KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Board of County Commissioners
January 14, 2003
The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.
T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, was also in attendance
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $ 6,559,391.00.
Tyler Campbell appeared to discuss the proposed Kent County airport project. Mr. Campbell expressed his desire for the Commissioners to pursue the airport on both a personal level as well as for the County. He stated his opinion that the proposed airport is critical to the future of the County and a key ingredient in economic development. Mostly all communities in the Delmarva region have an airport. Mr. Campbell cited the Comprehensive Plan as being definitive in including an airport. He encouraged the Commissioners to visit the airport in Cambridge because of the similarities in the rural area. Commissioner Crow advised that he had toured the airport and although the airport is thriving, it was constructed in 1954 and had been a burden to the taxpayers prior to 1996. It also has advantage of being located within one mile from a major highway. He also stated the Ridgely Airport is privately owned and Caroline County had purchased adjacent property for a technology park. Mr. Campbell suggested an updated impact study be conducted. Since this is the third time an application has been submitted to the FAA, it may be the last chance to obtain Federal funding. Commissioner Crow questioned the possibility of a private entity pursuing the project. Mr. Campbell this could be accomplished with a group of investors but would lose opportunity of available Federal/State funding. He also stated the Cambridge, Bay Bridge and Easton Airports all did well once operation was taken on by the County. Again, Mr. Campbell requested the Commissioners to consider an airport and take advantage of State and Federal funding.
Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration appeared and reported on the January 13 Board of Appeals meeting.
Mrs. Owings also forwarded a memorandum advising of the role and responsibilities of the Board of Appeals.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Correspondence was received from Dr. Bonnie C. Ward, Superintendent of Schools, requesting the Commissioners' participation in a series of four focus groups as it relates to development of a new Master Plan for the school system beginning January 22 and ending February 12. The Commissioners have scheduling conflicts with those dates and Commissioner
Pickrum felt a regulatory body such as the Board of County Commissioners should not become involved in the development process since it is the Commissioners who have to make the ultimate decision on the plan as it relates to local funding.
The Commissioners agreed to discuss with the Board of Education as to possibility of hosting program for community service hours for students in various county buildings.
The Commissioners will be attending an informational workshop with the Board of Education this evening at 7:00 p.m.
COUNTY ROADS DIVISION
Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, appeared and provided an accounting for storms during the dates of January 5-7. He reported that of the $25,000 budgeted, $11,000 has been spent to date.
Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, discussed the proposal forwarded by Jim Wright, County Engineer, from Gale Associates Inc. to provide engineering consultation services for the evaluation and design of remedial repairs and for moisture problems in the basement of the Court House.
The Commissioners discussed the need to address the problem since it would eventually effect the foundation of the building. Given the expense associated with the water seepage, Commissioner Livie inquired if the problem could be addressed over several budget cycles. Mr. Stanton advised that the water problem has gotten progressively worse over the years. Commissioner Crow requested bids be sought to both evaluate and remedy the problem by a company who specializes in wet basements. The Commissioners concurred to discuss the matter after bids were received.
DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (DBED)
The Commissioners received notification of the initial allocation of the Maryland State Ceiling for Private Activity Bond issuance in 2003.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES
Wayne Morris, Director, Department of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared to report on the following issues:
Quaker Neck Service Area - Mr. Morris provided a copy of correspondence directed to Lawrence and Associates, LLC, responding to his request for 12 sewer allocations. Mr. Morris advised that although the Water and Sewer Plan has been amended, a feasibility study will be performed to determine the next course of action.
Mr. Morris reported that a driveway in the Quaker Neck Service area had settled above the sewer line. After excavating the driveway, the sewer line was found not to be in disrepair and there was no determination to explain the settlement. He advised the driveway would be repaired.
