Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 03/22/12

County Council Meeting Minutes

March 6, 2012

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

March 6, 2012


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on March 6, 2012 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 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.


Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.





Councilman Bradshaw led the invocation and 2012 Miss Outdoors Brandi Oliver, 2012 Little Miss Outdoors Cara Cameron and 2012 Little Mr. Outdoors Ridge Brohawn led the pledge of allegiance.




The Council agreed to add the following items to the agenda: a request to refer to the Planning Commission draft legislation to modify the County’s Critical Areas Program for its review and recommendation to Council and a request for a letter of support from the Town of Hurlock’s Planning and Zoning Administrator for loan funds from the United States Department of Agriculture to construct a town Police building.



The Council approved the February 21, 2012 minutes.


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




Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $6,033,300.



The Council approved the request of Dr. Henry Wagner, Superintendent of Schools, to amend the Board of Education’s FY 2012 Operating Budget to increase “Instructional Supplies” by $34,320 using funds remaining from a recent reimbursement from the Federal government related to the Board’s Medicare Part D reimbursement program to cover costs to replace auditorium stage lights at both North Dorchester High School and Cambridge South Dorchester High School due to the presence of asbestos in lighting wiring.  The Council acknowledged the total cost to replace the stage lights is $38,000 and that the remaining balance of $3,680 will be covered by other available funds.



The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on March 6, 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)(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.


Councilman Newcomb announced that the Council reconvened into an Executive Session at 7:30 p.m. on February 21, 2012 to discuss a public safety matter regarding equipment-no action taken.


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) based on a request from Emergency Services Director, agreed to hire an individual to fill a vacant 911 Dispatcher position at the 911 Communications Center due the resignation of an employee by a 5 to 0 vote;  2) approved the request of the Assistant Planning and Zoning Director to hire an individual to fill a vacant Environmental Planner position due to the resignation of an employee by a 5 to 0 vote; 3) discussed personnel issues with Emergency Services Director-took no action; and 4) discussed grant procedures-took no action.

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 presented a commendation to the Cambridge South Dorchester Girls Swim Team members for winning the Regional Championship two consecutive years undefeated, with an overall record of 24-0.  Heidi Stout and Melanie Coleman, co-coaches and members of the team accepted the commendation.




The Council presented Commendations to Brandi Oliver for being selected Miss Outdoors 2012, to Cara Cameron for being selected Little Miss Outdoors 2012 and Ridge Brohawn for being selected as Little Mr. Outdoors 2012.  Ms. Oliver, Ms. Cameron and Mr. Brohawn accepted the commendations.  




Santo Grande, President/CEO of Delmarva Community Services, advised that he was before the Council to seek approval to submit a grant to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) for FY 2013 annual transportation plan funds.  He said Jerome Stanley, Dorchester County Transportation Operations Manager; Mary Handley, Mobility Manager; and William Batson, Chairman of the Delmarva Community Services Board, was also present. 


Mr. Grande noted that a public hearing on the proposed FY 2013 Annual Transportation Plan was advertised and held on January 31, 2012.   He explained that the local match for the operating grant is supported, in part, by the County’s FY12 budget appropriation to Delmarva Community Services with the rest of the matching funds being from other sources.    He said due to budget constraints Delmarva Community Services is facing he also provided the Council a request for the reinstatement of some or all of the portion of the FY12 County’s budget appropriation to Delmarva Community Services that was reduced from FY11 levels as well as for additional funding to cover increased fuel costs and to provide transportation to local residents.   He noted that Delmarva Community Services’ Transit, a subsidiary of Delmarva Community Services, employs 31 individuals of which 28 are County residents with a total company employment of 250 in the State of Maryland.


In response to questions from Councilman Price, Mr. Grande said the public transportation schedule is being revised to eliminate certain middle of the day transports due to decreased ridership and, in order to increase revenue, fares have been increased.  Mr. Stanley said the new schedule should be distributed by the end of March or the first of April 2012.  Mr. Grande explained that the fare for seniors and disabled individuals was increased to $2 but was subsequently reduced to $1.50 in order to meet State funding guidelines.     In response to an inquiry from Councilman Price, Mr. Grande said he included in his FY 2013 budget request additional funds to cover fuel costs which are steadily rising.  


