December 8, 2009
The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Ronald H. Fithian, William W. Pickrum and Roy W. Crow presiding.
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, was also in attendance.
Patricia Merritt, Chief Finance Officer, reported a balance of $7,604,502.38.
Commissioner Crow requested a moment of silence to honor those serving this country overseas and to give patience in dealing with the State Government.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Commissioner Crow informed that he and Commissioner Fithian attended the December 7 Board of Education meeting, at which the BOE discussed the school system’s budget issues, including options for altering Maintenance of Effort. The Commissioners reminded the BOE that the best case scenario for county funding to the BOE for FY11 will be Maintenance of Effort. He stated that the BOE discussed the possible closure of the Rock Hall Middle School and relocation of the administrative offices to that building. Commissioner Crow stated that if this becomes a reality, he would like to see some of the dollars being saved returned to the county to lessen the county’s financial burden.
2009 Master Plan- Dr. Barbara Wheeler, Superintendent, MaryEtta Reedy, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, and Gina Jachimowicz, Supervisor of English/Language Arts, appeared to review the 2009 Kent County Public Schools Master Plan. Ms. Jachimowicz explained that the Master Plan is a guiding document that drives the decision making made by the school system. She informed that the school system’s declining enrollment continues to be a challenge. In regards to disadvantaged students, 39% of the students in the school system qualify for free/reduced lunches, and 14% qualify for special education services. Ms. Reedy noted that 12% is the State’s average for special education and that these costs directly impact the cost of instruction. Ms. Jachimowicz stated that the school system is facing economic challenges and has made many adjustments to comply with the Master Plan. The funding being used for professional development is being received from grants. The pupil development grant funds were cut and foreign language programs have been eliminated at all of the middle schools. The per pupil amount has also decreased. Ms. Reedy informed that the Maryland State reading success rate has increased by 21% and the mathematic subgroups have also improved. She also reported the following:
- KCHS met AYP and 99.4% of the cohort 09 met the requirement.
- Biology and Government met the requirement at 89% (Biology) and 88.4% (Government).
- 91.1% of the students met the requirement by passing all 4 assessments. The Kent County School System is one of only four school systems that met the AYP in all four assessments in every school.
- Only 8.2% needed the BRIDGE Plan for Validation in order to graduate.
- SAT Reading Scores improved 18 points over a four year period.
Dr. Wheeler stated that the BOE appreciates the county’s partnership with the use of broadband technology.
Charter School- Commissioner Pickrum questioned Dr. Wheeler regarding an initiative by a group of citizens to establish a charter school in Kent County. Dr. Wheeler stated that students who attend a charter school are students who do not attend public school. Therefore, they would be taking dollars away from the school system. She stated that charter schools are able to establish independently planned programs outside of the school system. They are subject to the same assessments as public school; however, they are not required to abide by the same curriculum and have more autonomy. Dr. Wheeler noted that the transportation for the charter school would be the responsibility of the Kent County School system.
Rock Hall Middle School- Commissioner Crow informed that at the December 7 Board of Education meeting, it was proposed to close Rock Hall Middle School (RHMS). Its current student population is 110 and the transfer of Grade 6 and 7 students to the Chestertown Middle School (CMS) would consist of 72 children. Dr. Wheeler stated that if the school is to be closed, public hearings would be required and a final decision would need to be made by April 2. If the closure moves forward, it would be implemented in September 2010. She noted that the students transferred to Chestertown would be able to take advantage of the technology at the CMS, which is not accessible in Rock Hall. It is hoped that the State will still consider RHMS as a school since the Alternative School will remain housed in this building and will also be expanded. Currently, there are 22 employees at RHMS and 16 would be required to be retained. Currently, the number of students in some of the classes at RHMS are as low as 9.
BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Crow signed Acceptance Agreement with Charles D. MacLeod, representing Funk and Bolton, whereby Karen P. Ruff, Esquire, will be the attorney assigned to the Board of Zoning Appeals, effective immediately.
