County Council Meeting Minutes
February 21 2012
County Council of Dorchester County
Regular Meeting Minutes
February 21, 2012
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on February 21, 2012 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; Ricky Travers; Rick Price and Tom Bradshaw. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney;
Councilman Newcomb announced that Councilman Nichols is not present for the regular session meeting due to illness.
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive
Session pursuant to State Government Article 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; pursuant to §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; and 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.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilman Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
The Council agreed to remove from the agenda a request from Cambridge Quota to use the Circuit Court House lawn for an event and to add a discussion on behalf of the “Stop the Shift” Coalition regarding opposition to the pension shift from the State to local governments.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- FEBRUARY 7, 2012
The Council approved the minutes of February 7, 2012.
The Council approved vouchers as presented but requested additional information regarding the payment to RDJ Specialties, Inc. (Voucher #033154) in the amount of $370.06.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $7,315,723.24.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on February 21, 2012 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)(4) to consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; pursuant to §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; and 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.
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.
Councilman Newcomb announced that the Council reconvened into an Executive Session at 8:00 p.m. on February 7, 2012 to discuss a personnel item and a legal item as follows: 1) discussed a personnel matter relating to the Landfill Division-requested additional information; and 2) discussed with legal counsel a lease issue for a County owned property and instructed County Manager to provide additional information.
Councilman Newcomb also announced that on February 16, 2012, at its budget work session, the Council convened into Executive Session to discuss the following: 1) a matter relating to public safety-requested additional information; and 2) a matter concerning an existing lease for County owned property-took no action. He said the Council also convened into Executive Session on this date for a personnel hearing at 6 p.m.
Additionally, Councilman Newcomb announced that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on February 21, 2012 to discuss the following items:
1) received an update from an existing business-took no action; 2) discussed information received regarding a possible economic development project-requested additional information; 3) received an update and information from Public Works Director regarding personnel-requested additional information for March 1, 2012 budget work session; 4) discussed a personnel matter regarding a possible community service opportunity-agreed to not make a commitment to proceed; 5) discussed implementation of a fiscal policy relating to employee expenses-requested additional information; 6) based on the request of the Emergency Services Director agreed to hire individuals to fill two vacant 911 Dispatcher positions by a 5 to 0 vote; 7) approved the request of the Finance Director to hire an individual to fill a vacant Fiscal Clerk position by a 5 to 0 vote; 8) agreed to contract with an employment agency for an individual to temporarily fill the Grant Monitor/Staff Accountant position by a 5 to 0 vote; 9) approved the request of the Emergency Services Director for an individual to remain as an on-call Emergency Medical Technician, who resigned from full time employment and to place an individual back on-call, by a 5 to 0 vote and agreed to advertise in-house for the full time vacancy by a 4 to 0 vote with 1 abstention; and 10) reviewed information provided from the Sheriff regarding a staffing need and agreed to continue discussions at a future date.
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.
AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY OF TITLE 15, SUBTITLE 8 OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT ARTICLE OF THE ANNOTATED CODE OF MARYLAND TO REPEAL CHAPTER 88 OF THE DORCHESTER COUNTY CODE ENTITLED CODE OF ETHICS
E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, explained that State legislation is pending in the Maryland General Assembly that may result in changes being made to the local Ethics Ordinance requirements adopted in the 2011 General Assembly session and; therefore, asked the Council to defer the introduction of the proposed bill until it can be determined whether the legislators will adopt substantive amendments. Jane Baynard, County Manager, explained that pursuant to the County Charter a bill must be enacted within 65 days after introduction or it is declared void and noted that delaying the introduction for a period of time would avoid having to incur the costs to re-advertise if the State makes significant changes to local requirements. The Council deferred the introduction of this legislation until nearer the end of the General Assembly session in early April 2012.
AUDIT PRESENTATION-TGM GROUP
Michael Spears, Finance Director, introduced Herb Geary, Partner, and Roy Geiser, Senior Auditor, of TGM Group, who prepared the financial audit for Dorchester County for the year ending June 30, 2011.
Mr. Geiser stated that the financial audit was an unqualified opinion and that the audit process went smoothly. He discussed with Council generally the financial standing of the General Fund and the Landfill and Airport Enterprise funds.
