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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

January 6, 2004

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 not in attendance due to illness.

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved as amended.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $5,900,052.00.


AGRICULTURAL ADVISORY COMMISSION

The Commissioners appointed David A. Hill as a member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee for a term ending September 18, 2006.


AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION

Correspondence went forth to the Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation recommending approval of the application submitted by Edwin C. and Lorraine Fry for an agricultural land preservation district.


BOARD OF EDUCATION (BOE)

Correspondence was received from Dr. Bonnie C. Ward, Superintendent, Kent County Schools, inviting the Commissioners to co-sign a letter conveying their support of and their intention to attend the Public Schools Funding Rally in Annapolis on January 26. The Rally supports full funding of the Thornton Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act. The letter will be distributed County-wide to staff, parents, religious institutions and community organizations.

Commissioner Pickrum, referring to said letter, initiated some discussion by the Board concerning the Thornton Act. The Board shared the opinion that the funding formula used in the Thornton Act adversely effects Kent County due to the County's declining school enrollment and its economic classification. A letter will go forth to Dr. Ward advising of the Board's support of the major principles of the Thornton Act; however, the Board will decline from signing the letter due to the concerns raised above. Currently, the funding formula utilized by the Thornton Act provides less funding to public schools with less enrollment; however, the services mandated by the State must still be provided.

Correspondence was received from Dr. Bonnie C. Ward indicating that, given the approval granted by the Interagency Committee on School Construction for FY'05 Public School Construction Capital Improvement Program (CIP), the BOE will not be appealing before the Board of Public Works on January 28, 2004. She further reported that, subject to submission of the Governor's capital budget in January and legislative approval, the CIP funds of $555,000 will be released on July 1, 2004.


BOARD OF ELECTRICAL EXAMINERS

The Board reappointed Charles Langenfelder as a member of the Board of Electrical Examiners for a three year term ending January 12, 2007.


CIRCUIT COURT

Memorandum was received from Judge J. Frederick Price, Circuit Court for Kent County, requesting permission to make the following expenditure from the balance projected to remain in the Petit Jury account at the end of Fiscal Year 2004: $378.40 for a Xerox Digital Model, Lease Purchase Program (six months of FY'04). The Commissioners approved this request to be funded within the FY'04 budget.


CODE HOME RULE BILL NO. 6-2003 BORROWING AUTHORITY

Third reading was held on Code Home Rule Bill No. 6-2003, which is an Act to add a Section 3-9.1 to Chapter 3, Administration of Government, of the Code of Public Local Laws of Kent County, Maryland to authorize and empower the County Commissioners of Kent County, from time to time, to borrow not more than Ten Million Dollars ($10,000.00) for the public purposes of financing or refinancing general operating expenses or capital improvements, all as more particularly described herein, and to evidence such borrowing by the issuance and sale at public or private sale, upon its full faith and credit, of one or more series of its general obligation bonds in like par amount, empowering and directing the County Commissioners of Kent County to adopt a resolution in accordance with Section 15(4) of Article 25B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended from time to time, prior to issuing all or any part of the bonds; empowering and directing the County to levy ad valorem taxes in rate and amount sufficient to provide funds for the payment of the maturing principal of and interest on the bonds and pledging the County's full faith and credit and unlimited taxing power; exempting the bonds from the provisions of Sections 9 to 11, inclusive , of Article 31 of the Annotated Code of Maryland; authorizing the issuance of refunding bonds; expressing official intent to issue bonds to finance the acquisition of the LaMotte property; and relating generally to the issuance and sale of such bonds.

Ballots were distributed for voting. Upon their return, all ballots were marked favorable for this legislative bill. The Commissioners approved adoption of this bill which will become effective February 20, 2004.


COMMISSION ON AGING

The Board reappointed Carl Starkweather, Lois R. Allen, Addie Walters and Lauretta M. Freeman as members of the Commission on Aging for a three year term ending December 31, 2006. June F. Stenger was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Commission on Aging for a term ending December 31, 2004.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES

Wayne Morris, Director of the Department of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared and gave report on the following:

Green Lane - A letter went forth to William A. Willis, owner of Sailing Emporium, Inc., Rock Hall, advising Mr. Willis of the Commissioners' approval of his request to change the classification of the said account from residential to vacant, subject to Mr. Willis' acquisition of a demolition permit, followed by the demolition of his damaged home in a timely manner. Mr. Morris also advised Mr. Willis of the Commissioners' decision to make the vacant lot assessment effective retroactive from September 19, 2003, the day of the occurrence of Hurricane Isabel, and to credit Mr. Willis' account the difference between the residential charge of $95 and the vacant lot charge of $46, plus an interest adjustment through September 25, 2003.

