La Plata, MD – On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the Board of Commissioners received a briefing and approved a proposal from the Economic Development staff on the launch of a $2.5 million small business grant relief program to provide relief to local businesses that have experienced closures related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The grant program also designates $500,000 for local agriculture and aquaculture businesses that has experiences losses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Businesses that have between 5 and 75 employees are eligible for up to $10,000, and businesses with five employees or less are eligible for up to $5,000. Economic Development staff reviewed the grant application process and other eligibility requirements.

Director of Emergency Services Michelle Lilly and Dr. Howard Haft, executive director at Maryland Primary Care Program of the Maryland Department of Health, presented an update on the COVID-19 public health emergency. Ms. Lilly shared data that shows a continued decline in hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19, and increased testing throughout the community. The Emergency Operations Center has been reduced from enhanced to monitoring status only and will stay activated through June 29. Dr. Haft reported no current outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities and discussed measures for continued infection control. The Health Department is providing ongoing technical assistance to businesses and religious leaders as their buildings reopen, supporting contact tracing efforts locally, and expanding testing locations and availability.

Open Session Briefings

• Charles County Health Officer Dr. Suzan Lowry provided a briefing on the status of local public health initiatives, including metrics related to its performance, program achievements, new grants, and development of a strategic plan. She highlighted programs that address opioid use, reduce chronic diseases, support environmental health, promote HIV testing, and identify health indicators that inform strategic priorities.  

• Greenwill Consulting provided a report on the legislative actions that occurred during the 2020 Maryland General Assembly which directly affected Charles County. They provided an update on the legislative priorities that they advocated on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. They highlighted some bills that were approved, including legislation to authorize tax increment financing and special taxing districts, penalties for illegal disposal of bulky items, collective bargaining, and three bond bills.  Read the full report here.

• Jacqueline Lee, Director of the University of Maryland Incentive Awards, provided an overview of their scholars program. They offer one-on-one coaching, mentoring, summer bridge activities, study abroad, community service, and scholarship opportunities for students. She presented a proposal for a Charles County student cohort and the costs associated with initiating it for the 2021-22 school year.

• The Charles County Watermen’s Association presented a briefing on their industry’s contributions to the local economy from their seafood production activities. They discussed the challenges that oyster fisheries are facing, regulatory concerns, and local opportunities to partner with Charles County Government to enhance fisheries and ensure clean waterways.

• Planning and Growth Management staff presented an overview of the current school allocation policy, its limitations, and options for addressing them. The Commissioners provided direction and suggested changes to the options that were presented, and staff will incorporate them and return with an updated proposal.

Approval Items
Commissioners approved the following items:

• A request to post signs prohibiting the parking of commercial and heavy commercial vehicles in the Kingsview community.

• A budget transfer request of $92,000 to pay for construction costs associated with Phase II of Western Parkway.

• A budget transfer request of $320,000 to pay for outside counsel on litigation matters.

• A Memorandum of Understanding with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office to implement video conferencing systems for initial appearances and bail review hearings.

Public Hearings

Commissioners held virtual public hearings on Bill 2020-01 Benefit Assessments for Infrastructure Improvements and Maryland Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) Federal CARES Act.  Bill 2020-01 Benefit Assessments for Infrastructure Improvements was adopted and the  Maryland Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) Federal CARES Act record will remain open for comment until close of business, Wednesday, June 3.

Next Commissioners Session: June 16, 2020 at 9 a.m. (held virtually)

Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.