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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

December 23, 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 $6,836,666.00.


AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION

Herschell Claggett, Carla Martin, Community Planner, and Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared relating to Mr. Claggett's insufficient funds offer for an agricultural land preservation easement.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to take $50,000.00 out of the County's Agricultural Transfer Tax and Purchase of Development Rights Fund, used only for the purpose of land preservation, and add it to Herschell Claggett's insufficient fund offer from the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation for the purpose of purchasing easement of his 127 acres located on Handy Point Road, Sixth Election District.


AIRPORT

Correspondence was received from John P. Jopling, resident of Worton, and a pilot and part aircraft owner, conveyed his opinion that there is no need for an airport in the County. He also expressed his belief that there are other transportation needs in the County, such as train, bus and van transit systems that would link up with the transit systems of other counties.


BETTERTON BEACH

Electronic mail was received from Frederick J. Krambeck, member of the Rigbie Bluff Condominium Association, expressing his appreciation to Commissioner Crow for his interest in resolving the bank stabilization issue. He attached a copy of the Condominium Association's Interim Stabilization Plan, requesting any suggestions which the Commissioners may be able to provide.

Correspondence was received from Carolyn Sorge, Mayor of the Town of Betterton, extending her appreciation on behalf of the citizens of Betterton for the "prompt attention" and repair made of the dry hydrant at Betterton Beach. She indicated that Jim Wright, County Engineer, contacted and reviewed the problem with Betterton's Maintenance Supervisor immediately after the problem was conveyed at the Commissioners' Meeting held in Betterton, November 4th. The repairs were then made by Betterton's Maintenance Department.

Mayor Sorge also expressed appreciation for the "informative workshop" conducted by Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning, for the members of the Betterton Planning and Zoning Board. She described the workshop as "very timely and helpful," given that a committee is preparing to review the Comprehensive Plan and as the Town of Betterton begins to hear from potential developers. Additionally, she conveyed her appreciation for the Commissioners' "commitment to cooperation with the towns of Kent County."


BOARD OF EDUCATION (BOE)

Correspondence was received from Allan T. Hanifee, President, Board of Education, expressing the BOE's appreciation for the Commissioners' letter which offered the assistance of the County's Budget and Accounting Office to help resolve issues identified in the Management Letter for fiscal year ending 6-30-03. The Board was advised that steps are being taken this year by the BOE to address issues related to timely reconciliation of records and maintenance of depreciation records: Mr. Hanifee expressed his confidence that staff implementation of their plan of action will resolve the issues by 6/30/04, and indicated that an update on progress will be given to the BOE in February. He respectfully declined the County's assistance at this time; however, he assured the Commissioners that the County's assistance will be requested as needed.


CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE

Correspondence was received from Allen Whittier who, identifying himself as a senior citizen and student at Chesapeake College, expressed to the Commissioners his dissatisfaction and concern regarding a number of points, including: an alleged new policy of the College, permitting the registration of senior citizen students in classes tuition-free only if there is space available in the classes they choose; and the alleged lack of scholarships for senior citizen students.


COURT HOUSE

A copy of the "Report of Mold Survey and Assessment for Kent County Court Commissioners' Office" was received, prepared by Compliance Environmental International, Inc. and dated December 15, 2003. This project will now go out to bid.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES

Wayne Morris, Director of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared and gave report on the following (Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, was also in attendance):

Worton Service Area - Mr. Morris, referring to a letter received from the Maryland Department of the Environment, reported that the County's request for a 3 to 4 year extension to meet the required limits of the level of ammonia in the discharge from the Worton lagoon was denied. Mr. Morris stated that the cleaning of the septage lagoon will have to be done soon, the last cleaning having been done in 1992 or 1993, and that the clean-up will be costly.

Worton Treatment Plant - Mr. Morris reported that he acquired three cost-estimates for the needed repairs of the roof damaged as a result of adverse weather conditions as follows: Price Roofing - $8,640; Commercial Roof Coatings - $9,720; Peninsula Roofing Company - $10,750.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve Mr. Morris' recommendation that Price Roofing be given the repair contract for $8,640.00, to be taken out of the contingency fund. Mr. Morris reported that the County received an insurance check which will cover all but about $1,000 of the total $8,640.00.

Tolchester Service Area - Mr Morris reported that he received a request for a sewer allocation and indicated that he sent a letter in response advising of the County's moratorium on all water and sewer allocations in the Tolchester Service Area. He also reported that he sent letters notifying property owners who have not as yet paid for their sewer allocations that the deadline for payment is January 30, 2004. Mr. Morris recommended to the Commissioners that if payment is not received by the deadline, the respective allocations should be rescinded.