Further, Mr. Willis' total bill adjustment for the seven days, including interest applied to those seven days, is $2.19; the balance of his outstanding bill would still be due. Prior to the demolition of his house, Mr. Willis was asked by Mr. Morris to sever and cap his sewer line and to contact the Water and Wastewater Department in order to notify of same and to request assistance with the removal of the panel and pump. Mr. Morris noted that he has not received a response from Mr. Willis.

A sewer allocation request was received from Catherine J. Hill, resident of Rock Hall, for parcel # 75 on Map 51. She indicated that her grandson would like to build a home on the said parcel because his house was destroyed as a result of Hurricane Isabel.

As recommended by Mr. Morris, a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve a sewer allocation for Parcel # 75, contingent upon approval of all other pertinent agencies.

Edesville Service Area - Mr. Morris referred to a Field Inspection Report conducted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on December 30, 2003 of the Edesville Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant. The inspection findings included the following: the level of primary and secondary treatment lagoons is elevated, the freeboard level at about 1 feet; the land disposal site is not able to be used due to saturated conditions (the result of the amount of rainfall); the inner side slopes of the primary and secondary treatment lagoons show severe erosion which has reduced the structural integrity of the berms.

The Report indicates that it is, therefore, uncertain as to whether the lagoon system will have adequate capacity to store the wastewater flow until the land disposal site can be used.

The Report also notes that contact was made with Wallid Saffouri of the Water Quality Infrastructure Program concerning the proposed connection of the Edesville facility to the Town of Rock Hall wastewater collection system. Mr. Saffouri stated that the State grant for the connection to the Rock Hall system will probably not be funded until July 2005 and that the State Revolving Loan Program is available to fund the connection at this time.

Mr. Morris conveyed that it is the expectation of the Office of the Eastern Division of the MDE that the County will pump and haul the wastewater from the lagoons to an approved location if the lagoon levels rise to less than one foot of freeboard and the land disposal site cannot be used.

Commissioner Crow inquired as to the reason why the lagoons cannot be pumped out to a land disposal site, to which Mr. Morris explained the following: even if the County was granted the required special permits to discharge onto land, the saturation of the land still remains an obstacle to that type of solution. Mr. Morris emphasized that the County is required to meet the State and federal government's discharge limits and other regulations and buffers.

To questions raised by Commissioner Crow and Commissioner Pickrum as to what the County could do to discharge to a reasonable level, given that 95% of the County's land is open-ground, Mr. Morris cited a number of conditions. Some examples are as follows: the County would have to conduct environmental studies to be eligible for special permits; discharge would not be permitted on land located a mile from a residence; the County would be required to show a dual benefit of the discharge of the content of the lagoon on property (unless the County owns the property), indicating required amounts of quantity and quality, and etc.

Mr. Morris said that the key to addressing this increasingly emergent situation is to maintain the lagoons as well as possible until the County hauls the content of the Edesville lagoons to either Tolchester treatment plant or to the Worton lagoon. The Board concurred that the County should be in dialogue with the Rural and Regional Councils about the State and Federal water and wastewater restrictions and other related issues which environmentally and financially impact the smaller and more rural counties in different ways than the other counties in the State. Commissioner Pickrum confirmed that in the long-term, the County will have to eliminate the use of lagoons, replacing it with the more up-to-date and environmentally-responsible technology.

Resolution Establishing Kent County Water and Sewer Service Rates

Commissioner Pickrum read the Resolution which presents new water and sewer rates for the record. Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, was also in attendance and prefaced Commissioner Pickrum's reading of the Resolution by indicating that the Resolution was drafted by Wayne Morris, Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, and herself, taking deliberate effort towards clarity and succinctness in order to maintain the relevancy and efficacy of the Resolution throughout the successive years until its goals are met.

The Resolution provides a summary of the history of and the rationales for the conclusions drawn, as well as its determinations, which include the following:

- Given the rate study finalized in December 2003 by Municipal and Financial Services Group, it was concluded that: current user rates for water and sewer do not produce sufficient revenue to cover operating and capital costs; that the process of allocating and tracking expenses and revenues among eleven different water/wastewater districts necessarily burdens County resources; and that the subsidy from the general fund of water and sewer operations should be phased out entirely.

- The Board determined it essential to increase water and sewer rates in order to maintain the financial viability of water and sewer services in the County; however, given the valuable comments and testimony of citizens presented at informational meetings and a public hearing, the Board also determined that the increase should be less than that recommended by the Municipal and Financial Services Group.

