County Council Meeting Minutes
September 21, 2010
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
September 21, 2010
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on September 21, 2010 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; Effie M. Elzey Vice President; William V. Nichols; and Rick Price. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather,
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive
Session pursuant to State Government Article 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; §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; and §10-508(A)(10) to discuss public security, if the public body determines that public discussion would constitute a risk to the public or to public security, including:
(i) the deployment of fire and police services and staff; and
(ii) the development and implementation of emergency plans.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members that were present at the beginning of that meeting.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
A moment of silence was held for the passing of Austin Dixon, a
Councilman Nichols led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
The Council agreed to add a request to advertise vacant positions in the Highway Division of the Public Works Department to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES-SEPTEMBER 21, 2010
The Council approved the minutes of September 21, 2010
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $4,973,207.42.
2012 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN-BOARD OF EDUCATION
Henry Wagner, Superintendent of Schools, reviewed the Board of Education’s FY 2012 Capital Improvement Plan and a ten year capital improvement worksheet with Council. He explained that he is asking for a letter of support from the Council to the Interagency Committee on Public School Construction to endorse the Board of Education’s FY 2012 capital improvement plan for planning purposes only. Mr. McCabe stated that the total FY 2012 request is $250,000 in systemic projects, $500,000 in maintenance and repair and $500,000 in Technology requests.
Chris Hauge, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, said the ten year capital improvement worksheet shows that in FY 2012 the Board of Education is asking the State of Maryland to provide its $3.5 million commitment for the Dorchester Career and Technology Center. He said that it is anticipated that the State will provide those funds in December 2010 and that if bills for the project come in prior to the receipt of those funds Board of Education staff will partner with the Council to pay those invoices in the interim. He noted that there are no major projects planned for FY 2012.
Mr. Hague explained that the next proposed project is the renovation/addition of Warwick Elementary which will increase student capacity from 249 students to 400. He noted that there are currently two portable classrooms being used at the school. He said that planning approval for the project has been received from the State and that there will be a two year planning process before construction can commence. Mr. Hauge explained that the County is responsible for all planning costs (feasibility study, report on major building systems that may need to be replaced and for education specifications) and that although the Council does not have to make an immediate decision on whether to proceed with the project, the worksheets provided show the planning costs spread over FY 2012 and FY 21013. He stressed that the ten year capital plan is a planning document only and that whether to proceed with the Warwick Elementary project is a decision to make during the FY 2012 budget process.
Gary McCabe, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, said that another project that is listed on the plan is South Dorchester K-8 and that the County share for that project ($7,523,223) is depicted on the ten year capital improvement plan for FY 2012 and FY 2013. He noted that if County funds are available for planning for the Warwick Elementary school project, the Board of Education staff recommends that the South Dorchester project commence in FY 2012 and construction on Warwick Elementary commence in 2014.
In response to a question from Councilman Price, Mr. McCabe said that the order of the projects can be readdressed if there is a substantial change in enrollment between 2012 and 2013.
Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. McCabe advised that the Warwick Elementary renovation/addition is a $16.2 million project with the State share being $8.1 million and the local share being the remainder.
In response to questions from Council, Mr. Hague said that they are asking that the Council approve the FY 2012 plan for planning purposes only and are not asking for any commitment from the Council to proceed with the planning process for the renovation/addition of Warwick Elementary. He said that a letter of support for the FY 2012 plan must be submitted to the IAC before October 6, 2010.
Councilwoman Elzey questioned whether there will be funds available for the FY 2012 budget for any of the projects outlined in the Board of Education’s ten year plan. Michael Spears, Finance Director, expressed his belief that the capital budget for that fiscal year will primarily be paid by debt because substantial reductions were made to the County’s Reserve Fund balance to cover costs for FY 2011 due to unanticipated State budget reductions. He questioned whether it will be feasible to increase the County’s debt due to the recent $20 million bond issuance. He advised Council he will provide a debt capacity report for review.
Mr. McCabe noted that the ten year plan also includes local annual maintenance repair requests including paving work; capital furniture and equipment replacement and upgrades; windows, walls, floors, door, hardware repairs/replacement; instructional equipment and ADA, environmental, playground and athletics items; and School Technology projects. Both non systemic requests total $1 million.
