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| MACo Testimony Summary | Budgets & Tax Rates
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FY2018 Budget/Fiscal Links: County Effects | Fiscal Briefing | Two Year Charts | Overview of State Aid | County Revenue Outlook | Local Government Finances & Demographics

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E&T Committee Holds Open Work Session on Forest Conservation Act, Solar Siting

The House Environment and Transportation (E&T) Committee has announced it will be holding an open work session on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, to further study: (1) the Forest Conservation Act; and (2) solar energy and land management. The Committee will likely consider whether legislation in either of these areas is warranted for the 2018 Session.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Forest Conservation Act reform was a major initiative by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other environmental groups during the 2018 Session. Likewise, the siting of utility scale solar and other generation facilities resulted in legislation, including a successful MACo Legislative Initiative that gave local governments a greater voice in the siting process. However, legislation was also considered that would have allowed solar development on preserved agricultural lands. (HB 863 of 2017).

The E&T work session is set to begin a 1:00 pm and will be similar to a bill hearing in that interested parties may sign up and testify on either or both topics. A witness sign-up sheet will be located in the E&T hearing room (Room 251 in the House Office Building) starting at 9:00 am. If you want to bring handouts, 30 copies are required.

MACo plans to testify on both issues.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Forest Conservation Act

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of MACo Energy Siting Initiative

HB 863 of 2017

E&T Committee Web Page

 

Federal Judge Upholds Baltimore City Sewer Consent Decree

A Bay Journal article (2017-10-14) reported that the U.S. District Court has upheld a Baltimore City agreement that gives the City until 2030 to address its sewage overflow and backup problems.  According to the article, Judge J. Frederick Motz approved a new consent decree and rejected arguments from the environmental group Blue Water Baltimore that the agreement should be further strengthened. The new agreement is a modification of a 2002 agreement between the City and federal and state regulators that set a January 2016 deadline to address the problems. The article noted that Baltimore City has spent nearly $1 billion to repair its sewage infrastructure but was unable to meet the 2016 goals.

 

The revised agreement requires the City to fund a series of upgrade projects to reduce overflows by 80 percent after four years, with further improvements continuing until 2030. The estimated cost of the work is $1.6 billion, with most of that cost falling on the City. From the article:

Noting the failure of previous repairs to end overflows, [Blue Water Baltimore] wanted an additional provision added that would have required that the city to adjust its repair plans and do more if stream and harbor monitoring doesn’t show sufficient water-quality improvements.

Lawyers representing federal and city officials urged the judge to disregard the environmental group’s complaint, saying that the sewer repairs alone cannot be expected to make Baltimore’s water safe. Other sources of contamination that impact waterways, including those caused by illegal connections of sewer lines to storm drains, are to be dealt with separately in the city’s stormwater permits, they said.

Angela Haren, Blue Water’s advocacy director and the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, said the group is encouraged that the Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both agree that “all useful data,” including water-quality monitoring, should be considered when determining whether the city’s sewer repairs have succeeded.

Useful Links

Blue Water Baltimore Website

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Baltimore City Sewer Consent Decree

Health Department Awarded $7.5M for Family Home Visits

The Maryland Department of Health was awarded a federal grant to expand a program that provides home visits, parenting skills, and other resources to pregnant women and families with young children. According to The Baltimore Sun:

The department will use the funds from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to support local agencies that make home visits to women and parents through the state’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The goal of the program is to help the families raise children who are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.

The article reports that while the program is statewide and voluntary, the department will target jurisdictions determined to have families most at risk and in need. These jurisdictions include: Baltimore City and Allegany, Baltimore, Caroline, Dorchester, Harford, Prince George’s, Somerset, Washington and Wicomico counties.

Read The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Learn more about the ways state and local departments are partnering to bring health care into people’s homes and communities at the MACo Winter Conference.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

 

“What Is Emergency Management?”…and Other Mysteries Revealed

You might see them take command during your county’s worst winter storm of the season, but do you know the full story? At MACo’s Winter Conference, join the State’s lead emergency manager and the President of MACo’s emergency management affiliate group for insight into the varied and vital work of local emergency managers.

doug
What’s the message? Doug Brown, Carroll County Emergency Manager, will be speaking about the emergency management profession with attendees of MACo’s Winter Conference.

“What Is Emergency Management?”…and Other Mysteries Revealed

All disasters are local. When disaster strikes, county officials must provide leadership to save lives, mobilize a response, and ensure a quick recovery for their community. Emergency management is a year-round process, a constant loop of preparation, training, testing, and revision that strengthens the resiliency of all county government functions. It ensures the continuity of government in the face of an innumerable number of disasters. In this session, get insight into creating partnerships and programs that will stand up when your county is ‘under water’ ─ and gain an understanding of the policy, fiscal, and tactical underpinnings of professional emergency management and disaster recovery.

Speakers

  • Russell J. Strickland, Executive Director, Maryland Emergency Management Agency
  • Douglas Brown, Emergency Manager, Carroll County and President, Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

 

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

County Leaders to Focus on School Funding at #MACoCon Roundtable Discussions

The next round of school funding debates is “on the table” for a roundtable discussion at this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference. Attend this session to hear updates and provide input on potential recommendations being considered by the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

The Next Round of School Funding Debates

Description: Join MACo’s representatives from the Commission on Innovation and Excellence Education to hear an update on the latest round of school funding debates in Maryland. The Commission, charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures, is set to make its final recommendations later this month. This roundtable discussion will provide elected officials with insight into any potential recommendations, which are likely to affect all of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions.

