County Council Meeting Minutes
May 15, 2012
County Council of Dorchester County
Regular Meeting Minutes
May 15, 2012
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on May 15, 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)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; and pursuant to §10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilman Price led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
The Council approved the following additions to the agenda: a request for a landfill tipping fee donation for a Relay for Life event and a request for the submission of a Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention FY13 School Bus Safety Enforcement Grant application by the Sheriff’s Office.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $1,817,040.20.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on May 15, 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)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
Motion made, seconded and carried to conduct a closed session pursuant to the above. All members of the Council voted in the affirmative to conduct the closed session for the purposes stated above and to discuss the topics listed above.
Councilman Newcomb announced that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on May 8, 2012 for a personnel hearing. He also announced that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 5:45 p.m. on May 8, 2012 to discuss the following items: 1) discussed information pertaining to a personnel issue-agreed to execute a memorandum of understanding; 2) discussed with legal counsel State requirements relating to the County’s local ethics ordinance- legislation scheduled for consideration in open session. Councilman Newcomb advised that the Council will reconvene into Executive Session after open session to discuss one personnel item.
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 congratulating Roy Mills on his retirement and recognizing his 39 years of dedicated service to Dorchester County.
COMMENDATION- FIRST CLASS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The Council presented a commendation congratulating Erin Shields for being named Dorchester County’s First Class Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.
COMMENDATION-TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The Council presented a commendation congratulating Heidi Cohoon for being named Dorchester County’s Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.
BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING
The Council adjourned into a public hearing on the proposed FY 2013 budget.
Joyce Spratt, Mayor, Town of Hurlock, expressed her understanding that funding for two new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office is included in the proposed budget. She encouraged the Council to increase that amount to allow the purchase of additional vehicles.
The Council agreed to separate the County’s fee schedule from the FY 2013 budget bill and from all future budget bills in order to allow the Council the opportunity to make any necessary changes to the schedule periodically throughout the year with a public advertising and hearing process.
The Council adjourned the budget public hearing.
CHESAPEAKE HELPS PROGRAM UPDATE
Anne Van Benschoten, Program Coordinator, provided Council with information regarding the Chesapeake Helps! free and confidential hotline which assists in connecting individuals with resources in their community for different types of services including utilities, housing, mental health, employment and legal issues. She noted that the hotline is funded through the Local Management Boards of Talbot County, Dorchester County, Caroline County, Kent County and Queen Anne’s County. Ms. Van Benschoten explained that the public can also access information on over 2,100 available resources in their community through the Chesapeake Helps! website or by email. She noted that assistance is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays.
In response to a question from Councilman Price, Ms. Van Benschoten clarified that hotline telephone operators often follow up with individual callers, particularly those who seem despondent or are in need of immediate assistance.
The Council thanked Ms. Van Benschoten for providing information on the Chesapeake Helps! hotline.
BOARD OF HEALTH
Roger Harrell, Health Officer, introduced William Forlifer, Environmental Health Officer, who provided an overview of the Bay Restoration Fund Grant Program. He said the program has been in existence since 2009, during which only 40 applicants were provided funds to upgrade onsite sewage disposal systems to the best available technology for the reduction of nitrogen. He noted that 79 units have been installed during the current fiscal year and it is his understanding another 30 may be installed prior to yearend. Mr. Forlifer advised that Dorchester Health Department staff have applied for $1,444,000 for FY 2013 which he believes will fund approximately 100 upgrades.
He noted that the Bay Restoration Fund fee has doubled for FY13 and he said that he is anticipating that additional funding may be available in the future due to this increase. Mr. Forlifer explained that grant applications are prioritized based on location, the current condition of the onsite septic system and a resident’s readiness to proceed with the upgrade. He clarified that property owners are responsible for the cost of the drain field. He said beginning January 1, 2013 grant funding will be income based and will be determined by taxable income pursuant to Maryland Department of Environment guidelines. Mr. Forlifer explained that County staff have already received draft guidelines and have re-submitted those to MDE for modification.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Forlifer clarified that, pursuant to the Chesapeake Bay Nitrogen Reduction Act of 2009, nutrient reduction systems must be installed for all newly constructed homes located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Based on an inquiry from Councilman Travers, Mr. Forlifer clarified that the cost for the nitrogen reduction unit is $13,000 and the difference between a standard system and a system with that type of technology is $10,000. In response to a question from Councilman Bradshaw, Mr. Forlifer noted that there is an annual maintenance and operation fee of approximately $300 which will be paid with grant funds for the first five years. He explained that the property owner will then be required to pay that fee. Councilman Bradshaw said he was concerned that a property owner may not have the funds available to continue that service.
Councilman Travers expressed concern about the disproportionate impact the new regulations will have on property owners in Dorchester County, based on the amount of property within the County that is located in critical areas.
