Anne Arundel Council Raises County Executive’s Salary

September 18, 2014

The Anne Arundel County Council voted 5-2 earlier this week to raise the incoming county executive’s salary $3,000 per year over the next four years, bringing the salary from $130,000 to $142,000.

The initial proposal offered raising the county executive’s salary to $165,000 over the next four years but the council members agreed to a different proposal to cap the salary at $142,000 instead.

The Baltimore Sun article noted

Two weeks ago, the councilmen voted against giving themselves a raise. That proposal…would have bumped a council member’s salary from $36,000 to $40,518. The council’s chairman and vice chairman, who make slightly more, also would have gotten raises. The bill failed on a 2-5 vote.

To read the full article on the the Anne Arundel County Executive’s pay raise, visit The Baltimore Sun.


MACo’s Administrators & Attorneys Conference to Cover Land Use, Cable Franchise Agreements, Staff Recruitment, and County Legal Cases

September 18, 2014

MACo’s Administrators & Attorneys Conference is a day-long event for County Administrators and County Attorneys. It features a general session on topics of interest to both groups, a luncheon keynote speaker, and two break-out sessions specific to each group.

The 2014 Administrators & Attorneys Conference is scheduled for October 9 from 10:30 am – 3:30 pm at the Newton White Mansion in Prince George’s County.

Sessions include:

General Session: A Land Use Double Feature! (1) Reinvest Maryland & (2) Amending Your Comprehensive Plan

Keynote Speaker: The Honorable Dereck Davis, Maryland House of Delegates

Administrators’ Break-out Sessions:

  • The Ins and Outs of Negotiating Cable Franchise Agreements
  •  Roundtable Discussion – Overcoming the Difficulties of Recruiting Staff

Attorneys’ Break-out Sessions:

  • Networking & Roundtable Discussion with the Attorney General’s Office
  •  Roundtable Discussion – County Cases and Legal Issues

Learn more about these sessions, including descriptions, speakers, and the full schedule.

Registration is FREE for Maryland county elected officials and county staff – but seats are limited, so please register today. Registration is not open to any other individuals.


House Passes Bill Prohibiting EPA Proposed “Waters of the United States” Change

September 18, 2014

A September 16 National Association of Counties (NACo) update reported that the United States House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prohibit the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from changing the definition of “Waters the US” under the federal Clean Water Act.  From the update:

On September 9, the House of Representatives successfully passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) by a vote of 262-152. H.R. 5078, which passed with 227 Republican and 35 Democratic votes, would prevent the Administration’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule from moving forward.  Additionally, the measure would require the agencies to consult and collaborate with state and local governments on the “Waters of the U.S.” rule development process.  The agencies would be required to document the interactions, including those areas where consensus was reached – or not reached – and to submit a final report to Congress.

The House-passed measure, which was threatened with a potential veto in a statement released by the White House before the vote, now faces an uncertain future in the Senate.  NACo members should contact their U.S. Senators and urge them to support H.R. 5078, or any bill that delays the rule-making process to allow for the resolution of issues with the proposed rule.

The proposed rule that prompted the introduction of H.R. 5078—Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act— was released by the [EPA] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on April 21. The rule amends the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” within the Clean Water Act (CWA) and expands the range of waters (and their conveyances) that would fall under federal regulatory authority.

NACo has raised concerns that the proposed definition would subject county maintained road and drainage ditches to the rigorous permitting and water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.  Several Maryland counties have submitted comments to the EPA and MACo will be submitting comments before the October 20 public comment period closes.

NACo’s Waters of the US Resource Center (includes information on how to submit comments to the EPA)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Waters of the US


MACo & County Representatives Meet With Bottle Deposit Advocates

September 18, 2014

In anticipation of bottle deposit legislation being introduced again in the 2015 Session, a group of MACo and county representatives met with a group of bottle deposit advocates earlier this summer to discuss how other jurisdictions in the United States and Canada have instituted bottle deposit programs.  While not opposed to the per se concept of a bottle deposit, MACo has opposed bottle deposit legislation in the past over concerns about counties being responsible for running the deposit program and the potential fiscal impact on existing county recycling efforts.

The Artemis Group, a key stakeholder behind prior bottle deposit legislation, brought CM Consulting to the meeting.  CM Consulting is Canadian-based environmental research firm that has studied bottle deposit efforts in various jurisdictions.  CM Consulting provided a presentation discussing best practices for bottle deposits and highlighted case studies from other jurisdictions.  The CM consultants did note however, that Maryland is relatively unique in that counties are the primary party responsible for recycling and that any statewide bottle deposit program would have to address county issues.

The information provided by CM Consulting and the Artemis Group will be reviewed and discussed by an internal zero waste workgroup that has been formed by MACo.  Besides bottle deposits, the workgroup will examine other recycling and waste reduction issues, such as composting and gasification technologies.

MACo has formed an internal zero waste workgroup that will examine

CM Consulting Bottle Deposit Presentation

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Bottle Deposit Legislation


Charles County School Board Creates Extracurricular Penalty

September 18, 2014

As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers OnlineCharles County public school students who fail a course no longer will be eligible to take part in extracurricular activities for the entire subsequent semester.  The article describes,

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, students in grades 6 through 12 must maintain a 2.25 GPA and receive at least a “D” in their courses to participate in any extracurricular activity, including sports, otherwise they will be disqualified for an entire semester. A student who is absent more than 9.5 days in the first semester of school also will be banned.

The school board unanimously approved enforcing the more stringent policy, citing a need for a more rigorous academic program. The move mirrors an emerging trend nationwide of educators who are just now turning focus to the students, primarily athletes, who are not up to scratch on their core academics but historically have skated by.

For more information, see the full story from Southern Maryland Newspapers Online.


Workgroup Discusses Common Core Implementation in Maryland

September 18, 2014

The Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards (MCCRS) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Implementation Review Workgroup met to hear about county school system best practices for common core standards implementation and discuss several aspects of common core and PARCC implementation.  This was the fourth meeting of the Workgroup and three more meetings are scheduled.

In her presentation before the Workgroup, Queen Anne’s County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Williamson described her school system’s work to implement the common core standards over the past four years through an Executive Team structure of Teacher Specialists, Reading Specialists, and Math Specialists who meet weekly to review progress toward school and county-wide goals. Queen Anne’s County’s Assistant Superintendent Mrs. Roberta Leaverton then described how they started with a gap analysis between current teaching and the new standards, which then guided development of gap lessons, dedication of additional resources, and a commitment to necessary professional development. The presenters emphasized the importance of instructional coaching for teacher throughout the transition to the new standards and shared how much time is needed to continue to adjust to the new standards.

Meanwhile, the presenters stated that they have not yet seen the new PARCC assessments.  Henry Wagner, representing the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland on the Workgroup, noted the importance of keeping the fiscal impact of this reform on the radar, indicating that the transition to PARCC could create new technology and professional development costs.

The Workgroup then heard a presentation on the Teacher/Principal Evaluation System and Student Learning Objectives. Following the presentation, the Workgroup discussed next steps and decided that the chairs of the Workgroup, Jack Smith (State Superintendent of Schools’ designee) and Betty Weller (President of the Maryland State Education Association), will draft recommendations for the Workgroup’s review at the next meeting.


Frederick County Candidates Debate Stormwater Fee Issues

September 18, 2014

A September 17 Frederick News-Post article reported that Frederick County executive and council candidates are debating a variety of issues related to the state-mandated stormwater remediation fee (referred to as a “Rain Tax” by its opponents).  While some of the issues, such as whether the fee should exist at all, seem more defined by partisan lines, other concerns are being raised by candidates from both parties.  Currently, the County has enacted a 1-cent fee that the Maryland Department of the Environment has indicated will not be sufficient to meet the County’s expected stormwater remediation costs under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load or the County’s pending Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit.

One area of shared concern is the cost to Frederick County taxpayers for stormwater remediation:

County staff have estimated that the local cost to meet state watershed goals could total $1.88 billion by 2025. The county’s five-year storm water permit, which is now being renewed through the state, could come with a price tag of $142.3 million, said Shannon Moore, who manages the county’s office of sustainability and environmental resources.

County Executive candidate Jan Gardner stated that the stormwater remediation costs need to be addressed:

 Whether the county finds this money through the stormwater fee or in its general fund, taxpayers are ultimately footing the bill, Gardner said. She noted that the current cost estimate for the permit breaks down to more than $28 million annually, more than the county budgets for its public works division.

Gardner said she’s not ready to suggest where the county might find money to deal with the additional cost burden. First, elected leaders should collaborate with state officials to make the permit less expensive, she said.

The article also noted that many candidates were concerned about the science behind the targets.

Gardner, [County Executive candidate Blaine] Young and a number of council candidates also question the accuracy of the scientific assumptions that underpin cleanup targets. Linda Norris, a Democratic candidate for a council at-large seat, says she’s open to adjusting the fee so long as the county isn’t required to pay more than its share.

“I don’t mind asking citizens to pay for a community need, but I want to make sure I’m asking for the right amount,” she said.

Young cited concerns over the science when voicing his opposition to the stormwater fee in the article: “I don’t think the residents of Frederick County should be having to foot the bill for what others have done, especially when it’s based on faulty studies and science. With me, it’s non-negotiable.”  The article also noted that some candidates like County Council candidate Billy Shreve believe that other Bay watershed states, such as Pennsylvania, must be held accountable for their pollution contributions.

 


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