fill a vacant Motor Equipment Operator II position by a 5 to 0 vote; 2) deferred a request from the Warden to fill vacant Probationary Correctional Officer positions by a 5 to 0 vote; 3) acknowledged by a telephone poll Council approved the request of the Warden to offer a Correctional Officer position to an individual at a higher step and grade based on that individual’s experience by a 4 to 1 vote (with 1 abstention); 4) discussed a matter regarding public safety- requested additional information; 5) discussed a matter relating to the expansion of a business in the County- requested additional information;

6) discussed economic development concerns of a local business-took no action; 7) discussed with legal counsel a matter relating to request for bids –deferred. 


Jane Baynard, County Manager, explained that the individual who was offered the Correctional Officer position pursuant to a telephone poll Councilman Newcomb referenced during the executive session summary declined the position and that is the position that, by action of the Council this evening, was frozen.


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 commendation to the members of the Dorchester Pop Warner Midget Cheerleading team for placing Fifth at the South and West Qualifier competition and then advancing to the Eastern Regional Qualifier competition with special recognition to Wylie Gray, President of Dorchester Pop Warner Program and Wendy Hughes, Debra Marshall, Angela Douglas, Sherri Swann, Lauren Shockley and Deborah Kinnamon, volunteer coaches. 

Mr. Gray accepted the commendations on behalf of the team members and volunteer coaches.


The Council also presented a commendation to the members of the Dorchester Pop Warner Pee Wee Football team for capturing First at the regional play in Milford, Delaware and advancing to the Eastern Region Division III Championship in Jackson, New Jersey.


Mr. Gray accepted the commendations.


AUDIT PRESENTATION WITH TGM GROUP                                          


Herb Geary, Partner, TGM Group, introduced Roy Geiser, Senior Auditor, of TGM Group, who prepared the financial audit for Dorchester County for the year ending June 30, 2009.


Mr. Geiser stated that the financial audit was an unqualified opinion and that the audit process went smoothly.


He thanked Ms. Baynard, Mr. Spears and his staff for their preparation and assistance in the audit process.   He discussed with Council generally the financial standing of the General Fund, Landfill and Airport Enterprise funds.


Mr. Geiser stated that General Fund Revenues and capital expenditures increased from last year due to the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster aid that was received to repair roadways due to the 2006 storm event.


Mr. Geiser advised that $1.2 million in FY 2009 was placed in a special fund, obligated pursuant to GASB45, government accounting standard, for the funding of post retirement benefits.  He explained that as of July 1, 2008, pursuant to an actuarial study the County’s accrued liability for GASB45 $15.3 million and that if $1.7 million is placed in a special fund for next 30 years that trust would be fully funded.


Mr. Geary thanked the Council for the opportunity to participate in the FY 2009 audit process.


The Council thanked Mr. Geary and Mr. Geiser for the audit presentation and Mr. Spears and County staff for their participation in the audit process. 



Mark Christopher, President of the Galestown Millpond Association, on behalf of the Association’s members, expressed concern that the water level of the Galestown Millpond was eight inches higher than it was before it washed out three years ago.  He said that due to the increased water level there is standing water on several properties along the millpond.    Mr. Christopher introduced Dave Brewer, one the property owners affected by the high water level.


Mr. Christopher explained that at the end of July 2009 he met with Michael Moulds, Engineer, and Chuck Weber, Public Works Director and was advised that the installation of a fish ladder will correct the problem.  He noted that the ladder was to be installed in December 2009 but that weather conditions have delayed that installation.  He expressed concern that, in his opinion, cutting a 6x2 notch in the spillway for the fish ladder will not lower the water level significantly.  Mr. Christopher provided the Council with pictures of the alleged damage to several properties due to the current high water level.  


Mr. Brewer explained that his property is on the millpond and that although he has put four loads of dirt on his property he is still having problems with standing water due to the high water levels.


Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, advised that in addition to placing a notch in the spillway for the fish ladder, another 16 foot notch will be cut into spillway which will bring it to the pre-storm elevation.  Mr. Moulds noted that the contractor who will install the fish ladder will do the additional cut once weather conditions improve.


Councilman Travers noted that local farmers also pump water from the springs that feed the millpond and that once farming season begins the water level will further decrease.


Edward Skibicki, a resident who lives on the pond, expressed his belief that the water level needs to be lowered by five and a half inches and that the fish ladder and additional notch will stabilize the water level.

Mr. Christopher said it was his recollection that Mr. Weber and Mr. Moulds did not tell him that there will be an additional notch cut into the spillway during their June 2009 meeting.   He thanked the Council members for allowing him the opportunity to speak and for their support in the reconstruction of the millpond facility.


The Council thanked Mr. Christopher.