The Council deferred consideration of Dr. Wagner’s request for a letter of support for the Board of Education’s proposed FY 2012 plan for planning purposes until it’s September 28, 2010 financial work session.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. p.m. on September 21, 2010 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article 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; §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; and §10-508(A)(10) to discuss public security, if the public body determines that public discussion would constitute a risk to the public or to public security, including:
(i) the deployment of fire and police services and staff; and
(ii) the development and implementation of emergency plans.
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 personnel items with Warden relating Detention Center-took no action; 2) agreed to continue discussions in regular session regarding the advertising of vacancies in the Highway Division of Public Works; 3) approved the request of the Public Works Director to offer a part time position at the Airport to the second recommended applicant due to the resignation of the current employee by a 4 to 0 vote; 4) agreed to promote two individuals to an Emergency Medical Technician-I (EMT-I) by a 4 to 0 vote; 5) continued discussions regarding Emergency Services Director position-requested additional information; 6) discussed a matter relating to the Technology Park-took no action; 7) discussed the possible declaration and sale of County owned property took no action and agreed to discuss in regular session at October 5, 2010 meeting; 8) discussed a matter relating to public security – took no action and agreed to discuss in open session.
Councilman Newcomb noted that the Council agreed to reconvene into executive session after the regular session, for primarily personnel items.
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.
PRESENTATION-GREENPRINT-DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Christine Conn, Office for a Sustainable Future, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, presented a power point presentation on GreenPrint, an interactive map which is available through the internet which shows the areas identified by DNR ecologists
as targeted conservation priorities and tracks how the State is using conservation funds.
She also provided an overview of Program Open Space’s targeted land conservation strategy, which includes the identification of land conservation priorities and strategically using limited conservation funds. Attached is the presentation provided by Ms. Conn.
Councilwoman Elzey expressed concern about the amount of land in Dorchester County that is owned by the State of Maryland and the fact that the State is exempt from paying real property taxes on that land. Tim Brower, Land Acquisition and Planning, said he believes there are revenues generated for the County through the State’s land acquisition activities.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb regarding the amount of State funding spent on land acquisition, Ms. Conn said that in the current year $10 to $15 million has been expended statewide.
The Council thanked Ms. Conn and Mr. Brower for providing the presentation regarding GreenPrint, an interactive map and an overview on the Program Open Space targeting strategy.
PUBLIC HEARING-AMENDMENT TO
Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, explained that a public hearing is being held on an amendment to
Jim Dolan, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his opinion that recycling is important. He suggested Council consider purchasing a methane gas digester to burn material in lieu of current landfilling activities.
The Council accepted the draft amendment to
REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF MUNICIPAL ZONING-TOWN OF
Rodney Banks, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director, said that the Town of Vienna and four adjoining land owners of 372.23 acres of land located generally along Elliott’s Island Road immediately south of and adjacent to the existing municipal boundary of the Town of Vienna are asking that the Council support the proposed municipal zoning associated with their request to annex the land into the Town. He acknowledged that the Town of Vienna Mayor Russell Brinsfield and Tracy Gordy, Principle Planner, Maryland Department of Planning, are present. He said that the current
Mayor Brinsfield explained that the municipal zoning request is for 100 acres, not 372.23 as Mr. Banks stated. He noted that the remaining acreage is in a perpetual easement with the State of Maryland.
Ms. Gordy stated that her office staff has been providing technical assistance to the Town’s staff in the development of a visioning plan which includes a greenbelt area and updating its comprehensive plan to include the land to be annexed. She said that the greenbelt will consist of the bulk of the 373.23 acres and that the annexation agreement includes a base zoning and a floating zone for the developable portion of that property. Ms. Gordy explained that the Town representatives/staff will be in control of the architectural style of the homes in the planned development within the developable portion of the 100 acres which includes control of the streetscape.
The Council approved the request of Town of Vienna representatives and four property owners to change the zoning for 372.23 acres of land located generally along Elliott’s Island Road, which will annexed into the Town, from the combination of Suburban Residential, Suburban Residential Resource Conservation Area, Resource Conservation and Agricultural Conservation and to Limited Residential and General Residential and agreed to execute a resolution.
