March 26, 2002
The regularly scheduled meeting of the County Commissioners of Caroline County, Maryland, convened at 6:30 p.m. in the Hearing Room, Courthouse, Denton.
John S. LeGates, Member
The County Commissioners meeting convened with prayer led by Rev. Theiss.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the minutes of March 19, 2002 were approved. Vouchers #63209 - #63280 were approved for payment.
The Commissioners signed State Assessment Change Reports #1614-#1619, and #1621-#1626.
The Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, authorized staff to conduct the advertised bid openings at 7:30 p.m., in the adjacent Room #102, Courthouse, on projects #CC-GB-032602, Garland Bridge Repairs; #CC-SB-032602, Construction of Pole Building at Public Works; and #CC-GR-032602, Engineering Services for Greensboro Boat Ramp (Recreation and Parks), and to report back with the results.
On individual motions by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved and President Cole signed the following purchase orders:
#26033 - $5,000 – George, Miles & Buhr, Inc. – engineering report of immediate upgrade of Nelpine Heights drinking water system and a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility of public water for the Jonestown area;
#26384 - $17,613.10 – Maryland Environmental Service – 370.82 tons of refuse hauled to the Mid-Shore Regional Landfill in February 2002; and
#26927 - $7,525 – John D. Hynes & Associates, Inc. – completion of the Limited Phase II Environmental Assessment for the Hayman property pertaining to the proposed Ridgely Airpark Expansion Project in Ridgely.
Bill Cooper, committee chair, Caroline County Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), accompanied by committee representatives, presented their FY 2003 budget request in the amount of $50,000, a 70% increase over last year’s appropriation. Mr. Cooper explained that the program began in 1986 to reward those volunteer firefighters for the services they have rendered. The committee began payouts to the 55 eligible recipients, in the amount of $75 per month, in FY 2002. In order for the program to remain solvent, the committee is requesting an allocation from the County in the amount of $50,000 instead of $45,000 as proposed in the Caroline County’s Firemen’s Association budget request. Mr. Cooper requested that the Commissioners fully fund the program in order to accommodate the widow’s benefit to 15 eligible widows.
Robert Greenleaf, State’s Attorney, accompanied by his entire staff, presented the department’s FY 2003 budget request in the amount of $516,880, a 13% increase over last year’s appropriation. The proposed budget reflects two grants for a shared attorney for the Denton and Federalsburg HotSpots Programs in the total amount of $45,000, transferred from the State’s Attorney’s budget to a separate individual line item, which would show a decrease in the departmental request. Mr. Greenleaf reviewed statistics stating that there were 143 Circuit Court cases tried in 2001, and that there has been a 400% increase in Circuit Court cases within the last calendar year. According to local crime statistics compiled, Caroline County has sustained a 14% decrease in violent crimes. Mr. Greenleaf introduced each member of the staff and each employee described their job duties. Mr. Greenleaf briefly reviewed the department’s FY 2003 capital budget request, which includes $150,884 for the completion of the second-floor Courthouse renovations. Mr. Greenleaf expressed concern as to the temporary relocation of the office during renovation. The Commissioners were invited to visit and take a tour.
Judge Karen Jensen, Caroline County Circuit Court, presented to the Commissioners the department’s FY 2003 budget request in the amount of $307,771, an 13% increase over last year’s appropriation. The budget request reflects additional funding to provide court security, as they are currently operating two courts on specific days. The proposed budget reflects the transfer of the Family Services grant, in the amount of $119,794, from the departmental budget to an individual line item, which accounts for the decrease in the departmental request. Judge Jensen explained that the General Assembly revised the salary for law clerks and requested that the Commissioners fund the difference, as recently adopted by Talbot County. Judge Jensen expressed concern regarding Courthouse security and asked that the Commissioners consider addressing the issue in the near future.
Ron Fearins, representing Caroline County Fire Chiefs Association, accompanied by Russell Dukes, president, Caroline County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, presented the FY 2003 budget request of the Volunteer Firemen’s Association in the amount of $672,073, a 74% increase over last year’s appropriation. Mr. Fearins explained that of the requested amount of $672,072, $122,073 is the ambulance service request and the remaining $550,000 is the fire service request. They expressed concern regarding the lose of $5 million in State-aid funding, of which $200,000 was slated for Caroline County.