Edesville Service Area - Mr. Morris reported that the Memorandum of Agreement Between Kent County and the Town of Rock Hall, which would incorporate the Edesville Service Area, is progressing and that McCrone, Inc. (engineering firm) has completed an environmental report. He also indicated that the sewer plan will have to be amended in order to incorporate the improvements made in this system.

Water and Sewer Rates - Further discussion was held on the proposed increase of water and sewer rates. Pat Merritt, Budget and Accounting Director, was also in attendance. Additional options for consideration were prepared by Ed Donohoe, a consultant with the Municipal and Financial Services Group. After a lengthy discussion, the Commissioners agreed to a universal 17.5% rate increase and a 15% subsidy from the County.

A public announcement will be made next week and a resolution will be prepared for signature. The Commissioners approved payment of an amount up to $3,000.00 out of contingency for Municipal and Financial Services Group for the additional work performed.


DETENTION CENTER

A copy of a Memorandum was received from Warden R.L. Howell requesting the issuance of a County credit card to the Detention Center. Warden Howell indicated that the use of a credit card would alleviate the Detention Center's administrative staff from having to use their own personal credit cards, thereby complicating County financial transactions.

Further, Warden Howell explained that, given the Detention Center's 24/7 operations, it is required to have the use of a credit card in order to accommodate many of their vendors' business practices. The credit card would also be used to pay for the many correctional training functions. The Board approved this request.


EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Special Construction Application with Verizon Services Corp. as it relates to network facilities to be used to provide certain E911 telecommunications services.

The Commissioners also approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Professional Services Agreement by and between the County Commissioners and Axis GeoSpatial LLC for provision of geospatial and mapping services for 911 enhancement.


HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Correspondence that was received from Nelson J. Sabatini, Secretary, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, announcing the appointment of Leland D. Spencer as Health Officer for Caroline and Kent Counties, in accordance with the nomination of the Commissioners. Mr. Sabatini added that it is his understanding that a request to appoint an Acting Health Officer for the interim period, January 1, 2004 through January 20, 2004, will be forthcoming in the near future.

Commissioner Pickrum read a press release which went forth, announcing the appointment of Leland D. Spencer as Health Officer for Caroline and Kent Counties, effective January 21, 2004. The press release indicated that Dr. Spencer obtained his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a Masters of Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. He is also a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist.

Dr. Spencer has been involved in full time public health since the early 1990's starting with Anne Arundel County Department of Health, providing medical direction over the County's community based programs and clinical services such as maternity care, teen pregnancy prevention, and cancer prevention. He has most recently worked with the Virginia Department of Health as a District Health Director, directing all public health services in a three county rural health district of about 90,000.


HERITAGE PRESERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The Commissioners appointed Mayor Margo Bailey as a member of the Heritage Preservation Advisory Committee.


KENT COUNTY BUSINESS CENTER AT WORTON

Mike Whitehill of McCrone, Inc. (engineering firm) and P.A.M. Schaller, Director of Economic Development, appeared and gave report on a proposal for land development at the Kent County Business Center in Worton. Tom Beckett, Chair, Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB), Jim Wright, County Engineer, and Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, were also in attendance. Mr. Whitehill proposed a non-traditional plan for the site with the onus for its use on the in-coming tenant or owner. The proposal represents an integration of a community of buildings for the use of businesses such as a restaurant, day-care center, etc., with access to the rail, or as "a commercial condominium."

Mr. Whitehill indicated that this arrangement would be more unified, with the same landscaper, developer, and "expanding condominium." The proposed plan would allow for a greater flexibility in the sizes of participating businesses than more conventional models for industrial parks. It was recommended to install the infrastructure at the start, such as water and sewer availability, to be expanded as needed and accommodating the client as they lease or purchase the condos. Mr. Whitehill distributed copies of the cost-estimate of constructing one business site.

Commissioner Crow inquired of Mrs. Owings as to whether or not this type of plan would fit County guidelines regarding impervious space, to which Mrs. Owings replied that it would be within the guidelines.

Commissioner Livie expressed his concern that this proposed site is located so close to a field farm, and also raised the question as to how the County can finance the proposed business center without relying on money from the tax-payers. Mrs. Schaller responded that she has scheduled a meeting with a representative of the Department of Business and Economic Development in January to seek funding.

Mr. Whitehill stated that the construction expenses would be minimal at first, and that all of the base work is moving forward. He explained further that the expanding condominium concept allows businesses to "jump right in", encouraging their purchase or lease and, thereby, providing more and more resources to the County the businesses participate as tenants or owners.

Mrs. Schaller indicated that there may be other possible sources of income such as from Rural Development Grants. Commissioner Livie stated that the key to setting this proposal into motion is marketing the concept to potential businesses, for example through the website or through a brochure.

