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Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners take input on building codes; Adopt electrical and plumbing board rules

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners take input on building codes; Adopt electrical and plumbing board rules

In its regular meeting on July 6, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners conducted a Public Hearing to receive input on a number of building, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical code revisions.
Under discussion were the Adoption and Enactment of the Maryland Building Performance Standards, with local amendments; Repeal of the 2006 International Building Code, with local amendments, and the 2006 International Residential Code, with local amendments; Adoption and Enactment of the International Plumbing Code, 2009 Edition; the International Mechanical Code, 2009 Edition, and the International Fuel Gas Code, 2009 Edition, all with local amendments; Repeal of the 2006 International Plumbing Code, with local amendments, the 2006 International Mechanical Code, with local amendments, and the 2006 International Fuel Gas Code, with local amendments; Adoption and Enactment of the 2008 National Electrical Code, with local amendments; Repeal of the 2005 National Electrical Code, with local amendments; and Adoption of Resolution relating to the revised Fee Schedule for Civil Citations
Testimony centered on the state-mandated requirement for fire protective sprinkler systems in new residential construction. Dan DiVito, director of Washington County Permits and Inspections, told the Board he recommended leaving the requirement for sprinklers in the code, rather than writing an amendment for their exclusion, based on results of a focus group that studied all code revisions.
Doug Alexander of the Maryland State Firemen's Association, Glenn Fishack, President of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, Larry Iseminger and Jason Mowbray of the State Fire Marshall's Office, Hagerstown Fire Marshall Doug Dehaven, County Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis, Deputy Director of Permits and Inspections Angela Smith and Kathy Hedrick of the National Fire Academy testified in favor of residential sprinkler systems.
Builders Taylor Oliver, Wes Churchey and Tim Fields testified against the sprinkler provision.
The state of Maryland has included sprinklers in its building codes, but has indicated that local jurisdictions may opt for amendments to those codes.
Commissioners requested a definitive yes or no answer from the state as to compliance issues if the County amends the requirement out of its local code. The Board also requested removal of a requirement for pull-down attic stairs in new residential construction.
The Board adopted rules and regulations for two construction-related boards. The Code of Public Laws of Washington County establishes an Electrical Board for the purpose of regulating licensure and providing a means of appeal to some decisions of the code official. Similarly, state law grants the same authority to the Plumbing Board and the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Board. In order to provide for an orderly efficient method of discharging that responsibility, both the Washington County Plumbing and HVAC Board and the Electrical Apparatus & Wiring Board of Examiners and Supervisors of Washington County developed "Rules & Regulation" and recommended that approval.
In other actions Commissioners approved renewal of 2010-2011 renewal of Property and Casualty Insurance policies in place during the prior policy year, to include liability policies placed with Travelers Insurance Company, property policies placed with Local Government Insurance Trust, and airport liability policy placed with AIG Aviation, Inc.
The County's insurance consultant, CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc., conducted a market survey and concluded that the County's present insurances and carrier program is the most cost effective option. Any increase in premiums, particularly auto liability and property damage, is due to increased inventory and use of newer equipment. Overall, renewal premiums for all lines of coverage were held to a 4.22% increase, well below budgeted premiums and consistent with rates in previous years. Overall savings in the programs is $80,000.00 over the previous year.
The Board approved support of sponsoring a "Take Flight II" Hot Air Balloon Sculpture to benefit the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA) and the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation, Inc. and in-kind logistical assistance to the Foundation relating to the placing and moving of the sculptures. $5,000 would be granted from the Hotel-Motel tax.
Pieter Bickford and Angie Youngblood represented the BISFA foundation, along with Principal Michael Thorsen and artist David Monet. The sculptures will be unveiled in April of 2011.
County Administrator Greg Murray reported on initiation of the Property Tax Differential on July 1st. Public Information Officer Norman Bassett reported on publication of information in local newspapers and on radio regarding the tax changes and how to find out more about them.
Commissioners welcomed Kevin Hemphill, as a newly hired Motor Equipment Operator 1 in the Highways Department Southern Section. He previously served as a part-time bus operator for County Commuter.
The Board approved advertisement of three positions within the Division of Environmental Management. The positions of Deputy Director, Department of Water Quality; Superintendent of Operations, Department of Water Quality; and Recycling Coordinator, Department of Solid Waste have been vacant due to resignations or retirements, and were funded in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Commissioner Kercheval suggested that the Recycling Coordinator hours be reviewed for coverage during peak days and hours and the job description be adjusted.
These positions are responsible for performing and ensuring that applicable State and Federal regulations are met and that quality services are provided to the customers in their respective areas of the Department of Water Quality and the Department of Solid Waste. Filling of these positions was deemed essential to the performance and function ability of the respective Departments.
Commissioners voted to move ahead forward with the Draft 2009 Water and Sewerage Plan Update by notifying State agencies and scheduling a public hearing.
One of the Term Goals of the current Board of County Commissioners is to complete the Update of the Water and Sewerage Plan to satisfy State requirements. Following a public hearing in September 2009 for the 2006 Update, the BOCC directed Staff to revise the Plan to include data reflecting information as of January 2009. That update is now complete for data. A date for the Public Hearing will be announced.

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