BUDGET DISCUSSIONS                                                                                                                                       




Jane Baynard, County Manager, noted that the Council held a budget work session on January 4, 2010 during which budget strategies for FY 2011 and ongoing challenges regarding the FY 2010 budget were discussed.  She said that anticipated revenue reductions and expected expenditure increases are not subject to change if there is little to no economic recovery and cautioned that further reductions in revenue or additional State aid reductions coupled with actions taken during the 2010 Maryland General Assembly may further impair the County’s fiscal outlook.


Michael Spears, Finance Director, provided a power point presentation of anticipated revenues and expenditures for FY 2011 (attached).  Mr. Spears advised that current projections indicate a $4.7 million budget deficit for FY 2011.


Based on the recommendation of Mr. Spears and Ms. Baynard, the Council agreed to not release operating budget requests and acknowledged that the approved FY2010 operating budgets will be used as a starting point for the FY 2011 budget deliberation process.  The Council authorized staff to meet with certain individuals to discuss additional strategies to conserve resources for FY 2011 in light of the current budget constraints and anticipated future reductions and/or declining revenues.  The Council acknowledged that this decision will affect outside agencies as well as County departments.  Council further recognized possible budget strategies for FY 2011 including possibly continuing temporary salary reductions for employees, utilizing reserve funds and not setting aside required funding for post employment benefits pursuant to GASB45 for another year.




Ms. Baynard noted that at its September 8, 2009 meeting, based on State aid reductions of $1.8 million, the Council agreed, as a part of budget reductions, to adjust the County’s overtime policy so that overtime is calculated only on hours worked.  She said that implementation of the newly adopted overtime policy, however, had to be delayed until appropriate departments thresholds for overtime earnings could be identified.  She reminded Council that a task force was directed to be formed to review the Fair Labor Standard Act (FSLA) to identify the overtime thresholds including as members Mr. Spears, Robert Willey, Assistant Finance Director, Becky Dennis, Human Resources Director, and herself. 


Mr. Spears advised that the task force members developed the following eleven recommendations: 1) implement the 171 hour over a 28 day work period threshold for sworn personnel in the Sheriff’s Office and Corrections; 2) formally designate exempt employees pursuant to FSLA; 3) reaffirm all employees will be scheduled for no less than 2080 regular hours each fiscal year with Finance staff conducting random audits; 4)  specify that each holiday constitutes eight hours of paid leave and will be not be allowed to be carried over; 5) formally validate the practice of swapping shifts currently utilized by Departments with cyclical schedules; 6) standardize three hour minimum call outs for employees called in to work when scheduled off;7) affirm County overtime procedures exclusively dictate when overtime is paid regardless of function or funding source such as grants and reimbursement arrangements; 8) implement a fluctuating work week method for purposes of calculating overtime in the 911 Center and Emergency Medical Services Departments as allowed by FLSA with a fixed salary for 40 hours and half time paid in excess of the overtime threshold; 9) return responsibility for answering Sheriff’s administrative phones during day shift from 911 Center to Sheriff’s Office administrative staff; and 10) eliminate built in overtime in Corrections by reducing shift length from 8.5 hours to 8 hours per day.


Mr. Spears stated that implementation of these recommendations will result in an anticipated savings of $300,000.  In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Mr. Spears stated that he was comfortable with using that number as the savings that will be achieved.  He said that in light of current budget constraints he believed it was prudent to institute these recommendations which will save money not only in FY 2010 but will be recurring savings in future years.


The Council agreed to proceed with the posting of amendments to the County’s Rules and Regulations based on the recommendations of the task force members and to the preparation of a County Pay policy in the form of a resolution to implement the changes by a 5-0 vote.     The Council asked staff to meet with Department Heads that will be directly affected by the changes.  The Council members acknowledged that comments on the amendments to the County’s Rules and Regulations will be due by noon on January 19, 2010 and that the amendments and County Pay Policy Resolution will be reviewed and considered by Council later that day at their regularly scheduled meeting.




Ms. Baynard noted that at its November 17, 2009 meeting, the Council agreed to implement furlough days (40 hours) with three days being identified immediately and two to be determined at a later date and to occur after January 1, 2010 contingent upon need.   She said that it was staff’s recommendation that the Council proceed with scheduling the remaining two days and suggested February 12th and May 28th in order to achieve maximum facility savings whenever possible based on closing non public safety facilities over four days.


The Council recognized that continuing budget constraints necessitated the two remaining furlough days be implemented and identified those days as Friday, April 2, 2010 and Friday, May 28, 2010.  The Council members acknowledged that because they agreed to move forward with the reduction to County employee salaries equal to the five furlough days for the remainder of the fiscal year at its November 17th meeting there will be no additional impact to employee paychecks. 




