HOME
BUSINESS
COMMUNITY
GOVERNMENT
VISITOR GUIDE
SEARCH

Commissioners
 Agenda
 Budget Info
 Committees
 Minutes
Economic Devel.
Election Office
EMA-911
Parks&Recreation
Planning&Zoning
Public Works
Sheriff's Office
Tourism
Water/Waste Dpt

Directory
Help Wanted
Links
Map

KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

March 16, 2004

The Honorable Board of License 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 $5,869,586.00.


AIRPORT

The Commissioners authorized Mr. Wright to contact Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA) requesting they proceed to apply for any Federal and/or State reimbursements due the County as it relates to the airport project. BOARD OF EDUCATION Commissioner Crow and Jim Wright, County Engineer, attended Review Committee Meeting today at 3:00 p.m. for review of bids received for the Kent County High School renovation project.


BUDGET

At 1:00 p.m., the Commissioners went into budget work sessions. Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, and Ed Robinson, County Administrator, was also in attendance. Judge Fred Price, Circuit Court, P.A.M. Schaller, Economic Development Director, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration, and Bernadette Bowman, Tourism Development Director, appeared and reviewed their proposed budgets.

State's Attorney - Robert H. Strong, Jr., State Attorney, Joyce Benton, Administrative Aide, and Diane Harris, Teen Court Coordinator, appeared. Mr. Strong advised of need for a larger office space to include a conference room as well as request to contract his own maintenance staff for his department. He will obtain rental costs for alternative office space. Upon questions raised by the Commissioners, Mr. Strong responded that his proposed budget covers all essential functions of his office.

The Commissioners questioned status of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant. Mr. Strong advised that the renewal application for this position has been placed on hold (due to litigation). The Commissioners authorized Mr. Strong to proceed to apply for grant funding for this position.

Parks and Recreation - Jeff Troester, Parks and Recreation Director, reviewed his department's proposed budget. He advised that this proposed budget contained 0% growth, however, the State is proposing to reduce Program Open Space (POS) by 75%. There may be need to seek county funding to cover loss of State grants for the Leaders Club. Loss of other State funded programs may be off set by increase in revenues generated.

The budget work sessions ended at 5:30 p.m.


CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE

Correspondence was received from Delegate Mary Roe Walkup, sent to Governor Ehrlich, requesting that Thomas M. Groce, Jr., of Kent County, be re-appointed to serve a full, four year term, beginning July 1, 2004 through July 2008, as a member of the Board of Trustees of Chesapeake College


COMMUNITY CENTER

On March 6, Commissioner Pickrum, Ed Robinson, County Administrator, Jeff Troester, Parks and Recreation Director, and John Larrimore, Member of the Board of Education, attended legislative hearing in Annapolis to testify on behalf of Senate Bill 525, "Kent County Recreation and Community Complex" (for $500,000) as it relates to bond bill for the Kent County Community Center.


COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Correspondence was received from John and Ellyn Vail, of Galena, sent to Elizabeth Morris, Chair, Kent County Planning Commission, supporting the commitment of the Planning Commission and the County Commissioners to sensible growth for Kent County. They requested that, as the Planning Commission reconsiders the Comprehensive Plan, they review two related issues that they believe are of "vital importance" to the future of the County: the density of zoning in the Rural Residential classification and planning for the MD Route 290 corridor east of Galena.


COURT HOUSE

Judge Fred Price advised of complaints received as to lack of signage in the Courtyard identifying the location of the Court House as well as the street number address and requested that consideration be given to have signs posted.


DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Correspondence was received via electronic mail from Karen Smith, Esq., Director of Intergovernmental Relations, Office of the Governor, with the following press release: Weapons of Mass Destruction - Civil Support Team - "Maryland Receives Weapons of Mass Destruction Team: Maryland One of Twelve States to Receive Team from Bush Administration." The Governor announced that Maryland is one of twelve states to receive a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) from the U.S. Department of Defense. The WMD support team, provided by the Bush Administration, will aid MD's first responders in the event of an incident in MD and involving weapons of mass destruction.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES

Edesville Service Area - A Public Information Meeting took place later in the day at 6:00 p.m. regarding the Proposed Water and Sewer Upgrade Project for the Edesville Service Area at Holy Trinity Church Hall, Rock Hall. In addition to the Board of County Commissioners, T. Edward Robinson, the County Administrator, Wayne Morris, Director of Water and Wastewater Services, Rev. Ruben Freeman, President of the Edesville Association and member of the Planning Commission, and approximately 40 interested citizens were also in attendance.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed water and sewer upgrade projects for the Edesville Service Area. Commissioner Pickrum reviewed the purpose of the meeting by providing the following information:

Update of Water and Sewer Projects 1. A connection will be installed to Rock Hall's 8-inch water main at Wesley Chapel Church and the line will be extended to connect to a 6-inch line serving Edesville at Martin Wagner Drive and the MD Route 20 intersection. The project is out to bid with bids due by March 31, 2004. Commissioner Pickrum expressed his hope that the upgrade work would begin June 2004.

