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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

November 16, 2004

The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.

Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, was also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $8,749,509.00.

Commissioner Pickrum requested a moment of silence to remember the men and women in uniform around the world who have died in defense of the United States' freedom and America's way of life.


AUDIT

J. Michael Connolly, Auditor, Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, and W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, appeared for review of the draft Fiscal Year 2004 audit of financial statements for the County and Management Letter. Mrs. Merritt outlined each section of the Fiscal Year 2004 Financial Statement Analysis, copies of which were distributed and which included the following: the general fund balance was 37.5% above budget; the Water and Wastewater Services' operating revenue came in at 7% below budget.

Mr. Connelly commended Mrs. Merritt and Mr. Williams and their staffs on the tremendous job performed in completing this audit.


BOARD OF EDUCATION (BOE)

Constance C. Berg, of Georgetown, Maryland, appeared and, referring to her correspondence dated November 9 to the Commissioners, expressed her concerns about the fiduciary responsibility of the County to its taxpayers, specifically as they pertain to the expenditures of the BOE. Mrs. Berg's attendance today was prompted by a thank you note sent by Bess L. Engle, Principal of Rock Hall Elementary School to Shrewsbury Parish Church in which Mrs. Engle acknowledged the school's receipt of contributions of school supplies by the congregation.

Mrs. Berg stated that in her opinion every child should receive an adequate amount of school supplies. She questioned the necessity of BOE expenditures such as those pertaining to the support of school sports, the funding of, what she described as, the wasted space in school facilities, and what she described as unnecessary school staff, and, what she described as, the exaggerated quantity of school lunches reported by the BOE to the State for the sake of increased federal funding. Mrs. Berg suggested that the County be more critical of its funding in these areas and look at alternatives and, in her opinion, necessary areas that would benefit from County financial support, such as a homeless shelter.

In response to Mrs. Berg's concern, Commissioner Pickrum assured her that the Commissioners, as promised at their swearing-in, remains ever-vigilant in their efforts to ensure that County government services are conducted as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.

Jon Baker, Public Information Officer of Kent County Public Schools, was also in attendance and reported that neither Rock Hall public schools nor any County public schools solicit or have solicited funding or donations of school supplies. He cited Shrewsbury Parish Church and SunTrust Bank as examples of groups and organizations that provide students of the public schools and their families who struggle financially with items such as backpacks which they could not otherwise be able to afford. Mr. Baker assured Mrs. Berg that there is not shortage of school supplies for the students of Kent County Public Schools, and expressed his belief that there was an apparent misunderstanding on the part of Mrs. Berg as to the motivation of the donations from Shrewsbury Parish Church to Rock Hall Elementary School.

The Commissioners expressed their appreciation to Mrs. Berg and to Mr. Baker for their concerns and input.


BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS

John Dillman, Director, Upper Shore Regional Council, stopped in and asked to meet with the Board relating to study conducted by the Yankee Group on bringing affordable broadband to Maryland's Eastern Shore. Mr. Dillman facilitated a conference call with Berge Ayvazian, Executive Vice President, Research and Consulting, Yankee Group, and the Commissioners.

The Eastern Shore Regional Councils requested the Yankee Group to assess the feasibility of offering a publicly sponsored broadband network that would extend the availability of affordable broadband services to a wide range of business and residential users throughout the nine county region. The study was also designed to assist the Council in making decisions on the best way to offer these services from a management and go-to-market perspective. The study concluded that broadband wireless is the most cost-effective technology for both access and backbone infrastructure in the near-term.

The financial model presented in the report indicates that a combined capital investment of $4.3 Million would cover the cost of a wireless broadband backbone network ($2.6 Million) and a broadband wireless access network ($1.7 Million). This network could be operational within 12-18 months and would provide extensive coverage of wireless broadband services throughout the region, generating revenues growing from $1.7 Million for the access facilities.

Assessment was also made of the feasibility of developing a wireless broadband access network with a fiber optic backbone which would require a capital investment of $9.9 Million in addition to the $1.7 Million for the access facilities.

The Yankee Group recommends that the Eastern Shore Regional Councils pursue a strategy to build and manage an open system broadband wireless network if the economic development benefits justify the initiative. Mr. Dillman noted it would be difficult for one broadband company to provide service to all wide spread customers due to affordability.

The Yankee Group is proposing to establish a common infrastructure throughout the Counties that would allow them to serve remote customers at wholesale rates rather than have present provider increase infrastructure costs. This could be a potentially competitive market.

