Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notes from the APFO Meeting with the Commissioners

The Board of Education met with the Charles County Comissioners on January 26th to discuss the next Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Cycle. To view all the documents click HERE.

Interesting facts....

  • The state recently analyzed the use of classrooms in our schools and derived new state rated capacities (SRC) for eight of them. Of these eight, six were elementary schools that received renovation to accomodate for the all-day kindergarten. In other words it was expected. The two remaining schools were NOT expected and are listed below. (Old SRC/New SRC)....Lackey 1474/1539........Davis 949/1148
  • Bad news.... if you were interested in building a home in the following school districts, Diggs, Jenifer, Malcolm, T.C. Martin, LaPlata or Westlake....ummmm...there is none. Sorry Charlie :(.

One last side note and something to what is exactly happening to the DRRA funds that are collected for the building of the schools? The balance is decreasing at alarmingly levels but the school system hasn't received any of it....(scratching my head)


Rick Campbell said...

In May 2009, the Commissioners discussed the DRRA fund.

It was noted that "a couple of builders were not able to make their payments due to the economy" and that at least one other had filed for bankruptcy.

In addition, the Commissioner President commented that they had "used funds for other than they were intended".

The Commissioner Vice-President asked "was that legal"? (apparently an after thought-?)

The County Attorney replied that the things they used the funds for, while NOT exactly for their intended purpose, was most likely legal. He also stated that he could make a case that what the funds were used for "was in the spirit of what we intended".

It was never explained "what" the funds were spent on or what was meant by "in the spirit".

Rick Campbell
Candidate, Charles County Commissioner

LegalBeaglette said...

Trying to track through this issue is like trying to learn a foreign language in a day!
There are two documents named “DRRA Cashflow Report” dated 5/18/09 and 5/20/09 on county BoardDocs that show DRRA funds collected “Life-to-date” as $16,814,619.

From county minutes:

5/13/09 "Ms. Deborah Hudson, Director of Fiscal & Administrative Services, provided the Commissioners with a breakdown of the adjustments to the County’s operating revenues. Commissioner Graves asked staff for the current balance of the Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) account after the transfer of the $2,000,000 to the Board of Education’s budget. [emphasis added] This prompted discussion regarding the Excise Tax subsidy and recoupment of DRRA funds. The Commissioners directed staff to provide them with a full report on the DRRA account…"

On that same date, at the "Budget Work Session: Health Department Budget and General Fund Review - continued
Commissioners Collins, Graves, Hodge and Patterson reached consensus to approve the proposals presented by Mr. Comfort. Commissioner Cooper reserved his consent until after the Commissioners receive the DRRA report from staff."

5/19/09 "Budget Work Session: Special Revenue Funds/Fees & Charges
The Commissioners continued their work on the County’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget with a work session on the County’s Developer’s Rights & Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) Account, Special Revenue Funds and Fees & Charges. [not an enlightening entry, is it?]

5/20/09 "At the Commissioners’ request, Mr. David Eicholtz provided a review of the Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) Cash Flow Report. The Commissioners discussed the use of DRRA funds. [sic] The Excise Tax Subsidy, and the County’s Fund Balance. The Commissioners directed that staff allocate one-half of the estimated Excise Tax Subsidy from the DRRA Fund and one-half from the Fund Balance, and that they revise the Fund Balance line item for tomorrow’s public hearing."

I can see from the cashflow reports that money from DRRA was used to "forward fund" Maryland's portion for Davis MS and Neal ES...but it appears all that money was reimbursed by the state.

As for the couple of builders who allegedly were not able to make payments due to the economy, and the other which filed for bankruptcy...don't the financial obligations to the county for DRRA still exist? Can (or has) the county petitioned for the funds from the assets of the bankrupt builder? Builders cannot just ignore, or walk away from, DRRA fund obligations, can they?

Mr. Campbell, your comments provided far more detail than anything I could find in the commissioners' meeting minutes. I appreciate that; I am a firm believer in open government, and I do wish both the Board of Education and the county commissioners would heed the guidance of the Open Meetings Act Manual regarding minutes: 'Although the Act does not specify the level of detail in the description of an “item,” the description should be sufficient so that a member of the public who examines the minutes of an open meeting (or of a closed meeting, if the minutes are later released) can understand what the issue was.'

I didn't find anything in the commissioners' minutes that alluded to concerns over how DRRA funds were used. Simply stating "discussion regarding the Excise Tax subsidy and recoupment of DRRA funds" or "discussed the use of DRRA funds" is, in my opinion, overgeneralizing.