County Council Considering Bill To Establish Domestic Violence Coordinating Council

The Council also approve legislation allowing the county to borrow up to $100-million.



Frederick, Md (KM) A bill establishing a Domestic Violence Coordinator Council went before the Frederick County Council on Tuesday. The legislation would set up the Council to increase collaboration and communication between government agencies and non-profit organizations which handle domestic violence cases.

Councilman Jessica Fitzwater is sponsoring this legislation. “This really, I think, will give our agencies and organizations that are already working hard on this issue to really make strides in coordinating those efforts,:”: she said.

One of the bill’s drafters was Brett Engler, who prosecutes domestic violence cases for the State’s Attorney’s Office. “It’s a huge issue: a criminal justice issue; a public health issue. It crosses so many different sectors of our society,” Engler says.

She said criminal justice is important when it comes to prosecuting domestic violence cases. But prevention, education  and treatment are also crucial, along with where and how to access these services. “Identify these service gaps in our community for victims and their families, but also offenders. What type of parole and probation items do there need to be? What kind of treatment models do we find most effective,” says Engler.

The bill, would,  among other things,  let the Domestic Violence Coordinator Council advise the County Executive, the County Council, and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission on polices, programs and legislation needed to prevent domestic violence, and assist victims and their families with safety, stability and services.

The County Council is expected to hold a hearing on this bill on Tuesday, July 7th at 7:00 PM.

Citing statistics the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Engler said more than 38-million women have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes; an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. One and 15 children every year are exposed  to domestic violence, with 90% them as eyewitnesses.


In a six-to-one vote on Tuesday night, the County Council approved a bill giving the county authorization to borrow up to $100-million.

Finance Director Lori Depies says this action is needed because the COVID-19 pandemic could cause disruptions in tax revenues coming into the county. “There is a lot of uncertainty as to the cash flow,” she says. “So while the revenues are probably solid as to coming in, our concern is the lagging and the timing of those cash flows.”

She says the county has secured a $75-million line of credit from JPMorgan which would help the county pay its bills if the cash flows start to slow down or dry up. “The Comptroller’s Office did push back the income filing deadline for taxpayers to July,”: she said. “When the federal or state governments make those kinds of action, it doesn’t necessary impact the amount of our revenue, but it does impact the timing. And that’s why  we have the credit line so we can draw on the cash when it needed, and replace it when the revenue comes in.”

Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said this line of credit will not affect the county’s budget. “We’re not planning on spending more than the appropriated revenue. This is simply a line of credit or a credit facility to back fill a cash shortage. So this is not a budgetary action,”: he said.

Councilman Phil Dacey voted against the bill. He said the county has a significant amount of reserves and they should be tapped first before securing a line of credit.



By Kevin McManus