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9 Counties Swept Up In Education Funding Escalator

A provision of state law requiring counties that fall behind statewide averages for education effort to increase their K-12 budgets forces many jurisdictions to update their funding in fiscal year 2018. 

Screenshot 2017-11-20 20.14.27
Chart from the Maryland State Department of Education State Aid Calculations.

In 2012, the General Assembly approved a law that creates the potential for automatic increases in  maintenance of effort amounts. The law is often referred to as “The Escalator.”

The increases are not based on funding needs. Instead, they are based on county wealth, according to a formula devised by the State government. The formula describes “effort” as a county’s education funding as a percentage of its wealth.

The escalator clause provides that if the County’s “effort” in the given year is less than the statewide average for the previous 5-year period, the County may have to provide additional funding. The additional amount is equal to the lesser of the County increase in per pupil wealth, the State average increase in per pupil wealth, or 2.5%.

In fiscal year 2018, Allegany, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Worcester counties, and Baltimore City were swept into the escalator and required to increase their education funding.

For more information, see the State Aid Calculations from the Maryland State Department of Education.

At MACo’s Winter Conference, county officials will participate in a round-table discussion on education funding debates.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Serving Seniors Supportive Services

Did you know that the MAP Hospital to Home Partnership (H2H) is an innovative initiative which helps counties divert hospital based readmissions by providing access to home and community based services for older adults?

This is but one example of how counties are working to efficiently and effectively administer valuable but limited resources while empowering senior patients to have more control over their care.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference learn more about how counties are leveraging public and private partnerships to improve care coordination and achieve better outcomes for their senior residents.

Title: Serving Seniors Supportive Services

Description: Counties provide a diverse array of services and initiatives to assist older adults. These individuals have a wide range of needs: screening for benefits, finding housing, health evaluations, legal resources, and accessing services in their homes and communities are just a few. Counties work efficiently and effectively to administer valuable but limited resources to help address those concerns. In this session learn how counties are leveraging local, state, and national resources as well as forming the necessary partnerships to improve the lives of older adults in their communities.


  • Joanne Williams, Director, Baltimore County Department of Aging
  • Linda Willis, our Chief of Aging and Disability Services
  • Morgan Deweese, our Aging and Disability Resource Manager

Moderator: The Honorable Sheree Sample-Hughes, Maryland House of Delegates

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:

It’s Not Always Easy Being Green, But With WGL Energy It Is!

MACo would like to thank WGL Energy for “Greening” the 2017 Winter Conference! WGL will donate carbon offsets to counterbalance the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from #MACoCon including energy use, hotel stays, food, and other waste.

WGL Energy explaining their “Greening” process.

Carbon Offsets from WGL Energy are Green-e® Climate certified and derived from third-party verified carbon reduction projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Their supply of carbon offsets comes from  carbon-reduction projects in the waste management sector, such as the capture and destruction of methane from regional landfills.

WGL Energy is also investing a portion of the proceeds from carbon offset purchases into the Carbon Reduction Fund, which is managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The funds are used to develop new greenhouse gas-reducing projects, and improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Their partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has supported numerous projects including the reduction of fertilizer use through improved farming techniques, community restoration projects and the planting of tens of thousands of trees across the watershed.

WGL Energy is your source for clean, sustainable solutions.

For more on how you can reduce your organization’s carbon footprint, visit the carbon offsets page for government, commercial and industrial customers on their website or stop by WGL Energy’s tabletop booth at MACo’s Winter Conference on Wednesday and Thursday, December 6 and 7.

Thank you, WGL Energy, a MACo Silver Corporate Partner, for your continued support of the Maryland Association of Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

#MACoCon’s “Eye of the Storm”

This year has reminded not only emergency managers, but most of us, that devastating weather events can strike at any time – and require preparation in advance. Maryland watched as Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, followed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, took their toll on millions of Americans. Meanwhile, earthquakes ravaged Mexico and tornados barrelled through all over the county – and as close as Queen Anne’s.

Learn how the County drew on its existing partnerships to respond to that tornado, and how Maryland partners with neighboring states as a member and leader of the  Delmarva Emergency Task Force, at this year’s Winter Conference session, Eye of the Storm: Preparations & Partnerships. The session is co-hosted by the Maryland Association of County Administrators and the Maryland Association of County Emergency Managers.

Title: Eye of the Storm: Preparations & Partnerships

Description: There’s little debating that 2017 has brought multiple, devastating weather events to local governments worldwide. Right here at home, Maryland has recently “weathered through” flooding, tornadoes, and tropical storms. Waiting until a natural disaster strikes is too late to forge the partnerships that facilitate a seamless response and recovery. Preparation is the key. At this session, county leaders discuss how their partnerships with others helped them to help their residents when they needed them the most.

Scott Haas, Department of Emergency Services Director, Queen Anne’s County
Fred Webster, Chair, DELMARVA Emergency Task Force

Moderator: The Honorable Chris Adams, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

The theme of the Winter Conference is The Power of PartnershipsFind more information about MACo’s Winter Conference, and register here.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Honors Harford County Employee

Harford County Emergency Services’ Heidi DiGennaro Named 2017 Line Supervisor of the Year in Maryland

The Mid-Eastern chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) has named Heidi Digennaro the 2017 Line Supervisor of the year.

