MACo Exploring County Workers’ Comp Pool

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MACo continues the process of exploring workers’ compensation options for Maryland county governments.

The Maryland Association of Counties speaks with entities interested in performing a feasibility of a county self-insurance group.

Additional workers’ compensation insurance options, including a county government self-funded workers’ compensation group, could provide alternatives to Maryland counties that purchase insurance and re-insurance on the open market. MACo is exploring the viability of creating such a group through a feasibility study RFP process.

For more information, click here for the Feasibility Study Request for Proposals or contact Robin Eilenberg at MACo.

Anne Arundel Receives $15 Million In Casino Grants

Anne Arundel County and a few nonprofits are receiving $19.6 million in local impact grants from the Live Casino in Hanover, reports The Baltimore Business Journal. The breakdown is as follows:

Anne Arundel Fire Department: $6.4 million

Anne Arundel Police: $3.6 million

Anne Arundel Public Works and Planning and Zoning: $2.5 million

Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks: $2.3 million

Anne Arundel Community College: $1.7 million

Anne Arundel Library: $1.25 million

Fort Meade Alliance Foundation: $500,000

BWI Partnership: $450,000

ARC of the Chesapeake: $340,000

Meade High School’s Instrumental Music Association: $80,000

Partners in Care Maryland: $10,000

From The Baltimore Business Journal:

The state law that opened the door to casinos in Maryland requires Live Casino to set aside 5.5 percent of its revenue from slot machines for the grants, which help to pay for services and infrastructure for the surrounding community. The 15-member Local Development Council, established by the county in June 2012, advises local officials on how to distribute the money.

Learn how counties monitor distribution of their revenues using cutting edge technology at the MACo Winter Conference session, Programming Power: Technological Tools to Tighten the Budget, at this year’s MACo Winter Conference, The Power of Partnerships, on Thursday, December 7 from 2pm to 3pm.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Next-Generation 9-1-1: What It Means For County Coffers

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues are of top concern for county governments officials seeking to improve and enhance their handling of emergency calls from cell phone users. New technologies will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow traditional callers to text and send photo and video data directly to first responders.

As Maryland and its counties move toward implementing an NG911 network, one key issue that must be addressed is how to fill the void left by Verizon and its vast communication infrastructure. And, while the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through, including uniform specifications, the process of transition, governance, and funding.

Learn about the budgetary and procurement impacts of this important issue  at the MACo Winter Conference special session, Next Gen 911: What It Means For Purchasers, PSAPs & Purse Strings.

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Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds co-chairs Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez at NG911 hearing July 2017.

Title: Next Gen 911: What It Means For Purchasers, PSAPs & Purse Strings

Description: As counties gear up to join the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) effort and upgrade their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to adapt to the digital era and toss analog aside, basic questions abound for the buyers and budgeters. What exactly do we need to do? When do we need to do it? And, of course, how much will it cost? While the technology to implement NG911 exists now, so do many administrative issues, such as identifying uniform specifications, transition processes, governance terms, and funding. The Federal Communications Commission has estimated that it will cost $2.68 billion to implement NG911 nationally. Join this forum discussion with state and local experts to find out what NG911 means for Maryland counties’ purchasers, PSAPs, and purse strings.

Speakers:

Ross Coates, Harford County Government Public Safety Manager

Scott G. Roper, Executive Director, Emergency Number Systems Board, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

Walt Kaplan, MPH, Enterprise Client Manager, Mission Critical Partners, Inc.

Moderator: The Honorable Cheryl Kagan, Maryland State Senate

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 2017; 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm

The Conduit Street Podcast Is Back!

After a brief hiatus, the Conduit Street Podcast is back! In this episode, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss new developments in state and local education funding, federal tax reform, and Maryland’s state fiscal picture.

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

Listen here:

 

DLS Releases Report on Local Aid

The Department of Legislative Services has published The Balance Sheet: A County by County Comparison of State Aid And State Tax Revenues Collected. The report provides a county by county breakdown of state aid distributions.

