Wicomico County

official photos

Confusion now reigns over whether there will be an expansion of the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex after all in conjunction with Salisbury.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that on Monday Mayor Jim Ireton said that Wicomico County officials decided against asking for a 35 acre donation from the City of Salisbury.

In addition, the paper reports that a hearing on the donation set for later this month has also been cancelled.

The city said that Wicomico County officials have indicated that they are looking at other pieces of property.

linkedin

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - Wicomico Superintendent of Schools John Fredericksen has announced he will not seek to renew his four-year contract when it ends next June.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports Fredericksen announced his decision at a school board meeting Tuesday.

clipart easyvectors all-free-download

The storm that moved through the region last night left some 63-thousand customers without power last night in Delaware and Maryland.

Late last night the company was able to bring that figure down to just over 23-thousand in the northern portion of the region.

The crews worked through the night restoring power after severe thunderstorms, high winds and intense rain hit the power grid.

The company also used contractors to help in the work.

But…the weather is still warming up with some temperature having reached the mid-90’s.

creative commons

Existing home sales in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties have gone up by nearly 14 percent.

That’s during the first 5 months of 2015 compared with the same period last year.

The Salisbury Daily Times analysis also found that they have risen by nearly 40 percent since 2011 according to stats form the Coastal Association of Realtors.

The paper reports that biggest hurdle is that prices have still been low with a typical house selling for around $147-thousand compared to $161-thousand five years ago.

creative commons

GRASONVILLE, Md. (AP) - Northern snakehead fish have been caught in Wicomico and Queen Anne's counties and may be breeding in the waters.
 
Signs from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources urge anglers to report as much information as possible if they catch a snakehead fish and kill any they catch. In Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, it is illegal to possess or release a snakehead. The penalty is a fine up to $25,000 and 30 days in jail.
 

biopic

Mayor Jim Ireton says that he will table his July 1st deadline to withhold fire and emergency services in Wicomico County.

He said that he was taking – what he has called – the nuclear option off the table because he believes that the county leaders are negotiating in good faith to resolve their tax dispute.

Ireton made the threat in his effort to get an agreement to resolve the problem of many county residents not paying for these services provided by the city.

The city and county met on April 28th to begin discussions and that led Ireton to withdraw his deadline.

salisbury fire department

Wicomico County has issued a deadline to the city of Salisbury.

It wants to know by May 1st if the city will go through with Mayor Jim Ireton’s threat to cut off Fire and EMS service to surrounding county areas if there is no agreement by July 1st.

The Salisbury Fire Chief and a top city administration official met with county officials yesterday to begin discussions on a new agreement.

The city says that currently it is costing the Salisbury $2.2 million to provide service without adequate compensation from county residents.

Don Rush

In the ongoing dispute over fire and EMS service Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver has some questions about any agreement with the city of Salisbury.

Mayor Jim Ireton has threatened to cut off city fire and EMS service to surrounding county areas by July 1st  if city taxpayers are not given some form of tax relief for those services.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that many of the questions center on funding mechanisms.

The two sides are to meet on April 28th to discuss the issue.

official photo

The best way to deal with providing fire and EMS service in Salisbury and the surrounding area is for Wicomico County to agree to some form of tax relief.

That’s was the opinion of the Salisbury Fire Chief Rick Hoppes.

Mayor Jim Ireton has laid down a deadline for later this year for the county to come to some agreement with the city or fire and EMS service will be restricted to the city limits of Salisbury.

The comments by the chief came during a roundtable discussion yesterday looking at options to resolve the issue.

biopic

If there is no meeting between Mayor Jim Ireton and Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver by April 28th the Mayor says he will outline a number options to the public on the issue of city fire and EMS service to the county.

Ireton declared, ”You have city taxpayer money and you have to give it back.”

This week the Mayor said that if there is no agreement by July 1st on tax relief for city residents who provide fire and EMS services to the county he will keep those services to within the city limits.

biopic

Mayor Jim Ireton will lay out his 2016 fiscal budget for the Salisbury City Council this afternoon.

