Washington Co. Commissioners briefs

December 01, 2009

New off-street parking rules approved

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved amendments to the off-street parking requirements in the county zoning ordinance designed to bring the requirements up-to-date with current parking needs.

The regulations had not had a major update since they were created in 1973, according to Washington County Senior Planner Jill L. Baker.

The amendments include requirements for bicycle parking, visitor parking at multifamily developments and adequate space for drive-through queuing, among other changes.

The new requirements go into effect Feb. 1.

The commissioners also approved a transition policy that states that projects already in the official planning process, as well as major residential subdivision projects with preliminary approval before Feb. 1, will be exempt from the new regulations.


Rental progrm to get funding increase

The Washington County Community Action Council expects to receive $40,000 in state funding for its Rental Allowance Program for state fiscal year 2010, a $10,000 increase over the previous year, CAC Deputy Director Sherry L. Neil told the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The funding comes from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Neil said.

The Washington County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the CAC to apply for the funding.

CAC's Rental Allowance Program offers a monthly rental subsidy to county residents who meet income eligibility guidelines and demonstrate a housing crisis, such as homelessness or eviction, Neil said. The program offers a subsidy of $220, $250 or $400, depending on household size, which is paid directly to the landlord, she said. The subsidy lasts six months, during which the recipient attends budgeting classes and other workshops, she said.

Neil said many of the applicants for the Rental Allowance Program are in foreclosure or are renting from a landlord who is in foreclosure.

County to help Williamsport staff get utility certifications

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to enter into a contract agreement with the Town of Williamsport to provide county staff who will help town staff obtain the required certifications to operate Williamsport's water and sewer systems.

The town's current water and sewer staff are "technically," but not "formally," certified operators, Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf said. Washington County Division of Environmental Management Director Julie Pippel recently alerted the town to the need for additional training to formalize the operators' certification, McCleaf said.

The town will pay all expenses associated with the agreement, Pippel said.

She said the contract will help offset some of the man-hours the county's water quality employees have lost due to a slowdown in development.

Funds approved to fix closure cap on former landfill

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $31,887 change order to cover the repair of storm damage to the Resh Road Landfill closure cap.

A geotechnical engineer confirmed that the damage was caused by a significant storm in May, in combination with a "major leachate seep," according to a report by county environmental engineer David A. Mason. The change order covers the cost of the labor, materials and equipment for contractor Kinsley Construction to repair the slope failure, he said.

Funds are available in the remaining budget for the project to cover the change order, Mason said.

Sewer pipe project to be expanded

The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to expand the scope of a sewer pipe improvement project along Virginia Avenue to take advantage of bids that came in under the budgeted amount.

The change involves installing slip lining, or PVC pipe that is fitted inside the existing concrete pipe, for an additional two runs downstream from where the contract was to terminate, Division of Environmental Management Director Julie Pippel said. The additional section runs under Interstate 81 and is known to have inflow and infiltration problems, she said.

The commissioners approved a $176,475.08 change order that included the additional work, as well as modifications due to actual site conditions being different than those used to calculate the project cost, Pippel said.

The original bid for the Virginia Avenues Gravity Replacement and Slip Lining project was $280,070.44, leaving $159,233.25 left over in the project budget of $626,200, according to Pippel's report.

The remaining $17,241.83 for the change order will come from the sewer contingency fund, where the county budgets about $50,000 a year to cover situations such as this, Pippel said.

Board of Education budget adjusted

A set of adjustments to the Washington County Board of Education budget approved Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners resulted in no net change in fund balance, said Chris South, chief financial officer for the Board of Education.

The Annotated Code of Maryland requires local school systems to periodically reforecast their financial needs and make necessary changes to their budgets, according to a report from South.

The first-quarter adjustments to the fiscal year 2010 budget included reductions in the budget for turnover credits, which were reallocated to instructional salaries; a decrease in the budgeted contribution to the state retirement system; increased funding for instructional textbooks and supplies; increased funding to purchase additional security cameras and recorders at certain schools; and a recategorization of the budget for photocopiers, according to South's report.

South said the decrease in retirement contributions was based on the number of employees and the rate and did not reflect a change in retirement benefits.

The Board of Education approved the changes at its Nov. 3 meeting.

-- Heather Keels

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