Board of County Commissioners' Actions:Commissioners hold public hearings, Visit Boonsboro

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners hold public hearings, Visit Boonsboro

As part of its regular meeting on September 28th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners took input from the public on matters involving Agricultural Preservation Easements, and the Animal Control Ordinance.
Commissioners approved priority ranking of 10 applications for Agricultural Preservation Easements and will forward them to the State for consideration. Using the approved system the Agriculture Advisory Board looks at all of the information provided by the applicant and staff to select farms in order of priority. The Commissioners must approve the priority list before it can be forwarded to the State. Each application is ranked using the approved priority ranking system. After the farms have been ranked and placed on the priority list, the County sends the list of farms to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Board. Easements are purchased in order from the priority list until funds are exhausted.
One person spoke in the Public Hearing. Jay Miller of Sharpsburg, an applicant, requested information regarding confidentiality of applications. A new law, SB 73, was passed in the 2009 legislative session and requires the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) and its county partners to maintain the confidentiality of financial information and rankings of individual landowners related to the acquisition of an agricultural easement interest by MALPF in their properties until the end of an annual easement acquisition cycle.
Eleven citizens made comment in the Public Hearing held regarding changes to the Animal Control Ordinance. All were in favor of the Ordinance, with modifications suggested to the definition of Vicious and Dangerous dogs, a reference to provocation of an animal as a defense, removal of the term "dominance" from one section, and requests for provisions for better protection of property owners and citizens using public rights of way through adoption of a leash law. The Humane Society as licensing agency received positive comments and need for additional Animal Control Officers was put forth.
The County Attorney's Office will further revise changes to language in the Ordinance and bring the document back to the Board for final adoption.
In other actions, the Board heard a final report on the Residential Stimulus program put into effect in the last fiscal year to create jobs within the local home building industry, and give incentives to prospective homeowners.
Permits and Inspections Director Dan DiVito told the Board that a total of seventy-eight (78) new single family homes with a total of 252,340 square feet were issued building permits in the program. The average square foot for a program new home was 3,235 square feet. Fifty-one (51) new additions were also included representing 36,251 square feet. The average size addition included was 863 square feet. The total Excise Tax collected for both new home and residential additions was $244,271.00. Total cost of the program factoring all credits issued, was $564,998, while Permit revenue collected for the period was $255,974 leaving a net cost to the County of $309,000.
The report stated that "the evidence is clear that the Residential Stimulus Program had an immediate positive impact on the number of construction projects and related employment in the county. The goal of providing a short term "bridge" to help local businesses to continue to operate and avoid workforce reductions was termed a success. The monthly estimated payroll and unemployment insurance savings was significantly higher than the cost of the program. Phase-out of federal stimulus programs work against reestablishment of the program, however.
The Board approved a contract award for provision of the Tomorrow's Leaders Program in Washington County to the Boys and Girls club in the amount of $64,181.00. The purpose of the service is to fulfill requirements contained in the Washington County Community Partnership Agreement for fiscal year 2011 with the Governor's Office for Children (GOC). A curriculum-based program specifically targeted toward meeting the needs of center city, disadvantaged youth, the Program provides structured learning activities, recreational opportunities, and job readiness skills training for those youth most in need. This program prepares the participant to be ready by 21. Programming provides opportunities for personal successes as well as involvement in the community.
The Commissioners approved award of the Pavement Maintenance and Rehabilitation Hot Mix Asphalt Applications contract for Fiscal Year 2011 to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder, Craig Paving, Inc., in the amount of $2,358,550.53. The available budget for Hot Mix Asphalt applications in FY '11 is $3,000,000; the proposed costs, including inspection and testing are approximately $2,498,000, resulting in an estimated contingency of $502,000. Due to favorable unit prices under the proposed contract the Board approved increasing the mileage of roads to be improved.
The Board approved a Family Law Fund Grant of $167,964 to Circuit Court. Funds under the program were formerly a direct reimbursement to the County, but will now be a grant due to changes at the federal level. The grant funds the salary of a Family Service Coordinator and staff.
The Commissioners also approved receipt of a grant from the Maryland Transit Administration in the amount of $49,906.00. Those funds are from federal ARRA stimulus sources through the state and are used to provide preventive maintenance and tools for the County Commuter vehicles.
An evening meeting was held in the Town of Boonsboro, in order to give citizens increased opportunity to interact with local government.