Later in the day, Mr. Morris met with the Commissioners to discuss Quaker Neck annexation issues. Bill Ingersoll, Chestertown Town Manager, was in the audience but elected not to participate. Mr. Morris discussed the following issues:
1) The area to be annexed has 14 EDU's - 9 residential, 5 vacant lots
2) Anticipated revenue for FY 03 -$59,225
3) Total loss of revenue per year $3,060
4) Use existing sewer line or construct new sewer line
5) Discuss Chestertown and County share of project
Mr. Morris expressed concern of the number of failing septic systems in the area and advised that the Health Department had reported another failed system in the proposed service area. Commissioner Crow inquired as to the total number of units to be served as well as potential lots in the area. Mr. Morris advised if Heather Heights included 75 -100 lots. Commissioner Crow inquired if services could be offered without connecting/expanding the Chestertown system. Mr. Morris advised that if another County service area was formed, it would be approximately 350 users, 236 allocations of which are currently Chestertown allocations. Commissioner Livie inquired if Heather Heights (a planned future service area) residents have been contacted relating to sewer services. Mr. Morris stated that he did not know of any communication with Heather Heights residents on this matter.
Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to how the State would perceive an independent system versus using Chestertown's expanded system. Mr. Morris stated his opinion that the State would not encourage an independent system. He advised that it would be more economical for both the County and Chestertown to upgrade the Chestertown system.
Commissioner Livie advised that he has requested information relating to new cost effective technology in treating wastewater allowing for purer wastewater discharge. Commissioner Crow inquired about irrigational discharge. Mr. Morris advised discharging treated wastewater by irrigation was an option in the Worton feasibility study.
Mr. Morris concluded stating that he believed the most efficient and economical answer to serving Quaker Neck area was to continue working with Chestertown to share the cost of upgrading their system.
Kennedyville Lagoon Project - Mr. Morris forwarded copies of the feasibility study for the Kennedyville Lagoon Project. Commissioner Crow noted the $1.9 Million cost and inquired as to the possibility of a Kent County location for the sludge to be removed for lagoon restoration. Mr. Morris advised that Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) regulates the removal and location and a Kent County location would lessen the cost of the project. Commissioner Crow requested the earliest estimation of project completion. Mr. Morris estimated January 2005 as the earliest.
Millington Water and Wastewater Expansion Project - Mr. Morris reported that MDE funding in the amount of $150,000 has been appropriated to the Millington Water and Wastewater Expansion Project and if not used, it can be reallocated to the Kennedyville Lagoon Restoration Project. The Commissioners concurred.
The Commissioners received correspondence from Warden Ronald Howell providing details of the increased expenditures for inmate related medical expenses.
In follow-up from last week, Tom Beckett and Ed Athey, representing the Economic Development Advisory Board, Larry Cox, President, Upper Shore Staffing, Dave McIntire, and Craig Damon, representing the Chamber of Commerce, appeared to discuss proposal received by the Chamber from Mr. Cox for a Study, Analysis and Model of Economy of Kent County, Maryland. Jack Canan, Economic Development Coordinator, was also in attendance. Mr. Athey advised that the Chamber is very interested in moving forward to updating the 1997 strategic plan for Kent County, however, he wanted to confirm all agree on the issues to focus on.
Commissioner Pickrum stated that Tourism and Economic Development are issues that are important to this Board. He stated that national recruitment will be taking place to ensure retaining an experienced person to fill the Economic Development Director position. He noted that recruiting businesses to the area was extremely difficult and that quality of life was only one element of securing businesses; infrastructure, employable population, broadband access were other elements not easily attainable.
Mr. Athey inquired if the development of a retirement community is the direction the Economic Development Advisory Board should direct their efforts. Commissioner Pickrum advised that community input should be garnered.
Mr. Cox advised that the Chamber of Commerce is considering an economic model to measure the economic cost or benefit. He advised that a request for proposals for the model was prepared. He advised that the model would be a detailed spreadsheet that would evaluate the impact of new businesses on hospital, schools, fire departments, municipal governments and population in general. Mr. Cox noted that the variables could be changed to evaluate many scenarios. Mr. Beckett advised that the approximate cost to be $50,000 - $100,000.