Dr. Al Hammond, President, and Tim Keefe, Sales and Marketing Director, both of Bay Broadband Communications (BBC), appeared and responded to the report provided by Commissioner Crow that was recently issued by a consulting company, The Yankee Group, "Bringing Affordable Broadband to Maryland's Eastern Shore."

P.A.M. Schaller, Director of Economic Development, John A. Dillman, III, Executive Director, Upper Shore Regional Council, and Stuart "Mickey" Elsberg, a member of the Economic Development Advisory Board, were also in attendance.

The study and subsequent report conducted by The Yankee Group was financed by nine counties and the State; $5,000 was contributed by Upper Shore Regional Council of which Kent County is a member. It is a goal of the three Eastern Shore regional councils to establish broadband Internet access throughout the Eastern Shore's nine counties.

According to Ms. Schaller, accessibility to wireless broadband service is an important incentive for prospective entrepreneurs who are considering Kent County as the location for their businesses.

The report of The Yankee Group indicated that an investment of $4.3 Million in wireless broadband technology could initiate high-speed service to the Eastern Shore, stating the following: The Yankee Group recommends that the Eastern Shore Regional Councils pursue a strategy to build and manage an open system broadband wireless network if the economic development benefits justify the initiative. This could be developed through a regional broadband cooperative to provide funding and support of a common infrastructure that would be used by local wireless Internet service providers (WISP's) to offer cost-effective broadband service throughout the nine county region.

Dr. Hammond concurred with the conclusion reached by this report; however he noted the concerns he has with the report's financial projections:

- In response to the report's suggestion that the counties should construct and maintain ownership of the network, Dr. Hammond expressed his opinion that government should not compete with the private sector if the private sector can do it faster and more cost-effectively, which he believes it can.

- Citing the report's estimates of subscriber numbers, Dr. Hammond stated his belief that these percentages would represent initial service to approximately 4,000 residential customers and 850 businesses. The $4.3 Million governmental investment would represent $900.00 per customer needed in order to create a network.

- Competitors to this network for residential customers would be the existing private cable modem and DSL companies. Dr. Hammond again emphasized that wireless broadband service is faster, more flexible and capable of moving data than the digital services of telephone companies.

- According to The Yankee Report, the price per user subscription to a sub-1.5 Mbps service would be $25.00/month wholesale; $45.00/month for a 1.5 Mbps plus service wholesale. Dr. Hammond indicated that these figures, representing residential revenues, are at least 20% too high, basing his statement on prices quoted by AT&T and Cavalier which are $20.00 and less. He added that, given the history of broadband service, subscription prices eventually decrease.

- The Yankee Group report did not include in its financial projections the cost of a customer's wireless equipment. Dr. Hammond pointed out that as the equipment for DSL and cable modem is subsidized, a wireless service provider requires payment from the customer for the required radios. BBC's prices for the required equipment for broadband service is $500.00 per customer which is not competitive at this time.

Recognizing this disincentive for non-business subscribers, Dr. Hammond explained that once BBC raises sufficient funds ($900,000 in capital since June 1; $1,000,000 is projected in the near future), BBC will then be eligible for a $4 Million federal loan for rural Internet service which would then be used to subsidize the necessary equipment.

Given that subsidy, customers would no longer have to pay for the equipment as part of their connection cost. He projected that affordable access would be offered by the beginning of 2005 with the cost for basic service at about $40.00 per month.

According to Dr. Hammond, BBC's "Phase I" will begin by June 1, 2005, paying $5 Million to build-out the backbone network covering Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties. Kent County will be the first county to receive a broadband link across the Bay. "Phase II" of BBC's business plan would include the establishment of a wireless microwave bandwidth across the Bay, eventually "backboning", or covering, all of the Eastern Shore, from Cecil County in the north to Crisfield in the south, Ocean City in the east, and Kent Island in the west.

Dr. Hammond reported that BBC is currently building a private sector team of providers to ensure broadband service in many, if not most, counties of the Eastern Shore. BBC is interested in establishing a public/private partnership with all the counties of the Eastern Shore demonstrated by BBC's ability to access public infrastructure, and, in turn, providing wireless service at no cost or less cost to the County.

