County Council Meeting Minutes
April 24, 2012
County Council of Dorchester County
Regular Meeting Minutes
April 24, 2012
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on April 24, 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;
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive
Session pursuant to State Government Article pursuant to §10-508(A)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; 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; 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
Councilmen Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining for payments made to Simmons Center Market.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $3,887,020.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 5:00 p.m. on April 24, 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)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; 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; 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 convened into an Executive Session at its April 18, 2012 budget work session to discuss personnel items relating to budget. He also announced that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 5:00 p.m. on April 24, 2012 to discuss the following items: 2) discussed matters relating to a economic development project; 2) discussed a proposal from Public Works Director and Landfill Manager pertaining to personnel-requested additional information; 3) agreed to promote an existing employee to the vacant Highway Division Manager position by a 5 to 0 vote; and 4) authorized Public Works Director to conduct an inquiry regarding filling vacant part time hourly position at Airport by a 5 to 0 vote.
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.
FY13 PROPOSED BUDGET PRESENTATION
Jane Baynard, County Manager, presented to the Council the proposed FY 2013 budget, noting that it is based on the current State budget that will become effective if Governor Martin O’Malley does not call a special session for the General Assembly prior to July 1, 2012. Ms. Baynard noted that the State legislators adjourned the 2012 session without formally adopting a budget. She said it is her understanding that the Governor met with the Speaker of House and the Senate President earlier in the day and advised that there is a possibility that a special session may be convened in mid May specific to adopting a revenue package to avoid the “doomsday scenario”. She said it is being reported that the Governor may also call a second session to address gaming issues. Ms. Baynard explained that the budget being introduced at this meeting must remain unchanged until the conclusion of the second required public hearing on May 15, 2012 but that the Council may make changes to the document if the State passes new or additional cost to the County prior to the planned May 29th adoption date. She said that if State amendments occur after the local budget is adopted, the Council will have to consider future budget amendments prior to July 1st. Ms. Baynard speculated that the General Assembly will likely shift teachers’ pensions to local governments as discussing during the 2012 session and stated staffs hopes that any offsetting revenues introduced in prior budget proposals to mitigate the impact would also be adopted. She cautioned that there may be additional budget impacts or State mandates that could further amend this proposal.
She explained that pursuant to the County Charter budget public hearings will be held on May 8th and May 15th with a legislative public hearing on May 29th during which the budget bill will be presented to the Council for consideration. She stated that pursuant to the Charter a balanced budget for FY 2013 should be adopted by the Council by May 30, 2012. Ms. Baynard noted that the deadline for the adoption of the State budget is July 1, 2012.
She said the proposed FY 2013 County budget is $55 million and includes a $48 million General Fund Operating Budget. Ms. Baynard said the FY2013 budget is $0.8 million or 1.5% less than the last fiscal year. Ms. Baynard noted that the proposed budget maintains the County’s real property tax rate of $0.976 per $100 of assessed value with a tax differential for the residents in the City of Cambridge ($0.9350 per $100 of assessed value) and the Town of Hurlock ($0.9285 per $100 of assessed value) based on duplicative services. She explained that the proposed real property tax rates are equal to or below the constant yield rate recommended by the State of Maryland and that the County’s income tax rate of 2.62% will remain unchanged. She said staff anticipates a modest growth in income tax revenue of $500,000, attributable to wage growth.
Ms. Baynard noted that the County’s share of highway user revenues for 2013 continues to reflect a $4 million reduction and noted that those funds are continuing to be used to address the State structural deficit. She said County departmental budgets are either level funded or funded at levels below FY2012 if the Department Head requested a lesser amount.
Ms. Baynard further explained that Senate Bill 848, which was passed during the 2012 legislative session, requires that all local governmental agencies that reduced the required Maintenance of Effort funding to their respective Boards of Education in FY 2012 must reset that amount in FY 2013. She said that any counties that do not reset the MOE to the FY12 levels (not including any required adjustments for FY 13 due to enrollment changes) will jeopardize its State income tax distribution since the legislation allows the State to capture those funds to cover any local underfunding to the Boards of Education. She clarified that appropriate corrective action has been included in the proposed budget.
