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Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Discuss Budget Items, Animal Control

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Discuss Budget Items, Animal Control

In its regular meeting on February 16th, 2010, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard discussions on four items in the proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget for Fiscal Years 2011-2016. Members of the CIP committee Debra Murray and Joe Kroboth presented proposals for the General Government, Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety and Road improvement items in that proposed budget.
Murray told the Board that the proposed bond issue for utilities would be reduced by $3.9 million by moving projects out 2 years.
General government is proposed at $3.43 million in FY '11, with the largest item the new Senior Center. $3.79 million of the total $5.9 million cost is programmed for FY '11, showing a reduction of $1.17 million over previously calculated figures. New programs included $225,000 for replacement of air handling equipment for office buildings, and $438,300 for an energy efficiency program that would assess all County-owned buildings for energy-saving possibilities. Kroboth told the Board that amount would come from a 100% federal grant.
In the Solid Waste category, the $5.34 million total cost would include costs for closing the Rubble Fill, Cell #7 construction, a leacheate pump station-force main and gas flaring at the Hancock landfill.
Mandated repairs to the Devils' Backbone Park dam led the Parks and Recreation discussion. The dam has been ordered repaired or removed by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Kroboth told the Commissioners that MDE has set forth an aggressive time frame for the repair calling for action in 300 days from start to finish of the project. Of the proposed $635,000 budget item, $600,000 would go towards meeting that state mandate. Kroboth said state funds could be available if the dam was removed, but grants are not available for repair of the structure.
The Public Safety section of the CIP includes funding for expansion of the Detention Center beginning in FY 2015. In the coming fiscal year the only CIP funds programmed are $229,500 for Geographic Information System (GIS) Parcel Vectorization. Under the program, which could be funded by the state Numbers Board, county property maps would be digitized and aligned with aerial photographs for public safety location purposes.
The Road Improvement portion of the CIP for FY '11 is proposed at $13.37 million and would include $4.7 million in Pavement Maintenance, cut by $1.22 million from original projections due to reductions in revenue. A new project would improve the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Antietam Drive in order to slow traffic and reduce accidents at that location.
All budgets will receive a line-item analysis prior to a Public Hearing in May.
Revisions to the Animal Control Ordinance were discussed again, with the current draft Ordinance under review.
Items discussed included definitions of animal attack on owner's property, exclusions of dogs from the definition of Farm Animal, residency requirements for members of the Animal Control Authority, issuance of Subpoenas, and Licensing.
Commissioners discussed changes in the way dog licensers are issued, but could not come to consensus to move the current licensing responsibility from the Treasurer's Office to the Humane Society. Further discussion on these issues was deemed necessary prior to taking the proposals to a Public Hearing.
Earlier on the meeting, Ronald Leggett, Dolores Holler and Benjamin Chlebnikow commented on the need for stricter regulation of vicious animals and enforcement of current regulations, during Citizens' Participation. Attacks on humans, other dogs and farm animals were described during those comments.
In other actions, the Commissioners approved an Intergovernmental Cooperative Purchase of Architecture and Engineering Services for the design of the Senior Center Building and Site to Bushey, Feight, Morin Architects of Hagerstown, as the lead design professional, in the amount t of $293,171. The contract was a piggyback on a Frederick County contract for technical services from licensed consultants for architectural, structural, civil, mechanical, environmental, and other engineering services. State law gives the Board authority to enter into intergovernmental purchase agreements when the resulting cost or administrative efficiencies would be in the best interest of the County.
The Board approved a letter of support for Electromet Corporation, a designer of cabinetry for military purposes, to Senators Mikulski and Cardin requesting an addition of $1 million to the Department of Defense budget. If the company were awarded a contract, 20-35 employees could be added to the local manufacturing activity for a 15-year period.
Director of Public Works Joe Kroboth reported to the Board on last week's meeting with Governor Martin O'Malley following the blizzard emergency. Maryland Emergency Management Administration Director Richard Muth reported that the County could get 75% reimbursement for expenses incurred if a Federal disaster were decreed, and that Maryland was working with Homeland Security to make that happen.
Two new employees were introduced to the Commissioners. Carmen Harbaugh is a new Permit Tech with Permits and Inspections, and Lauren Hopkins is an Advanced Life Support Technician II in the Division of Emergency Services.
The Commissioners appointed Gregory Shank of Williamsport to the Washington County Gaming Commission.

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