County Council Meeting Minutes
May 10, 2011
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
May 10, 2011
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on May 10, 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,
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant to State Government Article pursuant to §10-508(A)( 2) to protect the privacy or reputation of individuals with respect to a matter that is not related to public business; pursuant to § 10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; and pursuant to § 10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilman Bradshaw led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
The Council approved the addition of a discussion relating to an advertisement to fill the pending vacancy of the Public Works Director position to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- APRIL 26, 2011
The Council approved the minutes of April 26, 2011.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved the vouchers with Councilman Travers abstaining from payments made to Simmons Center Market. The Council also approved the payment to General Sales Administration (Invoice #70006) in the amount of $1,214.40 for the Sheriff’s Office. Councilman Nichols said he believes the installation of bumpers on vehicles in the Sheriff’s Office is not necessary based on current budget constraints. He noted that he received calls from several residents who expressed concern about expending the funds to install those bumpers. Councilman Nichols stated that the Council is required by law to provide funding to the Sheriff’s Office, and stressed that Sheriff James Phillips is an elected official. Councilman Newcomb clarified that Sheriff Phillips purchased chrome push bumpers that were installed on front of the Deputies’ vehicles. He said Council members feel that this expenditure was not necessary in light of the current budget deficit. He noted that E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, has advised that Council must approve the expenditure. He said it is his understanding that Sheriff Phillips is also having window tint installed on some of the Deputies’ vehicles and Council has not received a request for payment for that expenditure yet.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $2,250,571.15.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on May 10, 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)( 2) to protect the privacy or reputation of individuals with respect to a matter that is not related to public business; pursuant to § 10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; and pursuant to § 10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
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) received information regarding a matter relating to economic development– took no action; 2) discussed the personnel costs of an existing grant-took no action; 3) reviewed information provided by staff relating to the pending vacancy of the Public Works Director position and filling the Emergency Services Director position- agreed to discuss the Public Works Director position in open session and asked County Manager to gather further information on Emergency Services Director position; 4) discussed with legal counsel a matter relating to a recent action of the General Assembly and asked for additional information as it may relate to FY12 budget- agreed to discuss in open session; and 5) discussed legal matter regarding voucher payment currently deferred.
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.
COMMENDATION- FIRST CLASS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The Council presented a commendation to Mary Collins for being named
COMMENDATION-TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The Council presented a commendation to Valerie Lomax for being named
PROCLAMATION-NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK-MAY 21 TO MAY 27, 2011
The Council presented a proclamation declaring May 21 to May 27, 2011 National Safe Boating Week. Thomas Wolfe, Vice Commander, Public Affairs Officer, Church Creek Flotilla, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, accepted the proclamation.
Jane Baynard, County Manager, advised that Gary LeCompte, a Dorchester County resident, submitted a request asking Council to allow commercial watermen preference on leasing boat slips at the Elliott Island Boat Ramp.
E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, clarified that if Council agrees to provide preference to commercial watermen an individual who has an existing slip lease cannot be denied the renewal of that lease.
The Council agreed to give commercial watermen preference on boat slips at all County ramps with approval being specific to those boat slips which are vacant and as slips become vacant.
RENEWAL OF LEASE-STATE EMPLOYEE CREDIT UNION ATM
The Council approved the request of Dana Ridgway, ATM Network Specialist, State Employee Credit Union, and agreed to amend the lease between the County Council and SECU for the ATM located at the Dorchester County Health Department to extend the termination date for one year beginning March 30, 2011 and ending on March 29, 2012 at a monthly lease rate of $250 with all other terms remaining in full force and effect.