The Commissioners held a budget work session at 11:15 a.m. with the following in attendance: Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Marty Hale, Human Resources Director, and Wayne Morris, DWW Director. At 11:48 a.m., Pat Merritt, Chief Finance Officer, joined the budget work session.
Ms. Hayman reported that there was a department head meeting on December 4 to provide updated information on the county’s fiscal situation. Each department was requested to review and reduce their budget as much as possible. It was also announced at that meeting that effective immediately all budgeted travel and education expenses are frozen. If funding is required for these expenses, a written request will need to be submitted for review and authorization. Ms. Hayman also reported that immediately after the budget presentation was given, all those in attendance stated they would be supportive of furlough days in order for all employees to assist in this crisis. Several department heads also requested since the county funded the public schools well above required levels this year, that the Commissioners consider writing to the Board of Education to see if they would volunteer to review their budget for possible reductions to help relieve the county government’s financial straits.
As a result of the December 4 department head meeting, Ms. Merritt reviewed proposed reductions that were submitted by department heads. The Waste Management Division Chief submitted several scenarios for consideration relating to possible reduction of hours at the Solid Waste/Recycling Drop-Off Satellite areas. The Commissioners requested Ms. Merritt to contact the Election Office to reduce their budget by 10%. Other offices to be contacted are the Judge’s of Orphans Court, Judge’s Chambers, Extension Office and the Public Library. Those boards and committees that do not have meeting requirements will be requested to meet as needed or on a quarterly basis.
The Commissioners also reviewed status of non-essential departments as well as potential department reorganizations. Ms. Merritt was requested to prepare and submit final work sheet for review and action on December 15.
Given that the Board of Education receives 42% of the county’s annual revenues, the Commissioners also agreed to send letter to the Board of Education to request their cooperation in submitting areas of reduction in their budget.
The budget work session ended at 2:55 p.m.
Correspondence was received from Steven D. Foster, Chief, Engineering Access Permits Division, State Highway Administration, reporting that he has been advised by Richard Lindsay, District Engineer, that the work authorized under the County’s access permit for the Community Center has been completed to the satisfaction of the SHA.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES
Wayne Morris, Director, appeared to discuss the following items:
Generators- Mr. Morris informed that the current contract for generator maintenance expires on December 31. He presented the following bids for replacement of this contract:
Alban Engine Power Systems $10,300.00
6389 Old Washington Road
Chesapeake Diesel No Bid
113 North Main Street
Steve Denbeck No Bid
22085 Bay Shore Road
J.G. Parks and Son $10,500.00
24360 Ocean Gateway
P.O. Box 416
Mardela Springs, MD 21837
Upon question raised by Commissioner Fithian, Mr. Morris informed that bids were not received from Chesapeake Diesel or Steve Denbeck because they were unable to meet the bid specifications. He informed that Chesapeake Diesel no longer works with generators and Mr. Denbeck does not feel that his technicians are qualified enough to complete the specifications required. Mr. Morris recommended that the Commissioners accept bid from Alban Engine Power Systems, the low bidder. Commissioner Fithian stated that he is not convinced that a local contractor cannot complete the work listed in the specifications and raised concern as to travel time involved for emergencies. Commissioner Pickrum suggested that the generator maintenance be placed on a six month contract which would expire at the end of the fiscal year. The contract could then be bid out on a fiscal year basis and by July, 2010, Mr. Morris may potentially gain a wider pool of local contractors who could meet the specifications for the project. Commissioners Crow and Fithian agreed with this suggestion.
Worton Service Area- Mr. Morris requested permission to rescind the allocations requested by William Darling (Tax Map 20, Parcels 138 and 220) and Charles Ministero (Tax Map 20, Parcel 170). Mr. Darling and Mr. Ministero have both been contacted and requested to complete their public works agreements and provide payment for their allocations, which were due to be received this past summer; however, no response has been received from either. The Commissioners approved for these allocations to be rescinded.