- The Board determined that it is in the interest of the County's citizens to continue to subsidize from the County's general fund the costs of water and sewer service; however the level of subsidy will be reduced from its current rate of approximately 22% to a subsidy rate of 15%.

- The Board has resolved that the individual district rates for each County water and sewer district will be adjusted as follows:

A) Effective January 1, 2004, individual water and sewer district rates that are set below what would be the County-wide uniform rate will be raised in an amount up to 17.5%;

B) Commencing with the 2005 fiscal year, individual water and sewer rates that remain below what would be the county-wide uniform rate will be raised annually in an amount up to 17.5%, with increases taking effect July 1, 2004 and on the first day of July of each succeeding year, until such time as a uniform rate is achieved by each County water and sewer district;

C) The term "uniform rate," as used in this Resolution, means the rate that each user in each water and sewer district would pay to cover the 85% of the County's total cost of providing water and sewer services per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU);

D) Once an individual district reaches the uniform rate, thereafter an annual inflationary increase of 4% shall occur each year effective on the first day of July.

- The Board further resolved that, effective January 1, 2004, individual consumption rates for water service shall be adjusted as follows:

A) The basic allowable consumption rate for water usage shall be adjusted for all districts to 12,000 gallons per quarter, per EDU, before any overage charge is assessed;

B) As of January 1, 2004, all County water districts have a uniform overage charge, except the Edesville District. The Edesville overage charge will increase by 17.5% effective January 1, 2004, and will increase by 17.5% on July 1, 2004 and on the first day of July in each succeeding year until the Edesville District reaches the uniform overage charge rate.

C) The term "overage charge" as used in this Resolution, means the rate charged when water usage exceeds the basic allowable consumption rate of 12,000 gallons per quarter, per EDU.

D) In all water districts except the Edesville District, an annual inflationary increase of 4% shall occur in the overage charge rate each year beginning July 1, 2004. In the Edesville District, this 4% inflationary rate shall take effect on the first day of July in the year immediately after the Edesville District reaches the uniform overage charge rate.

The Resolution concludes by stating the new water and sewer rates as follows:

("EDU" represents Equivalent Dwelling Unit; "Overage Charge"represents the rate charged when water usage exceeds the basic allowable consumption rate of 12,000 gallons per quarter, per EDU.)

Fairlee:
Water and Sewer Residential/Commercial - $163.17/EDU
Water only - $99.03/EDU
Sewer only - $92.84/EDU
Vacant - $81.59 12,000 gallons maximum allowable usage per quarter/ $2.32/ 1,000 overage;

Worton:
Water and Sewer Residential/Commercial - $129.10/EDU
Sewer only - $75.01/EDU
Vacant - $64.55 12,000 gallons maximum allowable usage per quarter /$2.32/1,000 overage;

Kennedyville:
Water and Sewer Residential/Commercial - $154.75/EDU
Water only - $92.45/EDU
Vacant - $77.37 12,000 gallons maximum allowable usage per quarter/$2.32/1,000 overage;

Edesville:
Water and Sewer Residential/Commercial - $105.75/EDU
Vacant - $52.38 12,000 gallons maximum allowable uage per quarter/$0.83/1,000 overage;

Millington:
Sewer Residential - $102.01/EDU
Vacant - $51.01

Piney Neck/Spring Cove/Tolchester:
Sewer Residential/Commercial - $99.00/EDU
Vacant - $49.50

Quaker Neck/Little Neck/Rudnick:
Sewer Residential/Commercial - $82.25/EDU
Vacant - $41.13.


Commissioner Pickrum expressed the opinion of the Board by stating that users of public utilities should pay for the utilities and also that it is good public policy that these systems, because of their inherent value for social and environmental considerations, be subsidized to some extent by the County, thereby maintaining the required standard of quality of these systems.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve the Resolution establishing Kent County Water and Sewer Service Rates, effective January 1, 2004.


DETENTION CENTER
STORMWATER MANAGEMENT


As presented by Philip W. Hoon, Esq., representing Scarab Associates (Hilltop Property), the Commissioners approved and signed Easement Agreement whereby the County grants a perpetual easement to Scarab Associates on land located on the Detention Center property for the delivery, containment and release of stormwater from the Hilltop property to the stormwater management pond over and through the stormwater easement area.


DRAYTON RETREAT CENTER

A copy of correspondence was received by John R. Boehringer, resident of Worton, expressing his objection to the projected development of the property currently known as Drayton Manor into a "Time Sharing Spa."