Dr. Hammond emphasized that BBC's primary business goal is not just to provide access to broadband service, but to provide affordable access. He also indicated that BBC projects eventual upgrading to WiMax broadband wireless equipment and access service standards which represent a fixed, wireless technology, requiring an antennae, that will operate over both licensed and unlicensed spectrum (projected availability by the middle of 2005) and also a portable and mobile broadband wireless technology (projected availability in late 2006 or early 2007). BBC currently utilizes Motorola equipment.

Mr. Dillman indicated that one of the goals of the Upper Shore Regional Council is to make BBC successful.

Ms. Schaller praised the success of the BBC thus far.

In response to Mr. Dillman's question, Dr. Hammond indicated that wireless broadband will serve the tele-medicine needs of Eastern Shore hospitals and other service needs of, for example, colleges and universities, and emphasized that the service is very secure.

Commissioner Crow pointed out that the three Eastern Shore regional councils invested $50,000.00 for study conducted by The Yankee Group in order to become as informed as possible about the technology and marketing potential of wireless broadband on the Eastern Shore, as well as to motivate companies such as Verizon.

Dr. Hammond assented that the study and report had the effect of motivating BBC to proceed more aggressively. Responding to Commissioner Livie's question, Mr. Keefe reported that BBC has been slowly but surely convincing the Chestertown business community of the favorable business and economic advantages being offered by BBC. He noted that many businesses are committed to standing contracts with Verizon and, therefore, are not ready or prepared to make a commitment to BBC. He felt convinced that these businesses will seriously consider BBC when their other contracts have expired. He also noted that BBC is breaking ground with new customers nevertheless, citing area marinas among several examples.

Dr. Hammond assured the Commissioners that BBC will be sending a letter within a few weeks to all of the Boards of Commissioners and Councils represented by the Upper Shore Regional Council advising them of its business plans as presented at today's meeting.

The Commissioners thanked Dr. Hammond and Mr. Keefe for the information provided and advised of their support and interest in services provided by BBC and its plans for establishing a partnership between the private and public sectors.


CHARACTER COUNTS

Jeff Troester, Director of Parks and Recreation, appeared and reported that a draft agreement has been written, representing Character Counts Mid-Shore, Inc. and Kent County Government for the proposed employment position, Recreation Program Coordinator.

Mr. Troester explained that the draft is based on a similar agreement utilized by Caroline County Parks and Recreation for the employment position, and reported that his draft has been reviewed by Tom Yeager, County Attorney.

The primary responsibility of the proposed position in Kent County (approximately 25 hours per week) would consist of coordinating the Character Counts Program in the County with additional Parks and Recreation Department assignments. Mr. Troester suggested that some of the County current programs, such as Leaders Club, would fit with this position. Mr. Troester also suggested that this position would play a role in filling the vacated employment position, Recreation Program Leader. The specific job responsibilities for that position would be reconfigured, pending the approval of the Character Counts position, which Mr. Troester believes, would allow the County to poise itself for growth in other areas of recreation and program planning, and which would alleviate what he believes to be the over-extension of work currently being conducted by the Parks and Recreation staff comprised of three persons.

Commissioner Livie, concurring with Mr. Troester, stated that with salary and benefits, the proposed Character Counts Coordinator/Recreation Program Coordinator contractual employment position would serve as incentive to make the position more stable.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum that the County enter into agreement with Character Counts Mid-Shore, Inc. to create an entry level Recreation Program Coordinator contractual position at Grade 7, Step A at a starting annualized base salary of $26,354, and that the majority of the salary for this position would be funded through Character Counts Mid-Shore, Inc. with an annual allocation of $20,000, and that the County would fund an additional $6,354 plus benefits for the creation of this new position.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES

Wayne Morris, Director of the Department of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared and reported about the following:

Edesville Service Area

Mr. Morris reported that the leaking well was repaired with no interruption of service to the Edesville customers, and that he is awaiting the final report of the repair work. Mr. Morris reported that the Rock Hall connection project is moving forward, albeit a little behind schedule, and that the results of the feasibility study for the domestic application of that connection is expected to be received by mid- or the end of December 2004.

 

Millington Service Area - Mr. Morris reported that the Millington Water Treatment Plant construction is progressing well.


EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Commissioner Crow attended meeting requested by Dr. Richard Alcorta, State Medical Director, with all concerned parties on November 10 at the Chester River Hospital Center concerning shortage of paramedics within the State and time gaps in the County's paramedic coverage. As a result of this meeting, Dr. Alcorta offered for the State to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats) review.

The Commissioners approved to accept Dr. Alcorta's offer and a formal letter of request will go forth.