Mr. Geiser advised that the new governmental accounting standard known as GASB54, which establishes new balance reporting and government fund type definitions, was used during this audit process. He explained that, as a result of that new standard, unreserved and undesignated fund balances will be considered “unassigned” funds and funds designated for capital projects will now be considered “committed” funds. He said pursuant to GASB 54 the County’s Reserve Fund has been reclassified as part of the County’s General Fund. He further explained that the County’s government-wide net assets decreased from $51.9 million to $48.7 million, as a result of the distribution of bonds proceedings during FY 2011 to the Board of Education, which were reflected in FY 2010 as a current asset and the increase in other post-employment benefits obligation of $2.1 million.
Mr. Geiser said government-wide assets exceeded liabilities at the close of FY 2011 by $48.7 million and that the amount is net of a $15.0 million unrestricted deficit which occurred because the County issues debt to fund the construction of assets owned by Dorchester County Public Schools and Chesapeake College. He noted that debt outstanding for these entities amounted to $26.1 million in June 30, 2011.
Mr. Geiser advised that total revenues of $47.4 million exceeded the FY 2011 budget by $0.5 million while total expenditures of $48.4 million were below that budgeted amount by $0.8 million.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Geiser said the overall audit went well with the exception that this audit presentation was held later that the FY 2010 presentation. Councilman Newcomb expressed concern about the late presentation. Mr. Geiser said he anticipates that next year’s presentation will be more timely. In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Geiser said the audit process has improved from previous years, particularly due to the addition of the Grants Monitor position. Councilman Newcomb noted that that the Council recently agreed to contract with a temporary agency for an individual to temporarily fill the position.
Based on an inquiry from Ms. Baynard, Mr. Geary said there have not been any new government accounting standards established that may impact the FY 2012 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.
MARYLAND ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES PRESENTATION
Tom Moore, Public Works Director, noted that two representatives from Maryland Environmental Services (MES) were present to provide information regarding the firm’s proposal to provide solid waste management services for the County at the Beulah Landfill and off site landfill locations. Beth Wojton, Assistant Director, Maryland Environmental Services, advised that the company is an independent quasi-State Agency which does not receive funding directly from the State of Maryland. She explained that their proposal includes providing a certified Landfill Manager to the County to manage daily activities with understanding that all employees will remain on the staff of the County’s Public Works Director. She said Maryland Environmental Services staff will provide reports, including tipping fee revenue reports, to the Council. Ms. Wojton advised that the proposed agreement includes a termination clause with a 30 day notification requirement.
Ms. Baynard clarified that if the Council accepts this proposal there will be no change in ownership of the Beulah Landfill facility or any other sites and no change in any employee relationships with the exception of the management component. She said Council will still be responsible for establishing rules, regulations and policies for employees and for the County owned facilities.
Ms. Wojton said Maryland Environmental Services staff will perform a safety audit and provide the Council with any recommendations as a result of that audit. She said that, by virtue of the contracting arrangement the Council may also use grant assistance provided by MES staff as a value-added benefit.
In response to a question from Councilman Price, Ms. Wojton said Steve Tomczewski, the Executive Director of the Environmental Operations Division, viewed the Beulah landfill site and was impressed with the facility.
Based on an inquiry from Mr. Merryweather, Ms. Wojton said the Landfill Manager will be a Maryland Environmental Services employee who will take operational direction from the County’s Public Works Director. Mr. Merryweather questioned why, pursuant to the proposed agreement, the County will be responsible to provide Workers Compensation insurance for that employee, when there is no employer relationship on behalf of the County. Ms. Wojton said she will ask Maryland Environmental Services’ legal counsel for an opinion.
Councilman Travers questioned whether Maryland Environmental Services has provided solid waste management services to other facilities. Mr. Maclane Gibson, Chief of Solid Waste Operations, said they provided services to the Talbot County landfill site for 20 years until it closed as part of the Mid Shore regional landfill is continuing to provide these services at the new regional location. Ms. Wojton said they provided similar services to Hartford County for a six month period. Mr. Gibson advised that the company provided a full assessment of that landfill facility to that local government and participated in the interview process for the new Deputy Director of Public Works, who was to be assigned to run the Solid Waste Division.
Mr. Moore recommended that the Council enter into an agreement with Maryland Environmental Services until the end of FY 2012 and noted that there are funds in the Public Works budget to cover the cost.
