Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 04/11/12

County Council Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2012

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2012


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on March 20, 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 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) o 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)(5) to consider the investment of public funds.


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





Councilmen Travers led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council agreed to add the following requests to advertise to the agenda: a Highway Division Manager in the Public Works Department, a Corporal/Assistant Shift Supervisor position at the Detention Center and a District Court Victim Witness Coordinator.  The Council also agreed to defer consideration of a staff recommendation to award a bid for HVAC services. 



The Council approved the March 6, 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 $6,674,424.06.


The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on March 20, 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; and pursuant to §10-508(A)(5) to consider the investment of public funds.


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 6:15 p.m. on March 15, 2012 to discuss an economic development item-instructed staff to negotiate the closing of an Economic Development Administration grant.


Councilman Newcomb noted that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on March 20, 2012 to consider the following items: 1) discussed a fiscal policy relating to personnel-took no action; 2) approved the request of Public Works Director to fill a Highway Manager position which will become vacant May 1, 2012 due to the retirement of an employee by a 4 to 0 vote and agreed to consider a request to advertise the position in open session; 3) approved the request of the Warden to promote an employee to Sergeant /Shift Supervisor at the Detention Center and agreed to consider a request to advertise the resulting vacancy in open session by a 4 to 0 vote; 4) approved the request of the Economic Development Director to hire an individual to fill a vacant Administrative Associate, Advanced position by a 4 to 0 vote; 5) approved the request of the State’s Attorney to fill a vacant District Court Victim Witness Coordinator position due to an employee resignation; to reclassify the position by a 4 to 0 vote; and to consider a request to advertise the position in open session; 6) discussed a legal opinion regarding a personnel matter relating to the Emergency Medical Services Division-instructed that staff establish a policy; 7) deferred a matter relating to the investment of public funds. 

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 2011 Cambridge South Dorchester High School Varsity Football Team for their accomplishments throughout the year.   Jake Coleman, Head Coach, and Team Members accepted the commendation.




The Council presented commendations to the participants of the North Dorchester High School 2012 Senior Class Play entitled “South Pacific.”  Stephen Willey, Director, and members of the Senior Class Play accepted the proclamation.



Jane Baynard, County Manager, advised that pursuant to Section 6-306 of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the Council is required to meet annually with municipal representatives to discuss any tax differential or rebate to be established in the County’s proposed budget prior to being adopted.  She explained that the Council is in the early stages of the FY 2013 budget process and has not yet discussed the implementation of a tax differential and/or tax rebate for municipalities.


She noted that Council also historically uses this annual meeting to discuss with representatives of municipalities various issues concerning their towns.


The following municipal representatives joined the meeting: Mayor Henry Short, Town of Secretary; Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, City of Cambridge; Gage Thomas, Commissioner, City of Cambridge; Mayor Robert Herbert, Town of Church Creek; and Kathy Clough, Clerk/Treasurer, and John Avery, Planning and Zoning Administrator, Town of Hurlock.


Councilman Newcomb stated that the Council has postponed its March 21, 2012 budget work session and noted that there is proposed legislation being considered by the General Assembly which will potentially shift pension costs for teachers, library staff and Chesapeake College employees from the State to the County which may impact the Council’s ability to balance its budget.


Commissioner Thomas and Mayor Jackson-Stanley said it is their understanding that a four cent tax differential was provided to City residents in FY 2012 and requested information on how that differential is calculated.  Mayor Stanley expressed her hope that the FY 2013 tax differential will not be reduced.   Michael Spears, Finance Director, advised that he will provide Commissioner Thomas and Mayor Jackson-Stanley with the worksheet used to calculate the tax differential. 


Mayor Short thanked the Council for their support for the Town of Secretary.  He said changes are being made to the Town’s Veterans’ Park including the addition of a pavilion which should be completed by the end of the month.


