St. Mary's County Times December 07, 2017 - Page 17

Thursday, December 7, 2017 The County Times Feature 17 Delegation, Commissioners Reaching Détente By Guy Leonard Staff Writer at a given time. As state delegates and county commissioners changed,” Cudmore said. Commissioner Todd Morgan was quick to point “I think there may be savings,” Hewitt said. prepared to discuss and debate bills to be sent to Annapolis next year several political observers out that the bill the commissioners were asking the “With the hurricanes the nation has had to deal had predicted another scrape over a $24.6 million delegation to support and put forward in Annapo- with, building supplies have gone up [in cost] bond authorization bill to fund a plethora of coun- lis did not require the county to borrow that entire dramatically.” ty construction projects. amount. Trying to bide time on moving ahead on some of Aside from a few probing questions and com- “The authority is just that, authority,” the Dis- the county’s capital projects might help save mon- ments it did not materialize. trict 4 commissioner said. “We don’t go out and ey, Hewitt said, in waiting for costs to go down It was a much different situation than last year, frivolously borrow against that authority.” and labor availability to go up. when the delegation had attempted to place con- Delegate Morgan also said he was concerned “We’re all competing for the same resources,” ditions on a similar bond bill that threatened to that bond money was sometimes spent on projects Hewitt said. derail funding, and the political process in An- other than what they were originally intended. Projects that have been delayed in the county’s napolis, for key projects in St. Mary’s until a last Commissioner Tom Jarboe said he would be capital improvement program (CIP) include a new minute negotiation defused the situation. happy to have bond money affixed to certain proj- site for the Advanced Life Support Unit facility as This year the delegation had a more measured ects throughout their building cycle but it would well as connections of FDR Boulevard. approach to analyzing the Com- The county has also had to reduce missioners of St. Mary’s County the scope of projects such as the requests. new Leonardtown Library and Gar- The bill would authorize the coun- vey Senior Center to make it more “The authority is just that, authority. We don’t go out ty commissioners to borrow money affordable. for projects ranging from completing “We’ve had to reduce that project and frivolously borrow against that authority.” the jail renovation in Leonardtown by about 2,250 square feet,” Hewitt to funding the new library and se- said. nior center projects. During the Dec. 5 hearing, Sena- - Commissioner Todd Morgan The day after the meeting, Com- tor Steve Waugh signaled the del- missioner Mike Hewitt said a great- egation’s willingness to work more er level of prior cooperation be- closely with the commissioners. tween the two parties led to a much “We’re not a barrier there [in An- smoother discussion at the Dec. 5 joint meeting at cost more. napolis] to slow you down,” Waugh said. the commissioners chambers in Leonardtown. “That was much appreciated,” Hewitt said in a “We’d need more bonding authority for that,” “We’ve provided a lot more info in advance,” Jarboe said in a later interview, adding that un- later interview about Waugh’s statement. Hewitt said. “And that gave us the opportunity to der the current situation, commissioners could be In the end, Jarboe said, both groups were com- have more dialogue back and forth.” flexible in spending money on projects that were ing to a greater understanding of each other but During the meeting Del. Matt Morgan noted that ready to go. what really mattered to voters was their ability to despite what had been planned, the final price tag Jarboe also said that relations between the two get things done despite any conflicts. for capital projects always seemed to be a moving groups were improving and that while the delega- “There’s been education for both sides,” Jarboe target. tion did not emphatically support the bond bill said. “But in the final analysis the voters don’t “It’s hard to tell exactly what these projects they did not deride it either. care whether the delegation and commissioners are costing,” the District 29 A delegate said. “I “They didn’t mention anything against it,” Jar- like each other. couldn’t tell you what that jail costs at this point.” boe said. “My assumption is that it should go for- “All they want is to have things happen. They Jeanett Cudmore, the county’s chief financial ward without issue.” want things done.” officer, said the price of the jail project shifted Hewitt said he believed the county might not with state funding . have to borrow the full $24 million if they were “The state funding changed, so the project assiduous about which projects they borrowed for From left, Del. Jerry Clark, Del. Matt Morgan, Del. Deb Rey and Sen. Steve Waugh. Photos by Frank Marquart