Importantly, the report aggregates all aid to jurisdictions within county borders, and attributes that aid to the county. For example, if aid is provided to municipalities, special taxing districts, or school boards located within a county, that aid is attributed to the county.

From the Executive Summary:

The Balance Sheet is not an analysis of the “fairness” of State aid distributions to local governments. Counties in which taxpayers contribute relatively more State revenues should not necessarily receive more State aid. In fact, several State aid formulas distribute aid inversely to local property and income wealth, whereby local governments with greater capacity to raise revenues from local sources receive less State aid. Such aid programs accounted for about 70% of the State aid to local governments included in this Balance Sheet.

Dust Settles on State’s Revised School Construction Contributions

The Board of Public Works limits the changes in percents to one year, and holds all counties harmless from reductions in percent contributions from the State. 

Maryland counties and the state share responsibility for funding school construction for the K-12 school system. The amount of funding that the state provides to an individual school system is set in code, and is based on a calculation of wealth of the school system’s district. The aim is that the State provides a larger share of funding to projects in counties that have less local wealth to support new school construction.

The state cost-share percentages have now been set for FY 2019. As described in Revised State Share Percentages for School Construction May Be Revised Again, there were several versions of the percentages this year.  In the prior two versions, seven counties would have seen a decrease in the State’s percentage contributions.

The percentages adopted by the Board of Public Works hold all counties harmless from decreases in the state’s cost-share.

The Board also limited its decision to FY 2019, rather than the typical 3-year term for new cost-share percentages. This decision will allow for another look at the percentages, and could allow for changes and updates to the formula used to set the percentages.

See the percentages adopted for FY 2019 below. The highlights in the chart are revisions made by the Board of Public Works that hold counties harmless. For more information, see the Board of Public Works Agenda.

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At MACo’s Winter Conference the Chair of the 21st Century School Facilities Commission, Martin Knott, and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh will speak about the shared state/county responsibility for K-12 school construction.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Contesting Speeding Tickets, Online

In every county in North Carolina, drivers can request and receive reductions on speeding tickets – all online.

From ThePilot.com:

The efficient, user-friendly service provides 24/7 convenience for motorists who receive a speeding ticket and meet eligibility criteria to potentially reduce and process their citation without ever having to appear at the courthouse.

“Online reductions of speeding tickets are more efficient and convenient to process the most commonly cited traffic offenses,” said Judge Marion Warren, director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. “Court technology and online services are modernizing the way the public does business with our courts.”

Technology can help counties save money, too. Learn about programs and tools servicing county budget officers at the session, “Programming Power: Technological Tools to Tighten the Budget,” at this year’s MACo Winter Conference, “The Power of Partnerships,” on Thursday, December 7 from 2pm to 3pm.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Caroline Entertains Income Tax Rate Increase

The Commissioners of Caroline County will entertain a possible income tax increase at their meeting on Tuesday, October 31 at 10 a.m.

The proposed increase from 2.73 percent to 3.2 percent would provide funding for two major projects: replacement of Greensboro Elementary School and construction of new building to house the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Caroline County Board of Education, Greensboro Elementary is overcrowded and overdue for renovation or replacement.  Based on preliminary engineering, building a new school on the existing site would be less expensive than renovating the existing structure.  The total cost of the Greensboro Elementary project is roughly $46 million.  The County expects its share to be around $18 million, with the remainder paid by the State.

The Caroline County Sheriff’s Office currently occupies space in the basement of the County Detention Center.  The cost of the Sheriff’s Office building is expected to be around $3.5 million.  This structure would be built on land owned by the County on Double Hills Road.  This project must be fully funded with local dollars.

The income tax rate must be set by November 1 for the following year.  Those interested in providing comment on the proposal are invited to attend the meeting.

Time for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track

LIFT4MD logoEach year MACo adopts a slate of four top legislative initiatives, and this year, MACo reprises its request for wise investment in local infrastructure.

Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland (#LIFT4MD)

Investing in infrastructure – a call addressed to every level of government – improves safety, economic development, and quality of life. Nonetheless, funding for local transportation assets, water delivery systems, public safety centers and more all lack predictable centralized funding commitments.

MACo calls on state leaders to take action in 2018 to:

  • Approve meaningful new FY 2019 funding for local transportation infrastructure – building on last year’s gains
  • Restore the historic 30% local share of transportation revenues – phasing back to the tried-and-true formula in place for decades
  • Inventory the condition of local infrastructure across the state, using existing resources, assessing the needs and revenue sources targeted for each area
  • Prioritize additional funding for local infrastructure, should the State receive extra infrastructure support from the Federal government

All 24 jurisdictions – of varying sizes, budgets, and regions – are united in the need for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland. Bipartisan support for more funding for local infrastructure comes from all corners of the state – urban and rural jurisdictions, and counties from small to large.

The highway user revenue phase-in included in this bill – the “fast track” portion – will supply desperately needed revenue to repair and maintain local roads and bridges. The State and local governments have shared responsibilities for roads and bridges and the revenues generated from them since at least 1904. The State created the highway user revenue formula in 1968, and for more than forty years afterward, local governments had received at least 30 percent of transportation revenues – mostly motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees – to fund their roads and bridges.

This traditional revenue-sharing made sense. Local governments maintain the lion’s share of the roads and bridges in Maryland. Unlike most other states, in Maryland, local governments own and maintain 83% of the roads. Approximately 45% of bridges in our state are owned by local governments, including nearly 70% of the 359 “structurally deficient” bridges as identified by the Maryland Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers in their most recently released Infrastructure Report Card.

The Great Recession forced cuts to this area deeper than those in any other component of
the state budget. Twenty-three counties’ share of highway user revenues plummeted from $282 million in 2007 to only $27 million today. The cumulative loss of local roadway investment since Fiscal 2010 is roughly $3 billion.

Counties highly prioritize investment in a #LIFT4MD.

At MACo’s Winter Conference, December 6-8, 2017, the closing session will focus on MACo’s 4 Initiatives. Register for the conference and join us for an interactive and information session on strategies for the upcoming session!

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

 

Double Tax Amendment Fails, Maryland Checkbooks, Counties Could Take Hit

Maryland’s recently elected U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen is leading the charge to protect a tax deduction popular in Maryland. So far, efforts have failed to preserve the state and local tax deduction, however.

The National Association of Counties urges Counties to advocate to preserve the state and local tax deduction (SALT) to protect against double taxation. NACo portrays eliminating the exemption a shift of revenues from local and state governments. The Honorable Roy Charles Brooks, President of NACo states,

 

Eliminating SALT to pay for tax reform efforts would reverse more than 150 years of national tax policy and constitute a $1.3 trillion federal revenue grab. That’s $1.3 trillion less in our residents’ pockets to support local services our communities need.

Roy Charles Brooks, NACo President and Commissioner, Tarrant County, Texas advocates for preserving the state and local tax deduction.

About 45 percent of all Maryland taxpayers utilize that state and local income deduction – that’s the highest percentage in the country. Nearly 1.3 million Marylanders took advantage of the SALT deductions in 2015, reducing their taxable income by an average of $9,010 per individual, according to IRS data.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, the first attempt to preserve the deduction failed,

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul.

For more information, see Van Hollen leads unsuccessful first effort to preserve tax deduction popular in Maryland from the Baltimore Sun.

From Senator Van Hollen’s newsroom, the Senator states the issue is not a partisan one,

“This deduction helps millions of people in Maryland and across the country – and getting rid of it will hit the pocketbooks the middle class families the hardest. It also would tie the hands of state and local governments, which provide critical services in every community across America. This is not a partisan issue, and I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.”

For more information see Van Hollen, Cantwell Introduce Amendment to Ensure Tax Fairness, Protect Middle Class from Being Taxed Twice on Their Paychecks