EASTERN SHORE LAND CONSERVANCY

Correspondence was received from Bob Etgen, Executive Director, and Amy Owsley, Director of Community Planning, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, presenting a summary of several reports that provide Eastern Shore-specific land use research outlined as follows: Downzoning and Land Values; Making Conservation Easements Easier; Assessment of the Critical Area Act; Tools for Reaching the Eastern Shore 2010 Goals.


ETHICS COMMISSION

The Board appointed Cheryl W. Saunders as a member of the Kent County Ethics Commission for a three year term ending October 1, 2006.


HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (HIP)

The Commissioners approved and signed three Deferred Loan Agreements for the HIP Project, signed by the following homeowners/applicants: Elizabeth Hoagland, Leo L. and Agnes M. Knoedler, and Cindy Quinn.


MOSQUITO CONTROL PROGRAM

Correspondence was received from Cyrus R. Lesser, Chief, Mosquito Control Section, Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), indicating that, due to the increasingly restrictive budgetary conditions for State agencies, it does not appear possible that discretionary funds will be available within the MDA to supplement the mosquito control budget for Fiscal Year 2005.

In addition, Mr. Lesser explained that the MDA has not been authorized to request additional State funding for mosquito control and, therefore, he is anticipating a general fund shortfall of approximately $250,000 in the amount needed to provide the Statewide program at the same level of service during the calendar year 2004 mosquito control season as the MDA recently completed in 2003.

Given the State restrictions, Mr. Lesser indicated that the MDA will not be able to offer a 50/50 cost-share with Kent County for mosquito control services in calendar year 2004 (Fiscal Year 2005 settlement), if the current level of services is to be maintained. In order to maintain through the 2004 season the same level of service provided during the 2003 season, counties and/or communities will be required to pay approximately 75 percent of the costs for surveillance, larvicide and truck ULV spraying.

Referring to this correspondence, Commissioner Pickrum expressed the opinion of the Board that the reduction of funding for mosquito control is a serious and significant issue for all of the Eastern Shore and, therefore, does not represent good public policy. The Board concurred that the County engage in dialogue about this challenge with Legislative Delegates and with the Upper Shore Regional Council.

PERSONNEL

At 9:30 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.

Mr. Rust left at 9:50 a.m.

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


PROCLAMATION

Maryland Mentoring Month - At the request of Mary Kniep, Public Relations Director, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, representing The Maryland Mentoring Partnership, the Commissioners approved and signed a proclamation declaring the month of January as Maryland Mentoring Month in Kent County. The celebration of Maryland Mentoring Month emphasizes the importance of mentoring, raises awareness and recognizes with praise and gratitude the many citizens in Kent County already involved in mentoring, while encouraging others to volunteer as mentors for the benefit of children in Kent County and nationwide.

Kent County Health Officer - The Commissioners approved and signed a proclamation declaring January 9, 2004 as Dr. John A. Grant Day in recognition of his passion for public health and to further wish Dr. Grant much happiness and success in his retirement. On December 31, 2003, Dr. Grant retired from the State of Maryland as Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department after 32 years of loyal and dedicated service.


SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Correspondence was received from Sylvester Daughtry, Jr., Executive Director, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), reporting that CALEA awarded Accreditation to the Kent County Sheriff's Office. Mr. Daughtry advised of the extraordinary steps that have been taken to acquire accreditation to demonstrate professionalism and pride in delivering quality law enforcement service to Kent County. Also, the standards address all areas of administration, operation, and technical support activities.

This three-year award will require the commitment of the Sheriff's Office to maintain compliance with standards and offers an opportunity for reaccreditation of their compliance into the future.


SLUDGE

Electronic mail was received from Jonathan Reed, identifying himself as "a farmer in Kent County," who conveyed that he has been researching profitable sludge applications. He indicated that he had recently been introduced to a sludge application company and would appreciate any feedback from the Commissioners concerning the possible benefits to the County of sludge application.

Commissioner Crow indicated that he would respond to Mr. Reed, advising him that in the long-term, sludge applications would not prove to be profitable for the County, and that there is provision in the County's Land Use Ordinance for a certain degree of sludge application.


UPPER SHORE AGING

A copy of a press release was received, issued by Upper Shore Aging, Inc. announcing disaster relief grants available for elderly victims of last year's Hurricane Isabel. Older residents of the County may receive cash grants for home repairs or replacement appliances for those destroyed in the aftermath of the Hurricane. Letters of request, including name, telephone number, and mailing address, should be submitted to Carl Burke, Executive Director, Upper Shore Aging, Inc. no later than January 31, 2004, and mailed to 100 Schauber Road, Chestertown.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, January 13, 2004.


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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