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Article Archive >> In Your County

Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Review Capital budget

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Review Capital budget

As part of its regular meeting on February 15th, 2011, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners confirmed the appointment of Phillip G. Ridenour as Director of Hagerstown Regional Airport (see release on this page), and reviewed four areas of the Capital Improvement Projects budget for Fiscal Year 2012.
The Capital Improvement budget document spans a ten-year period, and serves as the County's Master Plan for development of infrastructure, services and utilities. A review of Draft One covered Solid Waste, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, and Road Improvements.
Solid Waste Department Director Cliff Engle told the Board that landfill capital expense for the fiscal year that begins in July is balanced at $1.53 million. Project highlights include a Leacheate Pump Station and Force Main to connect landfills to the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant, natural gas flaring at the Hancock landfill, and Leacheate management at the old City/County landfill site. The pump station and force main would save the County about $300,000 per year by eliminating hauling of leacheate by truck.
Parks and Recreation CIP expenses for FY '12 are recommended at $427,000, and would include an irrigation system upgrade at Black Rock Golf Course, development of a new park in the Tammany subdivision and planning for the Rural Heritage Center Transportation Museum. The County, the 9 municipalities and the Board of Education have requested $546,732 in Program Open Space state-funded projects. The amount of those funds that the County will receive is unknown at this time. Forward-funding a $60,000 loan to enable receipt of state matching funds for the Transportation museum was discussed. Parks and Recreation Director Jim Sterling was requested to develop a formal plan for such a loan and make a presentation to the Board in two weeks.
Sheriff Doug Mullendore outlined a Capital Improvement Budget for FY 2012 of $50,000 for software and hardware upgrades to the County's radio communications system. The Federal Communications Commission passed regulations making the upgrade necessary, as part of a plan to free up radio frequencies nationwide. Mullendore reviewed progress on the Detention Center's expansion, which impacted the 2010 budget and will impact budgets in the out-years beginning with FY 2014. Phase one of the project is underway, and phase two will begin in FY '14.
Public Works Director Joe Kroboth told the Board that the Road Improvement capital budget for FY 2012 would total $10.7 million. Projects will include widening of Robinwood Drive from the health complex northward, realignment of Shawley Drive near Maugansville, a roundabout at Frederick Street and Southern Boulevard near Funkstown, Eastern Boulevard widening from Jefferson Boulevard to Security Road, development of a plan for a roundabout at Garis Shop Road and Poffenberger Road in concert with the State Highway Administration, sidewalk improvements for ADA compliance, improvements to the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Antietam Drive, and a traffic signal at Crayton Boulevard and Maugans Avenue.
All budgets are subject to line-item review prior to adoption.

The Commissioners voted to approve granting Express Approval to the City of Hagerstown for annexation of 5 acres of land located on the Eastern edge of the city at I-70 adjacent to the Doub Farm property. The Doub property was not granted similar approval by the previous Board and cannot be developed for an additional four years. The property in question is located on the eastern side of the city and is bordered on three sides by the Doub property, which the City annexed in 2010. I-70 borders the property on the fourth side. The property is currently undeveloped and owned by the State Highway Administration. There are no plans by SHA to develop or dispose of the property.
Under state law, annexations by municipalities are referred to the county; and, if found to be consistent with county zoning, require no further action. If the proposed zoning is substantially different or at a substantially higher density than the County zoning, then the Board of County Commissioners need to grant, "express approval" or the annexing municipality would be required to wait five years before exercising zoning authority over the property. The decision of the county only affects the zoning of the property and not the annexation.
The City proposes to zone the property C4 (Regional Shopping Center) upon annexation under the City's zoning ordinance, which is consistent with the City's zoning of the adjacent Doub property (C4 and POM, Professional Office/Mixed Use). The property is currently zoned HI-2 (Highway Interchange-2) under the County Zoning Ordinance, which would not permit shopping centers.
The measure was approved on a 4-1 vote with Commissioners' President Terry Baker voting "no".
In a similar action, the Board voted to grant Express Approval to the City of Hagerstown for annexation of 1.4 acres west of the city on the north side of Salem Avenue Extended adjacent to the Collegiate Acres development. Beltways Properties is requesting that annexation. The abutting portions of Collegiate Acres are zoned R3 (Residential). Other lands within the City to the east are zoned C4 (Regional Shopping Center) and IR (Industrial Restricted). The lands within the county towards the north and Salem Avenue are zoned HI-1 (Highway Interchange-1) under County zoning regulations.
The properties to the north, east and west of the parcel are currently vacant. The applicant can develop the property with multi-family units under the R3 designation. The applicant has stated the purpose for adding the additional 1.41 acres is to make the existing parcel uniform and thus create more flexibility in devising the site plan for the project.
The Board authorized the Division of Emergency Services to accept the Federal Fiscal Year 2010 Interoperable Emergency Communication Grant as presented and to authorize the President of the Board of County Commissioners to sign and execute an Agreement and any other necessary documentation with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to accept the grant of $165,040.00.
The FFY '10 Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program was created to improve local, regional, statewide, and national interoperable emergency communications. The specific intent of the funding is for the purposes of the Washington, Allegany, and Garrett County Interoperability Network "WAGIN". The funding is specifically designed for creation of governance structure, tactical planning, training and exercise development and evaluation.

Under Other Business, appointments were made to three of the County's Advisory Boards and Commissions.
Janice Cirincione was appointed to a first, two-year term on the Washington County Gaming Commission - from March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2013.
Jason Divelbiss was appointed to the PenMar Development Corporation to fulfill an unexpired term through June 30, 2011.
Sassan Shaool was appointed to the Washington County Planning Commission to fulfill an unexpired term through June 30, 2014; and Dennis Reeder was appointed to serve a first, five-year term from March 1, 2011 through March 1, 2016.
County Administrator Greg Murray commented on Senate Bill; 629 dealing with State Employee Pensions, now before the state legislative session. That bill would shift cost of some pensions from the state to the Counties beginning in FY 2013. Washington County's cost would be $13 million in FY'13 and $1 million in three successive years.
A number of requests have been received for copies of the County's State of the County video for use in economic development, for Leadership Hagerstown classes, as a tool in the Board of Education's search for a new Superintendent of Schools, for Engineering Department presentations and by the state of Maryland. It has been posted to the Herald-Mail website, to Antietam Cable Video on Demand and the Chamber of Commerce website. A false notion had arisen that the County developed the video for a single-use, Murray said.
Senate Bill 534, sponsored by the County's local delegation to the General Assembly, would contain a provision for Board of Election Supervisors membership, expanding the number from 3 to 5. Three members would come from the state party in the majority and two would come from the minority party. Currently the President of the Elections Board receives $5,000 annually, while regular members receive $4,500 and Substitute members receive $75 for meetings they attend. Changes proposed by the Bill would eliminate pay for substitutes, and that Board would be removed from recommendations of the Salary Study Commission, and be moved to the County Commissioners' oversight.
The delegation was asking for a letter of support for the Bill. The measure was approved on a 4-1 vote with Commissioners'' Vice-President John Barr voting "no".
Commissioners asked that representatives of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum meet with County Administrator Greg Murray and develop a budget plan for operation of the proposed museum, along with a revised application for Hotel-Motel Tax funds reflecting Capital improvement needs. The Museum applied for $49,813 in operating funds. Alesia Parson-McBean, Wendi Perry and Charles Doleman told the Board that a temporary location for the museum has been secured in downtown Hagerstown, but donations for operational costs have been difficult to get.
Commissioners' President Terry Baker cited the Hotel-Motel Tax application, which states the fund may not be used for operating costs, but may be used for capital costs such as building renovations.

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