FIRE CHIEFS' ASSOCIATION

Discussion ensued referring to correspondence dated November 9 that was received via electronic mail from Gregg Bird, President, Fire Chiefs' Association, with attached copy of an article entitled, "Firefighter Fees Catching On Around the County, Even With Volunteers" (cit. http://www.firehouse.com.) which reports that firefighters around the country are increasingly billing victims for putting out their fires despite resistance from citizens who have expressed their opinion that such fees are in conflict with the mission of the largely volunteer fire fighting service.

The Commissioners emphasized the current need for firefighters. Frank Hepbron, of Rock Hall, was present and expressed his opinion that if fire companies start charging fees for their services, citizens would donate even less than they currently do.

HOTEL RENTAL TAX

The Commissioners agreed to vote on the proposed increase to the Hotel Rental Tax from 3% to 5% at their regularly scheduled meeting on November 30.


HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (HIP)

Correspondence dated November 4 was received from Cindy Stone, Deputy Administrator, Office of Programs and Regional Development, reporting that each of the two matters of concern listed in the Monitoring Report conducted by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) pertaining to the County's use of the Maryland Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and participation in HIP project (Project Number: MD-00-CD-39) have been cleared as per the County's corrective actions.

Commissioner Pickrum approved and signed the Subordination Agreement pertaining to the lien the County holds on the land of Kay Lochary known as 22779 McKinley Road, Rock Hall. This is the second subordination request for Ms. Lochary. The County's position will still be in second place in reference to the lien.


HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION

The Commissioners appointed Stuart "Mickey" Elsberg, Anita Rudnick and Dr. Ruth Shoge as members of the Human Relations Commission for a three year term ending October 4, 2007.


HURRICANE ISABEL
COUNTY LANDINGS


Correspondence was received from Robert Gaudette, Director, Waterway Improvement Program, Department of Natural Resources, advising that payment will be forthcoming as follows as it relates to damages incurred as a result of Hurricane Isabel: Bayside Public Landing - $5,700; portable toilets at various landings - $8,447.50; public boat facility maintenance Fiscal Year 2003 - $1,800, Fiscal Year 2004 - $5,000; Sharp Street Public Landing - Fiscal Year 2004 - $50,000, Fiscal Year 2005 - $22,194.

LEGAL COUNSEL

At 11:50 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into closed session for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section (a)(7) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Item discussed was lease agreement for Kent Museum, Inc.

The closed session adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

At 12:00 noon, a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into executive session for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section (a)(10) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Item of discussion included public security.

The closed session adjourned at 12:30 p.m.


MASSEY PROPERTY

Correspondence dated November 10 was received from Yolande J.C. Norman, Chief, Remediation Division, Oil Control Program, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), indicating that, because water sampling conducted by the County Environmental Health Department in the Town of Massey documented low concentrations of petroleum contamination in potable supply wells (cit. "Minutes", Kent County Commissioners' meeting, October 5, 2004), a Subsurface Investigation must be designed to provide sufficient stratigraphic and groundwater data to determine whether the subject property is a potential source.

Ms. Norman indicated that a comprehensive "Subsurface Investigation Work Plan" must be submitted by the County for the MDE's review no later than December 13, 2004. This "Work Plan" must fully assess the vertical and horizontal extent of contamination in all compass directions and satisfy the requirements of MDE's "Maryland Environmental Assessment Technology (MEAT) for Leaking Underground Storage Tanks" guidance document.

The County Administrator and Jim Wright, County Engineer, will be responsible for compliance with the State's requirements.


NUISANCE ORDINANCE

The County Attorney provided copy of Complaint for Injunctive Relief concerning civil action, the County vs Geneva Young relating to violation on property located at 33463 Sassafras Caldwell Road in the First Election District and civil action, the County vs. Clifton J. Scott relating to violation on property located at 9020 Georgetown Road in the Sixth Election District.

PARKS AND RECREATION

Jeff Troester, Director of Parks and Recreation, appeared and, referring to his Memorandum dated November 4 to the Commissioners, reported that there is a surplus balance of $60,000 in operating expenditures represented in the final budget figures of the Fiscal Year 2004 Parks and Recreation Budget.

Mr. Troester indicated that the surplus is a direct result of grant funding and emphasized that this excess is not likely to be a recurring situation. He requested an amendment to Parks and Recreation's Fiscal Year 2005 Budget to include the surplus funding from Fiscal Year 2004, to be used as a one time purchase or expense. The surplus could not be used towards anything that would be recurring or that would create future expenses.

