Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 05/20/11

County Council Meeting Minutes

May 3, 2011

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

May 3, 2011


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on May 3, 2011 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; William V. Nichols, Vice President; Ricky Travers; Rick Price and Tom Bradshaw. 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 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)(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.





Councilman Travers led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.


The Council approved the vouchers as presented.   Additionally, the Council approved the payment to Hubcaps Automotive Center (Invoice #43227) in the amount of $35 that was withheld at its April 19, 2011 pending further clarification.  A motion by Councilman Travers to approve the payments to General Sales Administration (Invoice #70006) in the amount of $1,214.40, which was also withheld on April 19th pending further clarification, died due to lack of a second.




Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $1,483,071.21. 



The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on May 3, 2011 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article 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)(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) agreed to hire an individual to fill an Motor Equipment Operator IV (MEO IV) vacancy at the Landfill by a 3 to 1 vote; 2) discussed general personnel issues with the Public Works Director-took no action; 3)  discussed issue relating to emergency medical services billing –agreed to continue discussion in 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.








The Council acknowledged receipt of an alternate proposal from Sam Yockey, President, and the Secretary Volunteer Fire Company for payment for advanced life support services provided by County employees riding on the SVFC ambulance during the time period no billing agreement existed between the Council and the fire company.   The Council further recognized its March 29, 2011 decision to bill Secretary Volunteer Fire Company for those services based on the total number of transports involving ALS services and based on the full ALS reimbursement rate.    The Council asked Scott Wheatley, Interim Emergency Medical Services Manager, based on his recommendation, to schedule a meeting with that fire company’s Executive Committee regarding emergency medical services billing and to provide a report back to Council at a future meeting.




Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his opinion that the teachers of the year in the County should be recognized in local news publications.


John Knox, President of the Bonnie Brook Association, advised Council that the Army Corps of Engineers recently conducted a sounding at Hurst Creek.  He explained that instead of dredging the channel, a restoration of the Creek is planned.  He said the decision to restore the creek was based on the fact that the sand in that area is conducive to a turtle habitat.  He said in addition to the $40,000 to be provided by the County for Hurst Creek, he believes the Association will receive grant funds in the amount of $90,000 for the project.  He said he will provide the Council with a more extensive update on the project once the Army Corps of Engineers report has been completed, which will be in approximately two weeks.


Councilman Newcomb recognized that Grady Wilson, a Dorchester County resident, is recording the meeting.  


Charlotte Hughes, a Dorchester County resident, questioned whether Council is still considering modifications to the County’s Ethics Ordinance.  Councilman Newcomb noted that the current primary focus of the Council is to adopt a budget for FY 2012 and any plans to do so have been placed on a list of items pending review prior to the end of the fiscal year.   In response to a question from Ms. Hughes, Councilmen Newcomb and Nichols noted that there are no increases to stipends for members of County Boards and Commissions in the proposed FY12 budget.   Ms. Hughes expressed concern about the funding of a new Dorchester Career and Technology Center in light of the current deficit.  Based on a question from Ms. Hughes, Councilman Newcomb explained that, pursuant to the County’s procurement policy, Department Heads can purchase items or services if that individual purchase is less than $5,000 but acknowledged that bids must be obtained for individual purchases in excess of $5,000.  Ms. Hughes said she has concerns about one particular County contract and Councilman Newcomb asked her to provide a copy of that contract so that Council and legal counsel may review the document. 


In response to a question from Pete Macinta, a Dorchester County resident, Councilman Newcomb said public hearings are conducted to give the public the opportunity to speak regarding the proposed budget.  He further explained that once all of the public hearings are concluded the Council will take public comments under advisement and make the final decision on the proposed FY 2012 budget.   Mr. Macinta clarified his understanding that the Council’s role is to listen and record comment but not to speak out, or answer questions, or make correcting comments during the first two public hearings.  Mr. Merryweather confirmed that statement.




