January 15, 2002
The regularly scheduled meeting of the County Commissioners of Caroline County, Maryland, convened at 9:30 a.m. in the Hearing Room, Courthouse, Denton.
Charles C. Cawley, County Administrator
John S. LeGates, Member
The County Commissioners meeting convened with prayer given by Commissioner Prettyman.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the minutes of January 8, 2001 were approved. Vouchers #61997 - #62225 were approved for payment.
The Commissioners presented the 2001 Employee of the Year award plaque to James A. Henning, Caroline County Sheriff’s Department, previously announced at the Annual Employee Meeting on December 6, 2001. Sheriff Philip L. Brown commended Deputy Henning on a job well done.
Charles Andrew, jail superintendent, Caroline County Detention Center, accompanied by Corporal Walter Potter, correctional officer, discussed the REALITY USA Program, a national program implemented by the State of Tennessee in 1991 and in Caroline County in April 2001, currently locally sponsored by the Lions Clubs. The program for Caroline County was implemented by retired Maryland State Police DARE officer, J. Terry Ober, who is now serving as the state coordinator for the REALITY USA program. The program is a four-week course offered to juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 21. The juveniles attend a course comprised of four Friday nights; the first at the local police department; the second at the local Advanced Life Support station and/or hospital or morgue; the third at District Court to conduct a trial; and the fourth at the Detention Center to experience being finger-printed and incarcerated. Corporal Potter is in charge of the Caroline program at the Detention Center, and they have participated in one program per month since its implementation. Corporal Potter verified the success of the program with explanation of his experiences with the program and its dramatic impression on youth thus far. Mr. Andrew displayed a recognition plaque that was presented to the Caroline County Detention Center at a conference in Ocean City last week.
The Commissioners briefly reviewed the request from the Caroline County Board of Education regarding budget adjustments for FY 2001, and deferred action pending further explanation, and instructed staff to schedule Milton Nagel, comptroller, to attend the Commissioners’ meeting next week in order to provide explanation.
President Cole signed the Caroline County Forest Conservation program easement, as previously authorized on a standing basis, for Chris Coile Development D, LLC, as reviewed and approved by County planning staff and the County attorney.
Following review by the Commissioners and on motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved the required Quarterly Status Report for the North County Comprehensive Plan, as prepared by Shane Johnston, environmental planner for Caroline County Planning and Codes Administration, for submittal to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Community Development Block Grant Administration.
The Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, rescheduled their regularly scheduled evening meeting of January 22, 2002 to a day meeting, to convene at 9:30 a.m.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved and President Cole signed individual letters to Delegate Adelaide Eckardt confirming the County Commissioners’ request for sponsorship of individual state legislative bills to increase the annual salaries of the following elected positions, effective as of the next term of office: the Caroline County State’s Attorney from $70,000 to $80,000; the Caroline County Sheriff from $49,500 to $55,000; and the Caroline County Treasurer from $39,500 to $45,000.
Following discussion, the Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, endorsed the request of the Clover Cultural Center for a 2002 State capital bond bill in the amount of $150,000 to be used for acquisition of property to relocate the Center to a permanent site just outside the Town of Denton.
At 10:10 a.m., and as authorized by 1999 Md. Code, State Government, Article 10-508(a)(7) and (8), as amended, the Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, and seconded by President Cole, adjourned into closed session to meet with Charles MacLeod, County attorney, to receive legal advice about Governor Glendening’s proposed redistricting plan.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, and seconded by President Cole, the meeting reconvened in open session at 11:20 a.m., President Cole reported that in closed session, the Commissioners met with the County attorney to receive legal advice on the initial steps regarding a potential legal challenge to Governor Glendening’s proposed redistricting plan. On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners instructed the County attorney to develop arguments opposing the proposed redistricting plan to be presented during the 2002 Maryland General Assembly hearings and to conduct further research and factual findings as needed, to include interviewing members of the proposed redistricting plan committee, and to assist the County Commissioners in developing a line of communication with other jurisdictions on the Eastern Shore that may be adversely affected.
Mr. Cawley stated that in order to prepare the FY 2003 budget, the Commissioners should develop a FY 2003 budget message outlining their priorities. He reminded the Commissioners that revenues may be able to grow by approximately 4% of the $30 million budget, and that he has preliminarily estimated $1.2 million in new revenue for FY 2003. He further advised that with the proposed bond anticipation note for the 800 MHz emergency communications system, the debt payment for the County will increase by $500,000 in FY 2003, which will reduce new money to approximately $700,000. Mr. Cawley expressed concern that the State of Maryland is currently in a recession and the impact on Caroline County is unknown. Commissioner Prettyman reminded that the County’s budget only grew by 1.8% during his first year serving as County Commissioner. Commissioner Prettyman expressed a “top priority” desire to bring the salaries of the Sheriff’s deputies to a level that is competitive with local jurisdictions in the area, to avoid losing them to those surrounding jurisdictions, as has been requested from the Sheriff’s Department last budget year. Mr. Cawley expressed concern that the Sheriff’s deputies are requesting a 10% increase and that a serious employee morale issue may result if one department receives a significant increase over other departments, and that would also impair the current merit system. The Commissioners expressed as top priorities for FY 2003: employee compensation and benefits; separate compensation increase for Sheriff’s deputies; and continued funding, as available, for bridges and roads. President Cole expressed a desire to relay to citizens, at all three scheduled public budget hearings, the strides the County has made in the area of taxation, with reduction of the local piggyback tax. The Commissioners instructed the Planning and Codes Administration to submit a report outlining building permit statistics to include the number of building permit applications and the number of inventoried, buildable lots. Commissioner Prettyman expressed an interest in relaying a directive from the County Commissioners to County departments to direct them to, at all times, convey diplomacy to constituents. Mr. Cawley stated that a retreat involving the County Commissioners and department heads should be scheduled, possibly in November following the 2002 Election, to develop an open dialogue between the Commissioners and department heads on such issues as what is expected, what the Commissioners want and where the County is going. President Cole concurred with Commissioner Prettyman and expressed an interest in directing the County administrator to reiterate to department heads that the policy of the County Commissioners is to be customer-friendly, within their parameters, as the County is providing a service, and convey the message of promptness to constituents.
There being no further business; the meeting of the County Commissioners was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
Vivian L. Anders
County Commissioners Office Coordinator