Mr. Troester distributed copies of a list of proposed expenditures using the surplus which was composed by the Parks and Recreation administrative staff. The recommendation indicated as their top priority was the renovation of the five dirt ball diamonds at Worton Park which would expend approximately half the funding.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum that of the $60,000 surplus balance in operating expenditures of the Department of Parks and Recreation, $20,000 be reserved for future projects, and the balance to be used at the discretion of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

This expenditure was approved out of the Fiscal Year 2004 Fund Balance and the Director of Budget and Accounting will be instructed to prepare a Fiscal Year 2005 budget amendment.


PERSONNEL

At 11:35 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 (a) (i) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Ed Robinson, Human Resources Director, was also in attendance.

The executive session closed at 11:50 a.m.

At 11:55 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 (a)(ii) in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland. The closed session adjourned at 12:00 noon.

PROCLAMATION

Great American Smokeout Day -The Commissioners recognized the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout Day by proclaiming November 18, 2004 as Great American Smokeout Day in Kent County, and, in doing so, urged all tobacco users to demonstrate to themselves and the County's youth that they can quit and to further encourage the County's youth not to start smoking by joining the Great American Smokeout.

Charlene Perry, R.N., Director of the Health Promotion and Wellness Program, and Robin Newman, R.N., Director of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, both of the Kent County Health Department Community Health Coalition, were in attendance.

Ms. Perry introduced the following people and organizations who were especially recognized for their individual demonstration of the benefits of quitting smoking as well as their concerted effort to encourage the same behavior in others through their personal witness and/or educational presentations: Dr. Paul Donaher of Galena, and Shirley Maddox, who has been tobacco-free for one year, and representatives of Dixon Valve and Coupling Company, Kent County Chamber of Commerce, Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance (MOTA) of Bethel AME Church, and Velsicol Chemical Co. Ms. Perry gave recognition to Lori Kerns of Chesapeake Health Benefits who gave an enlightening presentation about the financial impacts of smoking from the perspective of the health benefits industry which she conducted at a luncheon held on October 8.

Ms. Perry also recognized the following businesses and agencies who have supported the Great American Smokeout in Kent County: ACME Supermarkets, David A. Bramble, Inc., Dr. John LaFerla, LaMotte Company, Kent County Public Schools, Chesapeake College, Chester River Hospital Center, Chester River Yacht and County Club, Chestertown Foods, Inc., Chestertown Nursing and Rehabilitation, New Yarmouth Family Practice, Publick House, Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center, Washington College, Kent Family Center, Dr. Neil W. Brayton, and A.F. Whitsitt Alcohol Rehabilitation Center.

National Family Week

The following individuals appeared and gave recognition of the week of November 24 as National Family Week in Kent County: Jenny Randolph, Grant Manager, Local Management Board, Rebecca Taylor, Family Services Coordinator, Circuit Court, Brenda Rose, Director, Judy Center, Judy Linn, Executive Director, and Virginia Allen, Program Director, both of Kent Family Center, Cheryl Hurt, representative of Women in Need, Vita Pickrum, President, and Susanne Hayman, Vice-President, both of Shared Opportunities Services.

The Commissioners recognized National Family Week with the reading of the Proclamation which included emphases about the following: the fact that strong families are the center of strong communities; that everyone has a role to play in making families successful, including neighborhood organizations, businesses, non-profit agencies, policy-makers and families; and that during Thanksgiving week, the citizens of the County should take the time to honor the importance of families, recognizing the special connections that support and strengthen families year round.

Venture Club - The Commissioners recognized the Venture Club of Kent County, sponsored by the Kent County Chapter of Soroptimist International of America by approving and signing a Proclamation signifying that the month of October as "Venture Month." This appointment was previously scheduled in October and was rescheduled.

The Proclamation included statements indicating that the Venture Club has given many hours of service, sponsored countless projects, and has made numerous contributions to the community and that it is a unique service organization for working women. Lulu Hurtt, representative of The Venture Club, was in attendance to receive the Proclamation and the Board's recognition.