Commissioner Livie requested forming partnership to pull resources for additional support. The Commissioners advised that they look forward to meeting with the Economic Advisory Board on February 5 to further discuss the matter.
Retired employee, Lou Mancuso, appeared to request health insurance benefits (regardless of years of service) be given to employees who receive a disability retirement benefit. The Commissioners advised they would take the matter under consideration.
On Monday, January 13, at 8:00 a.m., the Commissioners met with the District 36 Legislators, Senator E. J. Pipkin, Delegates Mary Roe Walkup, Michael Smigiel, Sr. and Richard Sossi in the County Commissioners' Hearing Room to review proposed legislative initiatives for Kent County in the 2003 Legislature. Others in attendance were Mauritz Stetson, Alcoholic Beverage Inspector, Mr. and Mrs. David Glover, Licensees, The Crystal Decanter, and member of the media.
The following legislative initiatives were discussed:
Alcoholic Beverage Laws -
1) Tobacco Enforcement for Minors - Although this bill did not pass FY 02 legislation, (HB 344 and SB 138) the need to provide the Alcoholic Beverage Inspector with the authority to enforce the tobacco laws as they relate to the sale and possession of tobacco products by minors remains. This proposed legislation has had the support of Kent County Health Department, Kent County Adolescent Substance Abuse Coalition, local government, and delegates. This legislation affects Kent County only.
Commissioner Pickrum advised of the Board's concern as to Kent County ranking the highest in the State for the sale and possession of tobacco products to minors and requested this proposed legislation again be introduced for passage. At the present time, there is no mechanism for enforcement except on rare occasions. Mr. Stetson is willing to provide enforcement of this legislation in addition to his current duties as Alcoholic Beverage Inspector. The legislators all concurred to support this bill.
2) Special Wine License Privilege - This proposal authorizes a Class B licensee to sell wine by the bottle for off sales without the wine sale being included as the requirement to meet the restriction of 60% food 40% alcohol. This license is not a separate class of license.
Mr. Stetson advised the purpose of this request is to encourage sale of Maryland wines.
Mid-Shore Regional Council - This legislation proposes to expand the Mid Shore Regional Council to include Kent and possibly Queen Anne's and Cecil Counties. Currently, the Council consists of Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties. The goal of this legislation is to include Kent County in Federal funding for future economic development goals, water/wastewater projects, installation of high speed network, and a host of opportunities as part of a regional effort.
Upon request submitted last year, Senator Baker was not supportive and therefore the bill was not introduced. Delegate Smigiel advised this proposal is currently being explored and discussed. He feels a regional approach is a good idea but was concerned as to funding obligation from Kent County. He gave the example of Chesapeake College as a good example of counties working together. Senator Pipkin advised of his support of this legislation and will work hard towards this goal, however, the success of this legislation is based on the continuation of State funding. Commissioner Livie feels Kent County is ideal to attract small firms that do business on the Internet and have a higher level of skills and wages. The North East has flourished with this type of business. He also feels there is a hidden workforce compiled of students who move away after graduation; he feels the key to retain this workforce is broad band Internet. One major initiative of the Board of Commissioners is to obtain broad band Internet. The Delegates also advised of their support of this proposal.
Bond Bill - Kent County Recreation and Community Complex - Delegate Conway, Vice Chair, House Appropriations, was able to secure approval for $500,000, however, funding for the multi-generational community center was not forthcoming in 2003. It is expected that the approved bond bill to be funded in FY 04 (monies available July 1, 2003). Additional funding in the amount of $250,000 to be requested in FY 04.
