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Bel Air town board passes ethics law changes, urges residents to properly place leaves for disposal

BY ALLAN VOUGHT, avought@theaegis.com

5:02 PM EST, November 6, 2012

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The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners passed an amended ethics ordinance that removes members of legislatively appointed committees from the law's requirements and also exempts certain officials from filing financial disclosures.

The commissioners also reminded residents that piling up leaves in street gutters can lead to flooding and hazardous driving conditions, as was seen with last week's Storm Sandy and could be seen if a nor'easter blows through the area later this week as forecast.

While this is the season for loose leaf pickups by the town's public works department, residents are reminded to "rake leaves to curbside in a pile, leaving the gutter area clear," as stated on the town's website.

Mayor Eddie Hopkins told Public Works Director Randy Robertson the town's DPW workers did "a phenomenal job" in preparing for Sandy, particularly in getting up huge amounts of leaves around town both before and during the storm.

"My hat's off to them," Hopkins said.

He also said with the large volume of leaves that were waiting to be picked up, the town may have to revisit its procedures in the future.

Hopkins, who is also the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company's chief, said he saw several instances where leaves had either clogged storm drains or bunched in such a way to cause standing water in the streets. That can lead to hydroplaning, added Hopkins, who said he saw plenty of it.

"There are still a lot of leaves" in town, Hopkins said, as he urged residents to rake them and properly place them at – but not off – the curb for the town to collect.

Ethics ordinance

In addition to exempting members of "legislated committees" from the ethics law, the chief change approved Monday by a unanimous vote of the commissioners involves who must file financial disclosure statements.

Positions that are now exempt include grants coordinator, public relations manager, all sworn police officers, associate engineer and all officials appointed by the board of commissioners, the latter who typically volunteer their time to serve the town.

Those positions that will still have to file include town administrator, all department heads, all deputy department heads, all information technology personnel, armory facilities manager, financial officer, all planners, chief of operations, facilities manager, assistant chief of operations, shop supervisor and sanitation supervisor. Also exempted under the amendments approved Monday is the town's legal counsel, typically a contract position.

In addition to the specified employees, the ethics ordinance, including financial disclosure provisions, will continue to apply to the elected town commissioners, candidates for those seats and any appointees to boards and commissions.

A public hearing was held prior to Monday's vote, but nobody was in the town meeting room except the commissioners, town staff and two members of the media.

Fire station dedication

Hopkins reminded everyone the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company will hold the formal dedication of its new Patterson Mill substation Saturday at noon.

The dedication ceremony is open to the public. The station is at Route 924 and Patterson Mill Road.

Appointments

The commissioners unanimously approved the reappointments of Sallee Filkins to the Cultural Arts Commission, Margaret Lucas Young to the Historic Preservation Commission and Theresa Rose to the Board of Ethics.

Filkins and Young will serve three-year terms, Rose a four-year term.

Contracts awarded

A $12,290 contact for a new switching system at the English County Manor sewage pumping station was awarded to TEAM Services Company of Baltimore.

Robertson said the new variable frequency drive, 280-volt system will provide better control of the pumps and save wear and tear on their motors.

Also awarded was a $24,463 contact to Harford Alarm of Bel Air for new conduit, cable and cameras to the parking garage's closed circuit monitoring system which is connected to the police station.

Other coming events

• Christmas in the Woods is being held at Rockfield Manor Nov. 2 through 25. For more information visit http://www.christmasinthewoods.com.

• The seventh annual Family Comedy Magic Show will be held on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Bel Air Armory. Tickets are $8 adults; $6 children (ages 4-12) and free for children 3 and under.

• The annual Bel Air Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 2. The parade starts on Main Street at Churchville Road and ends at Lee Way and Hickory Avenue. Immediately following the parade, in Shamrock Park, there will be seasonal music, a bonfire, caroling, hot chocolate, cookies and Santa Claus, along with the tree lighting.

• The Bel Air Community Band annual holiday concert is Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. at the Bel Air High School Auditorium; admission is free.

• The Downtown Alliance and Town of Bel Air are sponsoring the second annual holiday movie night on Dec.14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bel Air Armory; free admission and popcorn.

• The Bel Air Community Chorus presents its winter concert on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Bel Air High School Auditorium; admission is free.