E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, said this is the first of three public hearings to be held on Bill No. 2011-3 to establish the 2011-2012 Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance to allow the public the opportunity to provide their comments and/or concerns they have on the proposed budget.  He noted that there is a signup sheet in the hallway.


Mike Kilgus, Vice President for Administrative Services at Chesapeake College, expressed President Dr. Barbara Viniar’s regrets for being unable to attend the public hearing due to a prior commitment.  He expressed appreciation of the support of the college’s five support counties, including Dorchester County, and acknowledged that the supporting counties are proposing to provide level funding to the College.    Mr. Kilgus expressed concern that this will be the fourth year of level funding in the wake of a 30% enrollment increase.     He acknowledged that due to the current economic climate the Council cannot providing capital funding for the Center for Allied Health and Athletics, a $36.5 million project, and noted that he and Dr. Viniar will be back before Council in July to ask again for a commitment for the County’s $1.8 million share of the project in the next fiscal year.  Mr. Kilgus explained that a letter has been submitted to the Maryland Higher Education Commission and other agencies that are providing funding for the project noting that the College is unable to provide a local match.  He said preliminary approval has been given to hold the State funds for one year.   He further explained that in order to secure those funds for the next State fiscal year a commitment for the local match is required by the Fall of 2011.   He noted that it is a two part project with phase one being the renovation of the pool and physical education building.  Mr. Kilgus explained that the heating and ventilation are not fully working in that building and that the gym floor needs to be replaced.   He noted that not being able to provide an athletic program at the College will result in a substantial loss of tuition and State funding.  Mr. Kilgus advised that phase two of the project is the addition of a nursing and allied health facility.   He explained that the nursing and allied health programs are currently being provided at the Easton Memorial Hospital and that once that facility is moved from downtown Easton to another area within Talbot County in 2015 and the programs will have to be moved.    He noted that another project that will have to be undertaken in the future is either the relocation or construction of a new Cambridge Center due to substantially increased enrollment. 


Robert Bilodeau, a Dorchester County resident, said he and his wife moved to Woolford 12 years ago in preparation for retirement and to lower their cost of living.  He expressed concern that the proposed increase in real property tax will increase the cost of home ownership and reduce the value of property in the County which will adversely affect the retirement population.  He also expressed his belief that there has been a lack of economic development activity in the past ten years, noting that Superfresh will soon be leaving the area. 


Mr. Knox said he is present to speak on behalf of the members of the Bonnie Brook Association.  He expressed members’ concerns regarding the increased cost of living and the current rise in foreclosures and unemployment.  He encouraged Council to decrease expenses instead of raising the real property tax.  Mr. Knox questioned why illegal immigrants are being housed at the County Detention Center and suggested that Council consider having unemployed residents serve jury duty so that employed individuals can continue to work. 


Mr. Knox questioned what County road crews do on rainy days and the amount of money spent on overtime for snow removal.  He said he worked in construction for several years before retiring and was unable to work on rainy days.  Mr. Knox noted that most homes in Bonnie Brook are owned by individuals who have retired and have a limited income.    He suggested Council consider either reducing or freezing the real property tax rate for seniors. 


Ms. Hughes acknowledged that she placed her name on the signup sheet but provided her comments during public comment.


Donald Gray, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his appreciation for those who are present for the public hearing.  He suggested Council consider increasing employee furlough days to 15 instead of raising real property tax.  He expressed his opinion that Council should reduce funding provided to the Board of Education and that the Board should eliminate some administrative positions.  Mr. Gray questioned if a new Dorchester Career and Technology Center is needed.  He expressed concern about raising the real property tax because he feels it will adversely affect those residents whose only source of income is social security as well as those who are renting property.    


Romie Grayson Robbins, a resident, expressed his concern about the proposed real property increase and suggested that the Council pass a budget without a tax increase.