Delegate Walkup questioned if the Commissioners have had recent public input on this project since transportation issues have been debatable. The Commissioners stated the original proposal has been scaled down to be constructed in phases. The first phase would be for the replacement of the Worton Arena. Delegate Walkup was in agreement for the replacement of the existing building but questioned the proposed size of the Complex; she felt the scale of the entire project was grandiose. It was noted that the proposed building plan is slightly larger than the existing building. She suggested rather than seeking funding by a bond bill, to apply for Program Open Space (POS) funding for the replacement of the building. Commissioner Livie stated the project design and plan has already been accepted and that Phase I (a $2 Million capital construction project) is for the replacement of the existing building. Kent County will need $750,000 to make that happen. Funding will also include private fund raising efforts. Delegate Walkup questioned the proposed location of the facility and questioned the ability of the State Legislature to provide the needed funding. She also questioned if local funding committed was in hand and was interested in knowing what type of private funds is expected to be raised. Senator Pipkin questioned if the County's $1 Million committed to the project was budgeted. Mr. Robinson gave affirmation. He also noted of the Board of Education's support and agreement as to land conveyance. The County is seeking an additional $250,000 bond bill; the LMB has committed $200,000 for pre-development costs and has agreed to another $300,000 for future programming and operations; the BOE will provide needed land at a value of $200,000 and the County will provide remaining funds for Phase I for Fiscal Year 2004 ($500,000 was committed during 2002 Legislature for Fiscal Year 2004). It was also noted that various activities are planned to provide additional funding to make the project self-sufficient. Delegate Sossi expressed concern as to the future of the LMB as a result of the State's deficit. Senator Pipkin requested summary of total project cost and amount of funds spent to date. He was advised that no county funds had been spent; only LMB funding has been expended to date. The Commissioners advised of their support to budget $1 Million for Fiscal Year 2004. Once the first phase is completed, it is anticipated that private contributions will cover the additional phases of the project. As requested, financial information will be provided Senator Pipkin as well as information provided to the legislators last year for his review.
Refinancing of Water and Wastewater Costs - Continued effort is needed to request assistance in refinancing water and wastewater costs. Delegate Walkup is familiar with this issue and is pursuing refinancing in a non-priority funding area.
Delegate Walkup provided background information on this proposed legislation. Request was submitted by the County to MDE for the refinancing of the County's loan ($2.7 Million) from the MDE Revolving Loan Fund which includes the following projects: Fairlee Sewer Upgrade and Lagoon abandonment, Tolchester/Delta Heights Sewer Collection and Treatment System, and the Piney Neck/Skinners Neck Collection and Treatment System. Kent County completed projects prior to the Priority Funding Areas Law (PFA) (1997). The County could realize a cost savings of approximately $2.2 Million by consolidating and refinancing these projects over a twenty year period. The State denied the County's request for refinancing due to non-compliance with the Priority Funding Areas Law (PFA). The County was required, prior to State funding approval of the Piney Neck and Tolchester projects by Maryland Department of Planning, to adopt a "Growth Management Policy" to control growth in the County. The County is not planning any additional growth beyond what was originally declared in the growth management documents that were previously approved. Delegate Walkup expressed concern that failing septic systems are a critical State-wide and Chesapeake Bay and regional issue. Kent County has already demonstrated responsible stewardship and forward-thinking to correct the problems in these areas of the County. The users in these areas are mainly low-income and elderly property owners and some of the areas are within the PFA. Due to the fact the County was a year ahead of the PFA designation, Delegate Walkup does not feel that is justification for the MDE to deny refinancing. The MDE can approve exemptions for projects if extraordinary circumstances exist.
Delegate Walkup advised of her support to appeal this decision before the Board of Public Works on basis of extraordinary circumstances. She feels that Kent County is being penalized for being good stewards ahead of the State's plan by adopting a Growth Management Policy. The legislators agreed to have appeal scheduled before the Board of Public Works; in the meantime, requested additional information as to dates of the water and sewer projects completed.
Board of Election Supervisors - Consistency of voting machines throughout Maryland may become a priority. Kent County voting machines have proven accurate and any change could prove costly.
