News Release, Charles County Public Information Office

On Tuesday, April 7, the Board of Commissioners received an update from the Charles County Health Department on the latest efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Dr. Suzan Lowry, MD FAAP, the Charles County Health Officer, shared information on the testing, treatment, and prevention efforts for COVID-19 locally. Residents are reminded to call the Department of Health’s call center at 301-609-6717 for urgent questions and concerns. Department of Emergency Services Director Michelle Lilly provided an overview of the Emergency Operation Center’s work, including continued daily coordination with local and state affiliated agencies.

Commissioners were also briefed by the Department of Human Resources and Department of Fiscal and Administrative staff on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This federal bill requires public employers, including Charles County Government, to comply with its policies. Two parts of the bill directly affect county leave and pay policies: (1) Emergency Paid Sick Leave for up to two weeks must be provided; and (2) Emergency Family and Medical Leave for up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave must be provided. They summarized the requirements for employees to be provided with emergency sick leave; the pay caps, calculations, and process for obtaining paid sick leave; and the eligibility and entitlement for 12 weeks of emergency family and medical leave. Commissioners approved the removal of caps on paid sick leave so eligible full-time employees will receive up to 75, 80, or 84 hours of emergency paid sick leave based on their work schedule. Part-time employees are paid based upon the average hours they are scheduled to work. 

Economic Development Department staff presented options for a COVID-19 Relief Fund for Small Businesses, administered as either a grant or loan for those needing assistance. They also shared a proposal for the Economic Development existing revolving loan funds to be modified and provide financial assistance. The Commissioners voted to administer the COVD-19 Relief Fund for Small Businesses as a loan with options for partial loan forgiveness if 50 percent of the loans are paid back more quickly as donations to the Charles County Charitable Trust. Additionally, Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services staff presented a special report on nonprofit assistance for organizations providing local emergency relief. Commissioners approved a proposal for the Charles County Charitable Trust to administer a grant program An application process and a budget template was presented, that will be used for nonprofit organizations to apply for grants that directly support COVID-19 relief efforts.

Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services staff presented the Third Quarter Report for the fiscal 2020 General Fund. Staff provided information on the revenues, expenditures, and the estimated year-end fund balance. The fiscal 2020 Adjusted Budget includes $12.9 million of fund balance use. Due to declining revenues from lower business property taxes as a result of COVID-19, a total of $14.3 million will be needed to offset the estimated net operating loss.

Budget Work Session

The Board of County Commissioners held a budget work session to review the fiscal 2021 Proposed Enterprise Fund Budgets Summary and fiscal 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program. County Administrator Mark Belton is scheduled to present the fiscal 2021 proposed budget on Tuesday, April 21 at the next Commissioner meeting.

Approval Items

Commissioners approved the following items:

  • resolution to temporarily postpone the Charles County Tax Sales to May 2021 as a result of economic hardship facing many citizens due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A petition to the Planning Commission regarding the Waldorf Station Development Agreement, which designates capital improvements including required environmental permits, road improvements, land dedication, stormwater management facility, and school capacity allocations contingency. The agreement also delineates public benefit commitments; development stages; development review process; and several other compliance requirements as the development plan is implemented.
  • Fiscal 2021 Transportation Priority letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation, which articulates the county’s priorities for state transportation funding. Charles County requested that the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit be funded for the Project Planning Phase of the Project Development process. The letter reiterated the value in integrating the project with land-use planning that is vital to higher-density, transit-oriented development in Waldorf and White Plains.
  • response to the Charles County Board of Education’s letter summarizing the challenges of distance-learning implementation due to lack of broadband access in rural areas of the county.
  • Designated exceptions to the Ghostwriter-Automated Signing Machine Use Policy until the State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted.

Proclamations

Commissioners approved:

  • A proclamation declaring April 2020 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Charles County and encouraging all residents to support programs and activities that strengthen families and benefit children in order to help prevent child abuse.
  • A proclamation designating April 19-25, 2020 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Charles County and to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This recognition presents an opportunity to ensure that all victims of crime are offered accessible and appropriate services in the aftermath of crime.

Next Commissioners Session: April 21, 2020

Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.


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...