Commissioner Pickrum advised that all of the infrastructure for the site is already in place, the only exception being communications. Mr. Beckett advised that the business center would benefit the tax-base, building in revenue-accruing from the leases and sales.

To Commissioner Livie's question concerning next steps, Mr. Whitehill stated that research into feasible businesses should be the next step, also research into turn-key possibilities and private/public partnerships, as Commissioner Livie suggested.

Mike Waal, who was in attendance, offered to put the proposal in a brochure and/or website. He also suggested that the Economic Development Office draft a business proposal. Mrs. Schaller provided the Board with a copy of appraisal report prepared by Tidewater Properties for the Kent County Buisness Center at Worton (13.75 acres).


LEGAL COUNSEL

At 9:00 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into executive session with Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Items of discussion included critical areas law.

The executive session adjourned at 9:10 a.m.


LEGISLATION

Delegate Mary Roe Walkup appeared, accompanied by Mike Waal, responding to the Commissioners' invitation to discuss proposed legislation concerning Bond Bill for the proposed Kent County Community Center. Commissioner Pickrum, welcoming Delegate Walkup, initiated the discussion by describing the County's plans for a community center, and requested the Delegate's support for the Bond Bill in order to fund the costs for this type of County facility. Commissioner Pickrum noted that the existing Parks and Recreation facility and field house are in need of replacement and/or repair.

Commissioner Crow, concurring with Commissioner Pickrum, pointed out that Worton, the proposed site for a community center, would be the preferable location noting that 50 to 60% of the County's children reside in Worton, the high school is in the area, as well as the projected development of new housing. He also reported that the concept of a County community center already has the support of the Board of Education and the Mayor and Council of the incorporated municipalities.

Commissioner Livie outlined the goals for funding a community center, which would be initiated by public monies, to be followed by public and private partnerships for funding. He cited the Community Needs Assessment conducted by the Local Management Board approximately four years ago, the results of which indicated the community's willingness to financially support a community center. The center would house, among other things, an indoor swimming pool which could possibly accommodate the needs of Chesapeake College, the high school, and the Chester River Hospital's physical therapy programs. The County, he explained, could not afford to provide a swimming pool in each of its municipalities; therefore, a partnership with the Board of Education could provide one, County swimming pool in a central location to benefit all of its citizens.

Commissioner Livie also explained that the Board of Commissioners have emphasized the priority for a more effective community transportation network, for example by providing a direct- run bus from the County to Chesapeake College, thereby making continuing education more accessible. Likewise, an improved network would transport the residents of the towns to the community center. He underscored that without the Delegate's support of the Bond Bill, the County would not be able to provide a community center.

Delegate Walkup noted that for over the past four years, the Bond Bill has thus far been approved by the County's citizens; however, it has not been funded at all. She expressed her dislike for the previous legislative bill and encouraged the Commissioners to revise the Bond bill, phasing the project, one aspect of it at a time. She cited several times the fiscal crisis being faced by the State, and, therefore, reiterated that the best strategy to have the funding request approved would be to phase it in, rather than requesting one lump sum given all at once. She acknowledged that the old bond bill was, as she described it, "expansive and visionary"; however, the State is in fiscal crisis. She suggested that the bill be presented sequentially, commencing with a focus on improving what facilities currently exist.

Delegate Walkup offered to review the revision of the Bond Bill with the Commissioners. Commissioner Crow inquired as to whether or not the Public Open Space (POS) acquisition funding (approximately $91,000) could be transferred to development funding, citing the critical needs of several County municipalities. The current development funding (approximately $86,000) has already been earmarked for necessary repairs.

Commissioner Pickrum indicated that he believes the POS acquisition funding would be better utilized in maintaining the County's infrastructure. He advised that the County could restructure the Bond Bill, introducing it in phases.

Commissioner Crow expressed his hope that other Counties would likewise restructure their requests for State funding by introducing it in phases. He stated that the County would like to take the $500,000 requested and phase it in over a period of years, the first year being designated for planning, architectural fees, etc.

Delegate Walkup advised that the County research in-kind contributions from the private sector during the initial planning phase, noting that many architectural firms would be willing to offer their services to the County gratis. She assured the Commissioners that she will support a revised Bond Bill, adding caution that it will be difficult to get it passed through the Legislature.

Commissioner Livie encouraged again her support, expressing his belief that some contribution from the State would serve as an incentive in the private sector to make their financial contributions or in-kind contributions. In response, the Delegate advised the Commissioners to meet with the Chester River Bridge Foundation, Jeff Troester, Parks and Recreation Director, and others in order to get started on their revision of the Bond Bill as soon as possible. She agreed with the Commissioners to meet together to review their revision in the near future.