2. Wastewater Upgrade Project - The lagoons are allegedly leaking. The County has requested funding to upgrade the existing pump station and to construct a new force main along Martin Wagner Road connecting it to the existing force main along MD Route 20 serving Wesley Chapel corridor. The County has entered into an agreement with the Town of Rock Hall to divert the sewerage from Edesville to the Town Treatment plant via the County force main.

To the questions posed by citizens, responses were given by Mr. Morris, the County Administrator, and the Commissioners, inclusive of the following:

- The cost for the sewer would be covered as follows: 90% grant/ 10% loan.

- To Rev. Freeman's inquiry as to what happened to the system that was supposed to be in Edesville: the existing system in Edesville is treating waste, but the lagoon is leaking. The lagoon is 10 years old. It is not possible to project when a lagoon might leak. Concern was raised that citizens were not informed when waste went into the lagoon.

- Charles Williams stated that the citizens of Edesville do not have a spray irrigation system. Mr. Morris that what is being utilized is not a true irrigation, but it is an irrigation system. The problem with the system is that it was built in a wetland area that limits irrigation capabilities. The back section of the lagoon, of 13 acres, has always had standing water. From an operation standpoint only, it is concentrated with water.

- Rev. Clarence Hawkins questioned if the hydrants sufficiently handle water pressure. Mr. Morris responded in the affirmative, adding that a minimum six inch pipe is recommended, capable of handling flow. Rev. Hawkins also questioned whether the solution is to take care of water needs at any time, for example, when the electric supply goes off. Mr. Morris responded that there is enough water supply at all times.

- There is an installed alarm system that responds to when there is no electricity or when the water drops below acceptable level. When the systems come on, an operator will be able to switch the valve open

- Edesville residents advised of interest to have an elevated tank installed, as everywhere else in the County. Commissioner Pickrum indicated that a mobile emergency generator would be put in place. Mr. Morris agreed to look into this suggestion. Commissioner Livie indicated that if the valve can be automatic, there would be no need for a tank.

- Commissioner Crow stated that the County would make sure that residents of Edesville receive the service for which they are paying. Rev. Freeman and Rev. Hawkins asked how soon would the hydrants be flushed. Mr. Morris advised that the County strategically flushes it hydrants; there have been some flushing. Hydrants should be flushed once a year. Commissioner Pickrum indicated that the County will flush each hydrant once a year.

- Rev. Freeman stated that ten years have gone by and tanks have not been pumped out. Mr. Morris responded that the clarifying tanks are being pumped out, and there is a schedule for pumping. He noted that it may be that not all the clarifying tanks have been pumped out. Rev. Hawkins stated that clarifying tanks should be on schedule instead of just when you get around to it. Emergency water will be supplied from Rock Hall if the electricity is off. Rev. Hawkins noted that history shows that sometimes a town would want to annex into Rock Hall. Rev. Hawkins stated that he does not want the Commissioners to ever allow the annexation of Edesville to Rock Hall.

- Mr. Morris explained the recent rate increase whereby the County is subsidizing up to 15% out of the General Fund for all of the 11 systems until all the users get to a universal rate. The rate will gradually increase. There is an increase in the cost of chemicals, etc.; these costs may come down, due to technological advances in the interim.

- Mr. Perkins questioned the charge of $270 each quarter for three properties: the church, the church hall, and the cemetery. Mr. Morris will look into this and correct the situation.

- Bill Hicks asked regarding the rate increase for the next five years. Mr. Morris responded: $105.00 in 1/04; $124 in 7/05; $146 in 7/06; $171 in 7/07.

- Rev. Hawkins questioned how the sale of property goes if the person does not pay the water bill, and suggested that the law be repealed so that a new law would state that if a person cannot pay their water bill, the water is cut off. However, their property should not go up for tax sale.

