County delays vote on library contracts

Official did not give data on book, other media purchases
Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/13/2012
When a county library official reported that he could not provide data about upcoming purchases of books and other media, elected officials read his response as evasive. Approval of contract awards to 13 vendors was delayed for a week, allowing library staff to fill in some of the blanks that were particularly bothersome to Commissioner Billy Shreve. The Thursday discussion about money and books was the latest instance of friction between Darrell Batson, director of Frederick County Public Libraries, and Shreve, who has scrutinized library spending and questioned the need for new branches. "It's more difficult communicating with him (Batson) than anyone else," Shreve said in a Thursday phone interview. "When I ask a question of Darrell, in some cases, he doesn't want to provide the answer." Batson says he can't give details he doesn't have.

Shreve FCC proposal bad on all counts

Frederick News Post
Kristin Hillers
06/12/2012
The system of higher education has enough financial troubles without the contributions of County Commissioner Billy Shreve and his proposal for a tiered tuition rate system for Frederick Community College.
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Wrongheaded suggestion

Frederick News Post
Bob White
05/17/2012
Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve's suggestion for reverse bidding on properties seeking agricultural preservation funding possibly could save the county some money. However, as with many of the cuts and changes in county programs made by this board, it seems to reflect only a desire to appear to save money ... and no consideration for the intent of the program.

Plans for new libraries in Frederick County could be stalled

Young proposes continued funding for schools, public safety
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
05/09/2012
Frederick County Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young has proposed a temporary halt to the construction of new libraries in the county. Young (R) said he would like to reduce or eliminate fees collected from builders to build new libraries. Under his proposal, developers would continue to pay fees for new school construction. “I don’t want to slow down school construction or reduce the impact fees for schools, because that [school construction] is one of the priorities of this board,” he said. “It’s in our strategic plan.”

Frederick County library director accused of getting political

Library director says county gave back $450, 000 state grant
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
05/09/2012
The debate over building a new library in Walkersville took a new turn this week when the president of the county commissioners accused the library director of political posturing. “It sounds like Darrell Batson is becoming very political,” Frederick County Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) said of the county’s public library director, Darrell Batson. At issue is Batson’s criticism of proposed cuts to funding for new libraries and his assessment that the current Board of County Commissioners dismissed a $450,000-grant from the state to help construct a new Walkersville branch. Batson, who was hired by the county in 1998, also said that the commissioners effectively “stopped libraries dead” by halting the construction of all new libraries in 2010. It was that decision that forced the county to return the state grant that would have paid for a portion of a new $6-million building in Walkersville

‘Park Hall is gone’

Permit filed after most of historic house demolished
Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
05/02/2012
The partial demolition of a historic Frederick house without a permit might have been a matter of ignorance, a former mayor and a sitting county commissioner agree. Former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger applied April 25 for a permit to tear down Park Hall, but the demolition began before he got involved, Holtzinger said

Frederick County commissioners plan to make growth decisions permanent

Young expects the board to approve more development
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
04/26/2012
Frederick County Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) hopes to approve new housing and businesses in the county, while preventing future boards from overturning those decisions — even if conditions change. Young said this week several developers already have inquired about the agreement, provisionally granted to a development last week that could bring 1,100 homes to the southern part of the county. The agreements with developers — being used for the first time in the county — mark a reversal from the previous board of commissioners, which sought to limit growth by restricting land zoned for 700 properties from commercial, residential or industrial to agricultural or open space.

The final chapter?

Shreve suggests shuttering Walkersville library
Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy and Courtney Pomeroy
03/02/2012
Building a new library in Walkersville would put Frederick County on the hook for a $6.1 million tab, and at least one county commissioner is asking whether there is a cheaper alternative. Commissioner Billy Shreve has proposed dropping the new construction and merging the town's Frederick County Public Libraries branch with the Walkersville Middle School library. "My thought is why not just expand the library in the school," Shreve said Thursday. "One of the things we have to look at in these budget times is how we spend taxpayer dollars." The commissioners are reviewing the five-year Capital Improvements Plan -- a document that outlines future construction projects for the county. Building a 15,250-square-foot library does not sound like a priority, Shreve said.

Frederick County: Commissioners cast the first votes in rezone requests

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
02/15/2012
A series of up-or-down votes by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday was all it took to determine the direction of the ongoing comprehensive planning and zoning review. Applications that restored rights to owners whose property zoning was changed in the 2010 comprehensive plan were all preliminarily granted.

Annexed farmland clear for developing

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
01/27/2012
The City of Frederick is about to gain some acres. For more than a year, two large farms just north of the city have been approved for annexation, but the city and previous county officials disagreed on zoning so developers were told they would have to wait five years. The Board of County Commissioners voted Thursday to end that mandatory waiting period and allow the developers to proceed immediately. The two farms -- known as the Crum and Thatcher properties -- total nearly 400 acres. Both are north of the city limits along U.S. 15. Frederick Mayor Randy McClement was at Thursday's meeting and called the commissioners' decision a positive one for the city. "We need the growth area," McClement said.

Commissioners may join effort against land-use plan

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
08/24/2011
The Frederick County Commissioners might join forces with leaders in nearby counties to push back against aspects of the Maryland governor's land-use plan, a document they fear could erode local authority if carried out. The drafted plan emerged as one of the hot topics last week at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, where Gov. Martin O'Malley offered county government officials a presentation about the vision for smart growth. While the state has insisted the document, called PlanMaryland, doesn't commandeer county land-use decisions, Commissioners President Blaine Young said he would like to see that spelled out in the draft. "Why won't you include the language that it (the plan) is not going to be mandated and dictated from the top down?" Young said. The idea of a partnership of central and western Maryland governments flowed out of a Friday breakfast that included Young and commissioners presidents from Washington, Allegany, Carroll and Garrett counties. Young said the board leaders agreed to go back to their counties and pitch the coalition plan to their fellow commissioners.

Ethics laws are not ‘crazy’

Gazette
08/18/2011
Little is as important as electing to office people who maintain a high ethical standard, but knowing ahead of time who falls into that category can be challenging. Such is a key reason why governments should have strong ethics laws that err on the side of caution and disclosure for those who hold office. It is also the reason to fully support the Maryland General Assembly’s effort to tighten the disclosure requirements of, and the ethics laws that affect, those who hold office. The law passed last year requires local governments to tighten their rules by adopting one of two models by Oct. 1: Model A for larger counties and municipalities, and Model B for smaller ones. Frederick commissioners have proposed adopting Model A. Most of the changes are the same in both models, but there are some key differences in the areas of financial disclosure and lobbying. Under county law, elected officials and certain high-level employees have to disclose their real estate holdings and any co-owners of the properties only in Frederick County. Financial disclosure under Model A would apply to elected officials, candidates for office and certain high-level employees.

Frederick County residents angry about privatization

Critics of plan rally again in support of county employees
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
07/27/2013
For a second time this week, Frederick County residents came out to support government employees who are at risk of losing their jobs to the private sector. Residents packed the first-floor hearing room of Winchester Hall, the seat of county government, Tuesday night and told the Frederick Board of County Commissioners that their proposal to outsource some government services to private companies will have dire consequences. Many predicted a dismal future for Frederick County if private companies take control of government services, such as road maintenance, snow removal, parks, electrical inspections and help for senior citizens.

Frederick commissioners look at eliminating county grant-funded programs

Head Start was the first to go, more possibly to follow
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
07/07/2011
Head Start will likely not be the only grant-funded program to get axed by Frederick County commissioners to reduce the size of government. Commissioners are looking at all programs funded by federal and state grants in which the county provides a matching share of money. In the case of Head Start, the federal government put in $2.1 million and the county another $2.3 million, a funding match it was not required to make to keep the program running.

Nonprofits to Frederick County: Take time privatizing

Ex-commissioner asks for 'thoughtful' tactics
Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
06/22/2011
Leaders from two area nonprofit organizations are calling for the Frederick County Commissioners to slow down on a proposal to privatize more than 500 county government jobs. In his report to the commissioners, Georgia consultant Oliver Porter last week recommended the board consider outsourcing core government services handled by about 500 of the county's more than 2,000 employees. Four public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for next month. On Tuesday, leaders from Friends of Frederick County and Envision Frederick County, two local nonprofits, met at C. Burr Artz Public Library to discuss the proposal with Frederick County Commissioner David Gray. At a public hearing last week, the League of Women Voters also called for a slower process. Friends of Frederick County and Envision Frederick County members suggested Porter's study should be reviewed by another consultant, or the county should consider establishing a pilot program of outsourcing only one department, instead of proceeding with Porter's plan of outsourcing all at once. "It's too big to rush into without a serious and thoughtful approach," said Kai Hagen, a former Frederick County commissioner who is now executive director of Envision Frederick County. He said the 27-page study contains little more detail than a brochure for Porter's business, PPP Associates, and described the report as a combination puff piece and sales pitch.

