Cecil County Commissioners Get Earful from Perryville Mayor, Dog Parents; Kilby Asks Farm $ Aid

May 10, 2011

It was a day for citizens—and a mayor– to vent at the Cecil County Commissioners, even before the annual ritual of two budget hearings Tuesday afternoon and evening. And as the county faces daunting fiscal challenges, a local land preservation group sought a $600,000 loan from the county.

Commissioners steeled themselves for a long day and evening of citizen complaints on the budget, especially parents and educators upset about a $1.2 million cut in public schools funds and residents facing large increases in wastewater fees.

The day began with a worksession, at which the county and the town of Perryville continued their long-running feud over distribution of local impact aid from the state’s revenues from the new Hollywood Casino. The county had asked the town to sign an agreement providing for an accounting of how the town’s share of aid funds is spent and specifying the term or duration of the accord.

But Perryville Mayor James Eberhardt fired back a letter a few days ago, refusing to sign the agreement and asserting that the town, not the county, could be viewed as the rightful recipient of the impact aid from casino revenues. (The county and the town signed an agreement before the casino opened providing that the county would get 65 percent of the aid and the town would get 35 percent.)

“The County and the Town have a fundamental disagreement regarding the relationship between our two jurisdictions with respect to the entitlement and control” of the local impact aid, the mayor wrote. He argued that state law is “silent” on the definition of the “local jurisdictions” entitled to impact aid from slots parlors and the town might be considered as the rightful recipient and administrator of the money from the state.

Eberhardt has been vocal for months on the impact aid distribution. The town has not yet received its share, despite what the mayor says are pressing needs—including the hiring of two town police officers—to respond to calls from the casino.

In his letter, the mayor fumed that the county “treats the town as a government that is subservient to the county.” Much of his letter cited legalisms asserting the rights of the town as an independent entity not subject to rules imposed by the county.

County Commissioners decided they would not accept the town’s version of an agreement and pointed out that the county had fiduciary responsibility, verified by a state legal opinion, to account for how money from the state is spent. They decided to try again to meet with the town and its lawyer to smooth out the ruffled feathers.

“We need to say no,” said Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4), and let citizens know that the reason the town has not yet received its share of funds is the town government’s refusal to sign a memo of understanding with the county.

But Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) said he thought that, despite the posturing, the town and county were “not that far apart.” He said ongoing talks could resolve the problems and “I don’t think taking a take it or leave it attitude” would settle the dispute.

Meanwhile, Bill Kilby, who heads the Cecil Land Trust, asked the commissioners to come up with $600,000 to pay for a farmland preservation easement on the “Carson property” that is a high priority for preservation in the Route 274 area. He said state and federal money would eventually reimburse “most” of the costs but that the money would not be available for up to a year. He wanted the county to pay out the money so the easement purchase could go forward now.

But Hodge questioned the transaction, saying there was too little firm, written information on the proposal and precisely when the county would be reimbursed and for how much. Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2) agreed, saying it might be a good project but more information was needed.

But Commissioner Board President James Mullin (R-1), who spoke in support of the project along with Commissioner Broomell, declared, “You’ve got three nods to proceed” although no formal vote was taken. Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3) had not said a word for or against the proposal. Mullin, Broomell and Dunn have become a three-vote bloc on many issues before the commissioners.

In other business, Hodge reported that the remaining members of an “animal control task force” that has worked for over two years to draft a revised animal control ordinance had recently come up with a new proposal. But the consensus plan presented last fall and heard at a public hearing in January was so drastically revised recently that it must be reviewed further and could not be put out for a new public hearing in its current form.

“I think we’re going to get hammered at a public hearing” if the new proposal were to be presented to the public, he said.

Indeed, a handful of dog owners attended the session and one of them even tried to interrupt the commissioners until she was informed that her comments were out of order. After the formal worksession, Hodge informally met with members of the group.

Commissioner and other sources told Cecil Times that the county has received a large volume of calls and emails protesting the latest wholesale revisions that were initiated by Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian, and one other member of the task force.

Most of the former members of the task force have resigned, including its former chairman, and were not involved in the latest revisions. The remaining vice-chairman of the panel, Marian Hubbard, has appeared previously before the commissioners this year to say that Carletti had held meetings and made changes without informing other remaining members of the group of her actions.

Hodge said that the Carletti changes would mandate air-conditioning of kennels, force a host of mandatory vaccinations beyond the state-required rabies shot, and mandate all dogs have a microchip identification inserted by a vet into a dog’s body, at the pet owner’s expense.

Dog advocates told Cecil Times after the meeting they were also concerned about the Carletti re-write that would mandate a “hobby kennel” license, with zoning review, for anyone with two dogs that they “show.” They said that rule could force a child marching in the annual Chesapeake City dog parade with two dogs in costumes to have such a license because the parade could be considered a dog “show.”

They also challenged language that would mandate spay/neuter of all dogs before they were sold or adopted and other language that would in effect ban any dog breeding in the county, even among family pets.

[Disclosure: The editor of Cecil Times has adopted two neutered dogs from the Cecil County SPCA and in the past served as an unpaid volunteer board member.]

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2 Responses to Cecil County Commissioners Get Earful from Perryville Mayor, Dog Parents; Kilby Asks Farm $ Aid

  1. Maria Wilson on May 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Who appointed Mindy Carletti as the president of Cecil County, with all power to rule family pets and their homes? Isn’t she the vet who gets money from the county health department to give rabies shots? So I guess she thinks she can make more money by putting it into the law that all dogs have to have a microchip, and a lot of shots that many vets think are not needed.

    Maybe the Ethics Board should look at what Carletti is trying to do!

  2. Jenn Callahan on May 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I just wanted to clarify to Maria Wilson, that I also do the Rabies Clinics for the Health Dept along with Dr Carletti (I am her technician). Every four years, the health department solicits veterinarians in the county for help with the three rabies clinics they hold every year. Any and every vet in the county is able to say that they would like to do it. However, none have. That is why we have been doing them. It has absolutely nothing to do with ethics. The health department contracts us to do the Rabies clinics, just like the CC Government contracts with CC SPCA to perform animal control. When our contract is up, any other vet can certainly say they want to do it. None have stepped up to the plate. If you have a problem with a veterinarian receiving compensation from the government mandated Health Dept Rabies Clinics, you beef is not with Mindy Carletti–it is with your lawmakers.

    Ch 209 does not mandate microchips for ALL pets. If you have a copy, please go back and read it. If you don’t, I would hold off on making comments about things that simply aren’t true until the official revised version of Ch 209 is released to the general public and then you can read it. I am unsure why Commissioner Hodge would make such a statement if he read the revised copy that was sent to him.

    I would also like to clarify, that in Nancy Schwerzlers article above, she wrote that “The remaining vice-chairman of the panel, Marian Hubbard, has appeared previously before the commissioners this year to say that Carletti had held meetings and made changes without informing other remaining members of the group of her actions.” I just went back to the CC government website and listened to the recording of that meeting. Mrs Hubbard never said such a thing. In fact, she never mentioned the name Mindy Carletti.

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