City Considers Emergency Mutual Aid Agreement

SAILSBURY — Salisbury may be joining a short list of municipalities in Maryland to adopt a standardized public works mutual aid Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for assistance in emergencies.

“MML [Maryland Municipal League] and the Maryland Public Works Association drafted this agreement, their attorneys went through it and they’re really asking municipalities to accept it verbatim,” Salisbury Acting-Public Works Director Amanda Pollack told the City Council last week.

The MoU is not overly restrictive, continued Pollack, and in general exists just to organize responses should a municipality encounter some need to request help from other towns in the state.

“We are not obligated to provide resources in the event of an emergency,” Pollack said. “This just sets the framework in the event that either we need to provide mutual aid or we need to have mutual aid in our town. It makes the resources available to us from other municipalities.”

So far Aberdeen, Bel Air, Berwyn Heights, Cheverly, College Park, Frederick, Greenbelt, Hampstead, Landover Hills, Morningside, Mt. Rainier, Port Deposit, and Riverdale Park have all singed up to take part in the MoU. Pollack noted that none of those communities are in proximity to Salisbury. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, she added.

“As you can see there’s none really close to us right now but in the event of an emergency that’s probably just as well anyway,” said Pollack. “We’d probably be looking for help from somebody who isn’t right nearby and may have been suffering from the same emergency.”

City Attorney Mark Tilghman suggested that the MML might need to clarify some points before the city adopts the MoU, such as which municipality is responsible should a dispute occur at a time when aid is being lent. Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said that, while she is “glad to see this come forward,” there were a few language usages in the MoU that she would like ironed-out, such as requiring a municipality to contact the affected city or town after a disaster to say whether they’ll be sending aid or not. The current MoU only requires that they contact the area if aid will be given.

The MoU would be a one-year contract with an automatic one-year renewal if adopted.

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