The Council adjourned to Roads Board.



Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, presented the Council with recommendations from the Traffic Safety Committee members based on items discussed at a December 16, 2009 meeting.


The Council approved the Committee members’ recommendation that as a part of the permitting process for events in the County the Event Coordinator will be required to place signs at rail crossings that impact the event.  The Council acknowledged that this recommendation was based on a request from Sam Brasel, an individual who participated in a bicycling event in Dorchester County during which an individual had an accident at a railroad crossing.


The Council acknowledged that, based on a request from Bill Fleming of the Board of Education, the Traffic Safety members asked Highway Division staff to place a School Bus Stop sign ahead of a bus stop near a blind curve on Drawbridge Road due to an immediate safety hazard.  The Council confirmed this action.  The Council acknowledged that a sign was not installed on the other side of the school bus stop because there was not a blind spot.


The Council approved the Committee members’ recommendation to not reposition the “No Dumping” sign on Ennals Road because those types of signs throughout the County are installed perpendicular to the road to enhance the legality of enforcement as the signs are visible to all individuals who use the roadway no matter which directing they are traveling.  The Council acknowledged that this recommendation was made in response to residents’ concerns expressed to Councilman Price regarding the placement of the sign.


The Council further approved the Committee members’ recommendation to place two signs depicting children at play on Galestown Newhart Mill Road pursuant to concerns expressed by the Town of Galestown Commissioners regarding a recent fatal pedestrian accident on that roadway.  The Council also agreed to attach “Radar Enforced” signs onto the existing 25 m.p.h. signage. 


The Council also approved the Committee members’ recommendation to not place speed bumps on Perseus Road, as requested by Ken Guelta, Dorchester County resident, who expressed concern about individuals traveling on that roadway at high rates of speed.


The Council approved the recommendation of the Committee members to require that the individual requesting the installation of a sign which depicts children at play pay 50% of the sign cost.   The Council acknowledged that based on this approval the Town of Galestown shall be responsible for half of the cost of the signs to be placed on Galestown Newhart Mill Road previously approved this evening.



Mr. Weber noted that Ms. Baynard forwarded him email from Robin Hughes in which she expressed concern about flooding at the intersection of Galestown Reliance Road and Delaware Line Road which has encroached upon her property.  He said that Ms. Baynard asked him to provide information to the Council regarding that intersection.


Mr. Weber stated that during the 2006 storm event and more recently, due to recent rains and the high water table, flooding has occurred at that intersection which has resulted in water traveling under Ms. Hughes house which was built in 2001.  He explained that the road was turned over to the County from the State in the early 1960s and that a drainage pipe had been installed under Galestown Reliance Road by the State of Maryland.  He noted that there has been no change to that drainage pipe or additional pipes installed.    He said that staff is reviewing the matter to determine if there is remedial action that can be taken.  Mr. Weber explained that there is a low spot on Ms. Hughes property, which is typical in that part of the County.    Based on a question from Councilwoman Elzey, he confirmed that there is no ditching along those roadways.  He explained that studies are being undertaken by Soil Conservation staff and County Highway staff to determine possible remedies to the problem.  He said that the installation of a cross pipe under the Delaware Line Road may reduce the water level one foot but will not drain the depression on Ms. Hughes’s land.  He noted that the pipe may prevent water from seeping underneath her house but will not keep it out of the yard.   Mr. Weber advised that in 2006 Highway staff, using a six inch pump, pumped the water to the other side of the road but that resident who lived downstream complained that the water was going into their yards.


The Council thanked Mr. Weber for the information he provided regarding Ms. Hughes’ concerns. 


The Council requested that Mr. Weber have staff view, and if necessary, fill potholes at the intersection of Snug Harbor Road and Wanex Road and in the 4900 block of Payne Road.


In response to a question from Councilman Price, Mr. Weber stated that residents should contact the Public Works Department staff if a roadside ditch is clogged.


The Council adjourned to Regular Session.




Ms. Baynard noted that at its December 15, 2009 meeting Councilman Price brought to the Council’s attention a request from Adam Tolley, President, East New Market Volunteer Fire Company, for a waiver of fees associated with obtaining a County building permit for the construction of a new firehouse in East New Market.  She noted

that Council deferred consideration of the request pending clarification of those fees and requested that Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, provide a list of building permit fees and all other fees associated with this building permit request including any fees that need to be collected for the project and any historical information regarding the waiving of building fees for other fire companies in the County.  She said that she spoke to Donnie Cheesman, Vice President, and confirmed that they are seeking a waiver of the building, electrical and plumbing permits.  She advised that they have already paid the County’s storm water fee and for a grading permit.   She stated that Mr. Dodd estimated the fees as follows: building permit ($1,400), electrical permit ($15) and plumbing permit fee ($122). 