The next issue discussed with Delegate Walkup was introduced by Commissioner Pickrum, citing the proposed increase of the gas tax. Acknowledging that the Transportation Trust Fund is in dire need of replenishment, Commissioner Pickrum reported that the proposed increase in the gas tax would be a burden on the citizens of the Eastern Shore.

Delegate Walkup assured the Commissioners that the Governor is not expected to support the proposal or any increase of taxes. Commissioner Pickrum conveyed that it is important that the Transportation Trust Fund be fully funded, noting that without it, the County would not be able to support the maintenance and construction of County roads.

Again, Delegate Walkup pointed out that given the State's fiscal crisis, local governments should anticipate a greater financial burden to bear. Commissioner Pickrum emphasized that Kent County was the only county in the State this year that received less State aid than other counties. The Delegate reported that until the State receives the results of the study conducted on the alleged benefits of legalizing slot machines and the study conducted regarding the Thornton Act, the State Legislature does not have clarity regarding the status of its financial health.

Commissioner Livie noted the MedBank Program which is currently conducted in the Lower Shore, describing it as a program in which State representatives in municipalities receive donations of pharmaceuticals from companies, which are then dispensed to citizens that need them. He encouraged the establishment of branches of this State-run program on the Upper Shore, to which the Delegate concurred, advising the recruitment of the local medical community.

Delegate Walkup directed the discussion to Network Maryland, an organization whose mission is to provide equal access throughout the State to the High Speed Network for Telecommunications, noting a recent meeting between Ellis Kitchen, CIO, Maryland Department of Budget and Management, and Dr. Toll, President of Washington College, describing it as very productive. She indicated that Mr. Kitchen would like to meet with the Commissioners of every county to talk about his ideas. She indicated that there is a Broadband Task Force and that Billie Dodge, Director, Office of Information Technologies, Washington College, is the Eastern Shore representative.

Mr. Waal described Mr. Kitchen's idea for a completely wireless OC3 network in Delmarva, using existing facilities and structures. By March 2004, Mr. Kitchen's goal is to complete a "virtual point of presence", as reported by Mr. Waal, in every County seat. Further, Mr. Waal indicated that the plans would not be in competition with Verizon or Comcast: the plan is designed to support only new businesses and new business incubators, not existing businesses. Once the virtual point of presence is completed, then the respective counties would be responsible for converting the concept into reality, sourcing the combination of private and public funding. He cited one caveat: the County already has SAILOR which would render the OC3 network redundant.

Commissioner Crow underscored that there is existing infrastructure to support the OC3 network, to which Mr. Waal reported that Mr. Kitchen is currently on a fact-finding tour through the County, and has already learned that there is an OC48 network system already in place in the County, and that the tower in Fairlee faces Baltimore, which could serve to accommodate the proposed network.

Delegate Walkup shared her concerns that Mr. Kitchen's ideas only apply to new businesses. She encouraged future discussions to take place on three levels: with the Governor's office, with James C. "Chip" DiPaula, Jr., Secretary, Maryland Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Business and Economic Development.

Mr. Waal encouraged the Commissioners to designate someone to coordinate the County's ability to get the proposed conductivity to all of its municipalities and cited Chester River Hospital and Washington College as potential benefactors. Delegate Walkup reported that Mr. Kitchen would appreciate meeting with the Commissioners about his plans

The Commissioners expressed their appreciation for Delegate Walkup and Mike Waal's attendance and contributions.


PERSONNEL

At 8:30 a.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.

Susanne Hayman, Human Resources Director, was also in attendance.

The executive session adjourned at 9:00 a.m.


SWAN CREEK MARINA

A Joint Public Notice was issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) indicating that the following application submitted by Swan Creek Marina is potentially eligible for federal authorization under the Maryland State Programmatic General Permit, pursuant to the Rivers and Water Act and/or Clean Water Act, and for State authorization pursuant to the Tidal Wetlands Law and/or Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act and/or require individual Water Quality Certification of the Clean Water Act and COMAR: to mechanically dredge an approximately 35-foot wide by 100-foot long area around two travel lift slips to the 6-foot depth at mean low water, and to deposit the resultant 97 cubic yards of dredged material on adjacent property. The project is located at Swan Creek Marina, Rock Hall.


UPPER SHORE AGING

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Weatherization Assistance Agreement by and between the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (Department) and the County Commissioners of Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne's Counties and the County Council of Talbot County (Contractor) and Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (Subcontractor). The Department of Energy has authorized the Department to operate a weatherization assistance program for low income families in the State and the Contractor has elected to participate with the Department to provide services under the Program to be administered by the Subcontractor.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, December 30, 2003.


THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant

Approved: William W. Pickrum, President

 

 

 

 

 

Please contact Ileana Lindstrom or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.




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