She expressed her understanding that, according to Senate Bill 848, beginning in FY 2015 local commitments required to fund MOE for each County will be based on a moving State average of all counties. She advised that Council did not seek an MOE waiver for FY 2013 based on new legislation that was adopted which shortened submission deadlines and changed eligibility requirements.
Ms. Baynard said based on enrollment figures the proposed FY 2013 funding to Chesapeake College is $10,000 less than the amount provided in FY 2012. Ms. Baynard noted that if the five support counties have not yet voted on the College’s request to fund the new Center for Allied Health and Athletics and reiterated Dorchester’s position to deny the request at this time despite no budget impact in FY 2013. She noted that, should the project be approved by a majority of the supporting counties, there will be a $1.6 million impact to the Capital Budget in FY 2014. She stated that 38.8% of total proposed FY 2013 budget is allocated to Education (Chesapeake College and the public school system).
Ms. Baynard said the proposed budget includes the termination of a temporary salary reduction, the elimination of furlough days and a 1% cost of living increase for County employees. She noted that there was a $70,000 reduction in Workers’ Compensation costs for County employees due to cost saving measures implemented in the current fiscal year but noted that Workers’ Compensation costs for volunteer fire members will increase in FY13 by allowing for a net savings of $57,000. She explained that the budget includes the transition of the County’s health insurance for employees to a self insurance product due to excessive renewal estimates under the fully insured model. She noted that the Council selected the McWilliams Financial Group as the broker.
Ms. Baynard said the proposed Capital Budget of $473,298 includes funds for Public Safety and Public Works and no new debt issuance. She explained that the majority of the $1.9 million Grant Budget is for Local Management Board ($1.3 million) with the remainder for the following: Circuit Court Family Services, the Sheriff’s Office, Finance, Planning and Zoning, Recreation and Parks and Tourism.
Ms. Baynard said the proposed budget includes a landfill tipping fee increase from $55 to $60 per ton and a residential trash sticker increase from $40 to $65 for senior citizens and from $65 to $100 for other users in order to offset declining landfill activity and reduced revenues. She noted that all agencies are to be funded based on the FY 2012 funding level and that the budget includes no new agency funding.
Ms. Baynard cautioned that, based on initial estimates, the Council may face a $1.4 loss of revenue due to declining property assessments in FY 2014. She noted that there is also the potential for additional shifting of State costs or unfunded mandates to local government.
She said the budget message, budget summary and proposed budget bill are available to the public in the office or online.
BILL NO. 2012-3 AN ORDINANCE CONCERNING: 2012-2013 ANNUAL BUDGET AND APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE OF DORCHESTER COUNTY
E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, said Bill No. 2012-3 will adopt the County budget which consists of an Operating Budget, Capital Budget and Grant Budget for the appropriation of funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013.
The Council agreed to proceed with publication for public hearings to be held on May 8 and May 15, 2012 with a budget legislative hearing/adoption being held on May 29, 2012.
The Council adjourned into regular session.
Les Simering, resident, expressed concern about the placement of guardrails on Route 50 near Big Mill Pond Road in Vienna based on his belief they will impede farmers in accessing their fields.
Councilman Price advised that several constituents asked him to share with Council their concerns that the overhead lighting reductions on the westbound lane of the Nanticoke River Bridge are inconsistent with the reductions on the eastbound lane. He noted that he advised those constituents that the Council has corresponded with State Highway Administration staff on several occasions regarding these lighting reductions.
Based on information provided by Councilman Newcomb, the Council agreed to send a letter to the Choptank Electric Cooperative, Inc. President and Board of Directors expressing concern about the closure of the administrative offices at the company’s Cambridge location and the possible relocation of company vehicles to Skipton or St. Michael’s which may delay response in emergency situations. Councilman Newcomb requested that Bill Spicer be copied on that correspondence.
Councilman Newcomb reiterated that budget public hearings will be held on May 8 and May 15, 2012 with the legislative public hearing/adoption being held on May 29th.
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
Approved the ______day of _______________, 2012. Tom Bradshaw