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Charles County Commissioners Meeting Update May 19

La Plata, MD - On Tuesday, May 19, 2020 the Board of Commissioners received an update from Maryland Department of Health and the Charles County Department of Emergency Services on the COVID-19 public health emergency. Dr. Howard Haft, executive director at Maryland Primary Care Program of the Maryland Department of Health, shared the latest data and trends for COVID-19 cases in Charles County. Dr. Haft discussed progress in testing all residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities and reported that they will be finished by the end of May. On May 21, the Department of Health will host a webinar from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., to provide information and technical assistance to small businesses that are reopening on May 29.

Department of Emergency Services Director Michelle Lilly reported that calls for service and persons under investigation for COVID-19 remains flat or is declining. She also stated that the county is providing information to small businesses on where to purchase sanitizer and personal protective equipment as they prepare to reopen.

Commissioners held a final budget work session and adopted a balanced fiscal year 2021 General Fund budget of $433,441,200, an increase of 2% over last year. The adopted budget protects County Government core services, exceeds maintenance of effort funding for Charles County Public Schools and preserves necessary operations for the Sheriff’s Office. Read the full news release here.

Commissioners briefly discussed a proposal by Commissioner Gilbert “BJ” Bowling to offer a property and income tax rate credit for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians, which Charles County has been authorized to enact through state legislation that was approved earlier this year. They discussed the timing and cost of the initiative, and it will be brought back to the Board for further consideration later this year.

Approval Items:

Commissioners approved the following items:

• A budget transfer request of $600,000 to pay for annual costs that exceed the anticipated budget for monthly equipment rental and power generator costs at the Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

• A budget amendment increase of $202,000 to pay for contract services associated with plan review and inspections, which were appropriated from fund balance for payments collected in the previous year and applied to services rendered in the current year.

• A budget transfer request of $50,000 from savings associated with the Post Office Road Expansion Study, that are being reallocated to pay for a study to determine the best fit and location for a potential Bryans Road Senior and Recreational Center.

• A budget amendment increase of $2,598,800 from the Cable TV I/Net Special Revenue fund balance to provide matching funds for the County’s share of the Maryland Broadband Infrastructure Grant that will provide broadband to certain areas of Nanjemoy and Cobb Neck.

• A resolution to extend the local state of emergency to June 29, 2020 so that the county can continue to deploy staff and assets to support the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

• A letter of support for the fiscal year 2021 management grant to the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium which supports local tourism.

• A partnership intermediary agreement between Charles County and the Naval Surface Ware Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Technology Division (NSWC IHEODTD). The purpose of the agreement is to promote cooperative activities between NSWC IHEODTD and small business firms and educational institutions served by Charles County’s Department of Economic Development.

• A resolution to temporarily suspend the enforcement of a provision within the Zoning Ordinance that, as applied in conjunction with another provision with the Zoning Ordinance, would require a site plan for changes in occupancy (which conflicts with the expedited process currently used by PGM to issue a new Certificate of Use & Occupancy when no substantial change to the use will result).  
• A request from Commissioner Thomasina O. Coates, M.S., to direct staff to brief Commissioners on a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that would incorporate the Billingsley Road realignment project.
Recognitions:

• Commissioners proclaimed May 17 – 23, 2020 as Emergency Medical Services Week to recognize all the men and women who provide emergency medical services in Charles County and thank them for their dedication and commitment, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Commissioners proclaimed May 20, 2020 as Emergency Medical Services for Children Day and urged all pediatric providers serving children and youth to celebrate the theme “EMS Strong: Ready Today. Preparing for Tomorrow.”

• Commissioners proclaimed the month of May and Mental Health Awareness Month and encouraged the community to take time to acknowledge, support and recognize those whose mental health may be at risk.

Public Hearings:

Commissioners held virtual public hearings on Bill 2020-04 Zoning Text Amendment # 19-153 Business Park (BP) Zone and Bill 2020-03 Zoning Text Amendment #19-155 Watershed Conservation District Zone Transitional and Grandfathering Provisions. Comments are accepted May 19, starting at 8 a.m. through May 29, ending at 5 p.m. by using:

• E-Comment

• Phone: Call 301-645-0652 to leave a message.

• Mail: Send to Commissioners of Charles County, 200 Baltimore Street, Maryland, 20646.

Next Commissioners Session: June 2, 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.

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