Dorchester County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted and amended as indicated in text.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Circuit Court — See Ch. 7.
Treasurer — See Ch. 50.
Code of Ethics — See Ch. 88.
Taxation — See Ch. 144.
10 Attachment 1
[P.L.L., 1888, Art. 10, sec. 104; 1930, sec. 142; 1961 Code, Sec. 148; 1886, ch. 39; 1892, ch. 375, sec. 104; 1904, ch. 252, sec. 104; 1916, ch. 429, sec. 104; 1920, ch. 698; 1953, ch. 451; 1961, ch. 318, sec. 142; 1966, ch. 599; 1979, ch. 258; 1984, ch. 655; 1992, ch. 241]
A. 
There shall be 5 County Commissioners in Dorchester County, who constitute the Board of County Commissioners of the County.
B. 
(1) 
Dorchester County shall be divided into 5 County Commissioner districts.
(2) 
The County Commissioner districts are those prescribed in the consent decree included as Appendix A to this chapter until altered under Subsection C of this section.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
C. 
Establishment of districts.
(1) 
Following each decennial census, the County Commissioners, by resolution, shall establish new County Commissioner districts, which shall become effective for the term of Commissioners beginning next after the report of the census.
(2) 
The County Commissioners shall establish Commissioner districts which are substantially equal in population and reasonably compact and consist of contiguous territory. Due regard shall be given to demographic characteristics and to natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions.
D. 
The County Commissioners shall be residents of their respective County Commissioner districts and of Dorchester County for 1 year prior to election to office.
E. 
Of the County Commissioners, 1 shall be elected by the legally qualified voters of each of the Commissioner districts set forth in Subsection B of this section or established under Subsection C of this Section, as the case may be.
[P.L.L., 1888, Art. 10, Sec. 122; 1930, sec. 201; 1961 Code, sec. 195; 1878, ch. 160; 1929, ch. 383; 1933, ch. 359; 1953, ch. 451, sec. 201; 1974, ch. 64, sec. 195; 1978, ch. 143; 1986, ch. 73; 1989, ch. 86; 2002, ch. 214; 5-6-2003 by Bill No. 2003-7; 6-20-2006 by Bill No. 2006-4[1]]
A. 
Except as provided in Subsection B of this section, the annual salary of each member of the County Council shall be $16,000. A County Council member may not receive any other compensation, except for expenses actually incurred in the performance of the duties of office. Payment of those expenses shall be by voucher submitted by each County Council member.
B. 
The annual salary of the President of the County Council shall be $17,000. The President of the County Council may not receive any other compensation, except for expenses actually incurred in the performance of the duties of office. Payment of these expenses shall be by voucher submitted by the President of the County Council.
C. 
County Council members not reelected at Primary Election or November General Election.
[Amended 5-6-2014 by Bill No. 2014-5]
(1) 
A County Council member who is not reelected at the Primary Election may not be reimbursed by the County for expenses incurred after September 1 of such election year without prior written approval from the Dorchester County Manager.
(2) 
A County Council member who is not reelected at a November General Election may not be reimbursed by the County for expenses incurred during the time immediately following the general election and before the newly elected County Council takes its oath of office without prior written approval from the Dorchester County Manager.
[1]
Editor's Note: This bill also provided that: "This Act may not be construed to extend or apply to the salary or compensation of the members of the County Council or the President of the County Council in office on the effective date of this Act, but the provisions of this Act concerning the salary or compensation of a member of the County Council or the President of County Council shall take effect at the beginning of the next following term of office."
[P.L.L., 1930, Art. 10, sec. 198; 1961 Code, sec. 192; 1914, ch. 834, sec. 121G; 1933, ch. 362, sec. 198; 1943, ch. 828, sec. 198; 1957, ch. 411; 1961, ch. 319, sec. 198; 1974, ch. 64, sec. 192(a), (c); 1976, ch. 199; 1995, ch. 23]
A. 
Appointment; tenure; compensation. The County Commissioners shall appoint a County Administrator. The County Administrator shall serve at the pleasure of the County Commissioners. The County Administrator shall receive compensation as the County Commissioners may prescribe.