Cathy Carter, owner of the county-based company, Medical Claim-Aid, accompanied by Bobby Schoonover, director, Caroline County Emergency Medical Services, met with the Commissioners regarding modification of the Medicare reimbursement rate associated with the ambulance billings for Emergency Medical Services. Ms. Carter explained how the billing process works and that the ambulance plan is managed by Medical Claim-Aid as a form of secondary insurance to cover all insurance co-payments for members, as well as covering the cost of transport for the uninsured members. Caroline County currently charges $450 for an ambulance transport, which Medicare reimburses 80%. Ms. Carter explained that the legislation that Congress passed in 1996 that established the ambulance transport fee schedule, will be experiencing a rate change effective April 1, 2002 by Medicare, and recommends that the County take advantage of the rate amendment. Following discussion, the Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners authorized adjustment of the Medicare reimbursement rate for Advanced Life Support ambulance transports for calendar year 2002 at $468.99, with an automatic increase effective January 1, 2003 to $480.71 and further authorized adjustment of the rural mileage rate for calendar year 2002 to be $8.21 per mile, with an automatic increase effective January 1, 2003, at a rate of $8.42 per mile.
Bobby Schoonover, director, Emergency Medical Services, accompanied by David Carrier,
administration supervisor; Kevin Gillespie, quality assurance supervisor; and
Robert Simpson, education and billing supervisor, provided a PowerPoint
presentation of the department’s FY 2003
budget request in the amount of $385,567 for EMS, a 14% increase over last
year’s appropriation, and $885,265 for BLS, 6.4% increase over last
year’s appropriation. Mr. Schoonover
and accompanying staff individually provided FY 2002 statistics and FY 2003
budget initiatives for the department.
Some of the budget initiatives for FY 2003 include relocation of the
Denton station, salary increases for staff, increases for mandated medical
supplies, and increased costs for vehicle maintenance.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners, at the request of the Caroline County Health Department, the Caroline County Board of Education and the Caroline County Department of Social Services, designated Caroline County Board of Education as the lead agency in the county for purposes of receiving the annual state Infants and Toddlers Program grant, in the approximate amount of $75,000, for administration of the program and performing other lead agency tasks, and authorized President Cole’s signature on a letter to Dr. Larry Lorton, Superintendent of Schools. This is a standing authorization as long as the Health Department, Board of Education and Social Services are agreeable.
The Commissioners briefly discussed House Bill 274, Caroline County – State’s Attorney – Salary bill. On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved and President Cole signed a letter to Senator Walter Baker that essentially reiterates Mr. Cawley’s telephone conversation with the Senator where he expressed concern about potential amendments to the bill. The letter requests the Senator’s support of the bill as introduced.
Charles Cawley reported the results of the following advertised bid openings that were held at 7:30 p.m., in the adjacent Room #102, Courthouse, Denton. The following bids were publicly opened, read aloud and recorded:
Somerset Paving & Marine, Inc.
Crisfield, Maryland $ 16,823
Lewis David Kibler
Denton, Maryland $ 10,000
Allied Contractors, Inc.
Baltimore, Maryland $ 55,580
Bear, Delaware $ 38,325
Choptank Excavating, LLC
Denton, Maryland $ 14,495
George & Lynch
New Castle, Delaware $ 19,250
Bids were referred to staff for evaluation.
CONSTRUCTION OF POLE BUILDING AT PUBLIC WORKS
T & C Contractors
Ridgely, Maryland $ 94,000
Delmarva Pole Building Supply, Inc.
Wyoming, Delaware $ 80,684
Easton, Maryland $ 98,000
Bids were referred to staff for evaluation.
ENGINEERING SERVICES FOR GREENSBORO BOARD RAMP
(Recreation and Parks)
George E. Young, PC
Pocomoke, Maryland $ 9,500
Andrews, Miller & Associates, Inc.
Cambridge, Maryland $ 22,000
George, Miles & Buhr, LLC
Salisbury, Maryland $ 18,955
Bids were referred to staff for evaluation.
