Bay Region Remains Unprepared For Flooding, But Maryland Better Than Many States

December 18, 2014

A December 15 Bay Journal article found that the Chesapeake Bay region remains unprepared for a predicted increase in coastal flooding exacerbated by sea level rise, although Maryland is better positioned than many other watershed states.  The article also discussed strategies to offset flooding, resource challenges, and how states and local governments are addressing the issue in lieu of a national policy.  While the lack of preparation is a nationwide problem, the article noted that the Chesapeake Bay region is especially at risk.

People in New Jersey and New York never expected the scale of damages from [Superstorm] Sandy, and here in the Chesapeake Bay, a big storm could give us a similar nasty shock. Rising sea level is projected to increase flooding and worsen the effect of storm surges in this region — not only in small waterfront communities but also in larger cities like Annapolis, Baltimore and Norfolk.  …

The risks of coastal flooding and sea level rise are especially great in the Chesapeake Bay region. Its land elevation is one of the lowest in the United States, and sea level here is rising faster than the global average. In Maryland, scientists’ best estimate is an increase of more than 3 feet by 2100.

The article explored the three primary strategies to address coastal flooding: (1) armoring; (2) adaptation; and (3) retreat.  The article noted that while retreat is not popular, it has been required in certain areas due to natural conditions such as erosion.  While armoring and adaptation generate less controversy, they are expensive to implement and maintain.

To do what is necessary to protect against coastal flooding and the effects of sea level rise, there are basically three options. One is armoring: Property owners and governments can protect shorelines with hardened structures like stone jetties and seawalls. Another option is adaptation: Governments can require that homes be raised, and property owners can do so voluntarily. A third option is retreat: moving away from places that people have called home. Some governments have offered to buy out homeowners in low-lying, flood-prone areas, like Somerset County did on Maryland’s Smith Island last year. (Residents rejected the offer.)

The article noted that communities undertaking armoring and adaptation projects are often delayed due to a lack of funding.  Federal assistance primarily comes through the United States Army Corps of Engineers but the available assistance cannot meet the current demand.

Such delays are common because these small communities wait in line with many others — including coastal cities like Norfolk, New Orleans and Miami — for funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their construction projects. The Corps currently has an enormous backlog of such projects nationwide, amounting to about $60 billion. But Congress allocates only about $2 billion per year for these projects and others to improve waterways and harbors.

Based on the lack of a strong national policy to address sea level rise, the article explained that it has been up to the states and local governments to formulate responses.

In the absence of a national policy to prepare for sea level rise, states have taken on the job of crafting their own solutions. State leaders decide which parcels of land to preserve through conservation easements and which roads to elevate. Through partnerships with federal agencies, state officials can coax and encourage development into areas where it is suitable and away from places where it floods.  …

[Former Environmental Protection Administration Deputy Administrator Bob] Perciasepe and others said that they believe that Maryland is well-poised to be a model. Under Gov. Martin O’Malley, the state has enacted its own plan for adapting to climate change.  …

Now, all state-funded infrastructure must factor both sea level rise and flooding into construction and design. Structures must be 2 feet above base flood elevation. (The base flood elevation is the level at which water is expected to rise during a once-in-a-100-year flood, and is generally set by the federal government; states and counties follow that recommendation.) Nearly 40 communities have decided to adopt the 2-foot rule in their own ordinances, and [Zoe Johnson of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources] said more will follow suit as the planning continues.

“We do have control over projects that the state invests in, if it receives any state funding,” Johnson said. “And we are starting to condition our funding that these issues be addressed.”  …

“When this country has a large issue to tackle, it’s the states and the local governments who tend to tackle it first, and they set the course,” [Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson] said. “With the Chesapeake region being so forward-thinking, it seems fitting that we could go first.”


Baltimore City Launches New Interactive Budget Site

December 18, 2014

Baltimore City has launched a new interactive budget site called “Budget Live”giving city residents greater access budget detail on spending. As reported by the Baltimore Business Journal,

The site includes a new open budget feature that lets users click through the 2015 budget to see details on spending.

“It’s taking the huge budget book and making it much more interactive,” said Andrew Kleine, the city’s budget director.

Other new parts of the site include a video on the city’s fiscal outlook and crowdsourcing questions designed to gather feedback from residents on how they want the city to spend its money.

The new site can be viewed at the city Bureau of the Budget and Management Research website.