Tolchester Service Area – The Commissioners approved and signed Agreement with Lance K. and Tulani A. Johnson for one sewer allocation for property located on Tax Map 35D, Parcel 616.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS TRAINING CENTER
Commissioner Pickrum note that the Department of General Services and the U.S. Department of the State have selected Queen Anne’s County as their preferred site to build a new 1,250 acre Foreign Affairs Security Training Center. Once the facility is completed, it will support 500 full time employees. This facility should provide some job opportunities for Kent County citizens in consideration of the driving distance.
Holly Harris McCoy appeared and presented the Commissioners with a holiday pediment wreath that was donated by Andy Simmons for the Courthouse and garland and swags donated by Ms. McCoy for the County Government Center. A tree lighting ceremony was also held around the Walter B. Harris White Flowering Dogwood tree at the R. Clayton Mitchell Kent County Government Center. Mrs. Walter Harris and Mac McCoy were also in attendance.
Publick House/ Whitsitt Center- Dr. Leland Spencer, Health Officer, appeared and Commissioner Crow questioned him regarding the health department’s desire to break the current leased space for the Publick House offices to relocate to the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center Building upon its closing. Dr. Spencer stated that since there will be open space at the USCMHC, it makes sense for the Publick House to move in order to be closer to the mental health services provided by the Whitsitt Center. In response to question raised by the County Administrator, Dr. Spencer informed that he has been given verbal permission by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to take up occupancy of the building. He stated that the Publick House would not be required to pay rent, but would be responsible for utilities. Commissioner Pickrum questioned what will happen in 2011, when the State plans to give up the building. Dr. Spencer stated that because that is still unknown, he wanted to seek guidance from the Commissioners as to whether or not moving to this facility would be a feasible idea. Commissioner Pickrum commented that he does not feel that the state is dependable enough to follow through on promises. Jack Steinmetz, Economic Development Director, stated that the current Publick House offices would not likely be needed by the county. He stated that it would not be prudent for the Publick House to move to the Upper Shore building and then for the financial obligation of the current lease to fall into the County’s lap. He stated that the County would need a strong commitment from the State in order to move forward with this idea. Dr. Spencer stated that he will put moving plans on hold until there are assurances of what will take place with the building after 2011.
It was also disclosed that the lease for the Carter Center expires next year.
HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
Correspondence was received from Holly Johnson providing notice of resignation from the Human Relations Commission, effective immediately.
Electronic correspondence dated December 4 was received from Olivia Campbell Andersen, Legislative Director, DNR, informing that on December 3, Governor Martin O’Malley announced Maryland’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Draft Plan. The plan is built upon the findings of a six year federal and bi state Environmental Impact Study of oyster restoration options, the shellfish aquaculture legislation (HB 312/SB271) enacted by the General Assembly and the recommendations of the Oyster Advisory Commission and the Aquaculture Coordinating Council. It is Governor O’Malley’s feeling that the proposed plan could contribute as much as $25 million to Maryland’s economy and create more than 200 permanent jobs. The plan is designed to enhance oyster restoration and encourage the development of aquaculture businesses, while also supporting a more targeted and sustainable public oyster fishery. Ms. Campbell Andersen provided the additional benefits, which Governor O’Malley feels the oyster plan will provide. Commissioner Fithian commented that if this plan proceeds as proposed, it will mean the end of the oyster industry as it is currently known in Kent County. He expressed concern that the State did not hold any public hearings on this proposed plan or hold any discussion with those who would be affected. He compared this plan with the State’s decision on the closing of the USCMHC, which was also done without any prior notice to those who would be affected.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Memorandum dated November 30 was received from Myra Butler, Director, requesting approval for the Kent County News to plant a White Oak (Maryland State Tree) at the Turner’s Creek Park Famous and Historic Tree Grove in memory of Charles “Charlie” Campbell. As Mr. Campbell was quite fond of the park, the Kent County News has requested this area as the location to honor their beloved photographer. Should this request be approved, the memorial planting and ceremony will likely take place on April 7, which is Arbor Day. Ms. Butler informed that during their regularly scheduled meeting on November 16, the Kent County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously voted in favor of this request. The Commissioners approved this request.
