LA PLATA, Md. – On Tuesday, March 21, Commissioners received a briefing on the Charter form of government and voted 3-2 to approve a resolution to form a charter board. The nine-member board would be composed of county residents, two from each district and one at-large, who are appointed by Commissioners to manage the process of drafting a charter to change Charles County to a charter form of government. Four public hearings, with one scheduled in each district, will be held to gather input on the draft charter. The charter board will be appointed to begin their work on June 1, 2023, and be required to complete its work by June 1, 2024.
Commissioners directed staff to immediately begin work by advertising the opportunity for community members to apply for appointment to the board. The board will be responsible for engaging the community, holding public hearings, and providing opportunities for public input and feedback in drafting a proposed charter. The charter would be subject to voter approval at the next general election.
Associate County Attorney Danielle Mitchell provided a legislative update on the 2023 General Assembly session. All the Commissioners’ proposals received hearings by the crossover date of March 20. Senate Bill 521, a legislative proposal regarding the volunteer emergency responders’ tax credit, was amended to a cap of $150,000 in the House and maintained at $250,000 in the Senate.
The Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services staff provided a Fiscal 2024 Budget Work Session on the Enterprise Funds Operating and Capital Improvement Projects, as well as fees and charges. Overviews of the Water and Sewer Fund and Water and Sewer Capital Improvement Program, Recreation Fund, and the Cable Fund were provided.
The proposed water and sewer fund budget was increased to add staff for engineering, maintenance and program management, and one-time costs for wastewater maintenance projects. Capital projects include new water tower construction and maintenance, improvements to aging wastewater infrastructure, and expanded connections and waterlines throughout the county. Anticipated fees and charges would be adjusted to pay for these investments.
The budget public hearing is scheduled on Wed, Apr 26. All documents and information related to the budget process is located on the county’s website.
Open Session Briefings
- Staff briefed Commissioners on the Agritourism bill, which was developed based on input from the Rural Planning and Zoning Task Force to promote new opportunities for existing and proposed agritourism in Charles County. They highlighted the economic development, regulatory, and legal considerations for agricultural business operations. The Commissioners directed staff to pursue modifications in the language to ensure clarity for customers.
- The Charles County Military Alliance Council briefed Commissioners on its role in advocating for the important role of the Naval Support Facility Indian Head. Representatives shared the goals, economic impact, and community support it provides to Charles County.
- Destination Southern Maryland Executive Director Lucille Walker briefed Commissioners on the recent designation of southern Maryland as a National Heritage Area. This federal designation recognizes that this region has “natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. A formal celebration is planned on Sat, May 25, at 12 p.m. at Piscataway Park in Accokeek, MD.
- Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services Director Jeni Ellin provided an update on Commissioners’ request to identify a funding source for transferring $200,000 for the Maryland Money Market program. The funds would assist Charles County residents experiencing food insecurity to purchase fresh foods from local farmers markets, farm stands and CSAs. Ms. Elin recommended that Commissioners consider transferring American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support the initiative.
- A budget amendment increase of $296,400 in the Inspection and Review Enterprise Fund to pay for an increase in the amount of plan reviews completed by contractors.
- A budget transfer request of $96,150 to cover current and anticipated overruns in various salary accounts within the Environmental Service Enterprise Fund.
- A letter of support from Commissioners affirming the commitment to match additional grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration, to pay for increased construction costs for the VanGO operations and maintenance facility.
Actions on Boards, Commissions and Committees
- Commissioners reappointed Kevin Wedding and appointed Denard Earl to the Planning Commission.
- Commissioners appointed Cynthia Ybanez-Cazarez to the Board of Appeals.
Commissioners recognized employees who provided support for the Oath of Office Ceremony on December 6.
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Next Commissioners Session March 28-29, 2023
Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.