Mayor Herbert expressed his appreciation for Council’s past support of the Town of Church Creek.  He explained that the Town is receiving matching grant funds to place a gazebo in the Town’s Park which has been ordered and will be wired for electrical service.   Mayor Herbert explained that residents will be able to reserve the use of the gazebo for special events.    He noted that Local Government Insurance Trust staff performed a risk management audit for the Town and advised that mulch needs to be placed under the play equipment in the Town Park.   He said Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director, on behalf of the Town, will be asking for authorization to obtain mulch under the County’s contract to achieve a savings with the understanding that Town representatives will reimburse the County for those costs.   Mayor Herbert expressed his appreciation to Council for providing an annual landfill tipping credit to municipalities.  He said a clean-up day will be held in Church Creek in May 2012.   Councilman Newcomb noted that the Council has been advised, pursuant to the State Highway Administration, that the roadway from Brannocks Neck to Maryland Route 335 will be resurfaced after July 2012.


Mr. Avery expressed an interest in obtaining the worksheet for the calculation of a tax differential/tax rebate.  Ms. Clough thanked the Council for supporting the Town and County Finance staff for collecting property taxes on behalf of the municipality.  


Commissioner Thomas expressed his opinion that the County choosing to provide the City residents with a tax differential will not compensate the City of Cambridge for providing duplicative services and suggested that the Council should return to a rebate to the City of Cambridge.   


Ms. Baynard advised that according to State law a County may provide a property tax set off by means of a tax rebate or differential to avoid double taxation but clarified that the implementation of these tax setoffs is not mandatory.


Mayor Stanley thanked the Council for its past support of the City and expressed her hope that the good working relationship between the two entities will continue.   

Mr. Avery said it is his understanding that the Council will discuss potential transportation improvements along State Highways in the County for future State of Maryland funding consideration later in the meeting.  He said the Town’s highway priorities include the repaving of Maryland Route 331, which runs through the Town, and the milling and repaving of Nealson Street.  He explained that Maryland Route 331, a State maintained road, is a major thoroughfare.  Mr. Avery said Town representatives will be submitting a request to the Maryland Department of Transportation for funding assistance to repave Nealson Road, which is located in the Town’s Enterprise Zone, based on the fact that although it is Town maintained,  it serves as a main connector between State Highways.  Ms. Clough noted that several businesses are located on that roadway, including Amick Farms, and expressed her belief that repairing the road may attract additional businesses to relocate to the area.   She said when Peter Franchot, Comptroller of Maryland, visited the Town he also expressed concern about the condition of Nealson Street.   The Council agreed to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation to request that staff’s support of the Town’s requests.  

The Council thanked the municipal representatives for attending the meeting and providing their comments.





Based on the request of Harold S. Robbins, President, the Council agreed to execute

a letter citing the Bank of the Eastern Shore as a valuable asset to Dorchester County.  Councilman Newcomb abstained.  The Council acknowledged that bank officials are applying for funds from a Government sponsored program geared towards economic development and specific to foreign investment but acknowledged that the Bank officials are not asking for a letter of support for that application. 




The Council approved the request of Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, to execute a Third Amendment to the Public Road Construction Agreement for Phase II of the Lord’s Crossing Subdivision between Goose Crossing, LLC and the County Council in order to extend the deadline for the completion of the public road to March 1, 2014.   The Council acknowledged that this agreement also provides that the owner shall not sell or offer for sale any lot in the subdivision until the road is completed and accepted into the County’s road system.




The Council deferred consideration of a recommendation to award a bid for HVAC services in order to allow staff the opportunity to obtain further information.




The Council approved the request of Michael Faith, Emergency Services Director, to purchase a used 2003 ambulance from the Church Creek Volunteer Fire Company for $29,000.  Councilman Newcomb abstained.   The Council expressed its understanding that sufficient funds will be garnered through Emergency Medical Services billings through the end of FY 2012 to cover this purchase and instructed Mr. Faith to prepare the necessary budget transfer to provide for this transaction.  The Council also acknowledged that Mr. Faith will amend his five year capital plan to recognize the assumption of this asset and to modify any planned purchases of new ambulances for the Emergency Medical Services Division accordingly.



