Kent County, Baltimore City Win MACo Best Practices Awards

Congratulations to Kent County’s Broadband Extension Program and the Baltimore Homeowner Incentive Program in Baltimore City! Both have won the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance County Best Practices Award.

This award, started by Prince George’s County Council Member and MACo Past President Ingrid Turner, recognizes county programs that improve overall quality-of-life and service delivery to county’s residents. Many great programs were nominated, but only 2 winners can be selected.

  • Broadband Extension Program – Kent County
    The Broadband Expansion program was developed to extend service offerings to all public school facilities, public safety agencies, library branches, government administration buildings, and community centers. The program started by granting wireless providers rent free access to county-owned towers in exchange for discounted internet services offered to students on the free or reduced lunch meal plan with costs as low as $20 per month. Kent County entered into a public/private partnership to construct 110 miles of “dark” fiber-optic infrastructure which will enable future-proof technology to connect rural residents and business’. The Program provides tower access to wireless provider’s utilities existing resources and the economic effects on Kent County are minimal. The county investment for the dark fiber-optic infrastructure is 4.5 million dollars. Through years of practicing fiscal responsibility, the county will not need to seek additional funding or loans, raise taxes or increase fees as the entire amount can be paid out of the healthy fund balance. The contract with FTS (private sector) and Kent County includes a revenue aspect so over time, the project could pay for itself.
  • Baltimore Homeownership Incentive Program – Baltimore City
    The Baltimore Homeownership Incentive Program (B-HiP) has provided homebuyers with historic resources for down payment and closing cost assistance while helping to revitalize blighted communities and leverage private investment. There is a collective commitment between the City of Baltimore and its partners to grow Baltimore City by 10,000 families by 2020. Through the comprehensive approach involving tackling the 16,000 vacant buildings in the City through the Vacants to Value initiative and the Baltimore Homeownership Incentive Program, Baltimore City has reversed population loss, renovated approximately 2,100 blighted properties, and expanded homeownership opportunities. B-HiP assists in the City’s residential attraction and retention efforts through the use of enhanced homeownership financial incentives and programs such as the Vacant to Value Booster Program, the Community Development Block Grant Homeownership Assistance Program, Live Baltimore’s Buying into Baltimore, and City Living Starts Here events, etc. In FY11, the City assisted 277 homebuyers but in FY16, the City assisted 872 homebuyers. In FY17, the program is on track to provide a record-breaking 930 incentives. There is 22 million dollars of City funds committed to homeownership incentives during Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s tenure and currently 104 participating employers contributing to the popular Live Near Your Program.

Other nominees included:

    • Charles County Administrator’s Monthly Report
    • Baltimore City’s Safe Streets Program
    • Baltimore City Citywide Street Sweeping
    • Frederick County’s Taxi Access Program (TAP)
    • Frederick County’s Main Street Manager Roundtable

Congratulations to our award winners and nominees! MACo was thrilled to see such great work being done to improve the overall well-being of our counties.

Awards will be presented at MACo’s Winter Conference Inaugural Banquet & Awards Ceremony on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: