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Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Review Budgets, Hear Transportation Plan Review

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Review Budgets, Hear Transportation Plan Review

In its regular meeting on March 30th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard reviews of the Utility operating budgets, an update of the Board of Education budget plan for Fiscal Year 2011 and reviewed a draft of a regional transportation plan.
Division of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Julie Pippel told the Board that reductions in the operating budgets of the Water Fund will total $147,080 or 8.21% to balance revenues at $11,645,460. Revenues for the Sewer Fund are expected to drop by $891,530.00, a reduction of 8%, to balance expenditures at $10,249,940. There were no changes in the Pretreatment Fund for the coming fiscal year.
Residential full service users of the utility could see increases of $4.50 per quarter for water and $4.90 for sewer service in FY 2011 if the budgets are approved as presented. Those rates will be taken to Public Hearing on April 13th at 9 a.m. as part of the Commissioners' meeting.
The County Commissioners, members of the elected Board of Education (BOE) and staffs of both bodies reviewed the proposed public school budget for FY 2011.
Washington County Public Schools' (WCPS) Chief Financial Officer Chris South told the Commissioners that the BOE is recommending a $603,805 funding increase to its general fund budget from the Board of County Commissioners for FY 2011. This request represents only the increase in the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement for a total of $88,433,725.
The BOE had originally requested $96,103,725, but reductions in County revenues forced the appropriation to the MOE level only. South and Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael outlined steps the schools' staff was taking to meet the system's needs for FY '11.
Start-Up Costs plus Salary and Benefits for two Antietam Academy personnel,
School Buses, Elimination of Revenue Budgeted from the Fund Balance in FY 2010, an employee health insurance premium increase, increases in employer contributions to the Employee Pension Plan, and adjusting Administration and Staff mid-year salary increases to Full-Year Cost for FY 2011 would total $8.77 million in what were called Incremental Needs and Requests.
The BOE would balance these requests with the Local Appropriation (Maintenance of Effort) of $603,805, State Appropriations attributable to corrections of State calculation errors and to WCPS factors in appropriation formulas of $3.5 million, Prior Year Surplus for Non-Recurring Costs amounting to $1.7 million and
Cuts from FY 2010 Baseline Budget of $3.45 million.
Cuts included energy savings, Central Office positions via attrition and redeployment, Non-Public Placement savings, Testing Department efficiencies, Professional Development, Board Expenditures and several miscellaneous areas.
Public school officials stated that the Board has made selective reductions
in order to preserve every employee's job for another year and preserve all current academic programs.
Commissioners discussed two potential revenue cuts for next fiscal year. Additional information was needed on a Senior Property Tax credit if the County expands that program above the State program currently in place. Eligibility requirements would have to be changed regarding income levels and age restrictions. A potential reduction for non-owner occupied properties would reduce taxes by 10% for those who own non-commercial rental properties. Budget and Finance was instructed to move forward in creation of such a program.
All budgets will be reviewed by line item prior to the Budget Hearing scheduled for May 4th at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.
Robert Gordon, Director of the Hagerstown-Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization (HEPMPO) presented the organization's long-range transportation plan to the Board.
The Plan is in draft form, has been released to the public for review at meetings are being held to familiarize the citizens of Washington County as well as Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia about the plan's scope and function, and gather written comments. Meetings were scheduled for Tuesday evening in Berkeley, Jefferson on Wednesday and Washington County on Thursday of this week. Additional details of the meeting can be found at
After an explanation of a suggested North East Bypass route that, if approved, would have connected I-81 with I-70 across the northern part of the County, The Board approved asking the HEPMPO to strike any reference to such a route from the Plan.
In other actions, Citizens Participation heard Jay Wandeleski of Smithsburg comment on ground water problems in the Whitetail Subdivision.
Jim Laird of Citizens to Protect Washington County made comments in favor of smart growth policies and against a suggested North East bypass.
Pat Schooley of Hagerstown commented against a suggested North East bypass.
Dave Schooley of Hagerstown stated that any discussion of a North East Bypass should have citizen input.
Sally Hatch of Hagerstown requested room for World War II veterans as part of the Library renovations, which would accommodate the WWII Roundtable.
Lisa Conrad of Conrad Builders requested the Board extend the Residential Stimulus Program to create jobs in the local building industry.
The Board approved two grant applications by the State's Attorneys' Office (SAO).
The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention would fund the "Weekend Intake Center" grant for Work Crew Supervisor Salary. The Work Crew Supervisor oversees persons who have agreed to perform voluntary community service as an alternative to possible fines or jail as part of the disposition for a criminal court proceeding. He arranges the work while acting as a liaison to various non-profit agencies and organizations throughout Washington County, monitor's hours performed, and maintains equipment used in the everyday operations of the program.

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