Council Meeting Highlights, November 28, 2023

11/30/2023

Category: County Council

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Staff from the Office of Finance celebrated receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting with the County Council in their November 28th meeting.

Staff from the Office of Finance celebrated receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting with the County Council in their November 28th meeting.

The Talbot County Council held their regular meeting on November 28, 2023 at 6 p.m.; all Council members were present.

Update by Maryland Environmental Service

Tim Ford, Managing Director for Environmental Operations and Gary Lasako, Senior Project Manager of Maryland Environmental Service (MES) provided a comprehensive update on the landfills, garbage disposal, and recycling programs in the Midshore region.  

MES provides operational support for the Midshore I and II Regional Landfills which provide waste management services for the counties of Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Kent through a service agreement.

Midshore I Regional Landfill, located in Talbot County on Barkers Landing Road, was closed and subsequently “capped” in 2011. The landfill now undergoes regular testing and maintenance and is charged with meeting environmental emission and discharge standards set by the State and federal government.

The Barkers Landing Road location also hosts the Midshore I Transfer Station, where garbage is collected before being transported to the Midshore II Regional Landfill (Midshore II) near Ridgeley in Caroline County. Talbot County residents can drop off trash at this location through the Homeowners Drop Off (HODO) program by paying a reasonable fee.

From January to September 2023, the transfer station collected 30,099 tons of solid waste and 3,036 tons of yard waste. The HODO program saw 18,862 customer visits, resulting in 652 tons of waste being received.     

Midshore II is the current landfill location for the region. Most garbage collected in Talbot County and surrounding counties is transferred to this site. From January to September 2023, the Midshore II facility collected 112,249 tons of billable trash, 5,542 tons of brush, 17 tons of scrap tires, 16 tons of mattresses, and 1,507 tons of HODO trash from the Holly Road drop-off location in Caroline County.

MES also maintains the Midshore Regional Recycling Program, which provides drop-off locations for recycling for the four counties, and hosts events for specific trash items that require special disposal such as household hazardous waste, scrap tires, and electronics. They also provide education and outreach to the community on proper recycling techniques and programs.

Negotiations are in progress to extend the service period for Midshore II, which has an estimated remaining life of 20 years. If extended, the surrounding counties will continue to pay MES to provide waste management services and use the Midshore II landfill location for garbage drop-off.

MES has also submitted the first of several permits required for Midshore III Regional Landfill to be located near Centreville in Queen Anne’s County, which, while not necessarily needed for several years, requires an extensive application process.

Presentation by Easton Utilities

Easton Utilities President and CEO Hugh Gruden, P.E. and Executive Vice President & COO, John Horner, joined Talbot Economic Development and Tourism Director, Cassandra Vanhooser, in providing a brief update on “Connect Talbot”, the Talbot County Rural Broadband Project.

Since Connect Talbot partnered with Talbot County in 2019, the program has been able to provide access to high-speed internet to over 2,045 properties throughout the county and to date, has connected 1,050 individual customers.  Since most of the work in the northern and southern areas of the county has been completed, Easton Utilities is now focusing on providing internet access in the Bay Hundred area of the county.

Connect Talbot continues to move forward with a projected completion at the end of 2026. Eventually 4,400 underserved properties will have access to broadband internet throughout the County, as a result of this important partnership between Easton Utilities and Talbot County.

“The entire $40 million project highlights the importance of public-private partnerships with federal, state, and local governments,” said Cassandra Vanhooser, Director, Economic Development & Tourism. “We have not only been able to build out our broadband infrastructure through collaboration, but to also make broadband affordable and accessible to our community through combined funding efforts."

The next step in the project is to support connections for property owners with longer driveways or remote locations through a new grant application offered through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The FY24 Home Stretch – Difficult to Serve Properties Grant through the Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband, if awarded, will fund, and offset property owner shares of broadband installation to unserved locations. The Council unanimously supported the request to apply for and accept the $1.1 million grant, to assist with capital construction costs related to the installation of broadband services.

Other Business

  • Patty Crankshaw-Quimby, Chief Animal Control Officer for Talbot County, and Executive Director for Talbot Humane, provided a comprehensive update on the success of the Talbot Humane in providing educational and financial support to pet owners. Talbot Humane takes in strays, surrenders, and transfers animals from other shelters. They provide services to the community such as the spay and neuter program, donations of food and supplies, and community education.

  • Ms. Crankshaw-Quimby also reminded individuals to educate themselves on “community cats”, a/k/a feral cats, before bringing them to the shelter. “Oftentimes, individuals believe they are doing the right thing by capturing outdoor cats and bringing them to Talbot Humane, when in fact that is the not the best approach. This can lead to the cat being severely stressed, puts unnecessary strain on the shelter, and may lead to euthanasia.” Ms. Crankshaw-Quimby recommends reaching out to Talbot Humane if you are experiencing an issue with community cats or would like to know how to properly take care of them.

  • The Department of Finance, led by Director Martha Sparks, was recognized for receiving a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for FY22. GFOA’s Awards for Excellence recognize innovative programs and contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management.

  • The Council elected Chuck Callahan to serve as Council President, and Pete Lesher to serve Council Vice President for 2023-2024.

  • Hog Neck Golf Course requested approval to enter into an Option and Ground Lease Agreement with Crown Castle Towers for a 199-foot cell tower on the Hog Neck property, pending review and approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Council approved the request unanimously.

  • Hog Neck Golf Course requested approval to enter into two lease agreements and award one contract related to their practice range enhancement project. The agreements were as follows: Golf-Tech, Inc. for 15 Power Tees in the amount of $49,659.72 annually, Trackman Range for a Driving Range Equipment Enhancement System which includes 30 bays with 32” monitors in the amount of $57,600 (to be installed in May 2025), and Tex-Net Inc. for installation of poles and netting at the practice range at a cost of $241,920. All three related requests were approved unanimously.

The Council’s next legislative meeting will be held on December 12th beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Bradley Meeting Room located in the South Wing, Talbot County Courthouse, 11 North Washington Street, Easton.  The meeting is open to the public.

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