DISCUSSION WITH BOARD OF ELECTIONS-POSTING OF ELECTION RESULTS
The Council discussed with Thomas Corkran, President of Board of Elections, the posting of election results during the September 2010 Primary Election. Mr. Corkran acknowledged the following Board of Election members are present: Peggy Ruark, William Batson, Jeanne Webster and Deanna Mills. He said that Hubert Wright, the Board’s attorney is also present. Councilwoman Elzey explained that several residents expressed their concerns that the election results for the Clerk of Court and Register of Wills were not listed on local television stations, including Channel 16, (WBOC). She said that they also expressed concern that the results were not updated frequently. Mr. Corkan noted that WBOC staff was in the Election’s Office during the election process.
Karin Kuntz, Director of Elections in Dorchester County, explained that the Chief Election judges are required to bring in the voting machines and memory cards which are then uploaded onto a server in the Elections Office. She said that votes are then sent to the State and are posted locally shortly thereafter. Kim Jones, Election’s Office staff, said that she posted election results on the County’s website at 11 p.m. on the day of the Primary Election.
Mr. Merryweather suggested that an advertisement be placed in a local newspaper noting the availability of both the State and County websites during the election process. Ms. Kuntz agreed that every effort should be made to ensure that the public has access to the election results as soon as they become available, both through local media outlets and newspaper advertisements.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Ms. Kuntz said that there are 169 absentee and 90 provisional votes to be counted. She said that they will be counted on September 22, 2010 in Room 110, the Council’s meeting room, at 10 a.m.
Mr. Simering expressed concern about the number of absentee votes, particularly in County Council Districts 2 and District 5. Councilman Nichols rebutted that residents are allowed under the election law to vote by absentee ballot and that he was questioning his integrity. He noted that there were other candidates in other districts that received 100 absentee votes. Mr. Dolan expressed his opinion that residents should be allowed to vote by absentee ballot, particularly since some do not have adequate transportation.
The Council thanked Mr. Corkan and Ms. Kuntz for providing information regarding the posting of election results and asked that the results of upcoming elections, including the November General Election, be provided to the public in a timely fashion. The Council also requested that the County’s web link to the Election Office be updated frequently.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES BILLING DISCUSSION-SECRETARY VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
Sam Yockey, President and Chief Executive Officer, on behalf of the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company, explained that at its August 24, 2010 meeting, the Council denied his request on behalf of the fire company to enter into an Advanced Life Support (ALS) Intercept Agreement with the fire company. Mr. Yockey explained that insurance companies/carriers have been billed by fire company representatives for the patients transported to medical facilities in the company’s ambulance as well as for the emergency medical services provided to those patients while being transported for over ten years. He noted that Dorchester County bills for patient transports and services for calls responded to by County EMS staff or by the members of the remaining volunteer fire companies in the County, who then receive reimbursement. Mr. Yockey said that in 2004 the County entered into an ALS Intercept agreement with the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company and that payment was made to the County for advanced life support services provided to patients by County staff pursuant to that agreement until 2006. He noted that the agreement has since expired and that he has been advised by Medical Claim Aid that they cannot bill for advanced life support services if an intercept agreement is not executed by the County.
Mr. Yockey said he is present to provide clarification on several concerns expressed by Council at the August 24th meeting. He noted that at that meeting Councilman Travers expressed concern that because the agreement stated that Secretary Volunteer Fire Company will transport all patients who require ALS care may be transferred from one unit to another. He clarified that once a patient is loaded into an ambulance they will not be transferred to another unit unless the unit they are in breaks down. He stated that this is in difference to appropriate patient care.
Mr. Yockey noted that Council expressed concern that other companies in the County may start billing for their calls, independent of the County. He said he does not anticipate that any other fire company will start invoicing for calls they respond to in light of the paperwork involved to institute a billing process.
