On Thursday, December 8 at 10:30 am, MACo Winter Conference attendees focused on the importance of local infrastructure investment at the general session, #LIFT4MD: Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland.”
The Honorable Jerry Walker, Council Member, Anne Arundel County introduced the session by making a push for interested stakeholders to advocate for local infrastructure investment by joining MACo’s twitter storm on Tuesday, December 13, by making the call for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland, or #LIFT4MD.
Public officials heard from Andrew Hartsig, Research Manager at the National Association of Counties (NACo), who provided an overview on how county infrastructure needs are funded across the country. He called attention to NACo’s Explorer tool, which provides data on every county in the country.
James Phillips-Farley, Esq., Acting Chief of the Office of Legal & Regulatory Affairs,
Baltimore City Department of Public Works discussed the City’s work to fund a comprehensive wastewater collection system evaluation and rehabilitation program, in compliance with a 2002 Consent Decree with the United States. James addressed how users bear the lion’s share of the costs for improvements, but the City is relying heavily on bonds to stretch limited user fee revenues as far as they will go.
Finally, Theresa McClure, Regional Strategic Communications Lead, HDR, Inc. showed public
officials how important it is to deploy social media to engage communities in infrastructure development. She used real life examples to demonstrate how traditional means of community engagement and outreach – public meetings, flyers, etc. – no longer reach the bulk of the impacted population. This can prolong delays, inflate costs, or kill county projects entirely – especially now that those impacted populations are themselves using social media to organize. Then she provided pragmatic ways local governments can use social media at minimal cost to target outreach.
The Honorable Steven Hershey, Maryland State Senate, moderated the general session.