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Council Holds Hearing On Fire/EMS Executive Order

Find real time updates from the Harford County Council meeting here.

Find live updates below:

9:11 p.m.: The meeting is adjourned.

9:09 p.m.: George Marll of Emmorton Road has lived there since 1961. He said he heard the council is contacting state highway to block Walmart from having access to the property. “I hope this is a rumor,” he said. “I don’t know why you people are so against it.” He added road improvements will come with Walmart and that is a good and needed thing.

9:07 p.m.: David Green of Muir Way in Bright Oaks said it’s a nightmare getting in and out of the neighborhood and a new Walmart would result in a light at that intersection. “I personally support the Walmart.”

9:07 p.m.: Yvonne Green gave her speaking time to her husband.

9:06 p.m.: “To me, we already have this problem. Walmart can only assist this county in fixing this problem,” Cox said.

9:05 p.m.: “I only see a positive for Walmart coming as for that light alone,” Cox said.

9:03 p.m.: Elizabeth Cox of Laurel Oaks Drive in Bright Oaks. “I’m a supporter,” Cox said of Walmart. “If Walmart comes, they will better the traffic patterns and add a light.” She said her son was driving during the Christmas season and rush hour leaving her development is terrible. She said her son isn’t as comfortable making the turn and the car was almost hit. “If we had had a light there that wouldn’t have happened,” she said.

9:02 p.m.: Lisanti wished everyone a happy and productive new year full of compromise.

9:01 p.m.: McMahan said he recently learned the county council will likely be issued credit cards. “I certainly hope we are as critical of ourselves as we have been of other organizations in the county that have them,” he said.

9:00 p.m.: “Everything is trickle-down,” McMahan said. He noted the economy in Harford County is greatly influence by Washington, D.C.

8:58 p.m.: McMahan congratulated the 12 officers who graduated from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office academy.

8:57 p.m.: Woods said tomorrow starts the Maryland General Assembly. “So I guess stay tuned,” he said.

8:56 p.m.: Guthrie wished everyone a happy new year. Saturday Joppa-Magnolia will have a swearing in of their new officers. January 14 Guthrie will be on an antique show on public television with his signed Cal Ripken baseball.

8:53 p.m.: Guthrie said those 20 issues she mentioned, one of them was 490 credit cards given to 490 different members of the school system where they were allowed to charge carte blanche. It was not clear if those cards were paid back. The charges on those cards amounted to about $10 million. Guthrie said that should not be allowed and wants an update on that when available.

8:53 p.m.: Boniface asked if management will notify Brooks when audit recommendations have been implemented. She said she will be following up.

8:50 p.m.: The payroll audit is underway, Brooks said. Brooks has decided to look at the Board of Education’s audit and examine 22 recommendations as part of a status review.

8:49 p.m.: There were ten recommendations resulting from the audit. They are working on making those changes now.

8:48 p.m.: County Auditor Chrystal Brooks gives a quarterly update.

8:47 p.m.: McMahan moves to approve the resolution. Six vote in favor while Lisanti abstains. The bill passes.

8:46 p.m.: Slutzky reads resolution 36-12. This resolution outlines changes to county fiscal year 2013 capital program.

8:46 p.m. 6 vote in favor while Lisanti abstains. The bill passes.

8:45 p.m.: Councilman Jim McMahan moves to approve bill 12-56 dealing with the new emergency operations project.

8:44 p.m.: Slutzky reads into record the appropriation of funds to provide necessary funding for expenses incurred for other post employment benefits.

8:42 p.m.: Slutzky reads into the record Bill 13-1 dealing with post employment health plan. The bill outlines drawing from several funds to cover costs incurred by post employment health plan.

8:41 p.m.: Boniface said the council took care of these, but needed this last finality before the February bond sale. Boniface said normally the council could move on these bonds, but instead they will hold them until February 5.

8:39 p.m.: The maximum amount of refunding bonds is $80 million.

8:37 p.m.: The total amount is $40 million, $10 million in water and sewer projects, Mr. Winter of the bond council said. These bonds are refundable. The water and sewer bonds are paid primarily through the water and sewer fund. General obligation bonds are paid by the general fund.

8:36 p.m.: These two resolutions do not require a public hearing. The bond council is present.

8:32 p.m.: Slutzky then reads into record resolution 2-13 dealing with refunding bonds. The resolution authorizes issuance of refunding bonds series 2013 B not to exceed $80 million.

8:30 p.m.: Slutzky reads into record resolution 1-13 dealing with CPI bonds in aggregate amount not to exceed $40 million. They shall be sold at competitive bid.

8:29 p.m.: The minutes of Dec. 18 meeting are approved.

8:27 p.m.: Slutzky again said comparing jurisdictions is like comparing apples and oranges.