WTE debacle

Frederick News Post
David Herman
06/04/2011
As a Republican, I am outraged that the "fiscally conservative" Board of County Commissioners is moving forward with an oversized, overpriced, unnecessary and polluting incinerator project. At a recent Maryland Department of the Environment informational meeting, the MDE made it clear that industry is on the "honor system" for reporting problems to them. In the case of Wheelabrator, this is not appropriate since it is a serial permit violator and subject of lawsuits by communities. The company simply pays the fines assessed and continues operations as usual while citizens must pay millions to breathe and drink the contamination. While Commissioner Billy Shreve did attend part of the recent MDE meeting, his attention was on his laptop rather than on the discussion. The entire BoCC appears to be asleep, to have not read the contract, and to continue the mistake of the previous board led by Jan Gardner -- who had very little understanding of the financial debt and pollution she was signing us up for.

Frederick commissioner questions Office of Sustainability

Office says county saves nearly $500,000 per year by encouraging green practices
Gazette
Katherine Heerbrandt
12/13/2010
Frederick County government has achieved major savings by going green, but at least one commissioner is not yet convinced that those savings are large enough or sustainable enough to warrant a separate office.

Candidates clash at final forum

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
10/27/2010
In a last-minute push for votes, candidates at a Tuesday night Frederick County commissioner forum went into attack mode on some of the biggest issues facing the county. Candidates disagreed on the effects of land use policy, how much the budget has been cut and whether the next board should reverse a decision to build a regional waste-to-energy trash incinerator. Ten candidates are running for five slots on the commissioners board.

GOP hopefuls debate in forum

Frederick News Post
Clifford Cumber
09/02/2006
In the closest thing to a real debate in this campaign season, Republican candidates took the stage Thursday in front of a GOP audience.Republicans are crowding the field leading up to the Sept. 12 primary; the forum, held by the Republican Women of greater Frederick, was a rare chance for GOP candidates to reach out to their base. The format allowed candidates to respond to points made by others, or expound on questions. Candidates for Frederick County State's Attorney had their moment, as did four GOP candidates for sheriff. One of the most contested GOP primaries is between 14 Republicans to be one of five who will go to the general election to compete for seats on the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Mike Cady and former Commissioners President David Gray disagreed over the number of houses allowed by the present board of county commissioners through rezoning. Mr. Cady has been upbeat in his campaign, touting the achievements of his four years in office to counter what he said are the efforts of some candidates to frighten voters. "Don't be scared into voting for a no-growth, anti-business slate," he warned. Reiterating a point he's made several times, Mr. Cady said an average of 1,825 new homes a year had been built during his term, 20 percent less than the previous board, presided over by Mr. Gray. That fact defied the "pro-growth" label commonly attached to three of the sitting commissioners, Mr. Cady said.

Alternative to impact fee considered

Frederick News Post
Clifford Cumber
11/11/2005
Thursday’s snowy morning may end up a boon to affordable housing throughout the state and end a conflict over how to help low-income workers afford to live in Frederick County. If 5 or 6 inches of snow hadn’t hit the region, local Realtor Billy Shreve might not have sat down and drafted his alternative to Commissioner Jan Gardner’s proposal to change the county’s impact fee to an impact tax, he said Saturday. Ms. Gardner’s proposal would allow the county to create waivers for cheaper housing and a sliding scale in which larger homes would be charged a greater tax than smaller homes, based on a square-foot assessment. Mr. Shreve’s proposal would allow Maryland’s 23 counties to draft ordinances that would allow waivers for impact fees on a case-by-case basis. Affordable-housing advocates would go before county-appointed boards to seek a special waiver for their projects, Mr. Shreve said.