The Council agreed to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement for solid waste management services with Maryland Environmental Services until June 30, 2012 at a monthly fee of $6,380, subject to clarification being obtained that Maryland Environmental Service will provide Workers Compensation coverage for the employee(s) provided by that company. The Council acknowledged that Maryland Environmental Services will supply a Landfill Manager to supervise the day to day operation of the Beulah landfill and off site landfill locations which individual will be acting under the general supervision of Mr. Moore, Public Works Director. The Council further acknowledged that the monthly fee is based on a 34 hour per week and that additional costs will be incurred if more hours are requested. The Council directed staff to work with Mr. Merryweather to provide a final agreement for execution.
OFFSHORE BLIND AND RIPARIAN RIGHTS RENEWAL-PUBLIC WORKS
The Council approved the renewal of 2012-2013 Offshore Blind and Riparian Rights Renewal Licenses for a period of three years at the following County properties: Cassons Neck Road; Hoopers Island Road-North end of causeway; Hoopers Island Road-South end of causeway; Wharf Road; Ragged Point Marina Road; Hoopers Island Road (Wallace Creek). The Council acknowledged that property owned and licensed by governmental entities are exempt from the fee requirements.
LETTER OF SUPPORT REQUESTS-MARYLAND HERITAGE AREAS AUTHORITY GRANT-
Dorchester Center For The Arts
Based on the request of Donna Towers, Volunteer, on behalf of the Dorchester Center for the Arts, the Council agreed to send a letter of support of that agency’s request for Maryland Heritage Area Authority Grant Program funding of $100,000, with no local match, to renovate the Center’s second floor as a performance hall and reception area.
Hoopers Island Lighthouse
Pursuant to the request of Henry Gonzalez, Hoopers Island Lighthouse Manager, the Council agreed to execute a letter of support for his request on behalf of the U.S. Lighthouse Society for Maryland Heritage Area Authority Grant Program funding of $12,500 for designs and planning documents for a docking facility at the Hoopers Island Lighthouse with no local match.
TRAINING AND CONFERENCE REQUEST-EMERGENCY SERVICES
The Council approved the request of Michael Faith, Emergency Services Director, for Steve Garvin, Emergency Planner, to attend the Radiological Emergency Planning Class on April 2 to April 6, 2012 at an approximate cost of $700 which is reimbursable through the FY 2010 Homeland Security Grant Program. The Council acknowledged that participation in this course is required as part of the improvement plan resulting from the recent Calvert Cliff’s exercise.
The Council also approved Mr. Faith’s request for Mr. Garvin and Mr. Faith to attend the Maryland Emergency Management Conference in Ocean City on May 28 to June 1, 2012 at an approximate cost of $450 which is reimbursable through the Emergency Management Planning grant.
The Council acknowledged that both approvals may include travel in a County vehicle, tolls, fuel, hotel, tuition and meals.
MOSQUITO CONTROL BUDGET REQUEST-MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Ms. Baynard advised the Council that, by written correspondence, Michael Cantwell, Program Manager of the Mosquito Control Division of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, is requesting a commitment of $435,391 for mosquito spraying for the 2012 season. She stated that this is a substantial increase from last season due to a FY 2012 State budget reduction to the Maryland Department of Agriculture and as a result local governments are now responsible for 100% of the cost for adult mosquito spraying. Ms. Baynard explained that $285,000 was allocated in the FY 2011 budget for mosquito spray costs with final expenditures of $375,000 due an increased mosquito count. She acknowledged that the increased expenditures for the last season was paid from unexpended funds from FY10 or earlier and advised that any available funds had now been fully expended.
Councilman Newcomb expressed his belief that Dorchester and Somerset County are disproportionately affected by the FY13 budget reduction and shift in costs since these two counties are the only Shore counties who receive aerial spraying. In response to an inquiry from Councilman Price, Ms. Baynard and Mr. Spears clarified that the requested $435,391 is being considered in the preliminary FY 2013 budget as of the February 16, 2012 budget work session. In response to a question from Councilman Price, Mr. Spears clarified that the annual mosquito control payment is provided to the Department of Agriculture from the County in one end of season payment rather than in installments.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. Baynard said it is her understanding, pursuant to Mr. Cantwell’s letter, that his request for funding is based on previous years’ expenditures and anticipated costs for the 2012 season, with the majority of the increase being due to the budget reduction to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Mr. Spears cautioned, however, that if mosquito counts are high again this year, the approved funding will likely be insufficient to meet costs despite the increase.
