Com­mis­sion­ers pon­der re­quests for 2018 leg­is­la­ture

Pay in­creases, lim­its for school su­per, more on ta­ble

The Calvert Recorder - - Business - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

On Tues­day, the Calvert Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers held its first of two work ses­sions to triage a litany of leg­isla­tive re­quests for pos­si­ble con­sid­er­a­tion in the 2018 Mary­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

No po­si­tions were taken by the board on the first eight, of 18, pro­pos­als pre­sented that in­cluded lim­it­ing the salary and ben­e­fits for the county’s fu­ture school su­per­in­ten­dents upon retirement or dis­missal, ap­proval of BOCC-sup­ported pay in­creases for county elected of­fi­cials, as well as a hand­ful of pro­vi­sions for law en­force­ment and res­cue work­ers.

One pro­vi­sion is a BOCC ini­tia­tive to ex­pand the prop­erty tax credit au­tho­riza­tion against the county for dis­abled first re­spon­ders and cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers. An au­tho­riza­tion in state law al­lows for coun­ties to of­fer some form of real prop­erty tax cred­its, but the county seeks to do more for its dis­abled pub­lic ser­vants that serve on the front lines.

“This one is par­tic­u­lar to Calvert County and will give you guys the author­ity to grant a prop­erty tax credit that is not greater than the per­cent­age of the dis­abil­ity of the law en­force­ment or cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers or res­cue work­ers that has been found to be dis­abled by an ad­min­is­tra­tive body or a court of com­pe­tent ju­ris­dic­tion au­tho­rized to make that de­ter­mi­na­tion,” county at­tor­ney John Nor­ris ex­plained in great de­tail, adding that the dis­abil­ity had to oc­cur in the line of duty and not by will­ful mis­con­duct or sub­stance abuse.

Nor­ris fur­ther ex­plained that an of­fi­cer or first re­spon­der with a 10 per­cent dis­abil­ity could get a 10 per­cent credit against his or her prop­erty taxes, if en­acted.

Once en­acted, the county would have to ap­prove the mea­sure through a res­o­lu­tion. Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) sug­gested the pro­posal be pre­sented as a statewide ini­tia­tive, so each ju­ris­dic­tion can de­cide whether to have its own author­ity.

A sec­ond pro­vi­sion in­tended to help law en­force­ment is the es­tab­lish­ment of test­ing and con­cus­sion pro­to­cols for law en­force­ment per­son­nel hav­ing suf­fered a head in­jury while on duty. Slaugh­en­houpt also sug­gested it be ex­tended to fire­fight­ers and other first re­spon­ders due to job-re­lated dan­ger.

On the ta­ble for leg­isla­tive con­sid­er­a­tion are BOCC-ap­proved pay in­creases for the com­mis­sion­ers, sher­iff and county trea­surer for 2018 through 2021.

Spurred by events in Howard County, where the coun- ty’s school board agreed to pay school su­per­in­ten­dent Re­nee Foose $1.65 mil­lion plus life­long health ben­e­fits to en­cour­age her retirement, the BOCC has pre­sented a pro­posal that re­stricts the com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits of the Calvert su­per­in­ten­dent of pub­lic schools upon upon retirement, dis­missal, ter­mi­na­tion or re­moval.

Com­mis­sioner Steve Weems (R) took credit for the ini­tia­tive dur­ing the meet­ing as he item­ized and quan­ti­fied Foose’s post-ter­mi­na­tion pay­ments, retirement, pen­sion and paid un­used days off.

“The su­per­in­ten­dent’s ben­e­fits would be no greater than a merit em­ployee at the board of ed­u­ca­tion would be able to re­ceive,” ex­plained Nor­ris, of the pro­vi­sion.

The Calvert Recorder could not con­firm whether con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances re­gard­ing for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent Jack Smith’s com­pen­sa­tion pack­age fac­tored into this pro­posal. What is clear is that the pro­posal is meant to be prospec­tive, not retroac­tive, and would not ap­ply to any al­ready ex­e­cuted con­tracts, ac­cord­ing to Nor­ris.

An­other leg­isla­tive re­quest deals with BOCC author­ity in the court sys­tem.

“On a code en­force­ment case, the de­fen­dant in the case, who has been is­sued a mu­nic­i­pal in­frac­tion, has the abil­ity to ap­peal that de­ci­sion in the cir­cuit court, but that is the only party that has the author­ity to pe­ti­tion the cir­cuit court,” said Nor­ris, re­port­ing that the com­mis­sion­ers do not have that author­ity.

Nor­ris fur­ther ex­plained that if the BOCC be­lieved an er­ror was made in a judg­ment in the district court that the com­mis­sion­ers can­not ap­peal that in the cir­cuit court to­day.

To mit­i­gate, Nor­ris in­tro­duced a leg­isla­tive re­quest, on be­half of the County At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, to give the author­ity to the board to ap­peal a district court de­ci­sion for a mu­nic­i­pal in­frac­tion to the cir­cuit court.

The board is also pon­der­ing Sher­iff Mike Evans’ (R) re­quest for a change in lan­guage re­gard­ing the cal­cu­la­tion of the as­sis­tant sher­iff’s pay, Is­land Bingo’s re­quests to amend the state law to al­low the ex­pan­sion of gam­bling to Solomons, and the al­lowance of breath­a­lyzer test­ing on county em­ploy­ees upon rea­son­able cause and fol­low­ing any in­ci­dent of dam­age.

The next work ses­sion for the re­main­ing 10 pro­pos­als for con­sid­er­a­tion will be held Oct. 17. In the sec­ond week of Novem­ber, the com­mis­sion­ers will take a po­si­tion on all 18 pro­pos­als. Board-sup­ported pro­pos­als will be sub­mit­ted to the sen­a­tors and del­e­gates rep­re­sent­ing Calvert.

In other busi­ness, the BOCC:

• Con­ducted a work ses­sion with the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety on the com­plex­ity and grow­ing amount of fire, res­cue and EMS train­ing re­quire­ments;

• Signed forms for the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency’s Com­mu­nity Rat­ing Sys­tem an­nual re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to en­sure 100-year flood­plain prop­erty own­ers re­ceive a 10 per­cent dis­count on in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums;

• Ap­proved a bud­get ad­just­ment in the amount of $20,000 for an en­trance study for Hal­low­ing Point Park;

• Agreed to di­rect Hu­man Re­sources to amend the per­son­nel pol­icy to in­clude com­pen­sa­tion of Calvert Emer­gency Com­mu­ni­ca­tions’ train­ing of­fi­cers;

• Awarded a $155,778 con­tract to John­son Truck Cen­ter of Lan­dover for a heavy duty diesel engine truck for the Solid Waste Di­vi­sion;

• Ap­proved the ac­qui­si­tion of a per­pet­ual right-of-way ease­ment and re­vert­ible slope ease­ment for the construction of the Dow­ell Road widen­ing project at 521 Twin Cove Lane in the amount of $8,200;

• Es­tab­lished an Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion to ad­vise the BOCC on busi­ness-re­lated is­sues, and to ex­pand and en­hance busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in the county; and

• Made sev­eral ap­point­ments to boards, com­mis­sions and com­mit­tees.

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