Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 03/09/10

County Council Meeting Minutes

February 16, 2010

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

February 16, 2010


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on February 16, 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 State Government Article 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 Council members.





Councilman Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council approved the following additions to the agenda: a request to consider bids for a compactor for the landfill and a request regarding seasonal positions in the Public Works Department. 



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




Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $7,717,214.25.


The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30  p.m. on February 16, 2010 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article 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) discussed a matter regarding public safety-requested additional information; 2) discussed a personnel request from Public Works Director regarding seasonal workers- agreed to discuss in open session; 3) discussed items relating to personnel-agreed to discuss during budget deliberations; 4) discussed an amendment to the County’s Rules and Regulations regarding inclement weather – agreed to discuss in open session; 5) discussed with legal counsel the ownership of a parcel of land – acknowledged that the matter will be addressed at the Council’s next meeting during open 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.



PROCLAMATION-CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH                                   

The Council presented a proclamation declaring February 2010 as Children’s Dental Health Month.    Scott Wolpin, Dental Director of Choptank Community Health System accepted the proclamation.                    




Santo Grande, President, Delmarva Community Services, provided the Council with information on the transit system in Dorchester County.  He said that they operate a fixed route system with complimentary door to door wheel chair accessible service to disabled residents who cannot access the public route.  He noted that 759 disabled residents used their services in 2009.   He explained that drivers also provide those individuals assistance entering and exiting the vehicle and into doctors’ offices.


Mr. Grande stated that he is reimbursed for the transit program from the Maryland Transit Administration and must expend company funds until that reimbursement is received.   He noted that there have been several occasions when he has not received payment until six months after he submitted an invoice to the funding source.  He explained that in addition to the grants used to fund the transit program the County Council provides matching funds for some of those grants through the budget appropriation given to Delmarva Community Services (DCS). 


Mr. Grande advised that he and his staff are participating in a new Maryland Veterans program and provide transportation for veterans to and from behavioral health appointments. 


Mr. Grande introduced Jerome Stanley, Dorchester County Transportation Operations Manager, and Mary Handley, DCS “One Stop” Coordinator. 


Mr. Stanley expressed his appreciation for the County Emergency Management staff and the local fire department volunteers for providing assistance in transporting individuals to dialysis during the recent storm event.  He estimated that at least 90% of those individuals who are in need of dialysis use the transit system in Dorchester County.


He advised that several companies rely on the transit system to transport employees to and from their facilities including C&W Transport in Federalsburg, B&G in Hurlock (approximately 20-30 per shift during peak season),  Allen Family Foods (20-25 every weekday), Cadmus in Williamsburg, Celeste Industries in Easton (9-10 daily).  He said that DCS buses also transport individuals to and from their jobs in Salisbury, Maryland and that recently they were contacted about transporting individuals to Food Swing in Cambridge.  He noted that Wal-Mart staff have been very cooperative in allowing them to use their parking lot and that when the current store is renovated a bus stop will be developed for their use.


Ms. Handley explained that she works with the Delmarva Community Services “One Stop” program which is housed in a small building adjacent to the main DCS facility.  She explained that at that location residents can obtain information about transportation and financial assistance.  She said that seniors can also obtain information about services available to them.  She noted that the program is funded with federal grant funds and County funds. 


She explained that some residents, who are unfamiliar with public transportation, including seniors, the disabled and Spanish speaking individuals, are hesitant to ride DCS buses so they have an individual ride with them.    She expressed her opinion that this assistance has increased ridership.  Ms. Handley noted that the “One Stop” program is a model program and that she and other staff members have been asked to speak at the First State Mobility Management Conference and the National Association of Aging regarding the program.


Mr. Grande explained that they are not mandated by the Maryland Transit Administration to provide transportation to dialysis appointments.  He noted that Medicaid covers transportation costs for dialysis while Medicare does not.  He advised that the Lower Shore United Way recently awarded DCS $10,000 to offset costs for this program.


Based on a question from Councilman Price, Mr. Grande stated that staff is gathering statistics on ridership and that they may adjust routes to increase efficiency.


He noted that a public hearing regarding the 2011 Annual Transportation Grant through the Maryland Transit Administration was cancelled due to the recent snow storm event and that once the hearing has been held he will present the plan to the Council for its review and acceptance.


Mr. Grande advised that DCS has 350 employees throughout Dorchester, Kent, Caroline and Talbot counties.  He said that it operates a senior program, a disability program and an Adult Day Center in Hurlock.