The Council approved the request of Tom Moore, Public Works Director, to submit an application for a Small Watershed Grant for Local Government Watershed Implementation Plan Technical Assistance to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation for funding up to $40,000, with no local match, for assistance to conduct a septic system management district feasibility study.  The Council acknowledged that the feasibility study is a recommendation in the Draft County Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan.




Based on information provided by Mr. Moore, the Council agreed to send a letter to Beverley K. Swaim-Staley, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary, to submit a list of potential transportation improvements along State Highways in the County for future State of Maryland funding consideration.  The Council requested that Mr. Moore provide to Council a bulleted list of items identified as prior years’ priorities as well as newly identified projects for its review and consideration prior to the letter being issued to meet the State’s April 1, 2012 deadline.    The Council further recognized that Mr. Moore will proceed with the letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation unless otherwise instructed.




The Council executed a lease agreement with Garrett Luthy 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) at an annual lump sum of $13,200 ($146.67 per acre), based on its February 21, 2012 decision to award the bid to Mr. Luthy.  The Council acknowledged that the lease has been drafted with a provision to allow a small portion of the leased acreage to be reclaimed if needed for future County projects. 




Ms. Baynard provided County with a recommendation from the members of the Traffic Safety Committee seeking Council’s approval of a policy aimed at ensuring a better flow of information.  She noted that Sheriff James Phillips did not attend that meeting.


The Council accepted the policy recommendations from the Committee as follows: 1) all requests for the Traffic Safety Committee’s review must be provided in writing to the County Council; 2) Council will consider each request in an open meeting and, if it is deemed appropriate for Traffic Safety Committee review, will refer the item to that Committee for review and recommendation back to Council; 3) the Committee will only meet to consider items referred by the Council and no more than monthly, unless specifically requested to do so and;  4) staff will continue to advertise meetings under Open Meetings Act to include a list of the agenda items in a local news publication, on the bulletin board in the County Office building and on the County’s website. 




The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to submit a Maryland Management Grant Application to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority in the amount of $96,611 for FY 2013 operating assistance to support management and activities of the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area.  The Council acknowledged that the Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant will be matched through a cash match from anticipated FY 2013 Tourism Operating Budget funds ($62,545); from the private sector ($10,000); and in in-kind services ($29,066).


LEASE RENEWALS/STORAGE AGREEMENT EXTENSION                                          

State Employee Credit Union-ATM-Lease Renewal

The Council approved the request of Dana Ridgeway, State Employee Credit Union ATM Network Specialist, to renew the lease agreement for the credit union’s ATM located at the Dorchester County Health Department for one year beginning on March 30, 2012 and ending on March 29, 2013 at the monthly lease rate of $250. 

Gootee’s Marine, Inc. –Transfer Station-Lease Renewal 

The Council agreed to extend the lease with Gootee’s Marine, Inc. for the Golden Hill Landfill Transfer Station for a two year period commencing on July 1, 2012 and ending on June 30, 2014 at the current annual rate of $6,000 and at the same terms and conditions. 

Election’s Office-Storage of State Elections Equipment-Storage Agreement Extension                                               

The Council, based on interest expressed by Karin Kuntz, Elections Director, agreed to extend the agreement with the Dorchester County Board of Elections for the storage of State owed voting system equipment at the Airport Terminal Building to approximately 2015.  The Council acknowledged that Public Works staff has clarified that leasing the property will not interfere with the Airport runway extension project as the project has been delayed.  


Ms. Baynard noted that the Council was provided a list of the current and upcoming board and committee term expirations and that there are several appointments for which recommendations are being sought by staff.  

The Council agreed to reappoint Jack Brooks to the Seafood Reconciliation Committee and acknowledged that his term will expire on October 15, 2004.   The Council also agreed to appoint Samuel Monaghan, Jr. to replace the late Charles Hutchinson and acknowledged his term will expire on January 1, 2017.  

Councilman Price noted that Reverend John Edward King is no longer interested in serving on the Citizens Review Panel.  Ms. Baynard noted that William McDonnell, Social Services Director, is seeking guidance from the State of Maryland on the continuation of this Board.  