In response to a question from Councilman Price regarding whether he can vote on the request because he is an associate member of the fire company, Mr. Merryweather advised that he should obtain an opinion from the Dorchester County Ethics Commission.


Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb, Ms. Baynard advised that Mr. Dodd said that there is no record in the Planning and Zoning Department that the Council has waived the fees for other volunteer fire companies in the County.


A motion to defer consideration of the request of Mr. Tolley to waive the building, electrical and the plumbing permits for the construction of a new firehouse in East New Market in order to allow time to obtain an opinion on whether Councilman Price shall abstain from the matter died due to lack of a second.


The Council denied Mr. Tolley’s request to waive the permit fees for the construction of a new firehouse in East New Market.   Councilman Travers opposed.  Councilman Price abstained.




The Council approved the request of Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, to execute an Amendment to the Public Road Construction Agreement between the County Council and Cabin Creek, LLC to exclude Lot 17 of Section Two of the Mill Pond at Cabin Creek subdivision from the prohibition in the original agreement that lots cannot be sold or offered for sale until roads that serve Section Two are completed and accepted into the County road system.  The Council acknowledged that Lot 17 has twenty five feet of frontage on Oak Creek Landing, a portion of a public road which has been fully completed, inspected, approved and accepted by Dorchester County. The Council further acknowledged that the proposed owner has agreed to limit access to the property from that road.





The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to accept the FY 2010 Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant entitled “Interpreting and Preserving an Authentic Dorchester County Experience: The Bestpitch Ferry Bridge” in the amount of $4,650 with a project completion date of January 14, 2011.  The Council acknowledged that the grant is matched by a Dorchester County cash match of $7,000 and an in-kind match of $11,400 for a total project cost of $23,050.  The Council further acknowledged that the in-kind services will be provided by staff at the County’s Tourism and Public Works’ departments.




The Council agreed to send a letter to the Board of Education to express Council’s concerns regarding the recent decision of the Board members to close all school and Central Offices from Monday, December 21, 2009 through January 1, 2010 and not charging vacation leave for twelve month Board of Education employees based on current budget constraints and the recent implementation of furloughs for County employees.




Ms. Baynard advised that in the interim between meetings the Council took action on the following by means of telephone poll:  1) approved the request of the Recreation and Parks Director to expend funds from the Recreation & Parks Mileage & Conference Reimbursement Budget Account in the amount of $240 to allow three members of his staff to travel to the University of Maryland at College Park on January 5, 2010 to attend an all day conference to obtain their recertification in weed spraying by a 5 to 0 vote; 2) agreed to remove the Pond Usage Rules sign posted along the edge of the Galestown Pond adjacent to Lakeshore Drive which states NO jet skis, NO outboard motors and NO littering by a 5 to 0 vote.



There was no public comment.


The Council asked staff to provide information on whether the Board of Education audit referenced that there was a Fund Balance remaining and if the Council has the authority to request that it revert back to the County.  The Council agreed to send a letter to the Board of Education to ask them to return any unused Fund Balance if it is determined that the Council has the authority to take that action.


Based an inquiry made by Councilman Price, the Council requested that Mr. Weber have staff provide information on whether there is an increase in truck traffic using Gravel Branch Road to transport material/items to the Beulah Landfill and if that use can be limited, based on concerns expressed by residents.    


In response questions from Councilman Travers and Newcomb, Mr. Weber stated that requests for proposals for water and sewer infrastructure down Bucktown Road and in the Technology Park as well as construction of the roads in the park will be advertised February 1, 2010 with bids being awarded separately.  In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Weber advised that he anticipates that bids will be opened on March 1, 2010 and construction will commence in May of 2010.  Mr. Weber confirmed that County staff is still pursuing a waiver of the fee to place water and sewer lines under the Maryland and Delaware railroad line with the possibility of linking the waiver to the runway extension project.  Mr. Weber noted that staff is currently working with Maryland Department of Transportation representatives to develop a Memorandum of Understanding for the relocation of railroad line for that project.


Based on the request of Councilman Nichols, the Council agreed to send a letter of opposition to the City of Cambridge Council on increasing City impact fees which will adversely affect the establishment of a new Technology Park in the County and first time homebuyers.


At the request of Councilman Newcomb, the Council agreed to the placement of an advertisement for expressions of interest to serve as the sixth member of the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission, contingent upon legislation being passed during the 2010 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session.


Councilman Newcomb noted that the next County Council meeting is scheduled for January 19, 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



                                                                                                Ricky Travers



                                                                                                Rick Price


Approved the ______day of _____________________, 2010.