Delegate Sossi stated that most counties are satisfied with the performance of voting machines currently being used, however, in order to comply with ADA, the best suited equipment is a touch tone as is currently mandated. Due to budgetary restraints, mandated dates of equipment replacement may be delayed. Commissioner Pickrum expressed concern as to additional costs and expenses involved as a result of the new equipment. The legislators agreed it will be costly and is an unfunded mandate. Senator Pipkin and Delegate Smigiel suggested to check the existing Federal requirements for guidance as to what is priority issues to address. Senator Pipkin requested to be provided with proposed costs involved for the equipment replacement.
Mental Health Costs - Regional Mid-Shore Mental Health Services request for legislative initiatives relating to grant funding for out-patient mental health care. Since the fee for service policy deficits have been in place, it has resulted in the closure of Talbot and Dorchester County services.
Commissioner Crow stated that Kent County is one of the few counties that provide out-patient care and has become very costly due to the closing of other neighboring clinics. Delegate Smigiel stated that he feels the Ehrlich administration will address mental health funding issues. Delegate Smigiel agreed to review and address these concerns. The other legislators concurred.
Airport - Senator Pipkin questioned status of the airport project and is State funding still needed. The Commissioners advised the project is still involved in negotiations with land owners. Commissioner Pickrum advised the FAA is not being as flexible on some issues and is applying more pressure on the County. Commissioner Livie expressed his support of having options preserved, however, the FAA does not want to compromise with location. The Commissioners want to bring this matter to a conclusion soon.
MARYLAND ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES
The Commissioners joined their counterparts from throughout the State at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Annual Winter Conference and Newly Elected Officials Orientation, January 9 -11 in Annapolis. The goal of the MACo Conference is to provide county elected and appointed officials with a clear perspective of the challenges ahead and a strategy for addressing the issues that effect the counties. The Conference theme "Charting the Course" provided participation in 23 sessions. Session topics included storm water management, smart growth, septic system issues, challenges for county health services, public safety, environmental health, services to older citizens, economic development, financial management and government structure.
MID-SHORE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC.
Nancy Zinn, M.S., R.N., Executive Director, and Dana Pate, MA., Program Director, appeared to provide an overview of Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc. Mrs. Zinn advised that the agency plans, manages and monitors publically funded medically necessary mental health services for Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot Counties. They serve all populations from children to geriatric consumers and are State and Federally funded. Mrs. Zinn provided a summary of programs and Ms. Pate highlighted growth in service providers including the development of additional crisis services, homeless services, child and adolescent services and quality improvement.
Ms. Zinn noted that the need for crisis services and intensive out-patient services were needed in the region and advised of their commitment to work towards addressing those needs.
Commissioner Livie inquired about eligibility for such programs. Mrs. Zinn stated that medically necessary services are provided. She advised that the State provides this service which private insurance does not. Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to the delivery of services to detention center inmates. Mrs. Zinn advised that the State grant funded case management for inmates.
Mrs. Zinn concluded that the agency was there to serve and always available to contact with questions. The Commissioners thanked Mrs. Zinn and Ms. Pate for the presentation.
The Commissioners received a copy of correspondence directed to Elroy G. Boyer, Jr., Judge of the Orphans' Court from Governor Parris Glendening redesignating him as Chief Judge of the Orphans' Court.
At 3:10 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
The executive session adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
PRESERVATION INCENTIVES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed the Preservation Incentives for Local Governments Grant as prepared by Carla Martin, Community Planner. Grant funding will include the preparation of a survey and evaluation plan for heritage preservation information. The grant requires a $21,635 County match, which will include salary, intern and photocopying.
The Commissioners executed a proclamation honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the hope that all Kent County citizens be able to enjoy the fulfillment of the promises of the dream of Dr. King.
PUBLIC LANDINGS AND FACILITIES BOARD
The Commissioners appointed William P. Gale to serve as a member of the Public Landings and Facilities Board to serve an unexpired term ending July 1, 2004.