MML’s Tips for Using Social Media in Local Government

December 17, 2014

The Maryland Municipal League has put together a list of 10 wonderful tips on how towns should use social media. This document is also a great guide for counties. It gives great insight as to how and when to use Twitter, Facebook, etc., so that it benefits the user as well as the viewer. Thanks MML for putting together such a useful tool!

Click here to view MML’s Top 10 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Town.

Bullseye: Hitting the Moving Target of County Government Recruitment and Training

December 17, 2014
Stephanye Maxwell

Stephanye R. Maxwell, Esq., CPM, Director, Office of Human Resources Management, Prince Georges’ County

Every county government department relies on its greatest asset – its people – to deliver services to residents. Over the next few years, a number of seasoned county workers will become eligible for retirement, and, at the same time, millennial employees are entering the workforce with different skills and expectations than their predecessors. Human resources management in this setting requires creativity and innovation.

The Maryland Association of Human Resources Officers will be sponsoring Bullseye: Hitting the Moving Target of County Government Recruitment and Training at the MACo Winter Conference.  In this session, Stephanye R. Maxwell, Esq., CPM, Director, Office of Human Resources Management, Prince Georges’ County will describe how to maximize the talent of four types of employees: traditionalists, baby-boomers, gen-Xers, and millenials.  Gregg A. Todd, County Administrator, Queen Anne’s County will share about building back a workforce following recessionary cuts and Bernie Sadusky, Ph.D, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges will speak about continuing education and the vast array of opportunities for public sector employees and other private sector workforce training within your community.

Thursday, January 8, 2015 from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

3 “Can’t Miss” MACo Winter Conference Sessions from the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance

December 17, 2014

academylogo1. What You Need to Know about County Government: Snapshots from the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance
A foundation of knowledge and skills is needed to successfully navigate the many different facets of being a government official. In this session, speakers will briefly touch on the basic skills and information every county government practitioner needs to know, including risk management, reaching consensus, financial management, ethics, and information on specific laws such as the Public Information Act, just to name a few. All of these topics are covered more fully as Core Courses in the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance.

2. Ethics
Ethical dilemmas face county elected official every day in an atmosphere where public and private actions are increasingly scrutinized. Many ethical challenges facing elected officials are matters of common sense, but more complicated situations may fall into “gray” areas. This class, led by a seasoned practitioner in government ethics, explores the law and applies it to hypothetical but realistic situations.

3. Open Meetings
Maryland’s Open Meetings Law guides public officials in the requirements for providing public notice of decision-making functions and for closing meetings when appropriate. The law has nuances for different forms of county governments, especially for county commissioners, who act in a dual legislative/executive role. The Open Meetings Law has been revised to better accommodate “administrative functions” and other procedures of governmental bodies. Knowledgeable experts focus on the law’s application to counties, including some of the cases and complaints that have come before the Compliance Board. 

Read more about the Academy Courses to be offered at MACo’s Winter Conference.

The Academy for Excellence in Local Governance is a voluntary certificate program founded by MACo and MML, sponsored by LGIT, and run by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. County participants complete 8 Core Courses and 6 Elective Courses, all of which are available through MACo conferences and events. MACo’s Winter Conference will offer 2 Core Courses and 4 Elective Courses.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

MACo Winter Conference Exhibit Halls are SOLD Out!

December 17, 2014

Both exhibit areas at the MACo Winter Conference January 7-9, 2015 at the Cambridge Hyatt are SOLD out! Stop by each of the displays and start building long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Counties, commercial representatives, and other government participants can all benefit from meeting our exhibitors and discussing options to lower their costs and enhance their services. Check out the links below in advance, so you know who will be at the Conference and a little bit about each organization.

MACo would like to thank all the exhibitors for their participation.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

Calvert County: See Locations of Commercial Projects with New Interactive Map

December 17, 2014

calvert whats going whereAnnounced in the December issue of Calvert Currents:

The Calvert County Department of Economic Development (DED) has launched a new What’s Going Where map that lets the public see where commercial projects are happening in Calvert County.

“This project began as an outreach effort to inform the public about new business activity in the county, to welcome and showcase new businesses and to provide a tool to better track the status and needs of businesses,” explained Linda Vassallo, director of the DED. “What we developed is an interactive map that allows us to monitor and help businesses as well as share a visual snapshot of what is going where with the public.”

What’s Going Where is a user-friendly map that allows you to explore commercial projects by ZIP code or view a list of projects completed in the last 12 months. The map is part of a larger set of interactive GIS maps offered by Calvert County Government to help the public virtually explore everything from the county’s parks and recreational facilities to the changes in the county’s landscape over the past 100 years.


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