The Council approved the requested operating budget for the Mosquito Control Program in Dorchester County, which includes a County Share of $435,391 to allocate from the FY13 budget. The Council requested that regular written updates of expenses be provided during the season and instructed that the Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Control staff provide notification in advance if there are any anticipated funding shortages.
REQUEST TO EXPEND ADDITIONAL GRANT FUNDS-MARYLAND EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION GRANT-MAINTENANCE
The Council approved the request of C.R. Newman, Maintenance Director, to amend the lighting project approved under the Maryland Energy Administration Grant to expend an additional $32,689 in grant funds for the replacement of exterior lighting with high efficiency light fixtures at the County Office Building in addition to the replacement of interior lighting. Council further agreed to waive bids and contract with Chuck’s Electrical Service, Inc., the vendor awarded the interior lighting project, as recommended by the Maryland Energy Administration The Council acknowledged that these costs will be 100% covered by the Maryland Energy Administration grant.
FARM LEASE BID AWARD
The Council awarded the bid for farming privileges on the County owned property located on Cordtown Road, consisting of approximately 90 acres of tillable land, for a five year period (2012-2016) to Garrett Luthy, the highest bidder, at an annual lump sum of $13,200 ($146.67 per acre). The Council instructed staff to work with Mr. Merryweather to prepare a draft lease agreement for its consideration. The Council instructed that the agreement should include a provision which will allow a small portion of acreage to be reclaimed if this property is needed for future County projects.
REQUEST TO AMEND RESOLUTION 352-HEART OF CHESAPEAKE COUNTRY HERITAGE AREA MANAGEMENT-TOURISM
The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to amend Resolution Number 352 to enable the expansion of the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board membership from the current eleven members to no more than thirteen members by increasing the number of community members from three to no more than five. The Council acknowledged that the purpose of the change is to enable wider community representation on the Management Board in addition to and complementing the existing eight governmental representatives. The Council also acknowledged that the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board has already approved a Bylaws change with this same language. Furthermore, Council acknowledged that a resolution to amend Resolution Number 352 will be provided for execution.
Councilman Travers questioned whether the proposed reduction in the State’s FY2013 Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority funding for heritage tourism projects across the State will affect the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management operations. Councilman Bradshaw said it is his understanding that the Board Members have discussed the possibility of forming a 901(c)(3) nonprofit organization as a means to garner more funds. Ms. Baynard stated that, while the proposed budget impact will most certainly cause operational adjustments, if approved, it would not eliminate the need for the Board.
REQUEST TO APPLY FOR MARYLAND HERITAGE AREA AUTHORITY MULTI HERITAGE AREA MARKETING GRANT-TOURISM
The Council approved the request of Ms. Fenstermaker to submit a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant application in the amount of $100,000 for Multi-Heritage Area Marketing funding for the “Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area” to promote the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in 2013, during the 100th anniversary of Ms. Tubman’s death. Council acknowledged that the funds would target group tour organizers and carriers as well as multiple media outlets in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Council further acknowledged that the grant will be matched through a $50,000 cash match from Tourism’s marketing budget.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT-GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF CRIME CONTROL & PREVENTION(GOCCP)–LMB
Pursuant to the request of Nancy Shockley, Local Management Board Director, the Council accepted the fully executed Community Partnership Agreement between the State of Maryland and Dorchester Community Partnership for Children & Families for administrative funding of $65,000 and program funding totaling $309,272. The Council acknowledged that the term of this agreement is July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.
CONFIRMATION OF GRANT ACCEPTANCE-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INVESTIGATOR FUNDING-GOCCP-STATE’S ATTORNEY
The Council confirmed its action between meetings to approve the request of William Jones, State’s Attorney, to submit a grant application to the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention in the amount of $35,000 with no local match to fund an investigator staff position to assist the State's Attorney's Office in the prosecution of domestic violence cases for a one year period with the understanding that the grant may be extended for two years at level funding by a 5 to 0 vote. The Council further acknowledged that Mr. Jones will need to seek further approval should he wish to extend the grant funded staff position beyond one year. Additionally, the Council recognized that there is no hiring retention requirement.
BOARD APPOINTMENT-REDISTRICTING COMMISSION
The Council appointed Pete Macinta as the Chair of the Redistricting Commission and deferred the At-Large Member appointment.