In response to a question from Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, Mr. Grande advised that if a veteran has a behavioral health appointment at the Veterans facility at Perry Point in Baltimore, the organization will provide transportation.


Mr. Grande thanked the Council for the opportunity to provide the update on the transit system in Dorchester County.  The Council thanked Mr. Grande, Ms. Handley and Mr. Stanley for the update and for the assistance they provide to County residents.


2010 CENSUS PRESENTATION                                                                                                   

Jacqueline Lisjuan, Partnership Specialist, presented the Council with a presentation on the 2010 Census.  She noted that the United States Constitution requires that a census be conducted every ten years.  She said that census forms will be mailed out in mid March and are due April 1, 2010.    She explained that they are asking community leaders and elected officials to relay the message to residents that the census is safe, easy to fill out and important in order to increase the response rate.  Ms. Lisjuan noted that historically a large amount of the forms are not returned.  She said that the census form only contains 10 questions including name, race, gender, ethnicity, if an individual rents or owns, the number of people in the household and their relationships to each other. 


Ms. Lisjuan advised that there are temporary jobs available for census employees.   She explained that those individual can be fined $250,000 or be sentenced to five years in jail if they release any information obtained from the census.


She advised that she met with Councilman Newcomb regarding seasonal workers participating in the census.  She said that although the census forms will be due before they begin their employment, their information can still be obtained.  She noted that there is no requirement that individuals who fill out the census forms have to be documented.


In response to a question from Councilman Price, Ms. Lisjuan stated that census forms will also be provided to residents of nursing homes, housing shelters, hotels and prisoners.  She noted that they are working with the Department of Social Services and food pantry organization staff to count the homeless.  She explained that if asked, they will provide a census worker at a specified location to assist residents in filling out the census form.


Ms. Lisjuan thanked the Council for allowing her the opportunity to present information on the 2010 Census.


The Council agreed to send a letter to the editor to local news publications in support of the census to encourage residents to participate in the process.




David Owens, a Dorchester County resident, asked the Council for a letter of support to close the Route 731 exit onto Route 50 in Vienna which allows motorists to cross the highway and travel either eastbound or westbound.  He said that there have been several accidents at that location and he feels it is unsafe.  He noted that a couple weeks ago a Dorchester County resident had an accident at that location as well as a State Highway Administration truck driver.


Charles Bell, a Dorchester County resident who owns a service center and provides rollback service, also asked Council to send a letter of support to close the exit.  He said that the exit was closed after the bypass in the Town of Vienna was constructed and that individuals used the bypass exit to access Route 50 but that it was reopened at residents’ request.  He expressed his opinion that the safest route to access Route 50 from the Town of Vienna is using the bypass exit which is only a quarter of a mile from the Route 731 exit.  He said that the guardrails on Route 50 partially block a motorist’s view and that there have been times when the grass has been so high at that location that it further blocked their view. 


He advised that he requires his employees to travel on Route 331 and use the bypass exit to merge into traffic.  He said that the fire companies in the area also use that exit.  He noted that the Vienna Volunteer Fire Company President has sent a letter to the Council in support of closing the Route 731 exit.   


Councilman Newcomb noted that Donnie Drewer, District#1 Engineer, State Highway Administration has advised that a feasibility study is being conducted on closing the exit and encouraged the Council to execute a letter of support.


The Council agreed to send a letter of support to the State Highway Administration for the closing of the Route 731 exit to Route 50 in Vienna, Maryland and as an the alternative allow motorists to only use that exit to travel eastbound. 






The Council approved the written request of Suzette Stitely, Executive Director, to hold the 4th Annual Humane Society of Dorchester County, Inc. Blindfolded Dinghy Race Fundraiser event at the Trenton Street Park on Saturday, June 5, 2010.  The Council recognized that during this event dinghy boats will be launched from the County boat ramp and that several booths/tables will be set up within the park area.  The Council acknowledged that the Humane Society will be responsible for the cleanup and removal of all debris after the event.




The Council approved the written request Dr. Frederic Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, to allow the Board of Education to use a cash flow management process for the Dorchester Career and Technology Center project by developing draw schedules for approved funding, in conjunction with the Dorchester County Finance Department.  The Council approved the draw schedule for February to August 2010.  Councilman Price opposed.  The Council members requested that Finance staff provide them with copies of the invoices paid by the State with their share of the funding for the project.