Leigh Sands, executive assistant, reported the following results of the advertised bid opening for 4-H and Youth Park Farmland (28.3 acres) Rental, that was publicly held on Monday, March 25, 2002, in Room #102, Courthouse, Denton:
Ronald Love $ 53.00/acre
Chris Christopher $ 42.50/acre
Ms. Sands advised that Cooperative Extension is comfortable with the high bid. Following discussion, the Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Prettyman, approved the bid of Ronald Love, Denton, Maryland, in the amount of $53 per acre, contingent upon Mr. Love’s approval of the recently revised lease agreement.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved and President Cole signed the FY 2003 Mosquito Control Agreement between Caroline County and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, in the amount of $48,000 of which the State provides $20,000 in funding, as presented by Charles Emerson, director, Caroline County Department of Public Works.
The Commissioners discussed the Board of Education request for funding of non-recurring cost items for FY 2003, which permits county governments to fund specific school system requests without affecting the required maintenance of effort calculation for the following fiscal year. The deadline for submission of the non-recurring cost items to the State is March 31. On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved the following non-recurring cost items for FY 2003, as requested by the Board of Education, contingent upon availability of funds:
Unique One-Time Costs Category
Repair of Preston Elementary School Roof $ 70,200
Colonel Richardson High School Gymnasium Project:
Replacement of Bleachers 90,000
Repair or Replacement of Floor 35,000/
Second Well for Colonel Richardson High and
Middle Schools 65,000
Repoint Rear Brick Wall of Preston Elementary School 37,000
Resurface Track at North Caroline High School 65,000
Classroom-Based Computers at Various Schools $ 250,000
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners signed a proclamation declaring March as Red Cross Month in Caroline County and generally endorsing this national program, as requested by the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula.
On motion by Mr. Prettyman, the Commissioners approved and President Cole signed a letter to Secretary Ray Skinner, Chairman, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, in support of the filing of the grant application submitted by the Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Heritage Area, for matching funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, to accomplish the completion of a regional Management Plan.
The Commissioners requested staff to schedule discussion of animal control in April to include the Humane Society and State’s Attorney’s office.
The Commissioners expressed concern regarding Caroline County Sheriff’s Department complaints about the CISCO software purchased by the County in 1999, as it yet to be functional in that department. Mr. Cawley advised that the Department of Corrections and the 911 Center are currently utilizing the software and have been for the last two years. The Commissioners instructed staff to schedule a workshop in April with all parties involved.
Mr. Cawley presented a summary of FY 2003 budget requests received to date and estimated revenues, for the Commissioners’ review. Mr. Cawley advised that total requests are $33,567,020 and projected total revenues are approximately $30,158,115, which is an increase of 2.3% over last year. Mr. Cawley advised that $800,000 of the fund balance is a result of reappropriated highway user fees and reappropriated fund balance from prior years. Real estate tax revenue is up by 3.8%, however, income tax revenue is down due to the Commissioners’ reduction in the piggyback tax and the effects of the recession, which equates to a decrease of $1 million in income tax revenues for Caroline County from FY 2001. Mr. Cawley advised that no further data on income taxes will be available until May. The disparity grant is currently projected at $2.3 million, which is the same amount as last year; however, the House of Delegates has proposed to freeze the disparity grant due to the deficits currently being experienced in the State budget. Mr. Cawley expressed concern that the total requests received, to date, are $3.4 million more than the projected revenue estimate, and that $120,000 will need to be added to the requests for health insurance premiums, which are expected to increase by 13% over FY 2001. The second largest expenditure is for debt service, which is increasing from $2.3 million to $2.7 million, primarily to accommodate the purchase of the 800 MHz emergency radio communications system. Mr. Cawley advised that costs for employee benefits are being charged and budgeted on a departmental level this year, therefore, comparisons of this year’s budget against prior years would be inaccurate without adjustment for the change. Mr. Cawley also expressed concern that the pension contribution has not been increased, however, a larger allocation may need to be made due to the effects of the stock market.
There being no further business; the meeting of the County Commissioners was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.
Vivian L. Anders
County Commissioners Office Coordinator