B. 
Duties. The County Administrator shall perform all the duties and services required by law or by order of the County Commissioners. The County Administrator shall make complete and accurate minutes of all transactions and proceedings of the Board of County Commissioners and of all orders passed by the Board and record the same in suitable and durably bound volumes with an index to facilitate reference to all such transactions, proceedings and orders. The County Administrator shall endorse, file, number and index all papers presented to the Board and acted upon by the same and so arrange, keep and preserve them that, by reference to the index and number, the papers may be readily found. The County Administrator shall keep all necessary, suitable and appropriate books of accounts and therein enter in a clear, accurate and businesslike manner all the financial transactions of the county and particularly showing, at all times, the amount of county money, securities and property in the hands of the County Treasurer or any other fiduciary officer of the county, the amount of taxes placed in the hands of the Treasurer but not accounted for, the amount of each appropriation made by the Board, in the form of a separate account for each appropriation, and of each warrant drawn by the Board on each account, with the name of the person to whom the warrant was drawn, the number, date and amount of the warrant, and its payment by the Treasurer or any other financial agent of the county on whom drawn as soon as the payment shall have been reported to the Board. The County Administrator shall maintain the books so that on any day the financial condition of the county and the status of any appropriation may be exactly and truly known immediately on examination of the books and of the several accounts therein. The County Administrator shall also keep a warrant book of Dorchester County, from which the County Administrator shall make out every warrant which shall authorize the Treasurer of the county or any other financial agent of the county to pay out to any person or corporation any sum of money. The warrant book, besides the warrant to be removed therefrom after execution by the President of the County Commissioners and by The County Administrator, shall contain a corresponding duplicate or stub on which, at the time of the filling out the warrant and before its removal from the book, The County Administrator shall make full entry of the number, date and the amount of the warrant, the name of the person to whom issued, upon whom drawn, the appropriation against which drawn, and reference to the page of the Journal of the Board wherein is the entry of order for the warrant. No warrant shall at any time be issued, except after all the aforesaid shall have been done.
C. 
Office hours; bond; certification of Treasurer's reports. The County Administrator shall keep and carefully preserve all books and papers in the office of the County Commissioners and shall on any secular day on which county offices are normally open for business, and not a legal holiday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., at the request of any citizen or taxpayer of Dorchester County, exhibit the same to the person without charge. The County Administrator shall give bond in the penalty of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.) for the faithful performance of duties of the office. The bond is to be secured by a bonding company, and the premium on the bond is to be paid by the County Commissioners and the bond is to be approved by the County Commissioners. The County Administrator shall qualify under the State Constitution. The County Administrator shall countersign all checks issued by the County Treasurer in payment of warrant for bills against Dorchester County and shall examine each monthly, quarterly and annual report made by the County Treasurer and certify to the correctness of all such reports as soon as practical thereafter.
D. 
Notwithstanding Article 25, § 1 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, in Dorchester County, the Clerk to the County Commissioners shall be known as the County Administrator. Any reference in the Annotated Code of Maryland to the Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners shall mean in Dorchester County the County Administrator. Any reference to the clerk to the County Commissioners or Administrative Assistant to the County Commissioners in this Code or in any county acts, ordinances, bond issues or other county matters shall mean the County Administrator.
[P.L.L., 1888, Art. 10, sec. 123; 1930, sec. 202; 1961 Code, sec. 197; 1872, ch. 281; 1995, ch. 52]
The County Administrator may administer an oath or affirmation on any claim against the county or on any official papers connected with the County Administrator's office.
[P.L.L., 1930, Art. 10, sec. 207; 1961 Code, sec. 198; 1914, ch. 115]
The Board of County Commissioners of Dorchester County may and it is hereby empowered to levy, appropriate and use, in its discretion, under such rules and regulations as it may prescribe, any sum or sums of money not exceeding six hundred dollars ($600.) per year for farmers' cooperative demonstration work in Dorchester County, along the same line as this work is or may be conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, and may conduct such work jointly in Dorchester County with the agents and representatives of the United States Department of Agriculture upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the agent of the Department of Agriculture of the United States and the Board of County Commissioners of Dorchester County.
