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Article Archive >> In Your County

Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Review Budgets

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Review Budgets

In its regular meeting on April 20th, 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 a review of the State Agency, Non-Profit, General Operations, Buildings, Public Works, Planning and Permits, Parks and Recreation, and Economic Development categories.
State Agencies receive part funding from the County and include the Health Department, Social Services, State and County Extension Services, Agricultural Marketing, Election Board, Soil Conservation, Weed Control and the Gypsy Moth Program. The category saw overall requests reduced by $163,000 for a total of $4.33 million for FY '11.
With the exception of the Tri-County Council and the Miss Maryland Project due to contractual obligations, the Non-Profit category will be reduced by 2% across the Board. 13 Agencies affected were asked to submit flat budgets for the coming fiscal year at the beginning of the budget process, but further cuts in revenue from the state and other sources have taken place. County departmental operations have seen cuts of 3.7 percent and Commissioners took action to bring the Non-Profit agency contributions more in line with the current economic conditions. The category total would be reduced by about $36,000.00.
General Operations would total $8.28 million for FY 2011, a reduction of $1.2 million from the previous fiscal year or 12.82%.
Planning and Permits would see a 9.09% decrease from its FY 2010 budget level, to $3.18 million, due primarily to 4 vacant positions not immediately replaced due to economic conditions.
Public Works' operations would be reduced by 6.64% from previous levels, to $2.45 million. Parks and Recreation would see a reduction of $129,570 or 4.9%.
The Economic Development budget request was reduced by $33,720, or 5.11% from 2010 levels.
In addition, an incentive program designed to encourage employee frugality in use of sick days would be suspended for one year at a savings of $80,000.
Commissioners also approved reduction in planned borrowing for FY 2011, from $13.5 million to a total of $12 million.
Additional budget cuts will be discussed at the next meeting, in preparation for the annual Budget Public Hearing, set for May 4th at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. The hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will be broadcast by Antietam Cable TV on Channel 99. Citizens will be allowed to speak for 3 minutes and must sign up at the meeting.
The week of April 18th through the 24th was proclaimed "Home Chemical Safety Week" in Washington County, and awards were presented to three elementary school students that participated in the annual poster contest promoting safe use of chemicals in the home (see attached release).
In other actions, Commissioners' President John Barr presented a proclamation to States' Attorney's Office Victims Rights Coordinator Jill Ritter and Victims Rights Assistant Cheryl Grimm designating April 18th-24th, 2010 as Crime Victims' Rights Week in Washington County, supporting crime victims and those who serve them.
Following a Public Hearing, the Commissioners approved four Agricultural Preservation District Agreements in the county. No one appeared to testify either in favor of or against the proposals.
About 330 acres on three parcels in the Clear Spring area were preserved on request from owners John Schnebly, Nicholas Hill and Richard Seibert. A fourth parcel of 108.94 acres near Downsville owned by Lois Stoner, was also approved.
Under the program, property is restricted to agricultural use only for a period of ten years. In exchange the landowners will not pay county property tax on their agricultural land or buildings and they will receive a credit of up to $711 on their farm houses. Cost of tax credits for these properties for the ten year period equal about $10/acre/year for a total of about $48,000 for the full 10 year period. This will be in the form of property taxes not collected.
The Board approved acquisition of 2.77 Acres of property along East Baltimore Street in Hagerstown at a cost of $1.17 million following a Public Hearing on the matter. No one appeared to testify either in favor of or against the proposal. The property will be used for parking by the Washington County Free Library after its renovation and expansion, and includes the former Massey Auto Body Shop building.
Under Citizens' Participation, Jay Wandelewski of Smithsburg commented on ground water problems in the Whitetail Subdivision and Darren Andrews of Hagerstown commented on agricultural issues.
Commissioners heard a report on the proposed Stormwater Management, Grading, Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance from Public Works Director Joe Kroboth and DPW Deputy Director for Land Development Engineering Jennifer Smith.
The State of Maryland has adopted new regulations with respect to stormwater management control for development and redevelopment projects. The Division of Public Works and the Soil Conservation District have drafted a new proposed Ordinance, now available for review and comment. Copies may be obtained from contacting the Division of Public Works or downloading the document from the Land Development Engineering Department website. The proposed Ordinance covers stormwater management, grading activities and revises the existing Sediment & Erosion Control Ordinance. Kroboth announced that a public hearing on the Ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4th, during the Commissioners' meeting.
The Board approved the Employee Group Health Insurance for FY 2011, including coverage for Medical, dental, Vision, Prescription, Care Management and Stop Loss.
Rebecca Mowen and Liz Logsdon, representing CBIZ Benefits and Insurance Services, Inc. the county's consultant, told the Board that savings of $319,370 would be realized by award of the recommended contracts for the coming fiscal year.
Tri-State Health Partners/CareFirst Administrators of Hagerstown will be the medical provider, with Express Scripts of St. Louis, Missouri as prescription medicine administrator with annual fees of $848,742.00, about 2.62% less than the incumbent's proposal.
Delta Dental of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania would be the provider for dental, at a rate of $529,229 over two years, about $70,000 less than the nearest bidder, and National Vision Administrators, LLC of Clifton, New Jersey would provide the vision plan at a three-year cost of $113,844.
Employee contributions to the plan will increase about $8 per month in FY 2011, about 7%.

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