Mr. Morris gave his assurance that if anybody has that problem, the County will work out a payment schedule. In response to a question raised if there could be a senior citizen rate, it was stated that the County has looked into this and found that it is not allowed to set up a separate rate.

Commissioner Pickrum stated that there are 11 systems which are very small and very expensive because of the relatively few users. Commissioner Crow stated that those who are hit by this increase, in other words, those who truly cannot afford the increase, to contact the County Commissioners' Office to provide this information.

- Rev. Freeman advised of a problem with a failing septic system as well as for others living on Lovers Lane, and asked why adjacent areas with failing systems were not included in the system as well as the other 13 homes below Martin Wagner Road and Dulin Drive. Commissioner Livie stated the County's Housing and Development Office can possibly help with the costs of bathroom septic systems.

- Mr. Williams questioned if there can be any more hookups in the system. Mr. Morris recommended that there be no more hookups and that there are no allocations available. Rev. Hawkins questioned if there is further capacity in the Edesville system. Mr. Morris stated that it was very limited, possibly in the center of town. (21,000 gpd - It is presently at 12,000 - 14,000 gpd.)

- Commissioner Livie questioned what would residents like to see in Edesville. - Rev. Hawkins requested someone to advise residents of how many more homes can be hooked up in Edesville. Commissioner Pickrum responded that there is capacity for additional, but there is a caveat to that.

The Commissioners expressed their appreciation to everyone for attending and for their input.

The public informational hearing ended at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Utility Billing Rates - Mr. Morris and Roger Williams, Treasurer, appeared and addressed Mr. Williams' recommendation that the rates pertaining to the new water and sewer rates be rounded-down to the next dime, for example, to round-down a billed rate of $124.26 to $124.20. Mr. Williams expressed his opinion that, given the odd cents of the rate figures, the round-off would make the utility billing rates more uniform and simplified, more "user friendly."

Mr. Morris advised the rate figures were the result of formula configuration (as is all other rates, such as property tax rate).

Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, advised about the Maryland Annotated Environment Code, which states that when any rate is modified, the County would be required to hold a public hearing before any proposed changes become effective.

The Commissioners agreed to consider this proposal during some future hearing scheduled pertaining to water and wastewater services.

Water and Sewer Plan Workshop - As per the invitation made by Mr. Morris, Ray Anderson, Field Engineer, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and Wallid Saffouri, Chief of Capital Projects, MDE, appeared and addressed questions and concerns posed by the Commissioners regarding their preparation of a comprehensive water and sewer plan for the County. Jim Wright, County Engineer, Mr. Morris, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, and Carla Martin, Community Planner, were also in attendance.

Mr. Morris initiated the workshop discussion by reporting that every three years, the County reviews its water and sewer plan; therefore, during 2004, this plan must be reviewed and updated. He explained that Mr. Anderson and Mr. Saffouri offer their assistance to Counties by helping them to update their plans and by providing information pertaining to regulations and requirements of the State's governing agencies.

Commissioner Pickrum stated that the most challenging issue facing Kent County, as well as all Eastern Shore counties, is its water and sewer plan. He continued by reviewing the history and the current status of water and sewer services in the County as follows: there are 11 separate sanitary districts that are governed by the County; it is not possible for any one of those sanitary districts to ever be self-sufficient. The County's plans for economic development include a commitment to provide affordable housing, but is faced with failing septic systems and a strapped budget lacking enough money to address the water and sewer needs of all of the above.

Mr. Morris added that the County has a small user-base and it, therefore, struggles to pay for the expenses of an expanding service as well as the expenses needed to meet the MDE's water and wastewater treatment and quality standards.

To Commissioner Crow's question pertaining to spray irrigation, Mr. Anderson advised that spray irrigation is an option only given certain soil types and locations. Mr. Saffouri concurred, adding that, in some cases, it is less expensive to maintain the cost-effectiveness of discharge (the conventional system) than spray irrigation; when costs preclude this option, the MDE prefers spray irrigation. He stated that Smart Growth legislation has changed the regulations concerning spray irrigation, and that the best approach would be for the County to present its plans to the MDE which would then determine which of them meets its regulations.

Mr. Anderson similarly advised the Commissioners to determine three options for their water and sewer plan without solely focusing on funding availability; then present the options to the MDE which would then make assessments.