[1961 Code, sec. 199; 1933, ch. 365]
The County Commissioners for Dorchester County are hereby authorized and empowered to employ, when the public safety shall demand it, a detective for Dorchester County to serve for such time as he may be employed and to be paid, only for the time of his actual services, an amount to be agreed upon by the County Commissioners at the time of his employment, which amount shall be paid out of the contingent fund levied by the County Commissioners. He shall operate under the supervision and direction of the State's Attorney for said county.
[1980, ch. 247]
The County Commissioners of Dorchester County are hereby authorized and empowered to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, all leasehold improvements and all assets of the operator of the Dorchester-Cambridge Municipal Airport located on the north-east side of the Bucktown Road in the Linkwood Election District and to make such improvements, renovations and repairs thereto as they may deem appropriate and to finance all or any portion of the cost by borrowing money from the United States of America or any agency or instrumentality thereof upon whatever terms and conditions and evidenced by whatever obligations the County Commissioners may by resolution determine to be in the best interests of the county, provided that the term of such borrowing may not exceed ten (10) years and the annual interest rate may not exceed six percent (6%). This borrowing power shall be deemed supplemental and shall supersede any contrary provisions of law.
[1981, ch. 777]
If an elected or appointed officer or employee of the county government or an officer or employee of the County Board of Education not covered under the provisions of Article 78A, § 16C, or Article 32A, § 12A, of the Annotated Code of Maryland was acting within the scope of his official duties or employment and without malice, the county may indemnify the officer or employee for any judgment, penalty, fine, settlement and reasonable fees and expenses incurred in connection with any proceeding in which the officer or employee has been made a party by reason of service as such officer or employee.
[1990, ch. 100]
A. 
The County Commissioners may enact ordinances that require the owners of real property to meet standards enumerated in the ordinances for the maintenance of the property.
B. 
If enacted, the ordinances shall set the standards for:
(1) 
The height of grass, weeds and similar vegetation.
(2) 
The removal of old buildings and similar structures.
(3) 
The removal of abandoned or irreparable motor vehicles, applicances, furniture, tires and other similar trash.
C. 
Work by county.
(1) 
If the owner of the real property fails to maintain that property in accordance with the standards set in the ordinance, the county may undertake the work itself and assess the owner for the cost of the work.
(2) 
Before undertaking any work under Subsection (1) of this Subsection C, the county shall give the property owner:
(a) 
By regular mail or personal service, written notice of the violation of the ordinance; and
(b) 
At least fifteen (15) days to bring the property into compliance with the ordinance, or present just cause to the County Commissioners of why such compliance cannot be met.
(3) 
The cost of the work performed by the county under Subsection (1) of this Subsection C shall:
(a) 
Become a lien on the real property; and
(b) 
Be considered and collected in the same way as are the annual property taxes.
[1994, ch. 715[1]]
A. 
(1) 
In this section, "instrument of writing" means a written instrument that conveys title to, or a leasehold interest in, real property.
(2) 
"Instrument of writing" includes:
(A) 
A deed or contract;
(B) 
A lease;
(C) 
An assignment of a lessee's interest;
(D) 
Articles of transfer;
(E) 
Articles of merger or other document which evidences a merger of foreign corporations or foreign limited partnerships; and
(F) 
Articles of consolidation or other document which evidences a consolidation of foreign corporations.
(3) 
"Instrument of writing" does not include:
(A) 
A mortgage, deed of trust, or other contract that creates an encumbrance on real property; or
(B) 
A security agreement, as defined in § 12-101(E) of the Tax - Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
B. 
The County Commissioners may impose a county transfer tax on an instrument of writing:
(1) 
Recorded with the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Dorchester County; or
(2) 
Filed with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
C. 
The county transfer tax under this section:
(1) 
Shall be established by resolution; and
(2) 
May not exceed one percent (1%) of the consideration payable for an instrument of writing.