He explained that the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company members have agreed to enter into an ALS Intercept Agreement with the County with no expiration date that includes periodic reviews of the agreement, audits and a 30 day termination clause. He said he has the authority to negotiate on behalf of the fire company members. Mr. Yockey expressed his disappointment that Council did not agree to enter into the agreement on August 24th and asked Council to reconsider its decision.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Mr. Yockey said that without an ALS Intercept agreement between the County and the fire company, he can only bill for mileage, patient transports and the basic life support services provided by fire company members.
Councilman Newcomb and Councilwoman Elzey expressed concern that the fire company members failed to respond to 124 medical assist calls. Mr. Yockey said that some employers are not willing to let fire company members leave when the company is alerted to provide ambulance services.
In response to a question posed by Councilwoman Elzey, Ms. Baynard said that the Council has entered into a basic life support agreement with the other fire companies in the County and that if their members respond to the call, they are guaranteed a payment of $100 per call from the County. Mr. Yockey noted that the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company members are not willing to enter into that type of agreement with the County.
Councilman Nichols said it is his recollection that the Council originally agreed to enter into an ALS Intercept Agreement with Secretary Volunteer Fire Company and allow the company to bill individually for transports until the members paid off the loan for the new ambulance that had been purchased for that company. Mr. Yockey said that he cannot locate any documentation supporting that claim.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Yockey said that even though the ALS Intercept Agreement expired, the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company continued to bill for advanced life support services and did not provide a reimbursement to the County after the first quarter of 2006. He explained that until that time the County’s Emergency Medical Services Director provided information on ALS responses by County EMS personnel which they used to bill for services.
Based on a question from Councilman Price, Mr. Yockey said that the insurance carrier is billed first and then the patient and that they have a soft collection policy.
Councilwoman Elzey noted that the County provides a budget appropriation of $12,211 to all of the volunteer fire companies in the County to assist with ambulance service costs. She questioned whether the Council should continue to pay that appropriation to Secretary Volunteer Fire Company because it bills separately for its services. She noted that the City of Cambridge staff has started billing for calls responded to by Rescue Fire Company and also questioned whether the budget appropriation to that fire company should be paid.
The Council requested that Mr. Yockey discuss with the members of his fire company whether the members will agree to enter into a Basic Life Support (BLS) agreement with the County for a guaranteed payment of $100 per call, on all calls for which they respond. Additionally, the Council asked that he meet with Jane Baynard, County Manager, regarding the request, so that she may provide him with financial data relating to the proposed agreement.
Rodney Banks, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director, noted that on February 2, 2010, the Council agreed to execute Resolution No. 480 to add five parcels to the Madison Woolford sewer extension. He explained that the resolution was then forwarded to the Maryland Department of Environment for review and that MDE staff made the determination that two of the parcels, namely 916 Parsons Drive (Tax Map 49, Parcel 41) owned by Brian Teagarden and 1658 Taylors Island Road (Tax Map 51, Parcel 199) owned by Tony LeCompte, do not meet the State funding requirements for the project and have to be removed. He asked the Council to consider executing an amended resolution to remove these parcels from the service area.
Anthony “Tony” LeCompte, owner of one of the parcels to be removed from the project, said he was advised during the review process that his property would be included in the sewer extension project. He noted that his property would be on the project service area map. He explained that, relying on that information, he completed construction on his home, paid off his construction loan and installed a septic holding tank and pump as an interim measure until he could access the public services. He expressed concern that he will now have to incur additional expenses to install a private septic system and risk the chance that the system may fail and he’ll have to eventually hook into the new system at his cost rather than being able to avail himself of grant funding to assist with hookup. Mr. LeCompte said that his mother’s property, which is adjacent to the property he owns, is included in the project.
In response to a question from Mr. LeCompte, Robert Tieder, Sanitary Commission Chair, confirmed that if the septic system Mr. LeCompte must install were to fail Mr. LeCompte will be required to hook into the new sewer line at his own expense.
Tom Bradshaw, a Dorchester County resident, questioned why the plans for the project did not take into account the fact that there would be future construction. Mr. Tieder explained that the properties that were built before 2004 are the only properties included in the project with the exception of 11 lots which are located in a priority funding area. He said that the sewage will be pumped into the City of Cambridge sewer system and that there are certain flow limits that must be met. He said that adding more properties in the project may result in the flow exceeding those limits set by the City.