At 11:00 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Fithian, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and made unanimous by Commissioner Crow to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508(a)(1) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, and Marty Hale, Human Resources Director, were in attendance.
Topics of discussion related to consideration of filling staff vacancies in Parks and Recreation and Public Works Departments (these decisions were deferred last week.)
At 11:15 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Fithian, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and made unanimous by Commissioner Crow to adjourn the closed session.
In closed session, the Commissioners did not approve filling any position vacancies due the county’s fiscal restraints.
Chesapeake Diesel- In follow up to December 1 meeting, memorandum dated December 2 was received from Gail Owings, Director of Planning, providing notice of receipt of the following subdivision bonds from Chesapeake Diesel, LLC for their property located at 12503 Augustine Herman Highway, Kennedyville:
Bond # 019-031-247- $36,829.00- Sediment and Erosion Control
Bond # 019-031-248- $117,749.00- Stormwater Management
Bond # 019-031-249- $80,000.00- Landscaping
Bond # 019-031-250- $15,500.00- Afforestation
The Commissioners approved to accept the subdivision bonds as presented.
Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund - The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Crow signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Natural Resources in which Kent County will receive $252,000 in grant funding to be used toward the implementation of several projects intended to reduce nonpoint source pollution to the Middle Chester watershed in the areas of septics, agriculture, and restoration. The term of this Memorandum shall be from December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010.
Housing Improvement Program – The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Crow signed Certificate of Satisfaction for the release of lien of Deed of Trust/Mortgage for Augustine and Jean Graves which is filed in Liber M.L.M. No. 502, folio 513 as it relates to Phase V of the HIP program. This lien has been fully paid and discharged.
Gail Owings, Director of Planning, appeared to discuss items reviewed during the December 3 Planning Commission meeting, including:
Chesapeake Diesel- Ms. Owings informed that the site plan for this project has been approved and a building permit will be issued.
Windmills- Ms. Owings informed that the three applications for height variances have been withdrawn. Commissioner Crow commented that regulations regarding commercial use of the windmills need to be clarified, as more of these uses will likely be coming in the future. He stated that there is a need to spearhead appointment of a Renewable Energy Task Force to address and make recommendation on these matters. Ms. Owings informed that the Planning
Commission currently has a list of people established that could serve on the task force, as well as a charge for the group. She added that the Planning Commission will develop a schedule for the group. Once names are submitted, the Commissioners agreed to appoint a task force early in 2010.
Verizon Tower- Ms. Owings informed that approval has been given by the FCC and the building permit for the Verizon Tower to be located in Still Pond was issued last week. The Section 106 review has also been completed.
The Commissioners approved a raffle only permit for the Kent School for an event taking place beginning on December 10, 2009 and ending on April 10, 2010.
In light of the cancellation of the Annual Employee Appreciation Party, the Commissioners honored the following employees with Certificates of Appreciation, County pins and savings bonds for their years of dedicated service with the County:
Department Employee Years of Service
Commissioners’ Office Susanne Hayman 30years
Detention Center Billy Dwyer 5 years
Michael O’Neil 5 years
Willard Marshall 5 years
Tracey Middleton 5 years
Economic Development Augustine Cook 5 years
Finance Teresa Gsell 10 years
Human Resources Marty Hale 5 years
Parks and Recreation Mark Dixon 20 years
Public Works James Kennard 10 years
Ralph Shaw 10 years
Doug Smith 15 years
Carter Stanton 40 years
Tommy Jewell 10 years
Water and Wastewater Services Cory Boynton 5 years
Sharon Houser 5 years
Local Management Board Jenny Randolph 5 years
State’s Attorney’s Office Sue Turner 10 years
The following employees were also recognized, but were unable to attend:
Emergency Services Joe Douglas 5 years
Serenity Kelly 5 years
Finance Jeanne Edwards 10 years
Diane Robinson 30 years
Public Works Nancy Wathen 5 years
Water and Wastewater Services Chris Yiannakis 5 years
Community Work Program Al Streelman 5 years
Commissioner Crow expressed appreciation for the employees’ hardwork for the County during these difficult financial times. Commissioner Pickrum added that the employees can rest assured of the Commissioners’ commitment to them.