REQUEST TO RESERVE DOCKAGE/USE COUNTY OFFICE BUILDING PARKING LOT-SCHOONER RENDEZVOUS 2011
The Council approved the request of Jane Devlin, Chairman, Cambridge Schooner Rendezvous Committee, to reserve the County dock on Cambridge Creek in front of
GUN VIOLENCE REDUCTION GRANT APPLICATION- GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF CRIME CONTROL & PREVENTION-SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Based on information provided by Ed Bozel, Grants Coordinator, the Council approved the submission of a Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention Gun Violence Reduction-Cease Fire Grant by the Sheriff’s Office for funds in the amount of $23,170 with no local match to be used to pay for overtime support for implementing and developing strategies specifically intended to reduce gun related crime.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY ENFORCEMENT GRANT APPLICATION-GOVERNORS OFFICE OF CRIME CONTROL & PREVENTION-SHERIFF’S OFFICE
The Council, based on information provided by Mr. Bozel, approved the submission of a Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention School Bus Safety Enforcement Grant by the Sheriff’s Office for funds in the amount of $26,000 with no local match to be used to pay for overtime support to enforce school bus safety laws.
COLLABORATIVE SUPERVISION & FOCUSED ENFORCEMENT GRANT RENEWAL-HOPE COMMUNITY PROJECT-LMB
The Council approved the request of Nancy Shockley, Local Management Board Director, to submit a Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement (CSAFE) grant renewal application for funds in the amount of $29,000 with no local match. The Council acknowledged that because the Local Management Board cannot provide the role of Lead Coordinator/Grant Manager as an in-kind function $3,250 is being requested to support the coordination and implementation of the grant as well as for all meetings and outreach to community, the completion of all program and fiscal reporting to the funding source. The Council further acknowledged that the remaining $25,750 will be used to compensate overtime pay for additional patrol officers assigned to the Hope Community Project to conduct foot and bicycle patrols.
HOME VISITING GRANT-DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND HYGIENE-LOCAL MANAGEMENT BOARD
The Council approved the request of Ms. Shockley to accept a Department of Mental Health and Hygiene Home Visiting Planning Grant in the amount of $10,000 with no local match for the Dorchester Community Partnership for Children to discuss local trends, build partnerships, share existing resources and develop an action plan.
The Council acknowledged that based on a Statewide Home Visiting Needs Assessment which was completed in the Fall of 2010
REQUEST TO ADVERTISE FOR PROPOSALS-HARRIET TUBMAN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD MARKER DESIGN-TOURISM
The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to advertise a request for proposals for the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Marker Design. The Council acknowledged that the project is funded through a grant from the Federal Highway Administration that was awarded to the State Office of Tourism and a Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant that was awarded to the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area with no cost to the County. The Council further acknowledged that pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the County and State Tourism Office, Dorchester County Tourism will act as the State’s local agent to implement this and several other byway related projects.
TRAVEL REQUEST-MARYLAND CORRECTIONAL
The Council approved the request of Warden Don Satterfield to allow Captain Steve Mills, Captain Steve Murphy, Captain Paula Kane, Lieutenant Michael Cheesman and Lieutenant Michael J. Miles attend the Maryland Correctional Administrators Annual Training Conference from June 4 through June 7, 2011 in Ocean City, Maryland and to expend $667 for the cost of conference registration fees and for $100 to purchase Sunday morning breakfast buffet for all attendees from the FY 11 Detention Center budget. The Council acknowledged that each of the officers will be paying their own costs for overnight accommodations.
TECHNOLOGY PARK UTILITY & INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS-CONTACT #2 CHANGE ORDER #6-PUBLIC WORKS
The Council approved a request made by Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, on behalf of George & Lynch, Contractor for the Dorchester Regional Technology Park Utility and Infrastructure Improvements Contract #2, to accept Change Order No. 6 at the cost of $78,795 for stone backfill in utility trenches which is required due to poor soil conditions at utility pipe sub grades that required over excavation and stone backfill to provide adequate bedding for the pipes. The Council acknowledged that the revised total contract amount is $3,469,444.87 which exceeds the contract amount of $3,374,440 approved by Council in June 2010. The Council further acknowledged that on April 19, 2011 the Cambridge Planning Commission approved changes to Technology Park Development Plan to reduce costs to cover the cost of the change order and other cost increases due to poor onsite soil conditions. Additionally, the Council acknowledged that Change Order #7 is being developed to reduce the approved project scope to cover the additional cost due to those soil conditions and keep within June 2010 funding limits. The Council recognized that the Economic Development Administration approved the change order.