Ms. Baynard explained that the five-year gubernatorial appointment for one of the members of the Property Tax Assessment Appeals will expire in June 2012 and that even though the Council may wish to reappoint the same individual, pursuant to the State law the Council must submit three nominations for the Governor’s consideration.   

She noted that the Redistricting Commission At-Large appointment that needs to be filled was not referenced on the information provided to Council and that the Commission members resumed their meetings earlier this week.  

The Council agreed to reappoint Wendell Foxwell to the Social Services Board and acknowledged that his term will expire on June 30, 2015. 



Ms. Baynard advised that in the interim between meetings Council, by means of a poll, took the following actions: 1) agreed to support the inclusion of Dorchester County in House Bill 171 “St. Mary’s County-Winery Special Event Permits-Farmer’s Market” which will authorize the Office of the Comptroller to issue a winery special event permit to a Class 4 Maryland limited winery for unlimited use for one day each week at a farmers’ market in Dorchester County that is listed on the Farmers’ Market Directory of the Maryland Department of Agriculture by a 4 to 0 vote with one abstention; and 2) agreed that Dorchester County should be exempted from House Bill 366 entitled “Public Safety-Building Performance Standards- Fire and Safety” which would prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting local amendments to the Maryland Building Performance Standards if the local amendments weaken specified automatic fire and sprinkler systems provisions contained in the standards by a 4 to 1 vote.



Detention Center-Corporal/Assistant Shift Supervisor


The Council agreed to advertise a Corporal/Assistant Shift Supervisor position at the Detention Center which became vacant due to a promotion.


Public Works Department - Highway Manager


The Council agreed to advertise a Highway Manager position in the Public Works Department due to a pending retirement.


State’s Attorney’s Office – Administrative Associate, Advanced


The Council agreed to advertise an Administrative Associate Advanced position at the State’s Attorney’s Office due to a resignation.



Pete Macinta, resident, thanked the Council for appointing him as Chair of the Redistricting Commission.  He said at their meeting next week Commission members will be discussing the possibility of presenting a draft redistricting plan to the Council and the public shortly thereafter.



Councilman Nichols noted that the House of Delegates approved a three year phase in of the shift of teacher’s pensions from the State to local jurisdictions as part of their FY 2013 budget plan.  Councilmen Newcomb and Travers noted that the Senate also approved a plan which includes a pension shift but noted the Senate version differs from the House plan.  Councilman Nichols said that the two budget plans will have to be worked out in a Budget conference committee which consists of party leaders. 


Councilman Price made a motion to seek an amendment to the County’s Charter to extend the budget adoption deadline from the current May 31st citing a need for certain latitudes when issues dictate more lengthy deliberation by Council and used the current General Assembly session and the inability to identify local impacts from legislation still being debated as an example.  He expressed his belief that additional time may be needed when there are anticipated impacts to the Council’s ability to prepare a balanced budget in a timely fashion.  Councilman Bradshaw concurred. 


In response to a question from Les Simering, County resident, Councilman Newcomb said if the Charter was amended to require a 4 to 1 vote to adopt the annual budget and only a 3 to 2 vote was achieved it would not be considered a majority vote and the State of Maryland may then set the budget for the County.   Ms. Baynard explained that any charter amendment must be put to referendum.   Councilman Nichols said it is his understanding that if the State is charged with setting the County’s budget they will base real property tax revenues on constant yield which may result in less revenue being generated.


The Council agreed to consider the proposed Charter amendment requested by Councilman Price to extend the Council’s adoption date for the budget and agreed that staff will prepare a referendum question in advance of the Charter Review Commission submitting its recommendations.


Tom Brannock, resident, thanked the Council for sending him a commendation congratulating him on his retirement from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.   He explained his daughter, Rebecca, is present to satisfy a college course requirement.


Councilman Newcomb noted that budget work sessions will be held on March 29, 2012 and April 5, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.  He clarified that the March 21st budget work session has been cancelled.  He explained that meetings are usually held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month but due to the upcoming Primary Election the next County Council meeting is scheduled for April 10th 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



                                                                        Ricky Travers



                                                                        Rick Price



                                                                        Tom Bradshaw


Approved the ______day of _______________, 2012.