Issues in his spending plan range from the first ever reduction in Urban Service sewer rates and public safety to infrastructure improvements and a new zoo exhibit.

In addition, the Mayor is expected to bring up – what has been called -- the Nuclear Option for Fire Department and EMS service.

The Mayor is seeking tax relief from Wicomico County for duplicative services.

biopic

The Maryland Mayors Association will be lobbying in Annapolis for a bill that would give them some tax relief from the counties.

And Mayor Jim Ireton hopes that the legislation will allow him to get as much as $2.2 million in tax relief for a number of country residents.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that a study found the residents of Salisbury is paying for just over $1 million in taxes for service they did not get.

For Fruitland it was just over $98-thousand while for Delmar was $55-thousand.

The legislation would require counties to examine the issue.

Don Rush

Wicomico County has a new Director of Finance Leslie Lewis.

The appointment was approved yesterday by the Wicomico County Council but did not make a decision on a new director of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.

County Executive Bob Culver fired the last finance director Gary Mackes after coming into office along with the Public Works director Lee Beauchamp.

The county executive’s decision to dismiss Mackes came as a surprise to some including the council vice president Matt Holloway.

Wicomico County School logo

Wicomico County could soon have an elected school board.

Last night there was almost unanimous support from those attended a public hearing by the Board of Education.

Harry Basehart said that it should follow the model set by Caroline County where the board reflects the gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the local residents.  

Many complained that the Board is accountable to the governor not the county residents even though education takes up half of the Wicomico County budget.

Don Rush

It’s a fix-it strategy for the West Salisbury Elementary School.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver has opted to make improvements in the aging structure rather than building a new facility.

Wicomico County released a report on the building needs and the fix-it strategy will come at a much lower price tag.

*****

Tour

(Questions Raised About Culver's Private Tour of School -- Salisbury Daily Times)

*****

Salisbury Fire Department Website

Mayor Jim Ireton says the Salisbury is not being fairly compensated for the services that its fire department  provides in Wicomico County.

Under the current agreement the department serves over 56 percent of the county population and responds to more than 62% of the service calls.

But, says the Mayor, it does not get equal funding for the amount of work it does.

Ireton wants the new county leaders to take up the issue in the next fiscal year to address of a gap that, he says, amounts to over $2 million which has been paid by the city tax payers.

Don Rush

It was a good night for Republicans on Tuesday.

Larry Hogan beat the odds by besting Democrat Anthony Brown by a vote of 54 percent to 44 percent to become the only the second Republican since Spiro Agnew to ascend to the governor’s chair in Maryland.

Hogan beat back Brown’s attempt to be the first Maryland Lt. Gov. to succeed to the office and the first African American to hold the office Maryland.

During the campaign the Republican had battered Brown over tax hikes and the flawed rollout of the state’s health exchange.

facebook

A contract agreement appears to have been reached between Wicomico County and the local Fraternal Order of Police.

F.O.P. President Mary Fisher says a deal has been struck that would protect any Wicomico County Sheriff deputies who have been injured on the job.

The new agreement also includes a deal on wage hikes.

Earlier this month the police organization had argued that the county had tried to change the contract so that it did not include disability protection which it said was essential.

Don Rush

Biking advocates were relieved yesterday to learn that while Wicomico County will be expanding the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex to include more soccer and baseball fields a bike trail will still run through the area.

The expansion plan would wipe out most of the nearly 5-mile network of trails that were first established in 1996.

But there will be an access road leading to a creek with a bridge that would be built to provide access to 80 acres of land where new trails could be carved out.

Motorists on the Eastern Shore should get ready for work on five bridges in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties beginning this Friday.

Work crews will be setting up this weekend for cleaning and painting the bridges.

The Maryland State Highway Administration says it does not anticipate any lane closures or detours but says the staging areas for the maintenance will be set up on the shoulders for each bridge.

Another five bridges will be cleaned and painted later this year for a total cost of just over a million dollars.

Bridges

cbf.org

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says three Eastern Shore counties have failed to file plans with the Maryland Department of the Environment to clean up the bay over the next two years.

Those were Caroline, Dorchester and Worcester Counties.

In addition, CBF and the Choose Clean Water Coalition noted that Dorchester had not submitted a milestone progress report.

Meanwhile, the environmental groups said that Wicomico County has secured $700-thousand in county and outside grants…to begin designing and installing clean-up measures.

Parents told the Wicomico County Board of Education that they are upset by two recent decisions about where their children will attend school in the coming year.

During a public meeting yesterday that they said they were opposed to the district decision to consolidate its Magnet accelerated learning program.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that parents with children enrolled in the Magnet program at Pemberton Middle School complained about the decision to only have the program at North Salisbury Elementary School for the 2014-15 school year.

Don Rush

Property taxes will go up again for the fifth straight year for Wicomico county property owners under a $129 million budget.

On a vote of 5-to-2 yesterday the County Council approved a hike of 5 percent in its annual budget.

This will increase the rate by 43 cents to $9.52 for every $1-thousand of assessed property value.

The increase will go into effect July 1st and is needed to compensate for a decline of 2.5 percent in county property values.

Don Rush

A property tax hike could be coming to Wicomico County in the 2015 fiscal year.

County Executive Rick Pollitt says that with the budget he is reviewing for the next fiscal year a three cent hike is needed just to break even.

The revenue cap would provide an extra penny.

WBOC reports that one of the key concerns is coming up with enough money for road maintenance since the state took away a great majority of their assistance.

In addition, Pollitt says he wants to put more money into education.

Don Rush

The crime rate in Salisbury is at its lowest level in at least 10 years.

Part One crimes that include homicide, rape and robbery dropped to just 2,091 this past year -- close the target of 2,000 set by city officials in their efforts to bring down the crime rate.

There were three homicides in all of Wicomico County this year, compared with five in the county last year.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that of the 10-year span from 2004 to 2013, this was the first year there were no homicides within the city limits, though two were close to the city line.

Don Rush

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - Wicomico County officials are considering a plant at the county landfill to convert solid waste into energy-producing gas.

The Daily Times reports that supporters say the plant would create a new local energy source and help dispose of tons of chicken manure. County Public Works Director Lee Beauchamp and other officials met with regulators in Annapolis on Wednesday to discuss permitting hurdles for the $75 million project.

Don Rush

Director of Administration Wayne Strausburg told the Wicomico County Council last night that a new study recommends changing the revenue cap on property the property tax.

The Sage Group study suggests that it switch from using the consumer price index to an index that measures components of government spending. 

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that Strausburg believes the revenue cap as it is currently use is flawed and should be changed through a public vote.

Don Rush

Starting July 1 Wicomico County restaurant inspections, building permits and some other health department services will be getting more expensive.

The County Council voted 4-to-3 for hikes in the fees that have not seen an increase for seven years.

These services range from public pool license and septic installations to permits for wells and sewage disposal systems.

Council President Matt Holloway, who supported the fee increase, told WBOC that he blamed unfunded mandates handed down by the state but added that the hikes seemed fair

Maryland Law Enforcement, mug shot

WASHINGTON (AP) - A divided Supreme Court says police can legally take DNA without a warrant from those arrested in hopes of using it to solve old cases.

The justices, on a 5-4 vote, say taking DNA samples from people who have been arrested for various crimes, long before their guilt or innocence has been proven, does not violate the Constitution.

Wicomico County Schools website

Wicomico County has set aside money for the upcoming fiscal year to increase security at public schools.

There is $1.8 million for school security and technology upgrades that would go for more surveillance cameras, buzz-in systems and security training.

Andy Turner, Coordinator of Safe Schools for the district, told WBOC that officials will start shoring up vulnerabilities of the schools whose average age in 43 years old.

He said that the district would prefer to spend its money on enhancing student’s education but there is a need to ensure that children feel safe.

Pages