In response to a question from Mr. LeCompte, Mr. Tieder said that in order to hook into the system once the project has been completed there will be a $500 “tap in” fee and City impact fees of $3,500 as well as additional fees with an estimated cost of $8,500. Mr. Tieder said that the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission is willing to provide services to Mr. LeCompte and Mr. Teagarden’s properties but that the final determination for availability of services must be made by MDE. He suggested that the Council consider asking that the two properties be re-evaluated by MDE for inclusion in the project and that Council members be allowed to be present during that process.
In response to a question from Mr. Merryweather, Mr. Tieder and Mr. Banks said that they believe that the project can be stopped if the amended resolution is not approved and accepted by the Council . Mr. Tieder noted that after April 1, 2010 there is a $1,000 a day forfeiture fee if construction is not completed by that date.
Mr. Banks noted that the letter from the Jay Sakai, Maryland Department of Environment Director, stated that the property does not meet the requirements set by State funding for the sewerage system.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Mr. LeCompte expressed his appreciation to the Council for any assistance they can provide him, but said that he does not believe the entire project should be halted if his property is not included in the service area.
The Council deferred consideration of Mr. Bank’s request to execute a resolution to remove two parcels from the Madison Woolford sewer extension project until its October 5, 2010 meeting and agreed to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Environment and ask that MDE staff reconsider its exclusion of the property owned by Mr. LeCompte into the Woolford Madison sewer extension project with copies to Critical Area Commission, Governor Martin O’Malley, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Dorchester County Health Department, Sanitary Commission, Senator Richard Colburn and Delegates Adelaide Eckardt, Rudolph Cane and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.
The Council adjourned into Legislative session.
Council introduced Bill No. 2010-20 AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND, TO AMEND CHAPTER 155, SECTION 155-37 OF THE DORCHESTER COUNTY CODE, FLOODPLAIN DISTRICT, TO REQUIRE ALL NEW CONSTRUCTION OF RESIDENTIAL AND NON-RESIDENTIAL STRUCTURES AND SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS OF RESIDENTIAL AND NON-RESIDIENTIAL STRUCTURES, INCLUDING MANUFACTURED HOMES, SHALL HAVE THE LOWEST FLOOR, INCLUDING THE BASEMENT, ELEVATED TO THE FLOOD PROTECTION ELEVATION (FPE), AND TO ADD THE DEFINITION OF FLOOD PROTECTION ELEVATION AND FREEBOARD.
Mr. Merryweather said that Bill No. 2010-20 is to amend Chapter 155, Section 155-37 of the Dorchester County Code to require that the lowest floor of all new construction of residential and non-residential structures and substantial improvements of residential and non-residential structures, including manufactured homes and the basement, be elevated to the flood protection elevation and to add the definition of flood protection elevation and freeboard.
Mr. Banks said 60% of County is in a flood plain and that if the legislation is passed residents will be able to purchase flood insurance at reduced rates. He said the higher a house is elevated, the more savings an individual will receive.
The Council agreed to proceed with publication of a public hearing on this matter.
RESERVE DOCKAGE REQUEST-CHOPTANK HERITAGE SKIPJACK RACE 2010
The Council approved the written request from Gage Thomas, Skipjack Race Chairman, Cambridge Main Street, to reserve the bulkhead in front of the County Office Building Friday, September 24, 2010 through Sunday, September 26, 2010 for the Annual Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race to be held on Saturday, September 25, 2010. The Council acknowledged that signage noting the reservation will be posted.
REQUEST FOR TAX CREDIT RESOLUTION-BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB
The Council approved the request of Patrick Reed, Executive Director, and agreed to
execute a Resolution supporting the request of the Boys and Girls Club to the Maryland Department of Community Development for community investment tax credits for its After the Bell project that will provide funds for additional part time staff in order to expand hours of operation and to pay for contractual tutors in the new computer learning center to be constructed later in 2010. The Council acknowledged that no County financial contribution required.
RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT REQUEST-NEW BEGINNINGS YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES