Commissioners Approve Ethics Code
The state required all municipalities to update ethics laws.
The Bel Air Board of Commissioners approved Monday legislation updating the town's ethics laws.
Maryland required all municipalities to update ethics laws to incorporate conflict of interest standards and financial disclosure requirements at least as stringent as those required for state officials.
The ethics laws were initially meant to be in place by Oct. 1, 2011, according to the government's website on the subject.
The town submitted its draft of the legislation to the state before the deadline. However the lengthy back and forth between the town and state was not competed until recently, said Joyce Oliver, director of administration, after Monday's meeting.
Oliver said no penalties are expected and other municipalities in the state were in the same boat.
There was no comment during a public hearing on the proposed legislation.
Commissioner Robert Preston asked what the consequences to not passing the changes would be.
“It seems like a little overkill for the size of the community,” Preston said.
Commissioner David Carey said it is a state mandate and the town does not qualify for exemptions. Oliver and Town Administrator Chris Schlehr agreed the town had no choice, although none of them knew the penalties for failing to make the changes.
The legislation was unanimously approved by the board.
See attached documents for full agenda and copies of proposed legislation. This is a recap of the live blog during the meeting:
8:03 p.m.: The meeting is adjourned.
8:01 p.m.: All vote in favor of accepting the resolution for introduction.
8:00 p.m.: A resolution outlining the town code on fees and fines surrounding the ethics code updates is up for introduction.
8:00 p.m.: All vote in favor of approving the bid.
7:58 p.m.: The Roland Place development does not have a homeowner’s association, so the town will bill each resident and has reached out to them individually. The homeowner will be billed an annual amount.
7:57 p.m.: Robertson said if a homeowner’s association fails to make improvements as directed by the county and town, the town will do the repairs and charge the homeowner’s association accordingly.
7:56 p.m.: Preston moved to approve a bid for $11,975 to repair a storm water management pond at Roland Place.
7:55 p.m.: All vote in favor of approving the bid. The motion carries.
7:52 p.m.: Staff recommends the town approve the bid from ThyssenKrupp.
7:51 p.m.: Town director of public works, Randolph Robertson, said these elevators are becoming difficult to maintain. A fund of just over $201,000 was set aside for projects such as this.
7:50 p.m.: Burdette moved to accept a bid of $151,702 to modernize two elevator systems in the Hickory Parking Garage.
7:50 p.m.: All vote in favor of the bid and it is approved.
7:49 p.m.: Carey said in his experience as a defense attorney, this equipment is something every police department should have. “I think it’s a good expense,” Carey said.
7:48 p.m.: The total comes to $7,467.
7:48 p.m.: The cost was included in this year’s budget. The state’s attorney’s office recommends using this equipment when investigating crimes like rape and homicide.
7:46 p.m.: Chief Leo Matrangola said the town does not have audio/video equipment at the department for interrogation and has used the sheriff’s office when available.
7:46 p.m.: David Carey moved to approve a bid from Harford Alarm.
7:45 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Reier moved to approve the ethics code change and all voted in favor.
7:44 p.m.: Chris Schlehr asked when the new ordinance goes into effect. Oliver said all paperwork has been submitted for the current year and it would impact next year’s financial statements.
7:43 p.m.: This new process is not exactly clear, but we will have forms and training to help people through it, Carey said.
7:42 p.m.: Carey said the state should do things more like the town, such as post in the newspaper when they are going to raise taxes, but said things don’t go both ways and this is a mandate from the state.
7:42 p.m.: Carey said he is unsure of the penalty, but it is the law that the town complies with this law. He added there are circumstances that would allow for exemptions, but Bel Air does not qualify for those.
7:41 p.m.: “It seems like a little overkill for the size of the community,” Preston said.
7:40 p.m.: Oliver said there is no option. Town Counsel said municipalities in Baltimore County have worked with their delegation to change the state requirements because it discourages people from running or even volunteering.
7:39 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Preston asked if the town does not approve this, what are the consequences.
7:39 p.m.: Oliver said town staff recommends the town approve the recommendations. There are no comments from the public.
7:37 p.m.: In January 2012 the town submitted a draft to the state, Joyce Oliver, director of administration, said. The ethics laws must be at least as stringent as state guidelines when it comes to conflict of interest and financial disclosures, she said.
7:37 p.m.: The hearing for the town Ethics Laws begins.
7:35 p.m.: ”The work you do for the town, Jim, means a lot to us,” Carey said.
7:34 p.m.: “Jim loves the town,” Carey said.
7:34 p.m.: He was the director of the downtown alliance for its first three years, was a town employee for a number of years now working in economic development, Carey said.
7:33 p.m.: Jim Welch has been working for the town for 12 years and was born and raised in the town, Carey said.
7:33 p.m.: It’s a shame we don’t have more
7:32 p.m.: Presentation from Commissioner Dave Carey recognizing Jim Welch.
7:30 p.m.: The meeting is called to order.