UPPER SHORE COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CENTER (USCMHC)
In follow up to the December 1 meeting, Dr. Leland Spencer, Health Officer, appeared and provided additional information regarding the closure of the USCMHC. He informed that after speaking with a representative from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), he was provided with responses to some of the questions raised during the December 1 meeting. He stated that the DHMH has informed that there is no one available to meet with the Commissioners in person or by conference call regarding general questions relating to the USCMHC closure. However, any specific questions will be responded to in writing. The DHMH will not allow patients to continue to be admitted to the USCMHC until the March 1 opening date of the expanded Whitsitt Center because it will jeopardize their accreditation. The DHMH also feels that the USCMHC lacks adequate staff to continue to admit patients until March 1. During the gap in time when both facilities will be unavailable for admissions, the DHMH plans for patients requiring a high level of mental health care to be treated in acute inpatient hospitals or in private sector hospitals. Patients requiring a lower level of care would be treated in community based assistance programs. Dr. Spencer stated that he informed DHMH of the concerns of the Chester River Hospital Center relating to the lack of the additional capacity needed to serve the mental health population. The DHMH informed Dr. Spencer that the hospital as well as other local hospitals has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding acceptance of the mental health patients. Failing to comply with the MOU will go against the hospital. The DHMH has also informed that they will not allow any deviation from the current plan because they feel that the plan is adequately better for the community.
Dr. Spencer will provide more updates regarding this matter in the coming weeks.
Tonya Rider, USCMHC employee, who was observing in the audience, commented that the USCMHC employees do not fault Dr. Spencer for decisions made regarding the closure of the facility. She added that the community needs to work together because closure of the facility
will be a disaster for psychiatric patients. She also added that the USCMHC employees are not receiving much assistance from the state to find employment. She noted that USCMHC employees who are within 14 months of retirement at Upper Shore have been given job placement priority at the Eastern Shore Medical Facility in Cambridge so that they do not forfeit their retirement. Elizabeth Jackson, USCMHC employee, also mentioned that it is her understanding that DHMH plans to retain the building through July, 2011. After that time, the Department of General Services would assume the building and eventually offer it as surplus property to the County.
Nicholson Transfer Site – Memorandum dated December 3 was received from Marty Holden, Waste Management Division Chief, informing that following the December 1 meeting, it was discovered that a 10% contingency could be added to the grant application regarding the Nicholson Remediation project, which will bring the total amount identified in the grant to $206,000.
The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Crow signed USDA Application for federal assistance in the amount of $206,000 as it relates to the groundwater remediation system for the Nicholson Transfer Site. As a requirement of the USDA Grant Application, the Commissioners also approved and Commissioner Crow signed Legal Services Agreement with Thomas N. Yeager, County Attorney, who agrees to perform all customary legal services necessary to the organization, financing, construction, and initial operation of the Kent County Nicholson Landfill Remediation Project.
Electronic correspondence dated December 2 was received from Nina Houghton, expressing appreciation for the recycling service in Kent County.
WORKFORCE INVESTMENT BOARD
Electronic correspondence dated November 28 was received from Mike Waal providing notice of resignation from the Workforce Investment Board, effective immediately.
There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned their regular meeting to meet again on Tuesday, December 15, 2009, at 8:30 a.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President
Please contact the County Commissioner's Office at (410) 778-4600 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.