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Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Review Budgets, Hold Public Hearing

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Review Budgets, Hold Public Hearing

In its regular meeting on April 13th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard further review of the proposed General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2011.
Budget and Finance Director Debra Murray conducted further review of the Public Safety, and Other Government categories.
Under Public Safety, the Fire and Rescue category is made up of line items for Civil Air Patrol, Air Unit, Special Operations, Fire and Rescue Volunteer Services, 9-1-1 Communications, Fire and Rescue Operations, Emergency Management, Communications Maintenance, and Animal Control.
Largest change in the category was an increase of $1.35 million to Fire and Rescue Volunteer Services for wages, salaries and support of Advanced Life Support personnel, transferred from County Fire and Rescue Operations budget, which was reduced by $1.38 million. Total for the category is $10.64 million for Fiscal Year 2011.
The Animal Control budget showed a 1% increase of $12,000 for workmen's compensation and insurance costs, for a total of $1.17 million.
Operating/Capital Transfer would be reduced by $394,000 for a grand total of $12.6 million. The Capital Improvement Fund and Debt Service line items showed a 44.93% reduction from FY 2010 and a $5.17 million reduction in the FY 2011 request. Total for the coming fiscal year would be $17.73 million.
Other Government Programs include Circuit Court, Orphans Court and the State's Attorney Office. Total for FY 2011 for the category is $3.75 million, down 2.65% from last fiscal year.
State Programs include the Health Department, Social Services, University of Maryland and County Extension Services, Agriculture Marketing, the Election Board, Soil Conservation, Weed Control and the Gypsy Moth Program. Health Department funding would be flat for 2011. The total for the category would be $4.33 million, down 4.81% from the FY 2010 total.
A Public Hearing on proposed Water and Sewer Utility Rates for Fiscal Year 2011 drew 4 people commenting against the increases and one person in favor of the increases. The proposed rates would add $4.50 per quarter to the average residential water customer's bill and $4.90 to the average sewer customer's bill. County Administrator Greg Murray explained the rate structure model, and stated that many people in the Urban Growth Area are on County sewer, and City water. Two of those testifying against water rate increases live in areas served by the City water system.
Glenn Fishack, Chair of the Washington County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission said the Commission favored the rates as proposed, and invited the public to WSAC meetings, held on the second Monday of each month at 5:00 p.m., in the Division of Environmental Management headquarters on Elliott Parkway in the Williamsport area
Commissioners will take public testimony on the entire County Budget at the annual public hearing scheduled for May 4th.
In other actions, the week of April 11-17 was designated as Animal Control Appreciation Week in Washington County. Commissioners' President John Barr presented the proclamation to Humane Society Director Paul Miller and Field Services Supervisor Evelyn Garrett. Citizens are urged to be aware of the dedication to public service of all Animal Control employees. The week is in concert with the National Animal Control Association annual event.
In other actions, the Commissioners attended a noon-hour function with Serbian Officials at the Fort Ritchie complex in Cascade. The Serbs were visiting several locations in Maryland to learn about transitioning former military bases to other functions having positive economic impact. The tour is under the sponsorship of the federal Agency for International Development. PenMar Development Corporation and Corporate Office Properties Trust are transitioning Fort Ritchie, closed in 1998, for private use.
In afternoon actions, the Board approved advertisement of a Weigh Clerk position at the 40-West Landfill made vacant due to retirement.
Solid Waste Department head Cliff Engle requested guidance from the Board relative to the Tire Amnesty Day that has been successful in recent years. The Maryland Department of the Environment will not fund the recycling event this year, and Commissioners' interest in continuing the event at County expense was discussed. The Board advised Engle to look at funding alternatives for the $29,000 cost and report at a later date.

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