Here is a list of recent action taken by the County Commissioners that interest Business Quee Anne's:
PLANNING COMMISSION MEMBERS APPOINTED
A field of 15 applicants for the coveted seats on the Queen Anne's County Planning Commission was narrowed to six who were interviewed in open session January 25, 2015 then to the final two who were appointed that night - David Douglas a first time appointee and Jeffrey Reiss, a returning, experienced PC member.
This is the first time that Planning Commission applicants have been interviewed in open session and filmed for QACTV Channel 7. "My hope is that the public would now have a better understanding of what the planning commission does and how the members are selected," said Commissioner James Moran. "Holding these interviews in the public eye is another step towards a more transparent government which is very important to this board."
David Douglas' career and resume demonstrate a vast knowledge of the intricacies of planning for economic development and his personal philosophy is to protect the county's way of life.
"As an architect I am very familiar with land use requirements, building codes, the permit process, and the construction inspection process. As a planner and architect I have been educated and trained to understand what constitutes good and poor design" said Douglas in his letter to the County Commissioners.
"I moved to QAC approximately 9 years ago because I identified with its way of life and rich historical culture that makes QAC a special place to live," said Douglas. "As a (Planning) Commissioner it is important to me to preserve and promote this way of life. But I also believe we must be on the forefront with respect to land use and especially economic development. As a county we need to increase our commercial tax base through quality development that does not jeopardize our way of life."
Douglas has attended both Princeton and Cornell and has held Maryland architect and principal real estate broker licenses for more than 30 years.
"I have had 38 years of commercial real estate experience, primarily as a developer," wrote Douglas. "I have developed millions of square feet comprised of apartments, hotels, retail, office, condominiums, single family and master planned communities with a population exceeding 10,000 people. My last job was a Senior Vice-President, reporting to the Chairman, of an S&P 500 REIT, we were in 49 states.
Douglas said he is experienced in TIF (tax incremental financing) and believes TIFs are a useful economic development tool during the planning process. He also feels the APFO (adequate public facilities ordinance) should be reviewed and amended as necessary with respect to QAC provided services. "QAC does not need mediocre development or development that lacks sufficient APFO requirements just for the sake of economic development," he wrote. "As a side note, I do not have any "baggage". I am not beholden to anybody or friendly with any developer or landowner. I will bring a fresh unbiased approach to the Commission."
Appointee Jeff Reiss was selected to serve a full term on the Planning Commission. He had been appointed to the commission in 2013 to fill the remaining term of a member who resigned. His term expired at the end of 2014 and he sought reappointment. In his letter to the commissioners Reiss said, "For the past 18 months I have served as a Planning Commission member. As a Planning Commission member I have taken the duties and responsibilities very seriously, studying the local codes and becoming familiar with the Comprehensive Plan."
Reiss said he has been a resident of Queen Anne's County for 20 years and has a strong belief of community involvement.
"I have volunteered with the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department for the past 19.5 years and have demonstrated my commitment to the citizens of Queen Anne's County by serving on the Fire and EMS Commission, two years as an officer, elected by my peers, and a member of the Department of Emergency Services Advisory Council for the past 6 years."
Reiss said he is employed in the District of Columbia, as a Building and Fire Inspector, where he is required to enforce the laws and use sound judgment, while protecting the citizens of the District, using model codes, local amendments and zoning regulations. "I feel that this experience has given me the opportunity to excel and continue to give back to the County in which I live." Reiss serves on the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Oversight Committee - recommending policy and procedure for Zoning and Code Enforcement. He is a nationally certified Firefighter and EMT, and holds national certifications as a Building and Fire Inspector with the International Code Council.
Reiss was appointed to the Planning Commission by a three-to-two vote with Commissioners James Moran, Paul Comfort and Charles Buckey voting in the affirmative and Commissioners Mark Anderson and Stephen Wilson opposed. Douglas was appointed with a unanimous vote.
In addition to interviewing Reiss and Douglas, the county commissioners interviewed David Kaufmann, Sheila Tolliver, Dr. Thomas Walsh and Barry Waterman.
HOTEL TAX REVENUE
The Queen Anne's County Commissioners voted unanimously to fund their departments of Economic Development and Tourism with the county's Hotel Tax revenue, with the goal of making those departments more self-sustaining enterprise operations.
The county's Hotel Tax generates about $480,000 per year. While some other jurisdictions allocate the revenue from their Hotel Tax to various county departments, typically Economic Development or Tourism, Queen Anne's County has recently collected it as General Fund revenue and not specifically allocated it.
With the reorganization of county government which created the Department of Community Affairs (Tourism, QACTV and Public Information) and a new Economic Development Department, Commissioner Paul Comfort suggested that the Hotel Tax revenues be utilized to fund Tourism (35% of the revenue, $168,000) and Economic Development (65% of the revenue, $312,000).
Comfort said the benefits of this are two-fold. First, it establishes the majority of the functions of the Department of Community Affairs (QACTV funded through Atlantic Broadband Franchise Fee and Tourism through Hotel Tax) and Economic Development as enterprise accounts that can withstand future budgetary impacts. Secondly, it provides an incentive for these departments to be effective, the greater the number of overnight visitors to the county (more tourists and business travelers) the greater their revenue and budget authority.
FINANCE COMMITTEE APPOINTED
The Queen Anne's County Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint three citizens with proven financial expertise to serve on the newly formed County Finance Committee.
Heather Tinelli, President of Shore Accountants and the county's Chamber of Commerce, former County Administrator and Budget Director John Borders and Joe Zimmerman, also a former Budget & Finance Director and a member of the 2010 Government Sustainability Task Force are the three citizen representatives.
They join current Budget & Finance Director Jonathan Seeman and County Commissioner Stephen Wilson in forming this committee which was established during the December 23, 2014 commissioners' meeting.
Commissioner Wilson served on a similar finance committee during the fiscal year 2011 budget cycle with Tinelli, Borders and Zimmerman.
"These individuals provided an excellent wealth of knowledge with both public and private sector experience," said Commissioner Wilson. "We would like to ask them to serve in this new reiteration of the Finance Committee."
The County Finance Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the county commissioners. The three non-paid citizen members must have an expertise in Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR's) and municipal finance. Among other duties, the Finance Committee will review revenue projections and perform financial analysis. They will report to the commissioners twice a year.
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