Barr to Hogan: Hear Counties Voices, Loud and Clear

After completing an unprecedented tour and meeting with elected officials from all 24 counties across the state before the Summer Conference, MACo President John Barr raised this accomplishment with Governor Larry Hogan at the Summer Conference. “I’d like to get you a letter, summing up what we heard in these visits,” Commissioner Barr offered, and the Governor expressed interest.

In President Barr’s letter, he raises a variety of issues that came up during the county visits. A widespread focus on transportation and infrastructure was a universal theme:

Across the state, this same anecdote came up time and time again – counties everywhere simply cannot keep up with proper maintenance at these historically low funding levels.

Barr’s letter also talks about cross-border effects of statewide policies — recognizing that nearly all parts of Maryland are close to a state border.

As we traveled to visit the manor corners of this beautiful state, it became very clear to me how important our state geography is. Our small state stretches across lengthy state borders – and that matters substantially for policy issues here at home.

In Washington County, we are very aware of cross-border pressures that face our businesses and services. At its narrow point, the county spans less than two miles from the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders. Employers, homebuilders, and civic organizations must routinely be aware of out-of-state competition as they make decisions in the area.

These issues arise in every part of Maryland. We compete for residents and businesses with surrounding states who offer a dramatically different mix of taxes, regulations, labor standards, and
quality-of-life offerings. We are uniformly proud of Maryland, and want to see the state succeed.

Barr closes with encouragement on the benefits of open communication, and his own experience as MACo President:

It has been a great honor, and a personal pleasure, to serve as MACo president this year. One of the great privileges that has afforded me has been an avenue to get to know you, and to seize on ways to work together for all Marylanders. I know that partnership – both at the personal level, and at the larger state-and-county level – will mean better outcomes for the residents we all represent.

Read John Barr’s letter, as MACo President, to Governor Hogan.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties