Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Hear Budget Discussions, Dam Report

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Hear Budget Discussions, Dam Report

In its regular meeting on March 9th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners discussed budget issues for the coming fiscal year.
Budget Committee members Debra Murray and Joe Kroboth brought draft #2 of the proposed Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) budget before the Board. Murray, Director of Budget and Finance, told the Commissioners that the total decreases in the FY 2011 budget compared with last year, are at $52.2 million. The second draft of projections has shown a $10 million reduction over draft 1.
Projects that had been planned to occur in the next fiscal year are being moved into out years through 2016, to help alleviate shortfall in revenue due to state budget cuts.
Changes include decreased funding for Board of Education Capital Maintenance and land acquisition, cuts in contingency funding for County General Government operations, savings from construction costs for Public Safety, and reductions in road overlay costs and construction of new roads, as well as reductions in Water Quality construction.
One item slated for increased funding is the state-mandated repair to the dam at Devil's Backbone Park. Director of Public Works Joe Kroboth told the Board that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has deemed the structure unsafe, and has given the County the option to repair or demolish the dam, built in the 1900's across Antietam Creek to generate electric power.
Kroboth told the Commissioners that the County's accelerated evaluation of the structure found holes in the dam and a large amount of silt above the dam after it was inspected by divers last week. Kroboth said he has requested a hearing with MDE to ask for a modification in the schedule for repair/demolition. The option to remove the dam is compounded by the mile of stream bank on both sides of the creek that would have to be restored. That potential restoration would mean the repair cost would be less than cost for removing the dam and that restoration. Projected cost for the project is $635,000. Kroboth said that sources for funding are limited, and that the consultant's full analysis should be available in mid-May.
Commissioners wanted additional information on state-made repairs to a dam near Woodmont Rod and Gun Club, and asked the County Attorney to research the MDE order and County liability issues.
Personnel requests for FY 2011 were discussed. Human Resources Director Bill Sonnik told the Board that requests for wage increases had come from the Board of Election Supervisors, to pay for poll workers and judges, due to the two elections that will occur during the coming fiscal year, and from the Division of Emergency Services for overtime pay for 9-1-1 dispatchers and an intern position in Emergency Management.
The election judges pay would increase by $25 per day. The Election Board President, Board members and an Attorney would receive $1,000 raises under the request, which typically occurs in years when two elections are held.
Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis told the Board that his requested increase of $81,130 would be used for overtime pay and training costs for those 9-1-1 dispatch employees currently transitioning to handle fire, medical and law enforcement calls at the consolidated 9-1-1 center. $4,600 of that request would pay an intern in the Department of Emergency Management.
All budget items will be reviewed prior to the Public Hearing on the FY 2011 budget, set for May 4th at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.
In other actions, Citizens Participation heard Peter Crawford and Jay Wandleski of Smithsburg request further assistance from the Commissioners in mitigating flooding of homes in the Whitetail subdivision.
Commissioners approved advertising two positions in the Highways department. A Motor Equipment Operator I and an MEO II position will be filled following proper advertisement.
Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis reported on last week's meeting of agencies in the region to discuss federal reimbursements of costs incurred in recent snow events. Washington County has been added to the original 8 Counties in Maryland deemed eligible for the December Presidential Declaration, Lewis said. Such declaration has yet to be made for the February events.
Commissioners approved filing of the annual Public Transportation Grant Funding Application for Fiscal Year 2011 for funding under the Federal Transit Act.
Washington County Transit annually applies to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) for Federal and State operational and capital grant funding through the Annual Transportation Improvement Plan (ATP). Funding is used to operate the Section 5307 Public Transportation Program - Fixed Route Transit buses and JOBS, the Statewide Special Transportation Assistance Program (SSTAP) - Ride Assist, the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Paratransit Program for individuals with disabilities, and the Capital Assistance Program.
The Fiscal Year 2011 Section 5307 application requests $790,952 in State and Federal funds from the MTA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and $567,065 in local funding of which $109,000 is provided by the Washington County Department of Social Services (WCDSS). The SSTAP application request $146,917 in State funds from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and a $ 48,972 in-kind service (non-cash) match. The ADA application requests $188,100 in State operation assistance and $20,900 in local funds for Paratransit purposes. The Capital Assistance Program requests $135,000 in State and Federal funds from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and $15,000 in local funds for vehicle preventive maintenance.
In addition, the Board approved amending the current Intergovernmental Agreement with WCDSS to add an additional $25,000 to the JOBS program funding for the current fiscal year to increase that budget to $65,000., and accepted the WCDSS contribution for FY 2011 of $109,000 for that service.
The Board approved a change order for the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in the amount of $94,821.70 to Palmer Construction for the Fire and Emergency Services, 911 Center Renovations, for a 410 calendar day time extension and modifications. Ground water seepage in the below ground portion of the structure had to be abated and certain repairs made before the renovations could continue.
Commissioners approved application for a grant from the Maryland Aviation Administration in the amount of 50% or up to $59,950.00 for air service promotion and marketing efforts, acquiring firefighter personal protective equipment and acquiring a passenger boarding ramp at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
The Board approved the appointment of Christine Cassatt to a three-year term on the Mental Health Authority.