Dorchester County Council moves bond sale to public hearing

Proposal may allow county to borrow up to $31 million

CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Council may soon be issuing bonds to pay for two big projects — the building of the new North Dorchester High School, and replacement of the public safety radio system.

Both items are included in the recently approved Fiscal Year 2018 county budget. FY18 begins July 1. With assistance from state funding, the county’s cost to build the new high school is estimated at just under $12 million. Radio system replacement is estimated at roughly $10 million.

The county council briefly entered legislative session Tuesday to introduce an act that would enable the county to borrow money and issue bonds for a principal amount not to exceed $31 million.

“We can only use the money for what’s specified in here,” County Manager Jeremy Goldman said during the legislative session. “We don’t have to take all the money, but we can’t go over it.”

A public hearing on the legislation will be held during the July 18 meeting of the county council.

The council also heard a presentation from Cindy Smith, county grant administrator, and Santo Grande, CEO and president of Delmarva Community Services, about a Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Block Grant that was used to upgrade six group homes managed by DCS.

“This is, I think, one of the best projects that DHCD has ever funded in the sense that it meets, what I consider, the mission of CDBG which is community development as well as meeting the needs of low- to moderate-income individuals in the community,” Ms. Smith said. “We were able to receive funding to upgrade six group homes managed by Delmarva Community Services. Five of those homes house developmentally disabled adults, and the sixth one is a transitional home for homeless men.”

Three of the homes are in Cambridge and the other three are in Hurlock. The work included roof replacements, improvements to bathrooms including ADA accessible fixtures, and kitchen improvements. The total grant amount was $286,585. DCS also contributed $81,200 toward the project.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to do massive upkeep to all the homes,” Mr. Grande said. “All the homes we’ve had at least 20 years, some as long as 30 and beyond. … All these homes will be fully staffed. A lot of these homes are 16-hour staffing and some are 24-hour staffing, and that creates a lot of jobs. … We probably have about 90 people working in our group homes in Dorchester County.”

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