News Release, Charles County Government

On Tuesday, Jan.15, the Board of County Commissioners discussed the challenge of broadband availability in rural areas and examined options for addressing the problem. County staff briefed Commissioners on past efforts to work with local internet service providers that were unsuccessful in developing a sustainable business model for rural broadband service. A representative from the Task Force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless, and Cellular Service discussed their research to determine the challenges, issues, and potential actions to address broadband access to the unserved and underserved in all rural areas of Maryland. The Task Force delivered a report to the Maryland General Assembly that summarized its findings. It recommended gaining access to electric utility rights-of-way for broadband and developing partnerships to access existing fiber networks. In 2017, Governor Larry Hogan established an Office of Rural Broadband to identify needs and potentially provide some funds for rural broadband projects in the state of Maryland. Commissioners asked staff to draft a county-wide broadband plan and establish a task force to pursue legislative action and funding options available to ensure broadband access for everyone.

Commissioners also held a work session to discuss a proposal by Commissioner Gilbert Bowling (District 1) for the formation of aRural Land Use Designations Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to bring individuals from the rural community into the process of proposed zoning changes related to the Comprehensive Plan. Commissioners would appoint members from key stakeholder groups to the task force and the group would be charged with proposing zoning text amendments and making recommendations on changes to zoning on rural land uses. Based on feedback from the Board, Commissioner Bowling will present additional information and a proposed resolution to establish the group, that includes details about its membership and scope of responsibility, for Commissioners to consider at the next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Open Session Briefings

  • Broadband in Charles County:County staff updated Commissioners on the current accessibility of broadband internet service throughout Charles County.
  • Fiscal 2018 Audit Presentation:The County’s outside auditor, SB & Company, LLC, presented a summary of results from its audit of the county’s 2018 financial statements. They provided an overview of the audit approach, evaluation of key processes, and findings from the audit. View the full presentation onBoardDocs.
  • Charles County Financial Policies:County staff briefed County Commissioners onfinancial policiesrelated to the budget, investments, debts, revenues, fund balance, expenditures, capital management, accounting, and financial reporting.
  • County Attorney and Human Resources Department Briefings: Acting County Attorney Danielle Mitchell presented an overview of the County Attorney’s Office, its role and functions, and current projects. Mitchell also provided background on the Charles County Charitable Trust, an entity responsible for awarding and managing grants to local nonprofit. Megan Donnick, acting director of Human Resources, summarized the responsibilities of the department, its upcoming priorities, current collective bargaining agreements, and the results of the recent employee survey. View the full presentations inBoardDocs.

Approval Items

  • Multi-year Encroachment Protection Funding Agreement:Commissioners received a briefing and approved a request to authorize the Commissioner President to sign an amendment to the Multi-year Encroachment Protection Funding Agreement. This agreement with the Department of Defense (DoD) provides for partnership with private conservation organizations, and state and local governments to share the cost of acquisition of conservation easements from willing sellers. The acquisitions are intended to preserve compatible land uses and natural habitats near military installations, that may otherwise limit or restrict military training, testing, and operations. Charles County will become eligible to use DoD funding with existing county budgets for land preservation.
  • Additional Legislative Proposals for 2019 General Assembly Session:Commissioners approved two additional legislative proposals. Thefirst proposalis a request from the Board of License Commissioners, for a proposed amendment to exempt holders of a state-issued manufacturer’s license from the quota system. Thesecond proposalis a new class of license designated for a resort complex. It is intended for use at Swan Point but is written broadly so the benefit could apply to other current or future resort areas in the county.

Commissioners also approved the following items:

  • Greenwill Consulting Grouppresentedan agreementto provide government relations services during the Maryland 2019 Legislative Session. The primary scope of work shall be: to advocate for the Board of Charles County Commissioners before the Maryland General Assembly, State Executive Branch, and statutory agencies.
  • The Department of Public Works presented abudget amendmentfor recycling operations. There are currently unfavorable market conditions for single-stream recycling, as China has adjusted the standards on accepted recycling. The county is currently working on public/private partnerships to adjust to these changes.

Commissioner Appointments

Recognitions

The Commissioners, joined by representatives from NAACP and United Way of Charles County, recognizedMartin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Beyondon Monday, Jan. 21. This day offers an opportunity for Americans to give back to their communities on the holiday and make an ongoing commitment to service throughout the year.

Next Commissioners Meeting:Tuesday, Jan. 29, beginning at 9 a.m.

For More Information:

Commissioners meetings are aired on CCGTV, which broadcasts on Comcast channel 95 and Verizon channel 10, and are available for streaming atwww.CharlesCountyMD.gov/media-services/ccgtv/ccgtv. Materials and minutes of the Commissioners meeting will be posted atwww.boarddocs.com/md/chrlsco/Board.nsf/Publicupon approval.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...