PUBLIC WORKS COMPLEX
Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, advised that the Extension Service has agreed to provide a landscape plan for the Public Works Complex, 709 Morgnec Road.
The Commissioners acknowledge Ann H. Dwyer for her dedicated 18 years of service to the community as both President and Member of the Board of Education. Mrs. Dwyer advised that 18 years ago she became a children's advocate and would like to continue that role, however, in a different capacity. On behalf of the community, the Commissioners thanked Mrs. Dwyer for her many contributions and serving in the best interest of Kent County students. Dr. Bonnie Ward, Superintendent of Schools, Dr Jim Siemen, Member, Board of Education, Dr. Joan Buffone, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Faye Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, and Alexander D. Burt, III, Board of Education Attorney, were also in attendance.
RESOURCE CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
Bill Sutton, Maryland Eastern Shore Chairman, Dave Wilson, Coordinator, Resource Conservation & Development Council, (RC&D) and Len Cassanova, Director, Shore Erosion, Department of Natural Resources, appeared to provide an overview of the Resource Conservation & Development Council. Mr. Sutton advised that RC&D served nine counties specializing in shoreline stabilization and assisted property owners as well as communities to assist in funding.
Mr. Wilson reported of 15 current projects with private land owners and would welcome additional wetland creation/conservation projects. Mr. Wilson noted that the support of volunteers is a great contribution to conservation projects.
Mr. Wilson provided an update on the Betteron Bluff Condominiums advising that the feasibility study to evaluate and propose a remedy for bluff stabilization was imminent.
Mr. Cassonova advised that DNR focuses on shoreline protection and provided recommendations from the Shore Erosion Task Force. He reported that technical as well as financial assistance is provided. He advised that the formation of the Shore Erosion Control District program provided 75% interest free loans for shoreline stabilization and conservation projects via local government special tax district.
Mr. Sutton advised that in view of Kent County's interest in the (surplus) Coast Guard property, RC&D has worked with the Coast Guard relating to erosion concerns. He reported that a project has been designed to mitigate the erosion, however, the Coast Guard did not have funding at that time. Mr. Wilson advised that the Naval Academy students had performed a current survey. He advised that the area has a definite erosion problem and suggested property transfer contingent on erosion mitigation. It was also noted of need for a 300' jetty and breakwaters in the channel to prevent sand from building up in the channel.
The Commissioners thanked all for the update and information.
STILL POND COAST GUARD STATION
Correspondence was received from J. Charles Fox, Secretary, Department of Natural Resources, (DNR) advising that the Still Pond Coast Guard Station identified as surplus property has been reviewed by DNR and have determined that the property will better serve the citizens of Maryland under the ownership of Kent County.
The Commissioners received a copy of correspondence directed to Jeff Troester, Director, Parks and Recreation, from William L Huie, Program Manager, Federal Lands to Parks, Southeast Region, advising that the Still Pond Coast Guard Station was suitable for parks and recreation use. Mr. Troester also provided an application of a no-cost transfer of the property through the National Park Service's Federal Lands to Parks Program. He advised that the application should be completed in thirty days. Mr. Troester will meet with the Commissioners to further discuss the matter next week.
The Commissioners were advised the U S Coast Guard representatives will host a "walk-through" of the facility on January 16 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. In order to accommodate the Commissioners' schedule, request will be made to extend the hours to 3:00 p.m.
Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, forwarded the Urieville Lake Restoration Plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and reported that the next step was to formulate a concrete plan with the residents and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Commissioner Livie inquired if Ducks Unlimited or a similar organization could assist in funding the project. Mrs. Owings advised that funding would be sought from many sources should the project come to fruition.
At 12:00 noon, the Commissioners attended the Open House of the Visitor's Center located on 122 North Cross Street, Chestertown.
There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, January 21, 2003.
Please contact Joyce Laskey or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.