Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Tour New 9-1-1 Center, Discuss Commission on Aging Project

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Tour New 9-1-1 Center, Discuss Commission on Aging Project
January 12, 2010

In its first regular meeting of the new year, on January 12th, 2010, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners toured the Consolidated Emergency Communications Dispatch Center on Elliott Parkway near Williamsport.
The center opened last week, and houses dispatchers for all 9-1-1 calls, serving County and City police services as well as fire and emergency services dispatch operations. The center is designed to improve efficiency in call handling and processing, and all dispatchers will have completed training in Emergency Police Dispatch, Emergency Fire Dispatch and Emergency Medical Dispatch.
The County began planning for the new center in 2001 along with upgrades to the radio communications system consolidating all radio communications into one. Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and other government operations will utilize a single radio system.
Equipment at the new center meets all of the new national standards for dispatch services. State and Federal grants have accounted for most of the cost involved in purchasing the equipment.
The Board also heard an update of the County's Interoperable Public Safety Communications System from Project Manager Pete Loewenheim.
Commissioners discussed details of the Senior Center agreement and lease with Hagerstown Community College. The $6 million center will be built on land owned by the College, and a lease agreement on the land needed to be discussed and finalized. Commissioners did not act on the agreement, citing a 50-year time period as cumbersome, and opting for a 99-year lease at $1 per year, or an automatic rollover to a second 50-year lease at the end of the first term.
The County Attorney's Office was asked to tighten contract specifics, renegotiate aspects of the lease and bring resulting information back to the Board at the January 19th meeting.
The Board conducted further review and discussion of the Urban Growth Area Advisory Committee's recommendations for proposed Zoning Ordinance text and map amendments to implement the Comprehensive plan recommendations regarding the Urban Growth Area including the Business Local, Business General and Industrial Restricted sections.
This presentation began on December 1, 2009. Further discussion was scheduled for Dec 15 but was postponed. The Urban Growth Area Advisory Committee (UGAAC), appointed by the County Commissioners in July of 2007, presented its final report on proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance on September 15, 2009. Additional sections will be reviewed and discussed as a later date.
In other actions, the Board heard a presentation on an on-line software program that would allow contractors to ensure that employees have legal immigration status.
The presentation was made by Jeff Werner and Brad Botwin, representing the group "Help Save Maryland" who requested that the Commissioners require the use of that program by all current and future contractors.
The group plans to lobby the Maryland legislature during the coming session to require the program's use at the state level.
The Board heard a request from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau for $9,300 in rent assistance for the coming year. Commissioners requested additional budgetary information on the Hotel-Motel Tax distribution and regulations. The CVB receives 50% of that tax collected each year.
The Board took no action on Change Order #79 valued at $210,731.48 for the Courthouse Annex renovation Project citing a need for further negotiations with the contractor.
Human Resources Director Bill Sonnik and Highways Department Director Ed Plank requested advertisement of a vacant Motor Equipment Operator I position at the Department's Southern Section. Approval was granted, based on personnel shortages due to illness, at that section.
Budget and Finance Director Debra Murray provided additional financial information to the Board relative to the Convention and Visitor's Bureau rent assistance request. Murray reported on a recent meeting of the Government Finance Officers' Association Maryland Chapter, which discussed figures for revenue projections for the coming year. The County is expecting a $600,000 shortfall in real estate taxes, which would be nearly offset by a surplus in personal property taxes, with an expected shortfall of $67,000.
Recreation Director Jaime Dick reported on scheduling problems encountered at the Maugansville Elementary School Community Center and stated that the high demand for use of the facility contributed to the difficulty. Dick said that 95 persons are registered for the aerobics class held at that location.