Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Discuss Stimulus Fund Distribution, Program Open Space, Agricultural Preservation Funds

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Discuss Stimulus Fund Distribution, Program Open Space, Agricultural Preservation Funds
May 12, 2009

In its regular meeting on May 12th, 2009, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved distribution of funds for road repair projects indirectly made possible through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), known as the federal "Stimulus" funds. The Department of Public Works presented a plan that would distribute available funds to the nine municipalities using the same formula the state uses for its Highway User Fund distribution.
Director of Public Works Joe Kroboth brought the report to the Board, which had requested additional information on ARRA funding levels after initially hearing about the funding on April 7th. At that time, Kroboth told the Board that funds received under ARRA should be used by the County, due to stringent federal requirements that might prove burdensome to the municipalities, use County General Funds for the municipal distribution, and reimburse those funds with the ARRA monies.
Since the original report, Kroboth said that the State of Maryland has made cuts in the amount of ARRA funds that will be going to the Counties for distribution, affecting County overlay projects as well as the amount available to the towns.
The Board approved an option that would allocate $562,381.00 to the City of Hagerstown and the 8 incorporated towns on the basis of number of licensed drivers and number of road miles per municipality. Hagerstown would receive $404,342.00 under the plan, while Boonsboro would receive $37,816; Smithsburg, $30,056; Williamsport, 25,658; Hancock, $24,305; Keedysville, $12,688; Funkstown, $10,795; Sharpsburg, $10,516; and Clear Spring, $6,204.00.
The Commissioners approved the Program Open Space distribution plan for Fiscal Year 2010, after hearing that the amount the County will receive for POS projects was significantly reduced. POS funds come from the State of Maryland to the County for development of public parks. The County makes distribution to the municipalities for that purpose.
Cuts by the state reduced the amount Washington County will receive to $130,856.00. Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department Director Jim Sterling told the Board that the County had received as much as $3 million in POS funds three years ago.
Distribution of the funds would provide for only four of an original 14 requests by the County, the City of Hagerstown, the incorporated Towns, and Hagerstown Community College. The City would receive $23,900 for Play Equipment at Funkhouser Park; Hancock would receive $64,656 to repay a loan for a bridge at Kirkwood Park; The County would use $31,500 to repair a concession stand at Pinesburg Park that is sinking, and for sidewalk improvements at Woodland Way Park, suggested by the City of Hagerstown.
The Board approved an urgent funding request from the Land Preservation Coordinator for additional funds to be committed for match with Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program (MALPP) funds.
The agreement would support combining 2009/2010 MALPP funding cycles, support the use of Federal dollars to help leverage funds, and increase the 60/40 match commitment to the MALPP proposed combined 2009/2010 easement cycle to $1,060,000.
In other actions, Harold Lucas was appointed to a three-year term on the Economic Development Commission.
County Administrator Greg Murray reported that the Proposed Budget Document for Fiscal Year 2010 has been posted to the County website for public information. The annual budget hearing is set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday May 14th at Kepler Theater on the campus of Hagerstown Community College, and will be cablecast live by Antietam Cable Television on its channel 99. A rezoning hearing scheduled for May 11th, was cancelled, and will be rescheduled June 15th at 7:00 p.m. in Courtroom #1 of the Washington County Courthouse.
The Washington County Historical Advisory Committee for restoration in the Town of Boonsboro presented author Nora Roberts and husband Bruce Wilder with the 2009 John Frye Historic Preservation award. The award was given for work on the Historic Eagle Hotel, which was converted into a bed and breakfast and renamed the "Inn BoonsBoro". The stone building, was built by Peter Conn in 1798 and was operated as a tavern stand known as "The Eagle". The building was one of the first five in town and the first constructed of stone. The Frye award is given annually to the person or persons who, through their efforts, have helped to save the Heritage of Washington County.