Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Discuss Curbside Recycling, Excise Tax Incentives, Proclaim October Disabilities Awareness Month

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Discuss Curbside Recycling, Excise Tax Incentives, Proclaim October Disabilities Awareness Month

In its regular meeting on October 6th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners conducted further discussion on recycling options and on excise tax incentives that would create jobs in the county.
October was designated Disabilities Awareness Month through a proclamation presented to members of the Washington County Disabilities Advisory Committee to the Board of County Commissioners. Committee Chair Peggy Martin told the Board that the tenth anniversary of the DAC will be celebrated on October 30th with an awards luncheon at Hagerstown Community College (see enclosed release).
A report on options for curbside recycling by Division of Environmental Management Deputy Director Cliff Engle outlined an in-house study of the current program, needs expressed by municipalities and citizens, and programs conducted in nearby counties in Maryland.
The City of Hagerstown and the Town of Williamsport already recycle at the curb and there has been a request by Boonsboro that the County fund such a program there. If a program were started county-side, including the 9 municipalities, estimated costs would be between $2.6 and $3 million. Additional cost breakdowns showed a range from just over $300,000 for towns only, to $1.4 million for towns plus Hagerstown, to the grand total for all curbside recycling at $3,087, 039.00.
Such a program could save from $12 to $15 million over the life of the current landfill, County Administrator Greg Murray said. Evaluation of the recycling effort is one of the Commissioners' goals for 2009.
Another on the list of Commissioners' goals is use of a $1 million set-aside for local economic stimulus through creation of jobs in the housing industry. Department of Permits and Inspections Director Dan Divito brought a report on options for a Residential Stimulus program to the Board, following discussions held at a previous meeting.
The stimulus would waive the excise tax on new homes and additions up to 2,500 square feet, and provide other incentives designed to spur local home construction. Suggestions the Commissioners discussed were a limit on number of permits to 6 for any one builder, with framing inspection complete after four months and project completion within 18 months; reduction of permit fees by 50% through February 1st, 2010, and 100% credit on permit fees for energy-efficient projects, through that date. Goal of the program is to provide a stimulus quickly, and include those that want to improve their existing homes as well as build new homes. Mobile homes, Modular homes and apartments would not be included under the proposed plan.
The recommendations will undergo legal review and be discussed further in next week's meeting.
A discussion of items to be taken before the state legislature in January resulted in the Board decision not to include a fire and emergency services tax in that request. Assistant County Attorney Kirk Downey brought a list of possible requests to the Board, including the Commissioner's authority in the appointment of the Executive Director of the Pen-Mar Board of Directors, consideration of possible changes to the mandated salary study process, clarification of language in Purchasing Procedures and Aid to Manufactories legislation. Community Action Council's ability to be covered under County vehicle insurance for its Nonprofit Transportation Coordination service, changes in how the School Design Advisory Board functions, increase of amounts the Board may contribute to Private or Cooperative Public Improvement Projects, realignment of the duties of the Division of Public works relative to the Division of Environmental Management, and exemption of admission and amusement tax for Agricultural Tourism events.
Legal staff will make appropriate changes to the list and submit a new version for discussion next week.
Additional meetings were recommended between County staff and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association regarding increased accountability on revenues from gaming activities, expenses of the companies and profits from other fund-raising activities. Gaming Director Jim Hovis and Fire and Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis told the Board that a revised reporting form was needed to include that information.
The VFRA requests increases from the County annually, yet the government does not receive itemization of all revenue-generating activities from all companies. Further discussions with the Association will take place in the near future.
In other actions, the Board recognized Carrie Aaron of the Department of Human Resources for earning the Master of Business Administration degree from Mount St. Mary's University in May 2009 and for completing certification as a "Professional in Human Resources" from the Society for Human Resource Management in July 2009. The Certificate of Merit from the Board lauded Aaron for high standards of education, experience and demonstrated knowledge.
Commissioners approved a change order for the Cedar Springs Pump Station in the amount of $65,913.00 due to construction delays.
Advertisement for a Motor Equipment I Operator position in the Highways Department was approved. The County now requires full justification before refilling any position. The position is responsible for assisting in snow plowing, patching and paving and other Highways Department duties.
The Sheriff's Department received approval to accept the Justice Assistance Grant Program funding for FY 2009 in the amount of $22,900.00 for an automated license plate reader for the Patrol Division. In addition the Board approved a change in administrative functions regarding grant applications by the Sheriff, and approved application for a grant of up to $55,000 to increase storage space to house weapons confiscated under state protective orders.
The Commissioners approved reauthorization of the Jurisdictional Emergency Medical Services Director contract in the amount of $25,000. The position is mandated by the state, and is held by Dr. Vincent Cantone of Smithsburg. The contract was approved on a 4-0-1 vote, with Commissioner Kercheval abstaining.
The Board approved police and mail service support for the 2010 National Pike Festival Wagon Train. The annual event takes place in May of each year.