The Council approved the request of Mr. Grande to submit the FY 2013 Annual Transportation Plan for operating funding from the Mass Transit Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for transportation services from the following programs: 1)  the Statewide Specialized Transportation Assistance Program in the amount of $123,338 (State and Federal) with a $50,162 local cash match for a total of $173,500; 2) Section 5311 Operating Assistance funding in the amount of $474,085 (State and Federal)  with a $173,360 local match for a total of $647,445; and 4) the Americans with Disabilities Act in the amount of $69,860 (State) in operating funds with a local match of $8,585 for a total of $78,445.    The Council acknowledged that the local match for operating funds of $232,107 is supported, in part, by Dorchester County Budget Appropriations and that Delmarva Community Services will provide the remaining funds.


Additionally, the Council approved the request of Mr. Grande to submit the FY 2013 Annual Transportation Plan for capital funding from the Mass Transit Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for transportation services in the amount of $641,849 (Federal and State) with a $74,094 local cash match for a total of $715,943.  The Council acknowledged that the request for capital funding includes $225,000 for planning ($5,000), design and engineering ($20,000) and construction ($200,000) and $240,300 to purchase the following: five radios ($12,000), strobe lights ($600), LED destination signs ($19,500), preventative maintenance ($34,500), notebooks ($7,500), bus surveillance camera system ($135,000) and shop equipment ($31,200).




Mr. Grande stated that the FY12 County appropriation to Delmarva Community Services was 50% less than the amount provided in FY11 and asked the Council to reinstate all or a portion of that reduction.  He explained that during a review of the company’s financial statements for the first six months of FY 12 it was determined that there is an estimated $120,000 deficit to operate public transit.  He noted that fuel costs and costs for dialysis transportation have also increased and as a result he is also asking the Council to provide an additional $30,000 in funding to cover these costs.  Mr. Grande explained that modifications to the company’s Community Action Programs, including homeless prevention, rehabilitation and senior programs, may have to be made due to this budget deficit which will result in a reduction of services.   


Councilman Travers noted that the information provided by Mr. Grande regarding fare receipts indicates a significant drop in July 2011 as compared to July 2010.  Mr. Grande concurred.    In response to a question from Councilman Price regarding the use of more fuel efficient vehicles, Mr. Grande explained that in the last two or three years smaller more fuel efficient vehicles have been purchased in lieu of diesel powered vehicles. 


In response to an inquiry from Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, Mr. Stanley explained that fuel for the company’s transportation fleet is purchased from County owned pumps in Kent County and Caroline County and that fleet discount cards are used throughout the remainder of the State.  Mr. Grande said he has discussed with Council members the possibility of using Dorchester County’s fuel dispensary to achieve a savings.    He noted that the Federal government provides a reimbursement for fuel to Delmarva Community Transit at the end of each year and that approximately $20,000 was received last year. 


The Council members requested that Mr. Grande keep them apprised of any reductions of services that may be made and asked him to have his staff contact Michael Spears, Finance Director, and Robert Willey, Assistant Finance Director, to inquire about using the County’s fuel system.





The Council discussed information provided from Tom Moore, Public Works Director, in response to the request of Henry Short, Mayor, on behalf of the Town of Secretary, for assistance from the County for technical land development plan and plat review and inspection of a proposed land annexation and site development project on the property located at Tax Map 21, Parcel 37 and 157 known as the Mark Bryan property.    Councilman Newcomb asked Mr. Moore if he had any comments regarding the request.  Mr. Moore questioned why Mayor Short was asking County staff for assistance, particularly since they used a private consultant to review and inspect the water and sewer for the project.    He expressed his belief that legal counsel should review the Memorandum of Understanding before execution, if the Council agrees to provide the services requested. Jane Baynard, County Manger, noted that County staff will have to work under the Town of Secretary’s Ordinance if the request for assistance is approved.  


The Council approved the request submitted by Mayor Short for County assistance for land development support services for the “Mark Bryan property” project contingent upon E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, reviewing the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with Councilmen Newcomb and Nichols opposing.