Commissioner Livie reiterated the County's commitment to affordable housing and cited the situation and circumstances pertaining to a development called Chesapeake Landing. He explained that the development is comprised of 800 lots (without Priority Funding Area status- "PFA") which could accommodate affordable housing, if not for a failed septic system and soil conditions that do not perc (given the new MDE standards). Commissioner Livie expressed his interest for the County to acquire PFA approval for the 800 lots and fast track the project for affordable housing.

Mr. Anderson suggested that, based on his experience, the most effective route for the County would be to extend its water and sewer services to the development. The County could look for different sources of funding that apply to different conditions and needs. Given that the PFA status is dependent upon a density criteria, a criteria which, according to Commissioner Pickrum could be met if the County re-zoned that area.

Mrs. Owings advised that if the County did re-zone Chesapeake Landing, it is not clear whether or not a change in the deeds of the current homeowners would be necessitated.

Mr. Morris reviewed that there are 800 lots in Chesapeake Landing, 200 of which represent existing homes; the balance of the lots will not perc. Mr. Saffouri stated that the County might consider requesting the Smart Growth Committee to grant an exception to their regulations as they pertain to Chesapeake Landing as well as to the County's commitment to affordable housing in general. Mr. Anderson concurred and added his suggestion that the Commissioners present this development as a model "test case" to the Secretary of the MDE as a planning issue. He encouraged the Commissioners to be optimistic about their plans and goals; to communicate all of them fully and specifically to the MDE, requesting their response. Perhaps the MDE will serve some of the plans in their entirety; perhaps some of them, but in phases; perhaps none of them. He emphasized the importance for the Commissioners to set their priorities and to communicate them to the MDE.

Mr. Anderson expressed his opinion that Smart Growth as a strategy applies and works best in the middle-third of the State; it does not seem to work well beyond that area. Since its passage as legislature in 1997, Mr. Anderson reported that the first effort to re-interpret this law took place this year, noting that the effort provided a number of options. He reiterated that the Commissioners should "go for the whole package" and present many options from which the MDE could choose.

Mr. Anderson expressed his opinion that, based on what he had learned from the Commissioners thus far, the main issue at hand is not simply a water and sewer challenge, but rather a social challenge, and that what he has heard described are quality of life issues. Commissioner Pickrum concurred, expressing his belief that in order to maintain a balanced community, the County requires a balanced representation of age groups, incomes, etc., and hence, the County's commitment to provide affordable housing.

Mr. Anderson advised the Commissioners to seek the assistance of Federal and State agencies that are linked to the aspects of those quality of life issues to which the Commissioners are committed. As more and more of those agencies are contacted, the more informed they will become as to when and where exceptions make sense in terms of the Smart Growth strategy.

The Commissioners expressed their appreciation to Mr. Anderson and Mr. Saffouri for their information and suggestions.

The Commissioners requested the perspective of Mrs. Owings in reference to the proceedings. Mrs. Owings advised that the most effective approach with which the County to proceed with would be to begin an attempt to change the Smart Growth law only as it applies to the circumstances of Chesapeake Landing. She further suggested that the County present this concept to the other Eastern Shore counties and, together, make the effort to amend Smart Growth legislation.

Commissioner Pickrum recommended that the County proceed with the formation of a work group consisting of Mr. Wright, Mrs. Owings, Ms. Martin, and Mr. Morris, along with the assistance of Messrs. Anderson and Saffouri, to prepare its water and sewer plan and then present it to the MDE and other pertinent agencies. Commissioner Livie concurred, adding his recommendation that the County conduct a feasibility study concerning spray irrigation as an option and add its results to the County's water and sewer plan as part of the Comprehensive Plan.

Mrs. Owings stated that she would contact her counterparts in the other Eastern Shore rural counties and advise them of the interests of the Commissioners concerning amending Smart Growth.

Maryland Water Quality Financing Administration - The Commissioners approved and signed Resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of a general obligation installment bond in principal amount not exceeding $2,100,000 pursuant to the authority of the Maryland Water Quality Financing Administration Act and designated as the "Kent County Maryland Water Quality Refunding Board" for purpose of refunding the outstanding principal amounts of the Kent County Sanitary District Bond, Series J, dated July 20, 1994.


DRAYTON MANOR

Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and was asked by Commissioner Pickrum for an update on the proposed Drayton Manor conference/spa project, to which she responded as follows: the site has received approval by the Planning Commission; the applicants tabled their application for special exception; the applicants have submitted their use permit for the expansion of the proposed conference center and they are under the advisement of the Health Department, although they have not as yet applied with the Health Department.