According to a Harford County press release:

Heidi won the award for her strong work ethic, positive attitude
and for serving as a role model within her department.

Pictured from left: Rick Ayres, Harford County deputy director of Emergency Services; Director of Administration Billy Boniface; Heidi DiGennaro; County Executive Barry Glassman; Ross Coates, public safety communication manager. (Photo Courtesy: Harford County)

APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide – and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy, and outreach.

Read the full press release for more information.

Cool Insurance Pools Save Counties Cash?

Could counties save money by joining other government jurisdictions in pooling public employee health care? Potentially yes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):

Some public purchasers regularly try to lower overall administrative costs and negotiate lower prices from providers and insurers using their large numbers of enrollees as a bargaining tool. Health costs are controlled by using size, volume purchases and professional expertise to:

  • Minimize and combine administrative and marketing costs;
  • Facilitate negotiations with health insurers for more favorable premium rates and broader benefit packages; and
  • Relieve individual employers of the burden of choosing plans and negotiating coverage and payment details.

In addition to cost containment and simplification, multi-agency purchasing arrangements also can give employees more choices of health benefit plans.

Such pools can result in savings for administrative costs of up to 15 percent for smaller employee groups. Nearly half of all states authorized other government employees to join into state insurance pools in 2010, according to the NCLS report. New Jersey has one of the most extensive health insurance pooling programs – it’s State Health Benefits Program allowed local jurisdictions to join as early as 1964.

Relatedly, MACo is currently exploring options for counties to pool workers’ compensation insurance, and has issued a Feasibility Study Request for Proposals.

Where New York’s Subway System Went Wrong

Decades of state and local disinvestment has taken its toll on New York City’s transit system, reveals The New York Timeslatest exposé, “How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways.”  Apparently, only 65 percent of the infamous subway system’s trains arrive on time. In comparison, the Baltimore transit system experiences 95 percent on-time performance.

An examination by The New York Times reveals in stark terms how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them.

The average total compensation for subway managers has grown to nearly $300,000 annually, and yet the system has cut mechanic positions, resulting in equipment failures occurring twice as frequently as a decade ago. Daily ridership has doubled over the past 20 years, but the track mileage is lower than it was during World War II. Nearly 17 percent of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.)’s goes to paying debt service now, rather than system operations or capital improvements.

…[P]oliticians and transit leaders have not acted on a series of chances to turn things around sooner. They ignored decades of warnings from state and city comptrollers. They failed to pass a congestion pricing plan in 2008. They chose not to give mass transit much of the proceeds from large settlements with banks after the financial crisis. They brushed aside the findings of the M.T.A. Transportation Reinvention Commission, a 2014 panel of transit leaders from around the world.

And through it all, The Times found, the M.T.A. has used sloppy data collection and accounting games that hide from the public the true causes of the subway’s problems.

The story is reportedly the first in a series. Read the first analysis here.

Maryland has experienced its own to-do over transportation investment throughout the last several years. Following last year’s political firestorm over how the State should prioritize transportation spending, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has new plans for scoring major projects in its Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) – and MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn will unveil that draft plan and solicit input from county officials first at the MACo Winter Conference session, Workshop: An Overview of the New Transportation Scoring Law.

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:

Senator Cardin Holds Round Table with Maryland Business Leaders

Senator Ben Cardin discussed critical issues — taxes, healthcare, infrastructure — being debated in Congress that have are impacting Maryland’s business and residents at a round table held at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Friday, November 17.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.The Senator emphasized his commitment to addressing key priorities for Maryland including:

  • FBI – working on finding a path forward for moving the FBI to Prince George’s County.
  • Protecting Federal and Military Installations in Maryland – ensuring they receive the resources and support they need. There was not a round of BRAC this year but one may be coming in another year or so.
  • CSX/Howard Street Tunnel – addressing the issues with the tunnel is essential to its long-term viability and talks continue with CSX financial officers and CEOs.

Q&A with the round table participants centered a lot on their frustrations with the state of the national health care laws and rising premiums, but also involved lengthy discussions on taxes, cyber security, and small business procurement issues.


Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #5 – The Power of Partnership

MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on intergovernmental cooperation and ways that counties can partner with entities in the public and private sector to achieve the best results for Maryland’s residents. Sessions will highlight collaboration across county lines and service areas to address priorities like the opioid epidemic, Next Gen 9-1-1, and the environment, along with other important topics like mutual aid agreements and cooperative purchasing.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the MACo Winter Conference and its focus on reviewing timely issues that will be relevant during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

MACo’s Weekly County News & Notes… from Twitter

The social media site Twitter has become a fast-moving setting for news, information, and advocacy on public affairs. We welcome followers of MACo’s own Twitter feed for updates from the Conduit Street blog and other MACo hot topics, and often use Twitter to reach our own audience, and to hear from others following the same issues as county leaders.

Here are some tweets that caught our eye this week:

Follow MACo
Follow Executive Director Michael Sanderson
Follow NACo
See Tweets on #mdpolitics