Counties Show Fiscal Leadership

According to an Op-ed piece by Barry Rascovar, the State should follow the lead of Baltimore and Harford Counties.

Since this is an election year in Maryland, it’s not surprising political leaders are stumbling over themselves to avoid making tough decisions. Why tick off groups that could vote against you in the fall?

But not everywhere.

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith has used the recession as leverage in negotiating with county labor unions. In exchange for job security (no layoffs for two years) and no furlough days, the unions agreed to no pay raises for two years and less-costly pension and health programs. This will save the county $25 million annually in future budgets.

Harford County Executive David Craig, a fierce fiscal conservative, has ratcheted down spending enough to propose a 2-cent property tax rate decrease. This comes on top of a 1.8-cent cut in the property tax rate last year, when Craig also sharply curbed spending.

In both instances, the county executive is a serious, longtime cost-cutter. It’s a somewhat quaint notion that you can shrink government and not do serious harm. Craig and Smith, from different political parties, have succeeded quite admirably.

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