Growth Allocation - Correspondence was received from C. Daniel Saunders, Esq., responding to the letter sent to the Commissioners by Christopher F. Drummond, Esq. dated March 5th. For the record, Mr. Drummond urged the Commissioners to await the outcome of all administrative and judicial proceedings before taking action on the first growth allocation request outside an incorporated town in the County.

Mr. Saunders explained that since the initial filing, the new ordinance has become effective and the proposed uses are permitted under the terms of the new ordinance without resorting to the conditional use application process. Therefore, as he reported, his clients have applied for and are advised that they will receive a use permit predicated upon the new ordinance. He advised that in order for the project to proceed, it requires three major approvals: the use (or conditional use) approval, growth allocation approval, and site plan approval. He expressed his belief that if the project is not given growth allocation, there is no point in the developer spending the funds necessary to do final engineering and design for the site plan process. He requested that the Board move forward with the request for growth allocation as expeditiously as possible. No action was taken on this request at this time.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Commissioners requested P.A.M. Schaller, Economic Development Director, to contact Washington College to seek interest in partnering with the Still Pond Station project and Kent County Business Center. In addition, the Commissioners requested Mrs. Schaller to contact Mike Thielke of Chesapeake Marine Trade School with suggestion that he proceed in applying for a non-profit status for this new endeavor and to contact Cecil County Agricultural Economic Director in obtaining information in scheduling a Kent County Ag Breakfast for next winter.


EMERGENCY MEDICAL SYSTEMS (EMS)

Correspondence was received from Richard K. McIntyre, Fire Chief, Community Fire Company of Millington, expressing his gratitude to the Kent County EMS for providing training and support, supply, information pertaining to State and local standards and procedures, and other assistance which helped to put the Millington ambulance in service. Chief McIntyre also indicated that he looks forward to working with the Kent County EMS in the future.


HOTEL RENTAL TAX

Bernadette Bowman, Director of Tourism Development, appeared and was asked by Commissioner Pickrum for an update on her meetings with the incorporated Town Councils. For the record, the purpose for Mrs. Van Pelt's meetings has been to encourage them to contribute their share of the proposed 2% increase of the Hotel Rental Tax to the County. (A draft Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] was distributed in February to the Towns' for their review and consideration.)

Mrs. Van Pelt reported that she met with all the Councils, except for the Galena Town Council and the Town Council of Betterton (pending). She also reported that she met with the Chestertown Town Council on March 15th, describing it as a very positive meeting, at which the Council agreed to reconsider the MOU.

The Commissioners expressed their interest to learn the opinion of the Lodging Association about the Hotel Rental Tax following the meeting of the Association next week.


HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (HIP)

Memorandum was received from Jack Canan, Housing and Community Development Coordinator, regarding the application for Phase Five of the HIP Project and Application on behalf of the Kent Center. He requested the Commissioners to consider scheduling Public Hearings on the two Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications comprised of as follows: a $300,000 request for the HIP Project's Phase Five and a $500,000 request on behalf of the Kent Center. Mr. Canan also requested that the Hearings be held on April 20th.


HURRICANE ISABEL

Sue Willits, Emergency Planning Coordinator and the County's point-of-contact person for fielding questions and concerns regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, appeared and updated the Commissioners about the long term recovery efforts on behalf of the victims of the Hurricane. Robert Rust, Jr., Emergency Management Director, Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, and Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, were also in attendance.

Mrs. Willits reported the following about the recovery efforts of the past six months which continue currently:

- Every Tuesday night, a support group meets, led by Dr. Ann Hennessy, herself a victim of the Hurricane having suffered significant damage to her home in Rock Hall, at the Mainstay, during which she offers her counseling services.

- Mrs. Willits has interfaced her services with the Office on Aging, the Food Pantry and other County agencies, helping victims make an informed choice of a plan of action based on the various available services they want and/or need. Mrs. Willits praised the assistance of Dr. Hennessy and described the support group as a "family." She also described the majority of the people she has assisted as not only frustrated, angry and confused (mostly about the paper work they have had to complete and the amount of time that has passed), but also as compassionate and eager to assist others in similar circumstances, such as those enduring frozen water and sewer lines and the extremely cramped conditions of their temporary housing (trailers).

Mrs. Willits reported about some recent "good news": last week, three families had pre-fabricated houses placed on their elevated foundations. Mrs. Willits further reported that a complete recovery for these victims will require another 1 years; many of these people are still living with relatives, or in rented housing. Many have not yet developed a game plan to begin their recovery efforts. Many do not have insurance. Mrs. Willits indicated that each victim is faced with different circumstances and needs, and yet all have remained, in her opinion, compassionate, kind and benevolent.

She praised the efforts of Rev. Linda Mariner, Pastor of the Rock Hall United Methodist Charge, who provided a trailer in which was stored donated items during the emergency, such as personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, USDA food, etc. Mrs. Willits added her praise of the Eastern Shore Interfaith Recovery Team, that has provided building supplies at no charge, as well as the services of licensed contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc.

Mrs. Willits reported that there remains the need for household appliances, and assistance for the elderly with removal of debris on their property, installation of walk-ways, the planting of gardens, etc. She reported that in April, she will be attending the National Hurricane Conference in Florida which has as its focus this year , "Lessons Learned from Hurricane Isabel." She distributed copies of her compilation of information from all of the victims with whom she met.

Amy Moredock updated the Commissioners regarding the progress of the County's two applications for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency's (MEMA) 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program: one for the elevation of structures without insurance, and one for anchoring fuel tanks. She indicated that she expects to hear from MEMA next week.

To Commissioner Pickrum's suggestion that County agencies ask manufacturers directly for donations of appliances, rather than making further requests of local vendors and businesses who have already assisted, Mrs. Willits responded that she will compile a list of manufacturers and local contractors, plumbers, etc. have indicated their willingness to donate their products and/or services.

To Commissioner Crow's question as to the progress of filed insurance claims, Mrs. Willits reported that applicants are currently receiving money from their insurance carriers. Commissioner Livie noted that people 60 and 70 years of age have been forced to take out mortgages on their damaged homes due to the disparity between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their insurance claims. He has learned that the Insurance Commissioner will be putting more pressure on some insurance companies, and that there is new legislation being presented to the General Assembly for the reconciliation of this disparity.

Mrs. Owings suggested that high school students be considered as a resource to assist the Hurricane victims, citing their required community service obligation. An interested citizen appeared and suggested that churches also be considered for their assistance with sourcing laborers, plumbers, etc.


KENT CENTER

Correspondence was received from Carol D. Callaway, Executive Director, Kent Center, Inc. regarding the Center's plans to build a new center on Scheeler Road in Chestertown. Ms. Callaway advised of the Center's intention to apply for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDGB) through the County that would, it is hoped, utilized as a match for the $1,600,000 grant from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The public hearing for this proposed project and application will take in April.


LEGAL COUNSEL

At 10:25 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: Kent County Business Center at Worton and Department of Water and Wastewater Building in Worton.

The executive session adjourned at 10:35 a.m.


LEGISLATION
DREDGING


In response to correspondence from Delegate Mary Roe Walkup, a letter went forth in support of House Bill 1471 - Dredge Material Disposal Alternatives Act of 2004. This legislation is scheduled for a hearing on March 23rd in front of the Environmental Matters Committee.


MOSQUITO CONTROL

Correspondence was received from Cyrus R. Lesser, Chief, Mosquito Control Section, Plant Industries and Pest Management, MD Department of Agriculture with enclosed budget for mosquito control in Kent County for the 2004 season. He indicates that extraordinary conditions (weather, mosquito-borne diseases, etc.), may require additional funding, in which case the State and the County will work together to decide the best course of action. The Commissioners approved and singed a proposed Mosquito Control Budget for calendar year 2004 (FY'05 Settlement).


PARKS AND RECREATION

Jeff Troester, Director of Parks and Recreation, appeared and proposed an amendment to the County's concession vendor policy that would allow seasonal vendors to conduct the concessions at Worton Park and Betterton Beach with exclusive rights, with some exceptions. Mr. Troester explained that, historically, his department would advertise every Spring for bids on concession operations at Worton Park and Betterton Beach and would receive a low response. For the past two seasons, the County has not had any concessions at Betterton Beach. At Worton Park, the County was able to have vendors, however the vendor was different every year.

What Kent County has done differently from other successful Counties was to allow its local leagues to have the opportunity to fund-raise by running the concessions for their opening day ceremonies, all-star games and championships (all the big money-making events). In the County's agreement with the seasonal vendors, the County specified that they were not allowed to be open on those days.

Mr. Troester also expressed his opinion that the County's first priority is to provide park users the opportunity and the convenience of having the concessions these vendors supply. Although generating agreement revenues is also a plus, Mr. Troester advised that it must be considered second in priority to providing a service for the County's park users.