Speakers:

  • The Honorable Craig Rice, County Council Member, Montgomery County
  • The Honorable William Valentine, County Commissioner, Allegany County

Moderator: Michael Sanderson, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Counties

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; Noon – 1:00 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services: A Collaborative Approach At #MACoCon

All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. The evolution of volunteer fire companies presents both challenges and opportunities for county governments.  At this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference, learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with volunteer fire companies to protect lives, property, and the environment.

Together We Respond: A Collaborative Approach to Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Description: All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. As volunteer fire companies continue to evolve, it is critical for local governments to strengthen their relationships with local volunteer firefighters. This session will provide an overview of the challenges and best practices related to the volunteer fire service in Maryland. Speakers will discuss challenges in oversight and authority, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and funding for both volunteer companies and county governments.

Speakers:

  • Richard Devore, Director of Emergency Services, Allegany County
  • Tom Owens, EFO, Director/Chief, Division of Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services
  • Michael Faust, Second Vice President, Maryland State Fireman’s Association
  • Clarence “Chip” Jewell, Director/Deputy Chief, Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Montgomery Seeks Public Input on Small Cell Antenna Zoning

(Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Office of Public Information)

Montgomery County is seeking input from residents on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would address the deployment of small cell antennas on public property, including streetlights and low buildings.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro cells (what you would typically imagine as a large, tall, and free standing cell tower), allowing them to be placed on short poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased.

Additional background from the county’s Office of Public Information:

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

Community meeting information:

  • Date: Monday, October 23, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Location: Stella B Warner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Rockville, MD 20850

To view the live community meeting remotely:

For more information on the meeting, to view the amendment, and to submit comments visit:

Montgomery County Transition Facilities Coordination Group – Information on Draft ZTA Amendment

 

State Budget Outlook: The Sky’s Staying Put

Maryland’s budget shortfall is much lower than expected, learned members of the General Assembly’s Spending Affordability and budget committees yesterday from Warren Deschenaux, executive director of the Department of Legislative Services. Deschenaux, in his final presentation to a group of this size before his pending retirement, said the anticipated fiscal 2019 budget gap of $740 million is now $250 million. This results from favorable bond premiums, lower state employee health care costs due to vacancies and a reduction in Medicaid obligations.

He advised the General Assembly members to take a hard look at Maryland’s sales tax system. Sales tax revenues have fallen for some time due to boosted popularity of e-commerce, and a general transition from spending on goods to services.

From The Washington Post:

“The outlook is better than I expected it to be,” Deschenaux said.

To cover the smaller shortfall, he suggested that the General Assembly consider “freezing everything at current levels” except for mandated spending such as K-12 education and reimbursements for care providers who work with the disabled.

While the news was rosier than in previous years, analysts noted that the forecast did not include the devastating impact that federal changes to health care or the tax code could have on state revenue.

Helpful Links

Briefing document

Coverage by The Washington Post

Kent Center Receives $5,000 Award to Benefit Adults Needing Special Care

MACo leadership visits Kent Center to deliver $5,000 award check, sponsored by MD-DC-DE Beverage Association.

As part of MACo’s 2017 Summer Conference, the county exhibit booths competed to win a $5,000 award for a charity of their choice. The competition was sponsored by the MD-DC-DE Beverage Association and focused on economic development, county service innovation, and the work of the charities each county represented. The 800+ attendees who participated chose Kent County IT as the winning booth, with Kent Center being the recipient of the $5,000 award.

Group Shot
MACo Representatives Present Kent Center with $5,000 Award

On October 16, MACo President Jerry Walker (Council Vice Chair, Anne Arundel County) and Immediate Past President John Barr (Commissioner, Washington County), visited Kent Center in Chestertown, MD, to tour the facility and present the award. They were joined by Kent County Administrator Shelley Heller, Kent County IT Project Manager April Bitter, and MACo Member Services Director Virginia White.

Kent Center is the primary provider in Kent and northern Queen Anne’s Counties of daytime, vocational, CSLA, respite, supported employment, and/or residential services for 70 adults. Kent Center’s services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each person they serve, with a team of program coordinators and professionals who focus on enhancing their lives in multi-faceted ways. President Walker and Past President Barr took a tour of the Kent Center facility, meeting the clients and learning about the services provided.

As part of their programming, Kent Center runs a diverse business services program, including a mailing center, assembly and packaging services, confidential shredding, banquet hall rental, and the Kent House Kitchen. The Kitchen serves a daily boxed lunch menu and “cafe to go” meals prepared by their clients and led by Executive Chef Chris Bove.

Kent Center Executive Director Karine Ireland invited all of the participants of the program to be present so they could accept the award together, with special thanks to two of the program participants who traveled to Ocean City to help talk about Kent Center in the Kent County booth. Ms. Ireland noted that the award money would be used to help Kent Center buy new buses and vans to transport their clients and connect them with services and opportunities to make their dreams come true!

MACo and Kent Center thank the MD-DE-DC Beverage Association for their generous sponsorship of this award!