SLUDGE MANAGEMENT

Pamela Metz Kasemeyer, Esq., attorney for Synagro Mid-Atlantic, Inc. ("A Residuals Management Company") appeared and introduced Lisa Williams, Senior Technical Services Director of Synagro, who conducted a PowerPoint presentation for the Commissioners addressing the following points: a definition for biosolids; the results of Synagro's research concerning biosolids application; State and federal regulations governing the application of biosolids in Maryland; and a proposal to the Commissioners that the Board consider changing the County's current ordinance in order to make it easier for farmers to use biosolids if they are interested and citing what Synagro considers to be the County's overly restrictive special exception language.

Brooke Henderson, Senior Communications Manager, and Jason Krankowski, Technical Services Manager, also of Synagro, were also in attendance.

Ms. Williams noted that Kent County adopted regulations concerning the application of sewage sludge around 1980, which was several years prior to the adoption of the State law preempting County sludge application laws. Over the past 25 years, only two requests have been approved by the Board of Appeals. Biosolids were defined during the presentation as organic matter recovered from the sewage treatment process and used especially as fertilizer.

The PowerPoint presentation outlined the water treatment process; the recycling process of biosolids that eliminates the presence of pathogens (disease-causing organisms) through mandated disinfection, and the presence of metals through the pre-treatment of wastewater; the supervision of the recycling process through extensive testing and reporting and required management practices.

The following points were made as to the safety of biosolids: the quantity of research; current regulations representing the most studied agricultural amendment; scientific assessment, and established protection of the most sensitive of the human population. The biosolids recycling rate nationally is 60% annually. In the State, 90% of biosolids is recycled annually and represents Maryland's most successful recycling program with over 25 years of successful use by farmers and gardeners.

The benefits of biosolids were listed as follows: plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and micro-nutrients); lime; organic matter (holds water, reduces compaction, improves aeration, reduces erosion). Typical biosolids fertilizer was valued at a cost savings of $120.00 per acre.

Ms. Williams expressed her opinion that farmers in Kent County are at a economic disadvantage to farmers in other counties of the State that are applying biosolids to their farmlands. To apply biosolids on their farmland, Kent County farmers would have to go through what she believes to be the arduous special exception process in order to comply with the current County ordinance. She explained that the process is lengthy, requiring one or two public information meetings, with representatives of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Synagro present. If a permit for the application of biosolids is granted, the permit would expire in five years, at which time the process would have to be repeated for the renewal of the permit.

Ms. Williams also cited the existence of several full lagoons in the County which could be utilized as managed material in the County and, again, representing a savings to farmers in the County, given that there would be no need for and the associated costs of transporting biosolids from other counties into Kent County.

Ms. Williams proposed to the Board a demonstration project for the application of biosolids on farmland to be conducted in Kent County in order that the Commissioners and the citizens of Kent County could witness first-hand all the steps of the process of this application.

In response to many questions posed by Commissioners Crow and Pickrum, Ms. Williams reported the following: that there is 20 lbs of nitrogen per ton of treated biosolids; 70% moisture per dry ton; there is consistency of the content of the treated biosolids material and that each load of biosolids has been tested before it is applied; the management of biosolids treatment and recycling is done per treatment facility, not per batch of the recycled product; there are a few restrictions on types of crops with the use of biosolids application, e.g. biosolids should not be used on organic farms or home gardens; treated biosolids may be applied to all current County crops; Mobil Dredging represents Synagro's largest competitor.

Commissioner Crow emphasized his reluctance, despite assurances given about the consistency of content and the safety of biosolids-use, to accept biosolids that have been transported into Kent County from other counties and/or cities, such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Commissioner Pickrum concurred, noting that the Board must address not only the technical details and logistics, but also the public's perception about the use of biosolids, pertinent safety and business/economic concerns.

Ms. Williams assented to the importance of public perception. She noted that a farmer who chooses to use biosolids would not have to use it every year, nor on every field.

To questions posed by Commissioner Livie, Ms. Williams indicated that Synagro is the largest residuals management company in the State and has been successful with managing public perception of the use, safety and recycling of biosolids.

She further noted that, given the fact that transportation of biosolids is Synagro's greatest business expense, the shorter the distance from recycling plant to the farm, the less the expense to Synagro, which would, in turn, pass on that savings to its clients.

C ommissioner Livie questioned if they would consider a demonstration project in Kent County using biosolids from within the County. Ms. Williams responded in the affirmative. Commissioner Livie further questioned if the County approved the use of biosolids would they be willing to use local material exclusively. Ms. Williams stated they would be interested in following up on this proposal.