The Council agreed that staff continue discussions with URS Corporation, the firm that designed that project, because that company’s staff incorrectly estimated the quantities of earth work to be performed which created a cost overrun. The Council requested an update on these negotiations to determine if a possible offset in cost can be achieved.
The Council approved the request of Mr. Weber to amend the March 30, 2010 Construction Management Services Contract between the County Council and Andrews, Miller & Associates to increase the not to exceed amount by $39,830 to cover increased resident inspection services for the Technology Park Utility Extension, Contract #1. The Council acknowledged that due to various changed conditions on site as well as slow process by David A. Bramble, Contractor, the construction period has been extended and as a result the original estimate for resident inspection services will be exceeded The Council further acknowledged that the project is funded under a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan which requires a full time inspector to be onsite during all construction activities and that the additional costs are eligible under that loan. The Council recognized that County staff is currently negotiating with David A. Bramble on whether to grant an additional time extension beyond the current contract completion date of March 19, 2011 or to impose liquidated damages of $1,000 a day to cover additional inspection costs as well as certain repairs to Bucktown Road.
ADVERTISING PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR POSITION
The Council agreed to advertise the Public Works Director position which will become vacant as of May 31, 2011 due to the retirement of Chuck Weber who is taking advantage of the Council’s early retirement incentive. Councilman Price opposed noting that he is leaning towards restructuring the Public Works Department using current personnel.
BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING
Councilman Newcomb noted that the second of two budget public hearings is being held pursuant to Article 5, Section 506 of the
Tawes Harper, a
Ray Shelley, a resident, said he believes Council should reduce taxes for locally owned businesses which will stimulate the local economy and consider the implementation of different tax rates on nonresident owned businesses and for non-owner occupied residences. He asked the Council to not raise the real property taxes or any other type of tax for residents.
Donald Gray, a
Charlotte Hughes, a resident, expressed concern about the proposed increase in real property taxes particularly since many seniors are on a fixed income and parents are struggling to locate funding so their children can attend college. She said she has attended various County Council meetings in the past 10 years and encouraged the Council to work together for the benefit of the County and County residents. Ms. Hughes expressed her opinion that Council should not grant real property tax credits to businesses, based on her understanding that at least one business that received that credit left the County once the credit expired. She said she was concerned about hearing that one local company is not hiring residents and that she also believes Hyatt is in financial trouble. She said Council should encourage businesses to locate within the County and to consider hiring individuals on a contractual basis instead of on a full time basis with possible transition into permanent positions in the future depending on the budget condition of the County.
Frank Bittner, a
Cathleen Bilodeau, a resident, said she and her husband moved to
Jean delSordo, Library Administrator, Dorchester County Public Library, expressed concern that Council is proposing to reduce funding to the library by 5%. She also expressed concern that in addition to that reduction the Council is considering not allowing library employees to participate in the County’s health insurance plan even though the Library reimburses the County the full costs of those health insurance premiums for its employees. She said it is her understanding that there are no proposed increases to health insurance rates and costs in FY 2012. She acknowledged that the Council’s decision regarding health insurance is in order to reduce risk exposure in terms of unfunded liability of the General Accounting Standard known as GASB45 and said she believes that Council is currently not funding that liability. Ms. DelSordo said she believes funding provided to the Library is less than 1% of the County’s overall budget although a large portion of citizens use that facility, including individuals who are looking for employment. She noted that the Library’s Board of Trustees have asked her to relay their proposal to not offer retirement benefits in the term of health insurance to future employees which she believes will cap that unfunded liability and reduce further the risk exposure. She said she does not anticipating hiring employees in the near future. Ms. DelSordo acknowledged that the following Library Board members were present and may wish to speak: Marilyn Carr, Anne Moore, George Ames and Connie Wilson.
Ms. Moore, Ms. Wilson and Ms. Carr encouraged Council to continue to allow the library employees to participate in County’s health insurance plan. Mr. Ames, Board President, also asked Council to reconsider its decision. Ms. Wilson noted that the City of Cambridge and the Town of Hurlock have reduced their funding appropriations to the Library.
