ANNAPOLIS — Before Del. Jesse Pippy led his first meeting as chair of the Frederick County delegation, he made a joke about the agenda.
There were 18 items on it, and the group had roughly an hour to act on them due to other business for Sens. Ron Young (D-Frederick) and Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll). So Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) wanted his colleagues to spend roughly two minutes on each item.
“It will be the most productive one-hour meeting in the General Assembly,” Pippy said.
The largest-ticket item on the agenda was an additional $6 million for the Lake Linganore dredging project, requested by County Executive Jan Gardner (D).
That project, which is currently removing about 130,000 cubic yards of sediment from the lake and costs $18 million, is being paid for by the county, city of Frederick and Lake Linganore Association. The city is paying half and the county and LLA 25 percent each.
The additional $6 million would help remove an additional 56,000 cubic yards (more than enough to fill seven Goodyear blimps) of sediment from the lake, Gardner wrote in a letter forwarded to the county delegation. They voted unanimously to support the request.
“It’s important for the city of Frederick, it’s their primary source of water, and it’s backup water for the county,” Gardner said. “We’re just interested [because] it’s more cost-effective to do more now than later.”
The delegation also voted to support $1.73 million for public safety training improvements. Gardner said the money is needed to improve training facilities and allow more room for recruiting classes of firefighters, EMTs and other public safety personnel.
She also requested $1.5 million to help build a value-added agricultural facility for the county, but told the delegation that could likely revolve around dairy products and not a malting facility, something discussed by county officials and farmers in the past. The delegation also supported this request.
Sen. Young, vice chair of the delegation, told his colleagues that, based on conversations with George Owings, Maryland’s secretary of veterans affairs, and others, it’s likely $500,000 in the budget will be allocated to the proposed veterans center on Monocacy Boulevard.
Danny Farrar, president and co-founder of Platoon 22 and one of the partners in the project, updated the delegation about that project Friday. He said the center will be an asset to veterans around the region, and the delegation voted to support his request for state funding.
“We don’t like the term one-stop shop, but at the end of the day, that’s what it’s going to be,” Farrar said. “Right now, a veteran in Frederick County has to ping-pong around to get everything they need.”
The delegation also supported Gardner’s three proposed bills: expanding the state renters tax credit to include Frederick County, increasing Board of Education members’ annual salaries by $4,000 and allowing special elections for that same body.
County Councilman Steve McKay (R), who helped craft the latter bill, said the proposal would use existing midterm elections and filing dates to help fill vacancies on the Board of Education. It was not meant to create “one-off” elections, as those can cost around $300,000, he said.
McKay’s proposal, if approved, means a seat would have to be vacated in roughly the first year of a member’s term.
“The Board of Ed is a very important elected seat in Frederick County. ... I believe that when it’s practicable, that we should give that decision back to the voters,” McKay said.
Regarding the Board of Education salary bill, which would increase salaries to $15,000 for the board president and $14,000 for other members, Pippy noted it would be important to write the bill so that no raises occur until the next election cycle is completed. Some Board of Education seats are up for election this fall.
But overall, he was supportive of the proposal.
“Those members put in a ton of hours. ... It’s a great responsibility,” Pippy said.