8:22 p.m.: “I don’t have any problem with the federal government mandating curriculum I have a problem with them not funding it,” Slutzky said.

8:20 p.m.: Slutzky said he is not sure the public is aware of the change in curriculum. It is a change mandated by the federal government. It is not largely funded by the federal government.

8:18 p.m.: Burbey said he does not believe the school system’s budget is unreasonable.

8:15 p.m.: Councilman Chad Shrodes said the population in the schools is on a decline and asked if the decrease in teachers has come with it.

8:15 p.m.: “I don’t want to be mistaken, I am here to get money for teachers, but I’m also here for the schools and to educate,” Burbey said.

8:14 p.m.: Burbey said he agrees, and urges the board to fight for this funding. “These funding issues are all of ours,” he said.

8:13 p.m.: Woods said not coming from the school board it comes across as the “greedy union” coming for more money and he feels it should be a team effort.

8:11 p.m.: Burbey said he thinks the school board has felt it’s not their job to publicly come forward. “I have to fulfill my role,” Burbey said.

8:11 p.m.: Councilman Joe Woods asked why the council hears from HCEA and not the school board on this issue.

8:10 p.m.: Burbey said he thinks Lisanti brings a good point that everyone should be working together.

8:09 p.m.: Guthrie said another problem is the county is faced with unfunded mandates.

8:01 p.m.: Councilman Dion Guthrie said there is a proposed $15 million increase in the Board of Education’s budget. That will include about $6 million in wages, $5 million in healthcare costs and the rest goes toward increase in cost of doing business, Burbey said.

8:01 p.m.: Boniface agreed that it is a difficult problem and the council does not get involved until late in the game.

8:00 p.m.: Lisanti said she hopes the legislature will consider letting the council, school board and employees to sit down together and negotiate together. That is currently not legal.

7:58 p.m. ”I still contend, with all due respect Mr. Burbey, that it’s a game of chicken,” Lisanti said.

7:57 p.m.: “To the system’s credit they did fund our steps last year, independently,” Burbey said. Additional funding has not come to the school system and they have been forced to look for ways to do that independently.

7:56 p.m.: “I believe the superintendent has presented a fair budget,” Burbey said.

7:55 p.m.: HCEA does not have an agreement yet, but hope to soon. The deadline has been extended, Burbey said.

7:53 p.m.: Lisanti thanked Burbey for being here and said she is very concerned teachers have not received step increases for the past five years. She said teachers come to testify during budget hearings, but that is not congruent with existing employment contracts.

7:52 p.m.: Burbey said that is negotiated every year for secondary schools, but elementary schools are taking on more with the same amount of planning time and those teachers are the ones who need more planning time.

7:51 p.m.: Slutzky said planning time was a negotiated item. He recommended going back to negotiations to fix that.

7:50 p.m.: Slutzky said he is uncomfortable with terms like “hostile” because when they did have the ability they shared completely with the board of ed and schools.

7:49 p.m.: Burbey went on to argue that those new buildings, without qualified teachers and supplies to fill those classrooms “they’re nothing but beautiful window dressings,” Burbey said.

7:48 p.m.: “I would say to you guys’ credit you did fix the problem of overcrowding,” Burbey said.

7:46 p.m.: Slutzky said as home prices went down he finds it hard to believe those teachers would find it harder to buy a home. What the public may not understand, the council spent $300 million on new schools and was not recompensed by the state. Now the council is trying to pay the debt service, Slutzky said.

7:45 p.m.: Many of the people who have moved on are doing so because they can’t afford to live here in Harford County, Burbey said.

7:42 p.m.: “It’s getting down to the point where there’s not much more to cut and get by,” Burbey said.

7:40 p.m.: Burbey said Harford County pays less than Cecil and Baltimore County in health insurance. He said those jurisdictions also have more preparation for common core. “I don’t think that hasn’t happened due to a lack of a desire or interest, I think it’s straight up funding,” Burbey said.

7:39 p.m.: Slutzky said it’s hard to compare apples and oranges. He asked if Burbey accounted for benefits and other incentives in the comparison, not just wages.

7:39 p.m.: “It can’t continue to go the way it’s going,” Burbey said.

7:36 p.m.: Home prices are less expensive in Cecil County, for example, while teacher salaries are higher. The county pays for teachers to take classes, get training and with no incentive to stay, they will not put their training to use in Harford County, Burbey explained.

7:35 p.m.: “Unless something changes, what impetus do our teachers have to put down roots here, when just over the border they can make $3,000 more,” Burbey said.

7:34 p.m.: Every year we try to get more planning time, which would require more teachers, which would require more funding which hasn’t happened in the past few years.

7:33 p.m.: When you look at the average teacher salary it falls in the bottom three. In new teacher salaries the county is 22nd out of 24 jurisdictions.