To Commissioner Livie's question as to whether or not private groups and organizations, given the amendment, would be able to provide their own caterers for their concurrent events, Mr. Troester indicated that such an arrangement would be permissible. This example represents one exception to the vendors' exclusivity in the proposed amendment; another exception would occur when the County hosts "special events", such as opening day ceremonies, all-star games, etc., during which the respective leagues and organizations would be able to provide their own concessions, generally as fund-raising opportunities.

The Commissioners gave unanimous approval for the amendment to the County's concession vendor policy as recommended by Mr. Troester.


PERSONNEL

At 10:35 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 in attendance.

The executive session adjourned at 10:55 a.m.


PLANNING COMMISSION

Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and reviewed the recommendations of the Planning Commission which were made at its March 4th meeting, inclusive of text amendments which will be presented to the Commissioners, for example "the Sludge Project."


SCENIC BYWAYS

Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, Carla Martin, Community Planner, and Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and presented an update on the Scenic Byways Interpretive Plan. The hearing for said Plan will take place on March 24th. Ms. Moredock reported that an example of the Scenic Byways Interpretive Plan would include the provision of Heritage Park equipment, such as playground equipment, wayside pull-off's with accompanying signage, etc.

Having been granted Chesapeake Bay Gateway status, the County is eligible to apply for grants and marketing-funding sources to assist, for example, the further development of the Kent Museum project and creative matching of funds for other local projects.

To Commissioner Pickrum's question as to the maintenance responsibility of the Interpretive Plan projects, Mrs. Owings responded that the responsibility would lie with the pertinent jurisdiction, for example, the County would be responsible for the maintenance of wayside pull-offs; historical sites would be maintained by their sponsoring organizations, etc.


SENIOR CENTER

At the invitation of the Commissioners at their meeting on March 9th, Carl E. Burke, Executive Director, Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (USA) appeared to respond to the Commissioners' concerns about the current fiscal crisis of the Senior Center. Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, and approximately 30 interested citizens, were also in attendance.

Commissioner Livie initiated the discussion by indicating that the Board had only recently learned through electronic mail to the County Administrator about the fiscal crisis and the budget of the Senior Center, and requested more details of how the crisis originated.

Mr. Burke reviewed the history of funding for the Senior Center and distributed a "Statement of Revenues and Expenditures" from July 1, 2003 through February 29, 2004.

The Commissioners, as well as Mrs. Merritt, raised questions regarding a number of expense items to which Mr. Burke responded that many of the larger expenses were incurred specifically as a result of the move from the Town Hall of Chestertown to the new facility. Although USA conducted "aggressive fund-raising" to offset its costs, Mr. Burke reported that USA has had to tap its "rainy day fund" to meet its operating expenses. He added that $4,300.00 in expenses are still outstanding. He reported that, therefore, USA has decided to close the Senior Center Thursdays and Fridays, and to cut two of the four, full-time employee positions to part-time positions without benefits.

To further questions by the Commissioners, Mr. Burke assented that many of the revenue line items are "confusing", and expressed his regrets that Charlotte Coleman, Fiscal Office Manager, USA, was not present to provide all of the information being requested.

To Commissioner Livie's question as to what would represent the Senior Center's largest operating expenses, Mr. Burke responded that the overhead expenses represent the largest operating expenses in the new facility, such as utilities, water and wastewater services, maintenance and repair, disposable supplies, maintenance service contracts, insurance, etc.

To Commissioner Pickrum's questions regarding a pro forma operating plan, Mr. Burke replied that he did prepare one during the planning phase of the new facility, and that he was required to have said plan in order to be eligible for CDBG and other funding. Mr. Burke reported that his projections for operating expenses were under-estimated by between $5,000 and $6,000.

The County Administrator noted that, for the record, during the planning phase of the new facility, the State had offered funding only for the brick and mortar, not for any programming expenses.

To additional questions posed by Mrs. Merritt and the Commissioners pertaining to the budget of the Senior Center, Mr. Burke gave his assurance that he would consult with Mrs. Coleman in order to obtain accurate responses to their questions and provide the responses in writing to the Commissioners. Commissioner Pickrum added that he would appreciate it if Mrs. Coleman would also prepare in the budget a comparison column of figures representing the previous fiscal year.

As per Commissioner Livie's recommendation that Mr. Burke and Mrs. Coleman be invited to the next Commissioners' meeting, it was agreed to meet at 8:30 a.m. on March 23rd. In preparation for that meeting, the County Administrator requested detailed budget information by Friday, March 19th.