Councilman Nichols said it his understanding that either a State legislative committee will be appointed to review the septic regulations or the legislators will discuss them during the next Maryland General Assembly legislative session, based on information he obtained from the Maryland Association of Counties website.
Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Forlifer explained that the funds must be used by the end of FY 12 or be returned and that it is his opinion that the most difficult hurdle residents are facing is allocating funding for the installation of the drain field.
Mr. Forlifer and Mr. Harrell advised Council that certain Health Department fees will have to be raised, including food service and septic system permits, due to lack of revenue.
The Council thanked Mr. Forlifer and Mr. Harrell.
NUISANCE CONTROL ABATEMENT VENDOR CONTRACT-HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Jane Baynard, County Manager, advised that based on concerns expressed by Health Department staff, County staff and legal counsel meet with Mr. Forlifer and Mr. Harrell, at Council’s directive, regarding enforcement of Chapter 116 of the County’s Code entitled “Nuisance Control” to explain the legislation and authorities. She said after that discussion they agreed to work with legal counsel should they need to abate the violation by cutting the grass, in order to ensure that due process notification is followed. She explained that E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, has worked with Mr. Harrell and Mr. Forlifer since that meeting to develop a Nuisance Control Abatement Vendor Contract.
Councilman Price asked Mr. Forlifer to provide a brief explanation of the procedures for filing a complaint for high grass. Mr. Forlifer explained that a written request which includes the complaint’s name and contact information must be submitted to the Dorchester County Health Department. He noted that grass, weeds and vegetation must be more than twelve inches in height in order to meet the definition of a nuisance. Mr. Forlifer said once a complaint has been filed a notice will be sent to the property owner to correct the violation within two weeks. He explained that if corrective action is not taken the Health Department staff will contact a vendor to mow the property and the property owner will be sent an invoice for those services.
A motion to advertise a request for proposals for contractor services for nuisance abatement and enforcement by Councilman Nichols died to lack of majority with Councilmen Price, Travers and Newcomb opposing. The Council agreed to single source with Bridges Land Management for these services and acknowledged that this is the vendor recently approved for the County’s Property Maintenance program by piggybacking on the contract at the same rate of $75 per hour. Councilmen Bradshaw and Nichols opposed.
BILL NO. 2012-2 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 AND TO REENACT CHAPTER 88 OF THE DORCHESTER COUNTY CODE ENTITLED ETHICS PROVISIONS FOR THE PURPOSFE OF ENACTING A NEW PUBLIC LOCAL ETHICS LAW FOR DORCHESTER COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS, EMPLOYEES OR APPOINTEES, RELATING TO PUBLIC ETHICS ON A LOCAL LEVEL, INCLUDING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE AND LOBBYING DISCLOSURE, ESTABLISHING A LOCAL ETHICS COMMISSION; AND SPECIFYING CERTAIN PERSONNEL AND CHARACTERISTICS OF IT; PROVIDING CERTAIN DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES, POWERS AND PROCEDURES TO THE LOCAL ETHICS COMMISSION, TO PROVIDE FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE ORDINANCE; AND GENERALLY RELATING TO THE REGULATION, CONTROL AND SUBJECT MATTER OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE, LOBBY DISCLOSURE AND ETHICAL CONDUCT ON THE PART OF DORCHESTER COUNTY OFFICIALS, EMPLOYEES AND APPOINTEES.
Mr. Merryweather said a public hearing on Bill No. 2012-2 to revise the County’s Ethics Ordinance pursuant to recent State law revisions concluded on May 8, 2012 and that legislative action was continued until this meeting.
The role call on the enactment of Bill No. 2012-2 was as follows: Newcomb-aye; Bradshaw-aye; Nichols-aye; Price-aye; Travers-aye. Councilman Nichols expressed concern that the revisions are mandated by State law and local jurisdictions were required to use a State model bill to develop the legislation.
REQUEST TO OUTSOURCE BUILDING CODE ENFORCEMENT-PLANNING AND ZONING
The Council approved the request of Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, to privatize building code review and enforcement for FY13 and agreed to waive the bid process and authorize Mr. Dodd to negotiate for services with Middle Department Inspection Agency, Inc. to take effect July 1, 2012. The Council members acknowledged that a written contract will be developed and submitted to them for approval. Additionally, the Council recognized that Middle Department Inspection Agency, Inc. is the only company on the Eastern Shore that provides comprehensive building code services, including plan review, building code inspections and floodplain management enforcement.
PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD APPOINTMENT
Ms. Baynard noted that Leland Wheatley’s appointment to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board will expire on June 1, 2012 and because he has moved he cannot be reappointed. She said Gerald Testerman, Chair, has advised that Ronald M. Jones, Alternate, is interested in filling Mr. Wheatley’s vacancy. She cautioned that should Council choose to submit Mr. Jones’ name to Governor Martin O’Malley for consideration, as required by State law, two additional names must be submitted at the same time.
