New NACo Report – Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action

October 16, 2014

The National Association of Counties (NACo), has recently released a new report, Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action, which highlights how “America’s large urban counties are joining forces with private-sector firms to improve government operations, generate new solutions and reap valuable cost savings”.

counties_inactionFrom NACo’s website:

Large urban county governments provide essential services to more than 130 million residents each day, spanning from transportation and infrastructure to public safety and public health.  In an era of increasingly limited funding, an ever-growing demand for public services and a strong imperative for efficiency and transparency in government, counties are collaborating more than ever with the private sector to better deliver essential services to keep our communities healthy, safe and thriving.

The report features 11 case studies, reaching across sectors such as technology, health care and infrastructure development.  For example:

  • To engage residents in a two-way conversation and provide timely responses to pressing needs, the City and County of San Francisco worked with SalesForce to coordinate social media platforms, resulting in greater government transparency, better responsiveness to community issues and enhanced quality and efficiency of government services;
  • Broward County, Fla., contracted with a professional services firm, Parsons, to manage a complex runway expansion and terminal reconfiguration project at the county-owned Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, enabling better process coordination and workflow procedures for this massive infrastructure project;
  • With support from PayPal, Cobb County, Ga., upgraded the county’s tax collection services to enable electronic payment, records keeping and mobile payment, thus improving processing speeds, streamlining operations and creating safer work environments for county employees;
  • Allegheny County, Pa., moved its civil commitment records from a paper-based to web-based system by adapting an application developed by Thomson Reuters, which has increased the accuracy and availability of time-sensitive information, saved money and reduced burdens on staff time; and
  • Salt Lake County, Utah, formed a collaborative partnership with Optum Health to redesign the county’s approach to behavioral health care delivery and improve care coordination and outcomes to promote and sustain wellness and reduce recidivism.

County leaders are faced with both challenges and opportunities to sustain responsive and effective solutions and services.  Together with private sector partners, county leaders are making important breakthroughs in advancing exemplary models of government innovation to create more agile, competitive and economically resilient counties and communities.

Click here to read NACo’s report – Partnering in Government Innovation: County Leadership in Action.

Reinvest Maryland (Formerly IRR) Report Released

October 10, 2014

logo of Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission

An October 6 Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission press release announced the released of the Commission’s Reinvest Maryland Report.  Formerly known as the Infill, Redevelopment, and Revitalization (IRR) Policy, the Reinvest Maryland report includes over 60 recommendations to encourage IRR within a subset of the Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) and discourage new development outside of the PFAs.  From the press release:

In response to a request from Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission has produced Reinvest Maryland: Accelerating Infill, Redevelopment & Community Revitalization. The just-released report sets forth dozens of recommendations to help communities across Maryland improve their downtowns, strengthen their economies, add needed housing and even provide a streetscape facelift.  …

Directing growth to communities with existing infrastructure saves money by requiring fewer services, unlike development in far-flung areas that need new roads, schools, and water and sewer systems. It improves quality of life for existing residents. Moreover, many young people, seniors and business owners are demanding well-designed, walkable communities as a new model over traditional, more isolating growth patterns.

“We need to reinvest in Maryland’s great communities,” said Commission Chairman Jon Laria. “In this report, we set out recommendations to help us grow smarter to accomplish a whole host of goals statewide.”

Reinvest Maryland Report – Fast Download Version (4 MB)

Reinvest Maryland Report – Full Resolution Version (22 MB)

Reinvest Maryland Report Appendices

Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall provided a brief overview of the Reinvest Maryland report at MACo’s Administrator and Attorney Conference on October 9.  Hall explained that the recommendations were broken down into 8 categories:

  1. Establish a Vision for Reinvestment
  2. Create and Better Fund Innovative, Effective Reinvestment Programs
  3. Identify and Address Regulations and Policies That May Impede Reinvestment
  4. Deploy Targeted Financial Tools
  5. Promote Equitable Development
  6. Encourage Excellence in Community Design and Preservation
  7. Use Metrics to Gauge Success and Provide Accountability
  8. Accelerate Transit-Oriented Development

Hall stated the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and other involved state agencies will use the Reinvest Maryland report as a blueprint and begin implementing its various recommendations over the next several years.

MDP Presentation for MACo’s Administrators & Attorneys Conference

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Reinvest Maryland/IRR Policy

CDN Seeking Community Development Award of Excellence Nominees Through October 9

October 6, 2014

The Community Development Network of Maryland (CDN) is still seeking nominations for its Community Development Award of Excellence through the close of business on October 9.  From CDN’s email notice:

Each year CDN honors organizations around the state engaging in extraordinary community development work. Our Awards of Excellence highlight organizations that make great social and economic impact in their work every day. Please take time to nominate your organization or another organization (or as many as you would like!) for an Award of Excellence. Selections will be announced during our Annual Meeting on November 7!  …

Awards are given to organizations showing excellence in the following categories:

Innovation: The nominated entity has implemented a practice that reflects a new way of thinking about the problem to be solved. We are looking for non-conventional approaches that are innovative within the context of entity size and geographic area. The work should have begun within the last five years. (Last year’s award was given to Patriot’s House, developed by Anne Arundel Community Development Services, Inc.)

Collaboration: The nominated entity has engaged in a collaboration that creatively connects groups within the community development field. We will highlight distinctive, creative collaborations where the entity, working with one or more partners, has created new connections among organizations that were not previously connected. The collaborative effort should have taken place within the last five years. (Last year’s award was given to Prince George’s County Collaboration of Municipalities)

Lorraine Sheehan Memorial Advocacy Award: The nominated entity has played a significant role in making community revitalization possible at the local or statewide level. (Last year’s award was given to Delegate Stephen Lafferty (D-42)).

Legacy: The nominated entity or person/people has continually exhibited excellence in his or her field. (Last year’s award was given to Edward Mullaney, Cumberland Main Street).

Click here to submit nominations.

CDN was formerly known as the Maryland ABCD Network.  Its mission is to engage and strengthen Maryland’s community development industry and encourage comprehensive community development.

Charles County Commissioners Send Draft Comp Plan Back to Planning Commission

September 29, 2014

A September 24 SoMdNews article reported that the Charles County Board of County Commissioners has voted unanimously to send the County’s draft comprehensive plan back to its planning commission with instructions to make certain changes regarding the plan’s septic tier map, agricultural policy, and water resources element .  The article indicated that the move will likely add another year to the County’s comprehensive plan update process.

Planning staff previously presented a revised version of the comprehensive plan including the tier map, agricultural policy recommendations, a land use map adjusted to match the septic tiers and updated data for the plan’s required water resources element.  …

Charles County Assistant County Attorney Elizabeth Theobalds said the commissioners had four options — send the plan back and direct the planning commission to make the recommended changes, send the plan back without such instructions, bypass the planning commission and approve the plan with the proposed changes or adopt the plan as it was passed by the planning board in November 2012.

Theobalds noted that the third option “does not meet what I interpret to be the law,” as the proposed changes to the comprehensive plan were too “significant” for the commissioners to approve without first returning the plan to the planning board.

The article noted that after some debate about the legality of the third and fourth options, the commissioners voted for the first option.


Carroll County 2014 Draft Comprehensive Plan Nears Finalization

September 26, 2014

A September 21 Carroll County Times article reported on concerns and changes in Carroll County’s 2014 draft comprehensive master plan.  The plan is currently subject to public review and the planning commission will decide whether to approve the plan on November 9.  The plan will then go to the County’s Board of Commissioners.

The article focused on two main issues with the plan:  (1) concern by the residents of Taneytown about the potential location of a plasma gasification plant at the borders of the town; and (2) shrinkage of the County’s designated growth areas.

The article reported on a September 9 meeting held with Taneytown residents about the potential plant:

Taneytown and nearby residents expressed concern over the noise, smell, traffic and general discomfort they would experience if a plasma gasification plant was built on the edge of the Taneytown city limits.

[Carroll County Director of Land Use Phil] Hager stressed that even if the master plan was adopted with the land-use change, the property owners would still need to go through a public and open process if they wanted its zoning changed in the future.

The article explained the reason the County’s designated growth areas were reduced:

Designated growth areas are small geographic areas where the majority of Carroll’s planned residential, commercial and industrial development is currently concentrated and future growth is planned.  …

County spokeswoman Roberta Windham said the planning commission chose to shrink the size of the county’s nine DGAs to accommodate current and future growth with regard to water resources. That meant that nearly 18,000 more acres of land were added into the master plan, and taken out of the individual DGA comprehensive plans.

The article also noted that the 2014 plan also increases the number of acres allowed to be used for industrial and business purposes.

Frederick County Alters Development Fees For Areas Near Overcrowded Schools

September 26, 2014

A September 24 Frederick News-Post article reported that the Frederick County Board of Commissioners has approved increasing a variety of development mitigation fees for projects that would add new residential homes to areas with schools that over-capacity or near over-capacity.  The article noted the exact amount of the fee varies based on type of housing and type of school.  The article also explained that the fee was created in response to building moratoria created by school capacity adequate public facility ordinances.

The changes will lift the fee in most cases but lower the amount paid when single-family houses and town houses are constructed close to over-capacity middle schools. The fees are based on the cost of building new classroom space and the average number of students generated by each housing type.

The article also noted that some officials and advocates do not believe the mitigation fee is effective.

However, local education advocate Janice Spiegel said the fee will fall far short of meeting school construction needs and is setting the county up to worsen its overcrowding problems. Spiegel looked at a list of current residential projects and calculated that they will furnish the county with more than $160 million in impact and school mitigation fees. However, this amount is about $110 million shy of what the county would need to build or expand schools for students moving into these new houses, she said.  …

Kelly Weaver, the county’s assistant budget officer, said Spiegel’s calculations don’t take into account the money provided by the state for school construction. But Spiegel said the county shouldn’t bank on money from the state, which can be an unpredictable funding source.

Sustainable Maryland Offers Leadership Training in Sustainability Workshops

September 25, 2014

Sustainable Maryland is offering a series of Leadership Training in Sustainability Workshops in November.  The workshops are open to county and municipal elected officials and senior-level staff.


Strong stakeholder perspectives often surround sustainability issues and opportunities. Climate change, water conservation, renewable energy, and green infrastructure are just a few issues that frequently generate disagreement and debate and which can benefit from leadership skills to engage diverse stakeholders, reduce contention and garner support. These workshops, conducted by expert facilitators from the Environmental Finance Centers at University of Maryland and Dominican University of California, will incorporate examples, stories and tools that will:

  • Provide the skills to understand and better manage interactions with staff, board and/or community,
  • Introduce tools to help reduce conflict and plan for the future, and
  • Improve participant’s ability to turn dry numbers into a compelling story and message.

There are 3 dates & locations:

Monday, November 17, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Cambridge Public Safety Building, Cambridge


Wednesday, November 19, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park


 Thursday, November 20, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at University System of Maryland at Hagerstown


Registration Fee:

$35.00 (includes breakfast, lunch, program materials, parking)

Agenda Topics (full agenda available October 1)

  • Creating an effective story
  • Conversation mapping for stakeholder engagement
  • Identifying and prioritization mapping for stakeholder engagement
  • Creating powerful presentations
  • Framing your message
  • Future scenario planning

For further information contact:

Mike Hunninghake at or 301-405-7956



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