7:32 p.m.: The economic note in the county is not dire, Burbey said. The county ranks above the state and nation as a whole when it comes to median household income.

7:31 p.m.: Burbey said Harford County Public Schools are the second largest employer in the county. This is a concern in light of recent salary freezes, he said. “Anytime you’re handcuffing the second-largest employer you’re going to have an economic impact.”

7:30 p.m.: President of the Harford County Education Association, Ryan Burbey, gives a special presentation.

7:30 p.m.: The legislative session is called to order.

———

7:12 p.m.: The public hearing is closed and the legislative session will begin at 7:30 p.m.

7:12 p.m.: Boniface said council will get an answer on that date before taking action on the matter.

7:11 p.m.: The date was set by Maryland Department of the Environment.

7:09 pm.: Glidden said the grandfathering clause was taken verbatim from the original ordinance. “I know of at least one project from my office… that are in the pipeline,” Glidden said. He said this date may provide difficulties to go back and retroactively change those plans.

7:09 p.m.: Paul Thompson said he and Glidden are concerned about the grandfathering item.

7:08 p.m.: Paul Thompson and Rowan Glidden are signed up to testify on this bill.

7:07 p.m.: Lisanti said on page 17 of the bill there are three exemptions. She asked for examples for clearing or grading that exclusively under state guidelines. Rist said one such example would include state highways projects.

7:06 p.m.: “We’ve never gone against anyone who has planted a big garden,” Rist said.

7:05 p.m.: There is also a design manual that goes along with this code revision and should clarify the language. The sediment control regulations impact anyone who disturbs more than 5,000 square feet of soil, Rist said.

7:04 p.m.: Councilman Richard “Dick” Slutzky said he recognizes that most of this code revision is dictated by the state, but some of the language seems vague.

7:04 p.m.: Grandfathering is included in this code revision, Rist said..

7:02 p.m. Two substantial changes include a maximum 20 acre grading unit for development and stabilization of sites in shorter time frames. If sediment is left dormant for a week it must be seeded or stabilized, under the new legislation, Mike Rist said.

7:01 p.m.: This bill revises the chapter of the county code dealing with sediment control regulations, Mike Rist said.

7:00 p.m.: The hearing on bill number 12-57 is called to order.

———

6:23 p.m.: The public hearing comes to a close. The meeting will resume at 7 p.m.

6:22 p.m.: An executive order does not require any action from the council unless council decides to deny it, which they do not appear to wish, Boniface said.

6:20 p.m.: One of the requirements is that the directors live in Harford County. Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti asked if a residency requirement was in other jurisdictions. Craig answered it is not.

6:19 p.m.: Councilman Joe Woods asked who would have direct oversight over each fire company. Craig said that will likely remain in the hand of each company.

6:19 p.m.: The commission would most likely advise the director who would then come to the county executive with any issues, Craig said.

6:17 p.m.: We are working to make sure the volunteer service does not get destroyed, Craig said.

6:16 p.m.: Craig said the priorities on needs is guided by the fire company’s but the service director will run the county side of the budget.

6:15 p.m.: Craig said the moratorium on equipment was a voluntary, not mandatory matter.

6:15 p.m.: The fire company’s have supplied the county with certified audits for the past 20 years, despite what has been published in some media outlets, McMahamn said.

6:14 p.m.: We need to do everything in our power to protect the volunteer service, McMahan said.

6:11 p.m.: McMahan said he wants to better understand a moratorium placed on new equipment. He asked if future budgets will be determined by a company’s need, rather than balance sheet. Is the fire commission now duplicating effort? Why is the commission necessary if we are hiring a high paid executive, McMahan asked.

6:10 p.m.: Councilman “Cap’n” Jim McMahan said he is concerned about the publicity this Fire and EMS Service has gained. He emphasized the service is currently above national standards and this executive order is designed to make a good service better.

6:08 p.m.: Council President Billy Boniface thanked the three men for their comments and opens the field to council for questions.

6:07 p.m.: Gamatoria says it is a great honor to sit there as vice chair to the public safety commission.

6:06 p.m.: Ayer said that while the executive order language is vague, they have been assured everyone will work together and they support the legislation.

6:05 p.m.: Rusty Ayer, vice president of the fire and EMS service then Steve Gamatoria are slated to speak next.

6:02 p.m.: “It’s not about bigger government, it’s about better government and better services,” Craig said.

6:01 p.m.: County Executive David Craig said when the fire and EMS study was done several years back, one of the major items was to create a fire and EMS Association. This executive order will create that association. Currently that will fall under director of administration. In other counties, this falls under someone else’s purview.

6:01 p.m.: Public hearing on executive order 12-08 begins.

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