TELEPHONE POLL CONFIRMATIONS
Ms. Baynard advised that in the interim between meetings Council, by means of a poll, took the following actions: 1) agreed to send a Letter to the Editor to local news publications in opposition to the Governor’s proposal to shift a portion of pension costs for teachers and employees of libraries and community colleges to county governments by a 5 to 0 vote; and 2) agreed to provide a list of available surplus property to a nonprofit organization, pursuant to its request, by a 3 to 2 vote. She explained that the list includes properties that were not sold at tax sale and were subsequently foreclosed on by the County. She said no bids were received for these properties after they were declared surplus and advertised for sale.
Ms. Baynard noted that the Council has agreed to send a letter of support for House Bill 487 entitled “Environment-Watershed Implementation Plan-County Implementation” which provides that a local jurisdiction may not be required to implement certain activities for strategies of a State Watershed Implementation Plan unless certain funding is provided.
MARYLAND ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES-STOP THE SHIFT COALITION
Based on a request from Karen Lowe, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, on behalf of the Maryland Association of Counties, the Council agreed to designate Ms. Baynard as the Dorchester County Coordinator and Lorraine Henry, Vice President of the Dorchester County Board of Education, as the Non-Government Representative for the County to coordinate “Stop the Shift” activities in opposition to the proposed pension shift to local governments in the State Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012. Ms. Baynard advised that a joint letter from the County Council and the Board of Education has been provided to the local delegation, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. She further advised that the letter will be issued as a press release on February 28, 2012.
CLEAN WATER ACT
Ms. Baynard noted that the Council received a request from Kate Tafelski, an Environment Maryland Intern at Loyola College to join Environmental Maryland in sending a letter to President Barrack Obama to show support for extending the clean water act protections in Maryland. The Council deferred consideration of the request to allow staff the opportunity to obtain additional information.
Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, noted that it was reported on a Salisbury, Maryland television station that Dorchester County received $14 million in stimulus funds from which only two jobs were created. Councilman Newcomb noted that the County received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the blacktopping of Maple Dam Road; the widening and resurfacing of Linkwood Road; line stripping of various roads; $3 million for the Dorchester Regional Technology Park; and funds for the Madison-Woolford sewer extension project.
In response to a question from resident Bruce Coulson, Councilman Newcomb noted that there is a County Reserve Fund and that it was moved to the General Fund in the FY 2011 audit for reporting purposes only.
Les Simering, a resident, requested a copy of the letter the Council sent to Senator Richard Colburn in support of Senate Bill 447 entitled “Dorchester County-Restriction on Sunday Gaming-Repeal” to amend State law to allow qualified organizations to conduct Bingo events on Sundays.
Donna Towers, a Dorchester Center for the Arts Volunteer, thanked the Council for its decision to send a letter of support for Dorchester Center for the Arts’ request for Maryland Heritage Area Authority Grant Program funding to renovate the Center’s second floor as a performance hall and reception area. She invited the Council to view the renovations that have been made to the building located at 321 High Street and provided pictures of those renovations. Ms. Towers noted that she traveled with Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area members to Annapolis to oppose the proposed $1.1 reduction in funding for heritage areas in the State.
Councilman Newcomb noted that a student at Salisbury State University was present. The student advised that she is pursuing a degree in Childhood Elementary and was required as part of a Social Services Course to attend a government meeting.
A motion made by Councilman Bradshaw to send a letter to the State Highway Administration requesting that guardrails be relocated on Route 50 near Big Mill Pond Road in Vienna to assist farmers in the egress and ingress of their fields failed with Councilmen Newcomb and Travers opposing.
The Council approved a motion made by Councilman Price to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Environment to inquire as to the status of the shellfish harvesting closure of certain portions of Warwick River near and in the Town of Secretary.
Councilman Travers encouraged the public to take notice of the legislation being pursued during the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session because there are several bills being proposed that will negatively impact citizens. He expressed concern about proposals to reduce funding and/or redirect certain expenses to local governments, including a possible pension shift from the State to local governments.
Councilman Newcomb announced that a budget work session will be held on March 1, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. and that the next County Council meeting is scheduled for March 6, 2012 at 6 p.m.
With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned from regular session and reconvened into executive session for one public safety item.
ATTEST: DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:
Jane Baynard, County Manager Jay L. Newcomb, President
William V. Nichols, Vice President