The Commissioners expressed their concern about the Senior Center's budget preparation process, recognizing that USA is faced with a dilemma and, therefore, the community is faced with a dilemma. The Commissioners indicated that in order to identify the fiscal problem and, thereby, to determine how they might be of assistance, they will require more information.Commissioner Livie emphasized that it is not the intention of the Board to offer permanent financial support.

To a question raised by a concerned citizen about the proposed closures at the Senior Center, the Commissioners advised that informed decisions will be available after the meeting on March 23rd.


Correspondence was received from Carl E. Burke, Executive Director, Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (USA), sent to Jean W. Roesser, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging (MD of A) "urgently" requesting of the Secretary any excess or discretionary Title III funds that MD of A might have to help Area Agency on Aging (AAA)USA alleviate what he believes to be the "serious fiscal crisis" facing it.

Mr. Burke explained that AAA USA, Inc. is overspent per its Senior Center operations. Mr. Burke expressed his belief that the above situation will threaten USA's continued ability to function effectively as AAA for Talbot, Caroline, and Kent Counties. He closed his letter by stating that USA is working hard to develop additional funds from private sources, and requires any help that the Maryland Department of Aging might provide USA.


Correspondence was also received from Mr. Burke which he sent to Opiribo Jack, Chief Fiscal Officer of the Maryland Department of Aging with a copy of AAA USA's completed Expenditure Projection, State Programs, Fiscal Year 2004. This report estimated program deficits totaling $18,130 regarding State funds in areas such as Home-Delivered Meals, and Medicaid Waiver, and again, requested that the Maryland Department of Aging make available to the Agency any unspent State funds that could offset its program deficits in any or all of its programs for the current fiscal year.


STATE TOURISM CONFERENCE

Bernadette Bowman, Director of Tourism Development, appeared and presented the itinerary for the 2004 State Tourism Conference which will be hosted by Kent County on March 22,23, and 24. The purpose of this annual conference is to host all Maryland Welcome Center employees and most of their volunteers (Welcome Centers are closed during the Conference) and to give them the opportunity to learn about and experience the State's tourism sites.

Kent County will host 70 to 80 people thanks to the complimentary services and products of its businesses and organizations. They are mentioned in the following itinerary in outline:

- Comfort Suites providing bedrooms and breakfasts for the duration of the conference, as well as a wine and cheese reception one evening.

- Monday - The Seminar will convene in the Commissioners' Hearing Room, with lunch and dinner provided by a County restaurants.

- Tuesday - A tour, via the Rock Hall trolley, of Eastern Neck, Rock Hall, including the three museums, shopping opportunity, a welcome by Mayor Jay Jacobs, a sampling of ice cream and fudge, a visit with Mainstay, a tour of Chestertown with stops at the Kent County Visitors' Center, the Geddes-Piper House, Fountain Park, Monument Park, Wilmer Park, an opportunity to take the Historic Walking Tour and to shop, a welcome by Mayor Margo Bailey, lunch and dinner provided by County restaurants, and a viewing of a movie at the Prince Theater.

- Wednesday - A tour of Betterton Beach, the Kent Museum, Turner's Creek, Galena, Georgetown, shopping opportunities, welcomes by Mayor Harry Pisapia of Galena and Mayor Carolyn Sorge, of Betterton.

Mrs. Van Pelt invited the Commissioners to attend any and all of the events, and indicated that "Fact Sheets" have already been distributed to all of the towns in the County. Commissioner Pickrum recommended that Mrs. Van Pelt notify Delegate Mary Roe Walkup and Congressman Wayne Gilchrest of the Conference.


STILL POND STATION

David Wilson of Resource, Conservation & Development, contacted the County Administrator, advising the Corps of Engineers'dredging project is scheduled to begin next month and requested permission to stock pile the dredged material on the County owned beach. Since the County will need the sand to rebuild the beach due to Hurricane Isabel, this request was approved.


TRIBUTARY STRATEGIES

Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, appeared and reported about the meeting of the Annual Tributary Strategy Meeting which took place on March13th. At this meeting, Frank Digialleonardo, a member of the Upper Eastern Shore Tributary Team, was honored as a "Hero", receiving recognition for his efforts on behalf of WRAS - the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, March 23, 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.




Home | Business | Community | Government | Visitor Guide | Top

© Kent County Commissioners - 1996-2003: All Rights Reserved.