Bel Air commissioners approve mutual aid agreement

The Town of Bel Air will enter into a mutual aid agreement that will assist in the process of the town helping another local jurisdiction in the case of a state of emergency.

The agreement with the Maryland Municipal Public Works Association was approved by the board of commissioners during Monday's town hall meeting, and will lay out the financial and legal "framework" for Bel Air, if it assists another Maryland municipality during a natural disaster or other state of emergency.

Randy Robertson, Bel Air's public works director, said the agreement will also help if a jurisdiction offers assistance to Bel Air.

Robertson said the agreement doesn't obligate the town to give or receive mutual aid, adding that "it is in the town's best interest."

The agreement, Mayor Eddie Hopkins said, is "a step in the right direction" toward the town being resilient in such an emergency, as well as "another tool in the toolbox should an emergency occur."

Ethics code

Commissioners decided to postpone a vote on amendments to the town's ethics code.

Commissioner David Carey asked if the zoning board of appeals should be excluded from the code, which would not require volunteers on committees and boards to provide a financial disclosure, as the language states disclosures only need to be given by people "that have town decision making responsibilities and policy recommendation responsibilities."

Joyce Oliver, director of administration, said the board of appeals members should not be required to provide a disclosure, but wasn't sure what the state ethics board would recommend in that case.

She added that several volunteers have commented that it's difficult to find people to serve on the board because of the requirement for a financial disclosure.

The code will still reflect that town employees must disclose any conflicts of interest.

Commissioner Susan Burdette said during a Maryland Municipal League workshop she recently attended it seemed that the code referred to employees who made decisions involving money rather than land and development.

The board voted to postpone the decision until they receive clarification on the issue.

Student recognition

Finley Moreland, a fifth grader at Bel Air Elementary School, was honored by the town commissioners and given a student achievement award for her "admirable academic work ethic," as well as her "great passion for helping others in and outside the classroom," Hopkins said.

Finley's family took pictures from the audience as Hopkins presented her with the award.

"Having earned honor roll status and winning an award for the American Legion's 'Americanism Essay Contest,' Finley's spirited attitude also shines as an active member of Bel Air Elementary's Patriot Program," Hopkins said.

Finley also plays field hockey with Bel Air Parks and Recreation, is an active member of St. Margaret's Church in Bel Air and, Hopkins said, "generously gives of her time to many volunteer and community projects while keeping in step with all of her [Girl Scouts] activities."

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