D. 
Notwithstanding § 13-407 of the Tax - Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the county transfer tax imposed under this section shall apply to a transfer of land subject to the agricultural land transfer tax.
E. 
(1) 
The county transfer tax does not apply to:
(A) 
An instrument of writing exempt from the state transfer tax under § 13-207 of the Tax - Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland; or
(B) 
The first thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.) of the consideration payable for an instrument of writing for residentially improved owner-occupied real property, provided that the instrument of writing is accompanied by a statement under oath signed by the grantee that the residence will be occupied by the grantee.
(2) 
(A) 
Except as provided in Subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the exemption provided under Paragraph 1(B) of this subsection shall be applied against the grantee's transfer tax payment required under this section.
(B) 
If the grantor has agreed, by contract, to pay the entire county transfer tax, the exemption provided under Paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection shall be applied against the grantor's transfer tax payment required under this section.
F. 
(1) 
The use of the revenues generated by the county transfer tax is restricted and the revenues shall be used by the County Council of Dorchester County for solely and only the following purposes:
[2006, Ch. 404]
(A) 
To pay the principal of and interest on any general obligation bonds of Dorchester County issued to pay for capital improvements to the Court House located at 206 High Street, Cambridge, Maryland 21613;
(B) 
To pay for capital improvements, including maintenance and repair expenses, to the Court House located at 206 High Street, Cambridge, Maryland 21613; or
(C) 
Subject to Paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, to pay for costs associated with school buildings, including renovation, facilities maintenance, and new construction.
(2) 
At the end of each fiscal year, the County Council shall:
(A) 
Review the transfer tax account after all bills for maintenance and debt service for the County Court House have been paid;
(B) 
Determine local school building needs based on the approved ten-year capital improvement plan for the Dorchester County Board of Education; and
(C) 
Determine the amount from any remaining balance in the transfer tax account to be dedicated to school building costs.
(3) 
(A) 
The amount of transfer tax revenues dedicated to the costs associated with school buildings may not exceed the amount needed to fund those costs specific to the next fiscal year.
(B) 
A public hearing shall be held before any revenues generated from the County transfer tax are used to pay for costs associated with school buildings as authorized in this subsection.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Chapter 715 of the Acts of 1994, regarding the authority of Dorchester County to impose a County transfer tax, was amended by Chapter 524 of the Acts of 2010 to repeal the sunset provision that had provided for an effective period of 20 years and for abrogation, without further action by the General Assembly, at the end of 6-30-2014.
[Added 5-6-2003 by Bill No. 2003-6; amended 5-6-2014 by Bill No. 2014-5]
A. 
A County Council member who is not reelected at the Primary Election may not make appointments to County boards after September 1 of such election year.
B. 
A County Council member who is not reelected at a November General Election may not make appointments to County boards and/or committees during the time immediately following the general election and before the newly elected County Council takes its oath of office.
[Amended 4-17-2018 by Bill No. 2018-1]
[P.L.L., 1930, Art. 10, sec. 148; 1961 Code, sec. 151; 1916, ch. 27, sec. 105B; 1943, ch. 730, sec. 148; 1963, ch. 825, sec. 13]
The fiscal year of Dorchester County, for the purposes of this Article, shall begin on the first day of July of each and every year and end and expire on the 30th day of June.
[1961 Code, sec. 154; 1947, ch. 527; 1961, ch. 19]
The Board of County Commissioners of Dorchester County is hereby authorized and empowered to fix and prescribe the salary or compensation of all appointed officers and employees of the county whose salaries or compensation are provided for in the annual levy and budget of said county unless fixed by Public General Laws, Except as otherwise provided by law, said County Commissioners shall have the power to prescribe and provide for the traveling and other expenses of all elected and appointed officers and employees of the county incurred in the performance of their duties and the amount to be allowed for the cost of food, supplies and other expenses of the several offices and departments of the county.