John Knox, a resident and President of Bonnie Brook Homeowner’s Association, expressed concern about the cost for illegal immigrants in
Joyce Paulette, a County resident, expressed concern about the proposed real property tax increase when it is her understanding that surrounding counties have lowered their taxes. Ms. Paulette encouraged Council to review the proposed FY 2012 budget again to decrease expenditures without raising the real property tax.
In response to a question from Cheryl Evernman, a Dorchester County resident, Mr. Spears explained that employee benefits are included in the personnel miscellaneous line item in the proposed FY 2012 budget bill. She expressed her understanding that personnel costs and general government funds increased in FY 2012 and questioned the cut in Youth Services which is referenced in the bill. She said she cannot afford to pay an increase in real property tax particularly her property assessment doubled in FY 2011. Ms. Evernman expressed her opinion that she does not benefit from County services because she disposes of her own trash at the landfill and due to the fact that the road in front of her home is not paved, snow removal is performed by local farmers in the area and there are no Sheriff patrols conducted on that roadway. She said it appears that there have been reductions in some departmental budgets while others have increased. She stated that she does not understand why the Council did not make an across the board reduction. Ms. Evernman advised that in 2011 she visited the Dorchester County Office Building twice during which the offices were closed for furloughs. She expressed her opinion that employees should only receive a pay cut so that offices can remain open and her concern that funds are being provided for the Economic Development Office when she believes there is a lack of development. Ms. Evernman acknowledged that the Dorchester Regional Technology Park is being constructed and that infrastructure is needed in the County to support business and technology growth. She said Council should eliminate waste and evenly distribute reductions among County Departments.
Mike Detmar, a resident and a teacher, acknowledged that Council is facing circumstances beyond their control, including increase fuel and food prices. He said he is aware that property assessments have decreased and that although Council cannot control those values, they can control real property tax, which he believes should not be increased. He expressed his appreciation for the work the Council members undertake for the County’s citizens and encouraged reduction of expenditures.
Henry Wagner, Superintendent of Schools, thanked the Council members for the working relationship they have with Board of Education members and staff and for the opportunity to speak. He acknowledged that Lorraine Henry, Board of Education Vice president; Mr. Ames, Superintendent Advisory Council member; Dwayne Abt, South Dorchester K-8 School Principal; Lorzeno Hughes, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction; Controller Tim Brooke; Gary McCabe, Assistant Superintendent for Administration; and Dr. Gwen Handy, Community Services Supervisor and former Principal for North Dorchester Middle School are present. He said although he respects the perceptions and opinions of all citizens he is present to advocate for the public school system and as such wants to address several concerns expressed by residents earlier in the public hearing. He explained that public schools have been financially impacted during the recent economic downturn and that the Board of Education agreed to return unused funds for school projects to the County to use in FY 2012. Mr. Wagner said he has heard several comments that there are numerous administrative positions within the Board of Education and he explained that there have been reductions to the Central Office and explained as a result staff is handling numerous responsibilities. He noted that comments have also been made that there should be a reduction in staffing of the local schools and County funding to the Board should be further reduced. He explained that the Board staff promised the Council that existing teachers will staff the new programs at the Dorchester Career and Technology Center instead of hiring additional teachers to save funds. He explained that Board of Education staff will partner with local businesses to provide programs at the Dorchester Career and Technology Center. Mr. Wagner thanked the Council for moving forward with the construction of the school. He expressed his understanding that although there may be no penalty to counties for failing to meet Maintenance of Effort funding requirements there may be other financial consequences. Mr. Wagner advised that several citizens and business leaders on the Superintendent’s Advisory Board have expressed to him their support of a nominal increase in taxes to allow the local school system to remain competitive. He noted that Board of Education staff will receive a 2% reduction in salary in FY 2012 due to an increased Maryland State Retirement System employee contribution and that teachers are also faced with rising commuting costs due to fuel increases. He said he looks forward to a continued collaboration with the Council.
Les Simering, a