Budgets fill commissioners’ appointments Tuesday
CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Commissioners heard budget requests from a number of outside agencies Tuesday night, including Chesapeake College. Stuart Bounds, interim president at Chesapeake College discussed the budget proposal for 2019. Bounds was joined by the college’s new president, Clifford Coppersmith, who was introduced to the commissioners. Tim Jones, vice president for administrative services at the college, and Brenda Shorter, a board member, also were present. Bounds said that Coppersmith will begin at the college May 29, bringing experience in workforce development. Bounds also discussed some of the new priorities the Chesapeake College board set while creating the 2019 budget, including maintaining current tuition prices, public safety additions and human resources salary increases. Bounds also said that the college wanted to focus on student retention. Bounds said security training had changed this year, and that the college has added sworn officers to its premises while students are on campus. Bounds said that staff has been trained in active shooter scenarios. “And now we’re going to reach out to our adjunct faculty ... and our students. That’s who’s on campus and that’s who’s got to be ready to respond, God forbid, should such an event occur,” Bounds said. Bounds said upgrading equipment at Chesapeake College is another aspect the 2019 budget focuses on. Bounds said the campus is looking to install a new emergency system by May, upgrading a phone system throughout campus. Bounds said that as soon as someone presses the emergency button, services can be routed directly to the requesting room or building. Dr. Leland Spencer, the county’s health officer, discussed funding for the Post Adjudication Supervision and Treatment program. Spencer was joined by Circuit Court Judge Harris Murphy and District Court Judge John Nunn. Spencer said he was requesting $20,000 for the PAST program, to cover the cost of the care coordinator position in the program. PAST, a supervised treatment program used as an alternative to incarceration, was first launched by Murphy, state’s attorney at the time, in 2015. Murphy explained the process of an addict’s acceptance in the program, beginning with having the state’s attorney screening cases as they move through the courts. He said that the defendant would enter a guilty plea, having their sentence postponed indefinitely, while the person is in the program. Murphy said that the program allowed for more supervision than regular probation. “Since 2015, when we began this, 36 individuals have been involved in the program,” Murphy said. “Of those, 14 have completed the program successfully.” Murphy said that there were 15 people actively involved in the program and another seven who had failed the program. He said that if an individual cannot complete the program, they are taken back to the beginning of the process for sentencing. Nunn said that the program has sanctions during the review process, which if a person is not completing monthly reviews, can earn them a weekend in jail. “So far, everyone who’s graduated we haven’t had anybody come back,” Nunn said. “So we’ve had nobody who’s been back involved with the court system.” Rebekah Hock, a community outreach employee at the Kent Center, and Karine Ireland, executive director, spoke with the commissioners about their 2019 budget and funding requests. Hock said the center was looking to transform in the coming year into a bigger support network for citizens with disabilities. She said that the budget would request $55,000 for this coming fiscal year to retain staff, along with an additional $9,000 to purchase a new van. Hock shared that in the last three years, the center had grown from serving 59 individuals to 73. “You’ve supported your fellow community members with complex intellectual and developmental disabilities for many years, and we’re grateful for it because your contributions helped Kent Center survive at one point,” Hock said. Gary Gunther, executive director of Upper Shore Aging Inc., presented information about his funding request for 2019. He said Upper Shore Aging is requesting more money in fiscal year 2019 and will put some of its services out to bid. Gunther would request $150,214 for Upper Shore Aging, which represents an additional $10,000 for meals and new chairs for the senior center. Jackie Adams, director of the Kent County Public Library, and Joe Harding, president of the library’s board of trustees, requested $674,508 in county funding. Adams also said that state funding for the library had increased by 7.5 percent for 2019. Adams said that the library had more than 100,000 visits in 2017, with over 8,000 people attending library programs or classes. Adams also said that circulation was up by 10 percent. Karen Miller, district manager for Kent Soil and Water Conservation District, presented a funding request to the commissioners, saying that the organization’s operations budget would not change for 2019. Miller said that last year the county paid 9.9 percent of the organization’s budget. This year, the organization is requesting $23,543 in county funding. Paul Rickerts, University of Maryland Extension director for Kent, Queen Anne’s and Cecil counties, presented funding requests for the program. Rickerts discussed the four areas the program focused, on including youth development, agriculture and food and environment and natural resource education. Rickerts requested $135,018 in county funding for the 2019 fiscal year, including additional money for horticulture programming, a specific line item for Sabine Harvey, horticulture expert for the extension. “Other than that there’s some variations but overall, the operating costs are the same,” Rickerts said. John Schratwieser, director of the Kent County Arts Council, and Leslie Raimond, former director of the council, sought $12,500 for new grants. Schratwieser said that the council gives grants to organizations and artists and uses money to provide services around the county. He also talked about his involvement in Kent County Public Schools and their recent event, Arts in Motion. Schratwieser said the council is trying to use the arts as an engaging force in the community. “We have an opportunity as a county arts council to really inspire,” Schratwieser said. “Not just to inspire our artists, but to inspire our community to engage in conversation through art.”
Paul Rickert talks about the University of Maryland Extension budget for 2019 during Tuesday’s Kent County Commissioners meeting.