Mr. Foxwell provided the Council with a newspaper advertisement which shows a synopsis of the proposed Worchester County FY12 budget which he believes includes a decrease in taxes and copies of the constant yield rate advertisements for Worchester County and the Town of Easton.    He said he has asked the Council previously to provide a real property tax decrease for seniors who are residents of the County and own their own homes.  He expressed concern about the layoff of 11 County employees and suggested that the Council consider increasing employee furlough days to 12 and hiring back those individuals.  Mr. Foxwell expressed concern about the impact on the local economy based on the loss of those jobs.  


Les Simering, a Dorchester County resident, stated that he was present to personally speak on the proposed budget and is not on behalf of the Republican Central Committee.   He advised that he attended all but one of the Council’s budget work sessions.  He noted that although there was discussion regarding a possible 23% decrease of funds to the local volunteer fire companies which was ultimately reduced to 11%.  He expressed concern about decreasing funding to local volunteer fire companies in light of rising fuel costs.  He expressed his opinion that the Council should have sought a Board of Education Maintenance of Effort Waiver and expressed concern about electric costs particularly since it is his understanding that the lights at local schools are on at night, that a practice football field is irrigated and there is a digital sign located at the Cambridge South Dorchester High School on Route 16.  He also expressed concern about the financial impact the Dorchester Career and Technology Center will have on the budget.   He questioned whether the funding previously set aside for Hurst Creek was still available and suggested Council considering using inmate labor to repair ditches and roads.   He also expressed concern that the Council did not follow through with his suggestion to launch a ramp sticker program in the County to generate revenue.    He said it is his understanding that real property assessments decreased in the City of Cambridge which will result in a revenue reduction even though there is a proposed 9% real property tax increase county-wide.  He encouraged the Council to pay off bond debt and to be proactive in preparing future budgets.  He suggested Council consider preparing multiple year budgets.


Jim Laverty, a Dorchester County resident, noted that he sent comments regarding the proposed 9% increase in real property tax in the proposed budget via email to the Council on May 2, 2011.  He acknowledged that costs for products and services are escalating and encouraged Council to continue to conduct business with local companies.  He said he has approached County staff several times to provide a quote on employee benefits and has been advised that the County uses a broker outside of the County.    He encouraged the Council to be pro-business in the local community and questioned why Council is not advertising for bids for insurance services within the County.  He noted that the Maryland Insurance Administration regulates insurance premiums which make them comparable throughout the State.   Mr. Laverty expressed his opinion that the Board of Education should also advertise bids for insurance and other services within the County.   He also expressed his appreciation for the services the County staff provides and in particular road repair and maintenance.


L.D. Zickefoose, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his opinion that the Council should reduce expenditures in the proposed budget instead of moving forward with a 9% real property tax increase.  He noted that there are many residents who are either on a fixed income or unemployed which will be adversely affected by the tax increase.


Martin Pepper, a Talbot County resident, on behalf of Lloyds Fire Company asked Council to provide funding for the volunteer fire company.


Ms. Baynard noted that a public hearing on the proposed FY 2012 budget will be held on May 10, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. with a legislative public hearing being held on May 17, 2011.




Councilman Price questioned whether information has been received regarding the Governor’s Roundtable discussion on the Transportation Fund that was held on April 29, 2011.   Ms. Baynard advised that no additional information has been received other than what has been provided from local and regional news publications and the Maryland Association of Counties website and stated that when additional information becomes available it will be provided to Council.


Councilman Price noted that on behalf of Council he presented a proclamation declaring May 1 through May 7, 2011 as Correctional Officers Week at the Correctional Officers Week luncheon on May 3, 2011 at which six employees were recognized for perfect attendance and once individual was congratulated on his retirement and recognized for his 30 years of service. 


Based on a motion made by Councilman Newcomb, the Council agreed to add an item to the May 10th agenda regarding the efforts taken by the Queen’s Anne County Commissioners relating to the Board of Education and the Commissioners’ Maintenance of Effort Waiver application and requested that staff provide information for its review and consideration.


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



                                                                        Ricky Travers



                                                                        Rick Price



                                                                        Tom Bradshaw


Approved the ______day of  ______________, 2011.