[P.L.L., 1930, Art. 10, sec. 153; 1961 Code, sec. 157; 1916, ch. 27, sec. 105G; 1920, ch. 62, sec. 105G; 1933, ch. 366, sec. 153; 1943, ch. 730, sec. 153; 1945, ch. 317, sec. 153; 1947, ch. 178; 1949, ch. 222, sec. 153; 1955, ch. 237, sec. 153; 1963, ch. 825, sec. 13; 1965, ch. 166; 1966, ch. 394; 1969, ch. 15; 1995, ch. 522]
(A) 
(1) 
In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) 
"County" means the body politic and corporate of the State of Maryland known as the County Commissioners of Dorchester County.
(3) 
"Public facility investment" means:
(I) 
The construction, improvement, repair, opening, relocation, grading, resurfacing, widening, extension, and drainage of any public road, street, highway, or sidewalk in Dorchester County now or hereafter maintained and operated under the jurisdiction of the county;
(II) 
The acquisition of any necessary right of way, equipment, or other facility for highway construction, maintenance, or repair, and of planning and engineering services;
(III) 
The planning, design, construction, and reconstruction of any free bridge constituting part of a Dorchester County road, street, or highway;
(IV) 
The construction, improvement, or repair, or any related acquisition or service, for the County Airport and related facilities;
(V) 
The acquisition, establishment, design, construction, reconstruction, expansion, extension, alteration or repair of a building or structure to house any of the functions, operations, or equipment of county government or administration, including, but not limited to, libraries, the court house, school facilities and detention facilities, and any fixtures, furnishings and appurtenances therefor, or the acquisition of any vehicle or equipment necessary and proper to the performance of county governmental powers and duties;
(VI) 
The development of public parks, recreational areas, and recreational facilities, including the acquisition of land, property and water rights therefor, and the construction, improvement, and repair of roads, paths, ways, buildings, piers, ramps, bulkheads, beaches, launching facilities and other appurtenances or improvements appropriate to the full use of parks and recreational areas; or
(VII) 
The acquisition, establishment, design, construction, reconstruction, expansion, improvement, extension, alteration, operation or repair of any other public governmental facility.
(B) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the county shall have power and authority, from time to time, to borrow money and incur indebtedness in order to finance any public facility investment or for any other lawful, public purpose as set forth in Subsection (D) of this section, and to evidence the borrowing or indebtedness by the issuance of its promissory notes or any other instrument of indebtedness to any banking institution, or by the issuance of its tax anticipation notes, its bond anticipation notes, notes in anticipation of other sources of revenue or its general obligation bonds, without limitation as to the rate of interest, in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(C) 
Any instrument of indebtedness issued under this section shall be issued, sold, and delivered in accordance with the terms and conditions of a resolution or resolutions passed by the county commissioners, subject to the following provisions, conditions, and exceptions:
(1) 
An issue of notes or bonds pursuant to this section does not require a referendum, and the provisions of Article 31, §§ 9, 10, and 11 of the Annotated Code of Maryland do not apply;
(2) 
If the resolution or resolutions authorizing the issuance of notes or bonds shall so specify, the notes or bonds may be sold:
(I) 
For a price, at, above, or below par, to bear interest at a reasonable rate; and
(II) 
At private sale without advertisement or publication of notice of sale or solicitation of competitive bids, any public general or public local law to the contrary notwithstanding;
(3) 
If the bonds or notes so state, the issuance of the notes or bonds shall constitute a pledge of the full faith and credit of the county to the prompt payment, from ad valorem taxation and other revenues, which may be described in the authorizing resolution or resolutions, of the principal of and interest on the notes or bonds. The county shall annually levy upon all real and tangible personal property within its corporate limits ad valorem taxes sufficient to provide for the payment of the maturing principal of and interest on the notes or bonds, without limitation as to rate or amount, notwithstanding the limitation of any other law;
(4) 
The total aggregate principal amount of borrowing pursuant to this section may not exceed the sum of $1,000,000 in any one fiscal year of the county; and
(5) 
Any instrument of indebtedness issued under this section shall mature at a time not exceeding 15 years.
(D) 
The county, without limitation to or by its other borrowing powers, and acting within the applicable provisions of this section, may borrow money for any lawful, public purpose, on the security of payment, including taxes, revenues, grants or other stated sources of funds as the county by resolution determines, including refunding any obligations outstanding from time to time.
(E) 
The borrowing powers granted to the county in this section are supplemental and in addition to any other borrowing powers which have been or may be granted to the county.
[P.L.L., 1930, Art. 10, sec. 154; 1961 Code, sec. 158; 1920, ch. 62, sec. 105GG; 1933, ch. 366, sec. 154; 1945, ch. 317, sec. 154; 1949, ch. 222, sec. 154; 1955, ch. 237, sec. 154; 1974, ch. 64, sec. 158; 1988, ch. 32; 1995, Ch. 522]
(A) 
(1) 
In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) 
"County" has the meaning stated in § 10-16 of this chapter.
(3) 
"Public facility investment" has the meaning stated in § 10-16 of this chapter.
(B) 
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the county shall have power and authority, from time to time, to borrow money and incur indebtedness in order to finance any public facility investment or for any lawful, public purpose as set forth in Subsection (D) of this section, or to pay for any lawful governmental expenses, in anticipation of the receipt of taxes levied, and to evidence the borrowing or indebtedness by the issuance of its promissory notes or any other instrument of indebtedness to any banking institution, or by the issuance of its tax anticipation notes, notes in anticipation of other sources of revenue, without limitation as to the rate of interest, in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(C) 
Any instrument of indebtedness issued under this section shall be issued, sold and delivered in accordance with the terms and conditions of a resolution or resolutions passed by the County Commissioners, subject to the following provisions, conditions and exceptions:
(1) 
An issue of notes made pursuant to this section does not require a referendum, and the provisions of Article 31, §§ 9, 10, and 11 of the Annotated Code of Maryland do not apply;
(2) 
If the resolution or resolutions authorizing the issuance of notes shall so specify, the notes may be sold:
(I) 
For a price at, above or below par, to bear interest at a reasonable rate; and
(II) 
At private sale without advertisement or publication of notice or sale or solicitation of competitive bids, public general or public local law to the contrary notwithstanding;
(3) 
If the notes so state, the issuance of the notes shall constitute a pledge of the full faith and credit of the county to the prompt payment, from ad valorem taxation and other revenues, which may be described in the authorizing resolution or resolutions, of the principal of and interest on the notes. The county shall annually levy upon all real and tangible personal property within its corporate limits ad valorem taxes sufficient to provide for the payment of the maturing principal of and interest on the notes, without limitation as to rate or amount, notwithstanding the limitation of any other law;
(4) 
The total aggregate principal amount of borrowings pursuant to this section, shall not exceed the sum $1,000,000 in any one fiscal year of the county; and
(5) 
The borrowings incurred by the county under this section shall all be repaid within 4 months from the expiration of the fiscal year in which the notes are issued.
(D) 
The county, without limitation to or by its other borrowing powers, and acting under and within the applicable provisions of this section, may borrow money for any lawful, public purpose, on the security of payment, including taxes, revenues, grants or other stated sources of funds as the county by resolution determines.
(E) 
The borrowing powers granted to the county in this section are supplemental and in addition to any other borrowing powers which have been or may be granted to the county.
[1961 Code, sec. 194; 1955, ch. 227; 1993, ch. 217]
A. 
To encourage the location or expansion of factories, industrial establishments, electric power plants, hotels or any similar industrial or commercial facility in Dorchester County, the County Commissioners may exempt, in whole or in part, from county taxes the land or buildings, machinery and tools of the facility for a period of not more than twenty (20) years from the date of the location or expansion of the facility.
B. 
Long-term contracts.
(1) 
The County Commissioners may enter into a long-term contract with the developer, owner or operator of a facility receiving a tax exemption under Subsection A of this section.
(2) 
A contract entered under this section may phase-in the payment of taxes on a step or graduated basis over a period of years.
(3) 
A contract entered under this section shall bind the current and future County Commissioners for the term of the contract and shall remain in force unless modified by the parties to the contract.