The Council acknowledged that the funds on the draw schedule represent 100% of the County’s share of the construction of the school and that the funds will be placed in timed CD’s so that they are available when needed.




The Council approved the request of Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, to execute a second amendment to the public road construction agreement serving Phase II of the Lord’s Crossing subdivision located in Hurlock which will extend the agreement to February 27, 2012 to allow for completion of the paving portion.




Based on a request from Nancy Shockley, Local Management Director, the Council approved the recommendations of the Dorchester Community Partnership for Children and Families (formerly Local Management Board) Finance Committee to allocate for the distribution $25,000 in earned reinvestment funds to update a Needs Assessment and $8,000 of those funds to purchase tele-conference equipment from Juvenile Services. 


The Council members acknowledged that, at its January 19, 2010 meeting, they approved the recommendation of the Finance Committee to advertise a request for proposals for the allocation of earned reinvestment funds in the amount of $118,887 for specific programmic purposes.




The Council denied the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to travel to Ocean City for the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) summer conference on August 18, 2010 through August 21, 2010 due to budget constraints.  The Council acknowledged that as a result of this denial there will not be a Dorchester County booth at this conference.




The Council requested that a proposed amendment to the County Rules and Regulations regarding inclement weather and emergency situations be revised to state that when County offices are closed essential personnel will receive no additional pay and non- essential employees will have to use leave or not be paid for the day(s).  The Council acknowledged that based on this proposed revision essential personnel will only qualify for overtime once they reach the overtime threshold.   The Council requested that the amendment be posted in all County Departments for comment.




The Council approved the request of Chuck Weber, Public Works Director to seek bids for a new Landfill Compactor for the Solid Waste Division.  The Council acknowledged that $625,000 in funding for this equipment is budgeted in the FY10 Capital Budget and that the existing unit has a five-year buy back provision of $110,000.   The Council requested that the bid request include language that the Council has the right to reject any and all bids. 



The Council requested that Becky Dennis, Human Resource Director, and Mr. Weber work together to prepare a proposal to bid out grass cutting previously undertaken by part time seasonal grass cutters in the Public Works Department.  The Council further asked that an option in the bid include cutting the Egypt Road Park.  Additionally, based on a recommendation of Ms. Dennis, the Council asked that costs be obtained regarding   the utilization of a temporary agency to fill those seasonal positions.   The Council requested that the bid be drafted to allow respondents to use County equipment or their own equipment recognizing that if the respondent uses their own equipment they will operate as an independent contractor and will need to also provide appropriate evidence of insurance.  Additionally, the Council requested that the proposal include standard language allowing Council to reject all bids if necessary.



Mr. Foxwell complimented County staff on removing snow from County roadways during the recent storm events.



Councilman Travers noted that the Council received a letter from Richard S. Knox, owner of Knox Builders, LLC, regarding the City of Cambridge Council’s proposal to change the inspection process for residences within the City.  The Council requested that a letter be sent to Mr. Knox explaining that the County Council has no authority in the matter and that he needs to submit his concerns to the City Council.


The Council expressed appreciation to all County staff and members of the public for their assistance during the recent snow storm event.


At the request of Councilman Price, the Council agreed to send a welcome letter to Liberty Tax Service, a new business in the Town of Hurlock.


Councilman Price announced that a discussion regarding a parcel of Green Point Road will be held at the Council’s March 2, 2010 regular session meeting


Based on a request from Councilman Newcomb, the Council agreed to send letters of support for House Bill 160 and Senate Bill 155 both entitled “Maryland Estate Tax – Exclusion for Family Farm Subject to Agricultural Preservation Easements” which alters the determination of the Maryland estate tax under certain circumstances to exclude from the value of the gross estate the value of certain real property subject to certain agricultural easements.  The Council also agreed to send letters of support for House Bill 221 and Senate Bill 592 both entitled “Maryland Estate Tax – Exclusion for Qualified Agricultural Property” which alters the determination of the Maryland estate tax under certain circumstances to exclude the value of the gross estate and the value of certain agricultural property.


Councilman Newcomb noted that the next County Council meeting will be on March 2, 2010.


With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.



ATTEST:                                                         DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:


______________________________            ____________________________________

Jane Baynard, County Manager                     Jay L. Newcomb, President



                                                                        Effie M. Elzey, Vice President



                                                                        William V. Nichols



                                                                        Ricky Travers



                                                                        Rick Price


Approved the ______day of __________________, 2010.