The Council agreed to submit Mr. Jones as a possible replacement for Mr. Wheatley. The Council further agreed to advertise for expressions of interest for residents who are interested in serving on the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board.
SPECIAL EVENTS CONTRACTS-SHERIFF’S OFFICE
The Council agreed to enter into a Special Events Agreement with the Annapolis Bicycle Racing team and the Dorchester County Sheriff, under which the Sheriff’s Office will provide public safety services, including four patrol vehicles and four deputies, for two bicycle races scheduled for June 23, 2012 and August 18, 2012. The Council recognized that, based on information provided by Finance staff, the fee for services is calculated at an overtime rate on the average deputy salary and agreed to pay the Sheriff's Office deputies who volunteer for these events at an overtime rate regardless of whether a deputy reaches the 171 hour/28 day overtime threshold. The Council acknowledged that pursuant to this agreement the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team will provide a Certificate of Insurance naming Dorchester County as the Certificate Holder for the event.
DECLARATION OF SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE DAY
LANDFILL TIPPING FEE DONATION/WAIVER REQUEST-RELAY FOR LIFE
The Council considered the written request of Timothy Marshall, Logistics Coordinator, for a donation or waiver of the landfill tipping fee for the Relay for Life event being held on Friday, May 18, 2012 and Saturday, May 19, 2012. The Council took no formal action and suggested that Mr. Marshall contact the City of Cambridge regarding the possible use of the landfill tipping fee credit of $500 provided to the City in FY12. The Council acknowledged that pursuant to Resolution No. 449 this landfill tipping fee credit is provided to municipalities each fiscal year for disposal of trash and debris related to community clean up and other public improvement efforts.
FY13 SCHOOL BUS SAFETY ENFORCEMENT GRANT APPLICATION REQUEST-SHERIFF’S OFFICE
The Council approved the request for the submission of a Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention Grant application entitled “School Bus Safety Enforcement FY 2013” by the Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $26,000 with no cash or in kind match, which funds will be used to pay for overtime for deputies to enforce school bus safety laws and for public service announcements for the period of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. The Council agreed to pay the Sheriff's Office deputies who volunteer for these events at an overtime rate regardless of whether a deputy reaches the 171 hour over a 28-day period overtime threshold with the understanding that once the grant period is over or grant funds have been depleted hours spent on duties outlined in this grant will be applicable to the overtime threshold. The Council reserved the right to review any future renewals to determine the policy regarding hourly pay for the provision of services in regard to overtime policies.
Gerry Boyle, Local Event Coordinator, Columbia Triathlon Association, questioned the County’s participation in the Ironman 70.3 EagleMan Triathlon on June 10, 2012. He discussed his concerns that Dorchester County EMS providers will not be manning the medical tent at that event. Michael Faith, Emergency Services Director, clarified that the local and regional Medical Directors and he agree that serving in this capacity is outside of the Maryland protocols that govern the paramedics in the performance of duties. He acknowledged that Dr. Richard Alcorta, State of Maryland EMS Medical Director, discussed with promoters entering into a separate agreement with the County’s local Medical Director and the promoter and transferring medical oversight to the doctor on site for the day, as an alternative. He said neither the local or regional Medical Director supported that action as required signatories.
Councilman Travers expressed concern about the late notice to race promoters, noting the date of the upcoming race. He expressed his belief that the County has reneged on a promise made in the early stages of event planning. He said, in his opinion, the event is important to the community and cited the negative economic impact if the event is not held in the County.
Mayor Spratt and residents Portia Johnson Ennels, William Jones, John Burtman, Reverend George Ames and Rosie Travers, spoke in favor of a solution that involved continued employment of Dorchester County residents.
Mr. Faith clarified that the promoter can hire any licensed paramedic or emergency medical technician to work in the tent provided those individuals worked under the medical license of the one site physician. He said based on the Council’s relationship with the County’s Medical Director, Dr. Cindy Shen, these individuals cannot work as County employees, however, it does not preclude hiring them as their own employees for that event.
Mr. Faith said he will provide to Mr. Boyle a list of licensed paramedics for Dorchester County with the understanding that Mr. Boyle will contact them regarding working for the Association for the event contractually.
Councilman Bradshaw showed several muskrat traps, noting that a gentleman by the name of Walter Gibbs from Chester, Pennsylvania purchased and rented marsh land in the County, particularly in Gum Swamp. He said Mr. Gibbs caught and conducted research on muskrats and patented over 30 animal traps.
With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned from regular session and reconvened into executive session for one personnel item.
ATTEST: DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:
William V. Nichols, Vice President
Approved the ______day of _______________, 2012.