Referring to the minutes of the September 2004 meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Commission, Commissioner Pickrum reported that the members of the Commission felt that there should be no changes made to the County's current bio-solids land application regulations and based their decision on the following: chicken litter is readily available; sewage sludge land application is permitted by the County; there are too many environmental issues associated with bio-solids land application. As a result of that presentation, the members of the Agricultural Advisory Commission were hesitant about loosening the current regulations, and requested that more information be provided.

Ms. Williams explained that Synagro is prepared and would be happy to provide further information to the Commission; however, the Commission has not made further contact with Synagro.

As per Commissioner Crow's request, Ms. Williams agreed to provide in writing the differences that exist between Kent County's ordinances governing the use of biosolids application and those of the MDE. Ms. Williams also indicated that she will provide the Board with a step-by-step outline of the recycling and application process of biosolids as per the issues and concerns raised by the Board.

The Commissioners expressed their appreciation to Ms. Williams and the other representatives of Synagro for their attendance and presentation.


STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (SHA)
MARYLAND ROUTE 291

Correspondence dated November 5 was received from Richard K. Lindsay, District Engineer, SHA, following up on concerns expressed by the Commissioners during the recent Consolidated Transportation Program tour in the County regarding signalization along MD Route 291 for the Kent and Queen Anne's Counties' Rescue Squad.

The SHA continues to study the location in order to determine if signalization is justified according to the SHA's guidelines. Mr. Lindsay indicated that the SHA anticipates finalizing the study by mid-December 2004 and that the SHA will advise the Commissioners of its findings and/or recommendations.

UPPER SHORE AGING (USA)

Carl E. Burke, Executive Director, USA, Inc., appeared and presented to the Board a review of USA's financial reports documenting how USA, Inc., the Area Agency on Aging for the County, funds its administrative operations.

Deputy Director Gary Gunther and Charlotte Coleman, Fiscal Director, both of USA, Inc., were also in attendance.

Mr. Burke expressed the appreciation of USA to the Board for the County's current fiscal year appropriations to USA. Mr. Burke reported that in most of the State's counties, the local Area Agency on Aging receives direct, designated local funding for organizational administration. In the case of USA, Inc., the Area Agency on Aging pulls administrative charges from all eligible federal, State and private grants, as well as from local appropriations, to support its reasonable administrative costs, which amount to 7.56% of total revenues.

Mr. Burke explained that, historically, reasonable grants administration charges approved by funding entities have been sufficient to fund the agency's administrative operations in lieu of direct local support for this purpose. He noted that the impending loss of about $675,000 in Maryland Transit Administration operating grants and unspecified contract revenues (anticipated after July 1, 2005) die to USA's decision to discontinue the USTAR program will impact USA, Inc.'s ability to continue supporting its organizational administration the way it has done in the past, given the strict limitations of those who provide funding regarding administrative charges.

He also reviewed the legislative underpinnings of the local Area Agency on Aging, the organizational structure and the oversight function of USA, Inc. as well as the Agency's administrative operations. Currently projected Fiscal Year 2005 revenue shortfalls for Agency administration were identified, and alternative solutions for finding sufficient support were presented, along with the implications of each. Mr. Burke reported that $8,200 represents revenue to USA from Kent County.

The following detail the specific uses of local operating appropriations in Kent County for Fiscal Year 2004:

Administration - $8,200 (6%);
Shopping for Seniors - $13,268 (10%);
Meals on Wheels - $27,175 (20%);
Senior Center - $44,798 (32%);
USTAR ($45,330 (32%).

In response to Commissioner Pickrum's questions, Mr. Burke reported that the total revenue from the Maryland Transit Authority, Fiscal Year 2004, was $675,000, and that USA has ceased all of its involvement with publically-funded transportation, however it will continue to provide transportation for its clients to and from the Senior Center.

Responding to Commissioner Livie's questions, Mr. Burke reported that USA is not going to eliminate employment positions in light of its fiscal challenges; however, it will be cutting back the hours of three administrative employment positions.

Commissioners Livie and Crow expressed the appreciation of the Board for the financial reports and the presentation indicating that they represent a good start for further dialogue between the County and USA.

Commissioner Livie added that USA performs a very valuable service for the County's senior citizens and assured Mr. Burke that the Board will carefully review the reports presented.

As per the Commissioners' request, Mr. Burke indicated that he will provide USA's final figures for Fiscal Year 2004 as soon as possible.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, November 30, 2004.


THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND

Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant

Approved: William W. Pickrum, President




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