The Council approved the request of Marcus Flowers, Jr., President, Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Company, for permission to use Tyler Cove Marina on September 9, 2012 for a boat docking contest to benefit that fire company.  The Council acknowledged that Mr. Flowers will provide the County with sufficient certification of liability insurance naming the County as an additional insured and agreed to hold the County harmless for any incident that may arise at the marina.  Additionally, Council noted that fire company members will drive its own poles and arrange for removal after the event; repair any damages that may occur to the County facility during the event; and ensure that the marina is returned to its original condition.  The Council further acknowledged that the members will obtain the appropriate alcohol license from the Board of License Commissioners prior to the event.  The Council recognized that parking will be located in the Applegarth field and bleachers will be set-up around the dock for spectators. 



Based on the recommendation of Mr. Moore and Roy Mills, Highway Division Manager, the Council agreed to award the bid for liquid bituminous to Fleet Supply, Inc., the lowest bidder.  The Council acknowledged that the lowest bidder prices include penetration grade (PG6422 hot mix oil) at $2.6574 per gallon, CRS-2 (tar and chip oil) at $2.2510 per gallon; and MC250 (cold patch oil) at $3.3910 per gallon.   In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Moore said the product will be purchased on an “as needed” basis.




The Council approved the request of Mr. Moore to advertise for proposals to remove an abandoned boat from a boat slip at the County’s Elliott Island Marine facility.  The Council acknowledged that funding for removal of the boat may be available through a Maryland Department of Natural Resources grant.


TRAFFIC SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS                                                                                             


Ms. Baynard noted that the Traffic Safety Committee met on February 17, 2012 and presented to the Council the following recommendations. 


No Parking Sign-Area of Methodist Church-East New Market


The Council confirmed that the Committee members are still obtaining information regarding a request concerning parking in the area of the Methodist Church in East New Market.


Intersection Aireys Spur Road, Aireys Road and Cordtown Road


Ms. Baynard noted that at Council’s request, the Committee members again discussed the intersection of Aireys Spur Road, Aireys Road and Cordtown Road, and in particular, complaints received regarding safety when entering the intersection from Cordtown Road.  She said that the Committee members recommend that two stops signs, one east bound and one west bound, be added to Aireys Spur Road to create a four-way stop.   She noted that the Committee members recognized that the addition of these signs will not correct the underlying problem of poor site distances but will reduce travel speeds through the intersection and therefore reduce stopping distances.


Carol Jones, resident, explained that she has lived on Airey’s Road for 50 years and expressed her belief that motorists do not stop at the stop signs on Cordtown or Aireys Road and instead stop at Airey’s Spur.  She said it is her recollection that poor visibility has been an issue at this intersection for the entire time she lived on the road and she believes there have been no accidents in that area. Beverley Jones, a resident, said she had lived on Airey’s Road for 25 years, travels the road eight to twelve times a day and does not have any difficulty at that intersection.  Resident Jay Jones expressed his belief that posting more stop signs at the intersection will cause additional problems and suggested that the stop sign at Aireys Road be moved ahead or a yield sign be placed in that area.  Tom Pleasants advised that he lives on Indiantown Road in Rhodesdale but travels Airey’s Road, Cordtown Road and Airey’s Spur frequently and expressed his concern that additional stops signs may confuse motorists.  He said he has spoken to several police officers who do not recall any accidents taking place at that intersection.   


Charlie Powell, a Town of Secretary resident, noted that there is poor visibility at the stop sign on Cordtown Road and said he believes installing additional stops signs will not increase visibility.  Libby Nagel, a Town of Vienna resident, said the area is a major thoroughfare for farmers and loggers and that she does not recall any accidents occurring in that area.  She said she believes adding stop signs will confuse motorists. Cindy Bayliss, owner of Cindy’s Restaurant which is located at the intersection, said she has been advised by staff at the Sheriff’s Office that no accident reports have been filed for that area in the past five years.  She said her restaurant has been in that location for 11 years and she does not recall any accidents occurring in that area during that time frame.    In response to an inquiry from Ms. Bayliss, Councilman Newcomb explained that the Council formed a Traffic Safety Committee and its members review concerns and requests submitted from residents regarding roadways in the County and then provide a recommendation to the Council.  He noted that Ms. Baynard, Mr. Moore and Councilman Price are Committee members and explained that Sheriff James Phillips was also appointed as a member but currently does not participate in Committee meetings.   Ms. Bayliss said she is opposed to any changes being made to the intersection with the exception of moving the stop sign on Cordtown Road closer to the intersection.  


Mr. Foxwell said the building at that intersection has been there for approximately 75 years and to his knowledge there have not been any accidents at that intersection during that time period.   Toby Adams, a Bucktown Road resident expressed his belief that no accidents have occurred in that area.  Ms. Bayliss and Ms. Carol Jones noted that motorists can use Bucktown Road as an alternative route if they are concerned about visibility.    


The Council agreed to take no action on the Committee members’ recommendation to install four stop signs at the intersection with Councilman Nichols opposing.  Councilman Nichols expressed his belief that the installation of additional stop signs will slow down motorists and therefore decrease the risk of future accidents at that intersection.  He said it his understanding that several residents who live in the area, including his family member, have experienced difficulty when stopping at the intersection. 


The Council asked Ms. Baynard to contact Sheriff Phillips regarding monitoring speed in this area.  Howard Twilley, resident, said he has been in the law enforcement field for 40 years and that he does not believe there is enough traffic at that intersection to have the area continually monitored.


Speed Limit Sign-Newhart Mill Road


Ms. Baynard advised Council that the Committee members discussed a resident’s request for 35 mph speed limit signs in the residential areas on Newhart Mill Road, for which letters of support were received by residents who live on that roadway.  She noted that Public Work staff reported the road is 3.5 miles long and, although there are no speed limit signs on that road, there is a School Bus Stop Ahead sign and a Child at Play sign.   She said the Committee members’ recommendation is to post four 35 mph speed limits on Newhart Mill Road in specific locations as identified on a map provided to Council for review.  Ms. Baynard stated that the Sheriff does not support this request and does not believe there has been a sufficient traffic study of that area conducted.  


Councilman Bradshaw said he travels Newhart Mill Road five days a week and traffic substantially increases on that roadway during the harvest season.  He expressed his belief at least two speed limit signs should be placed on the road.    Mr. Moore concurred.


As suggested by Councilman Bradshaw, the Council agreed to place two speed limit signs on Newhart Mill Road near the Child at Play sign and past the Galestown-Newhart Mill Pond Road sign.


Councilman Newcomb noted that residents have expressed concern about the speed limit signage on Egypt Road.  He explained that it his understanding that immediately after Maple Elementary there is a 50 mph sign and directly across from that sign, on the other side of the road, is a 25 mph sign. Additionally, he said it is his understanding that there is also a 35 mph sign on the opposite side of the roadway which is visible to motorists traveling on Egypt Road towards the City of Cambridge.  Councilman Newcomb also expressed his belief that one or more of the signs may have been installed by County staff prior to that area being annexed into the City of Cambridge.  Based on this information, the Council requested that Public Works staff view that area and work with the City of Cambridge Public Works staff to determine the correct signage for the road




The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to advertise a request for proposals for the design and printing of the Tubman Centennial Map and Driving Guide.  The Council acknowledged that Maryland Heritage Area Authority Grant funds will be used to cover these costs.




The Council approved the request of Don Keyes, Information Technology Director, for Chris Abbott, Technician, to attend Motorola Radio Training in Chicago from June 4, 2012 to June 15, 2012 and further approved all costs associated with this travel that are reimbursable through a Homeland Security grant.


TRAVEL REQUEST-EMERGENCY SERVICES                                                                                          


The Council approved the request of Michael Faith, Emergency Services Director, for Kim Browning, 911 Center Communications Division Chief, to attend the Chief Executive Officer training sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on April 21 through April 13, 2012, which training is a requirement for the 911 Call Center to be recognized as a National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 911 Call Center Partner.  The Council acknowledged that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will provide for all costs of training. 




Based on the request of Gene Harper, Zoning Inspector, the Council agreed to award a bid to Bridges Land Management, Inc.  to provide contractual services to conduct property clean-up under the County’s Property Maintenance Ordinance at an hourly rate of $75.00 with a dumpster fee of $170 and per vehicle towing fee of $150 per property clean up. 




Ms. Baynard noted that in the interim between meetings Council agreed to send a letter of opposition to the controlling authority language referenced in Senate Bill 236 “Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012” which will refer responsibility to the Sanitary District, governed by the Sanitary Commission, for management, operation and maintenance of any future approved shared facility or community sewage system by a 5 to 0 vote.  She said the change in the controlling authority language was brought to Council’s attention by Robert Tieder, Sanitary Commission Chair.




The Council agreed to refer draft legislation for a text amendment to the County’s Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations for refinements to the County’s Critical Area Program to the Planning Commission for its review and recommendation.  The Council acknowledged that the staff at the Office of Planning & Zoning, the Planning Commission and the Critical Area Commission have been working together for approximately two years to develop these proposed changes.




Based on the request of John Avery, Town of Hurlock Planning and Zoning Administrator, the Council agreed to send a letter of support to the United States Department of Agriculture for the Town’s application for loan funds for the construction of a new Hurlock Police Department.  The Council acknowledged that it is unable to provide funding including a local match nor able to serve as the applicant for the grant. 



Pete Macinta, resident, thanked the Council for appointing him as the Redistricting Commission Chair.  Ms. Baynard noted that Commission members have resumed their meetings and that there is still an At-Large Member vacancy.   She advised that pursuant to Section 213 of the County’s Charter the Redistricting Commission members have until November 2013 to provide a report to Council.


Mr. Foxwell read from a newspaper article that the Mallard Bay Nursing Home has been named to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 ranking of the nation’s top nursing homes in the Country and obtained a five star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  Councilman Newcomb said Councilman Travers sent a letter on behalf of the Council to Mallard Bay to congratulate staff on obtaining this award.  Councilman Nichols noted that he and Councilman Price recently presented commendations to employees who were honored by the nursing home.  

Caroll Larrimore, a resident who lives on Ravenwood Road, Vienna, Maryland, expressed concern about motorists traveling at high rates of speed and in a reckless manner on that roadway, particularly individuals who are visiting Layton’s Chance Winery which is located in that area.  Libby Nagel, who also resides on that road, echoed Mr. Larrimore’s concerns.  The Council directed that Ms. Baynard contact Sheriff Phillips and the Maryland State Police to relay these concerns and to see if either agency can provide traffic enforcement on that roadway.  


Councilman Bradshaw read a letter he will be sending to local news publication(s) regarding legislative initiatives that were discussed during a meeting with the local Eastern Shore legislative delegation, including the Council’s opposition to a teachers’ pension shift, which Councilman Price and representatives of nine other counties in the State attended.   


Councilman Bradshaw noted that the Council received a copy of a letter Department of Natural Resources staff addressed to a private citizen noting the purchase of approximately 1000 acres in the Golden Hill area of the County.    Based on a motion made by Councilman Bradshaw, the Council agreed to send a letter to the DNR Secretary in opposition to any future purchase of property in Dorchester County by that entity which results in the property being removed from the County’s tax rolls and will therefore reduce revenue.


Councilman Nichols requested the following information: 1) the amount of the deficit in the investment pool for teachers’ pensions (including teachers, library and college staff); and 2) Dorchester County’s share of that deficit.  Councilman Price said he will try to obtain that information at the Maryland Association of Counties Legislative meeting on March 7, 2012.


Councilman Price advised that he represented the Council at the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hearing on February 29, 2012 in opposition to the Governor’s proposal to shift certain pension costs to counties.  He said he will also be sending a letter to the editor concerning several legislative initiatives.   


Ms. Baynard noted that on the Maryland Association of Counties Conduit Street blog there is information regarding discussion in both the Senate and House about various bills to potentially shift teachers’ pensions but over a phased in period versus a single shift. 

In response to questions from Councilmen Bradshaw and Price, Ms. Baynard noted that House Bill 1412 has been introduced and would allow a County to exceed local limitations on tax rates in order to balance its budget and fund Maintenance of Effort for Boards of Education provided all revenue generated by any action to exceed either real property tax limits or the State authorized limits on the local income tax will be applied only to education.


Councilman Price explained that several parents of children in the Tri City Little League asked him to share their concerns that Recreation and Parks staff are no longer able to drag or line the ball field at Hurlock.  He thanked the coaches, parents, managers and volunteers who their assistance with the baseball league.  Councilman Newcomb noted that parents and volunteers are also working on the fields for the Cambridge Little League in lieu of Recreation and Parks staff and advised that Council had reduced staff in that department as part of budget cuts in the current fiscal year which likely resulted in this action.


Councilman Newcomb noted that a Budget work session is scheduled for March 15, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. and the next County Council meeting is scheduled for March 20, 2012 at 6 p.m.  


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